Rabbi, when did you come here?

Frontline Devotion for August 21, 2017 (Season of 'Time After Pentecost')

By: Pastor Fritz Foltz

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John 6:25-27

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' Jesus answered them, 'Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.'

In the gospels Jesus goes off by himself for various reasons. Sometimes he simply wants time for prayer, so he can sustain his relationship with his Father. He wants a recess from the demands of a hectic world. Sometimes he flees from danger in order to avoid arrest. His life seemed to be threatened from the beginning of his ministry. And sometimes he seemed to go apart in disgust. People continually hang around in order to take advantage of his generosity and power.

In our lesson Jesus has disappeared for that last reason. In his 6th chapter John explores the crowd's complicated response to Jesus providing food in the wilderness. Some decided they wanted nothing more to do with him after he tried to explain that the miracle was a sign of his divinity. Others wanted to remain, because they liked the idea of free food. Why not stick around if this fellow can feed them.

Jesus had already resisted the temptation of making bread from stones. He was quite willing to provide food in compassion for hungry people. He nevertheless realized this alone would not sustain a creative relationship. A sustainable friendship had to be based on love not power. In this situation, he decided he was getting nowhere, so he took off.

In this lesson the crowd catches up with him. Jesus does not allow his frustration to destroy their relationship. His temporary separation is not abandonment. He always comes back to continue expressing his love. As we know, that goes on even after the crucifixion. So too he is always ready for our returns.

Let us pray: Forgive us for constantly using our relationship for our own advantage, Father. Open our hearts that we might find joy in giving as well as receiving. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.