Abide

John 6:1-20

We have been in Mark's gospel since Pentecost began, do I want us to note the change of gospels because each writer has a different point. In Mark we have been swept up in immediacy. Things happen at a very fast pace and we are urged on by the authors "immediately" in many places. There is an urgency not to tell when you are healed, at least that is what Jesus says, and yet everyone tells everybody. When we reached this same story last week in Mark about the feeding of the five thousand we skipped it, but we didn't skip the fact that Jesus looked on the crowd with compassion.

Now John is a bit different. There is no immediacy found here, no push to get to the end, and no push to get to the end of a chapter. In John the author breaks into these bursts of Spirit talk, which means we are in a theme for a long time. As a matter of fact these next six weeks in John will continually take us back to this event today. John's themes of abiding, the word being there from the beginning, love and a Jesus who is always in complete control will lead us into the exploration of what the bread of life is. Just as the woman at the well learns about living water or Nicodemus learns about being born from above. John walks us into the deeper mysteries of the gospel and we aren't supposed to speed through it but abide with it.

Today's story from John introduces us to the use of imagery in which to find deeper meaning. Jesus has just tried to pull away from the crowds and draw off by himself, but they follow to this desert mountain. Now if we look at figures who were in the desert or on a mountain we begin to think of Moses. Except there are big differences between Moses and Jesus. Moses has to pray and petition God for food, Jesus already knows what he is going to do to feed the people. The manna in the wilderness leftovers rotted if not eaten, these leftovers are taken up so they can be given again. So the comparison is made with Moses but Jesus is not Moses.

John focuses us in on Jesus, even in the short story given to us after with the disciples in the boat. There is no storm, their only fear is in Jesus himself who appears as a ghost and then immediately they are taken to the further shore. John's focus on Jesus gives us a Jesus who is in complete control and eventually will be in complete surrender because Jesus knows why he has come. The thing is no one gets it. Phillip doesn't understand how they will feed so many, they don't understand the boat ride, the woman at the well thinks Jesus is talking about the real water in the well, Nicodemus is lost in the spirit talk about being born again, and later the crowds don't understand what happened today and if we truly admit honestly neither do we understand.

Maybe this is why its so important to abide. This week there was a wonderful blog article about the Eucharist and how the writer didn't fully understand why we always did it. It wasn't until she made the decision to breastfeed her child that she began to understand or get a glimpse. She wrote about the bouts with mastitis, having to get up and feed and being do tired the next day you barely hold it together, or the times you have to sit and everything else has to wait because it is time to feed, and the fact that every time you do this you are supplying life to someone else. It showed her one glimpse of what the Eucharist means and there are so many others.

Abide, we have to slow down to hear or even glimpse what John is trying to say to us. It takes endurance because of wading through what might seem to be the same point over and over again. John reaches for more than that, if we can make it through. After all it is in John where we hear Jesus say that abiding is the thing which unites us to God, to Jesus, to the Spirit. So take time to just abide in the story, abide in all its many facets, abide. Maybe just maybe you will find something new.