Most times I think of Jesus as a little laid back. He knows the beginning from the ending and all. He is pretty unhurried in the Gospels. He can do anything He wants: walk on water, fling a billion stars in the sky, re-attach a severed ear without needle and thread. Why would He ever be anxious, worried or afraid?
But He is, sometimes, heartbreakingly eager. Devastatingly earnest.
Sometimes I imagine Him hovering over a people, arms stretched wide to comfort, and they in their grief and despair, howl in anguish or writhe in mute pain.
And then, I think, Jesus is eager. Lord of Time, Creator of hours, Eternal One untouched by mortal minutes, is eager for Time to Pass for us.
Three thousand years ago, I see Him bent over a cowering group in darkened homes, eating a meal in haste, their robes tucked in their belts, ready to bolt. They are afraid, they speak in hushed whispers, and tuck the babies and smallest children close lest they give themselves away. (Exodus 12: 11)
See, He says, to them (and to us), Deliverance is on the way.
Deliverance from. . .
Your Pharoahs, your hard labor, your fields of mud making bricks without straw and the lash of the overseer. . . (Exodus 5: 6 – 9)
Deliverance from. . .
Your crushing poverty, stinging debt, the whiplash of a doctor’s diagnosis, the searing heat of betrayal. . .your own sin
And He lifts his arm and points to the way. . .Do you see? And His heart is eager to be there, go there, in our Future, when we can see.
But until then. . .
Look then, He seems to say, patiently, tenderly, into our minutes, look at what I have you doing. Now.
In this wait for Deliverance, look at what He has us doing now. He speaks in the implements of our day.
At that Hebrew table in Egypt, some did look down, wide eyed with fear, and in the half gloom of smoky oil light, the images of the implements lying on their tables branded their retina. Bread. Lamb. Wine.
Perhaps this one or that looked over at the door, where bloodied hyssop branch was propped on the sill. And they remembered well, how Father or Brother, eldest in the house, had wiped that Blood up, down, and across the lintels on the other side. (Exodus 12:7)
They shivered when the wailing of Egyptians began. (Exodus 12: 29 – 30)
And God hovering over look forward in their future to another day. And another Day.
Do you know the days that I am referring to, Beloved?
The first was the day, clothed in mortal flesh, our God with feet dusty from the road, climbed to an Upper Room to celebrate Passover with His earthly disciples. “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you.” (Luke 22: 1-16) And He lifted up the implements that had lain on the table in Egypt at that first Passover. I am the Bread. (Take and eat and think on Me.) The Wine? This is My Blood poured out for you. (Take and drink with Thanksgiving in your heart.) I am the Lamb of God. (I take away the sins of the world).
And in place of the hyssop-stained door (up, down, side to side), there will be the blood-stained arms of the cross on Golgotha's hill.
"I have earenstly desired to eat this Passover with you"; these words tell us much about the Eagerness of God. The Longing of Jesus.
Two thousand years had passed since that first Passover in Egypt, and all that while, Jesus had earnestly desired to show them what that meal truly meant.
The second Day, is when He will eat the meal again with them (and us?) in the Kingdom of Heaven. (Luke 22: 15 - 16)
And what do these things have to do with John 6?
Because tucked there in the fourth verse of chapter 6, in almost a throw-away line, John tells us that his narrative takes place just before Passover. One of the three annual Passovers that occurred during Jesus’ public ministry on earth.
John 6 records the wonderful and strange things Jesus did just before this particular Passover. The feeding of the multitudes. The demand of the Jews for signs, like manna from heaven. Jesus pointing to Himself and saying that He was the Manna, the Bread of Heaven. And their repugnance, when He said, “Unless you eat my body and drink my blood. . .”
Look, He was saying, see?
Passover? Beloved, let always read John 6 in the light of Passover, because both his hearers and Jesus Himself were very aware that Passover was only days away. Preparations were being made in their homes to celebrate. The things they were seeing Jesus do and hearing Him say that day were concurrent with their preparations. For Jesus, too, the time was drawing near, after two thousand years, there were only one or two years to go before He would share the penultimate Passover, His Last Supper, with His disciples.
I sometimes think that His mortal flesh was about to split revealing the Divine in John 6; Jesus must have been so eager for the people to see. He spoke of such excellent, difficult to understand things. He revealed so much, like movie advertisements that give away the best punch lines in their eagerness to get us to go.
He multiplies five barley loaves and two fish. He walks on water. He speaks of raising people up. His great, big heart bursts with what He knows, and He responds eloquently to their grumblings, “I AM the Bread of Life.”
Think about that when you sit down to the bread, the lamb, and the wine this week, He seems to say.
If they had only looked at what He had them doing right then. If only they had looked at the implements before them in that moment.
Deliverance is on the way!
Oh, the riches of Jesus’ eagerness in John 6.
Shall I not stop today, and consider what He has me doing now and listen for His earnest voice. The implements in my now carry His instructions to look forward to the day of deliverance.
Soon, Beloved, soon, deliverance comes. For today, I AM your bread.