Friday of the 3rd Week of Pascha 2009.
Scripture is blunt.
Even right brains can get things done!
Scripture can be very blunt. It can say more with less words than any literature I can think of. Some of my favorite verses are very short and blunt. For some reason, the blunt verses really penetrate into me, and become a powerful lesson. This happens with repetition; one cannot read the same verse too many times! I think they become “slogans” in my heart. A slogan is something very short and powerful – it captures the essence and energy of something. It is easy to remember, and contains emotional “oomph”.
For me, the words Jesus spoke (in today’s reading) bluntly, to the Jews are a slogan:
Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is not a statement of the obvious – it is a spiritual truth to apply to … everything.
Now, I understand that not everybody thinks of this verse as I do, and that’s ok. I am not speaking about dogma here. We should not only understand the intended meaning of scripture, but also feel its power. We are all different, and different verses affect people differently.
To me, this is a marvelous expression of our Lord’s humanity. I also immediately think of why He was weeping. It was not because Lazarus was dead! It was because of the unbelief and hard-heartedness of the people surrounding Him. These two words make me feel his burden in a way that no hymn about the crucifixion can.
Also, I weep too, because of many setbacks and difficulties in the life of a pastor. I can see that Jesus did it too – He was really sad about stuff. I get sad too, but the similarity with our Lord ends there – sometimes my sadness incapacitates me. Our Lord was sad, he wept, he felt alone and abandoned, but in the midst of it all, He always did the will of His Father perfectly. “Jesus wept” tells me that my humanity need not get in the way of doing the right thing always, and that feelings can be overcome because Christ overcame them. This is powerful stuff, and all in two words!
Of course, that’s just how I feel. The dogma in this verse is that Jesus is truly God, and truly man, but I already know that in my mind. The simple words “Jesus wept” make this dogma and their implication, that is, its application to my life, penetrate a little bit more into my heart.
So too, does our Lord’s words to the Jews about manna penetrate into my heart. He was setting up the comparison of manna to Himself. Manna was a “type”, or foreshadowing of the true “bread from heaven”, our Lord Jesus Christ.
The emotional impact of the verse says much more to me. It sets up a comparison of the way of life with everything else.
I struggle to put the feelings into words, because they are powerful. Basically, these words are an answer to every temptation: “I can do this thing, but it is dead.” If only I had this thought at all times!
Perhaps there are verses that truly touch you, and motivate you. Such “slogans” are especially prevalent in the Psalms. Read the scripture often, and try to feel it as well as know it. It will become a great comfort to you.
I am happy today, because my poor little overworked right dominant brain actually got all the Pascha letters mailed to the parish. The printing was donated, and the postage too. My parishioners may get them on Saturday or at least Monday. This is a small, and very late “victory”, but I take ‘em when I get ‘em. I will snail mail the Paschal letter to whoever sends me their postal address, unless I get an overwhelming number of addresses (if I do, you will see pigs flying) . Send your postal address to email@example.com
John 6:48-54 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. 52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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