A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Bread of Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bread of Life. Show all posts

April 20, 2021

Deep Diving Biblical Precepts: Jesus Is The Bread of Life

I want to start a new series called "Deep Diving Biblical Precepts", in which I will be doing an occasional investigation into Biblical doctrines that we all are familiar with, but which we take for granted. In other words, I want to take a deeper look at common teachings that cross denominational lines, and that are theologically accepted as valid principles, but which we may only have a surface understanding. The first of these topics will be the understanding that Jesus is our Bread of Life.

There is a fascinating passage in John 6:22-59 where Jesus is approached by the crowd after feeding about 5,000 men (not counting the women and children that accompanied them) with five barley loaves and two fish. The people were astonished by the miracle they had witnessed, and Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king (John 6:15), so He withdrew to the nearby mountain. The crowd then saw the disciples depart in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum on the other side. The next day they were mystified by another miracle they struggled to understand -- There had been only one boat at the shore when the disciples departed and Jesus had not been with them, but yet here He was in Capernaum with them [they did not know that He had walked on water the evening before to join them in the boat]. So, they question Jesus... "Rabbi, when did you come here?"

Jesus reprimands them because they were more concerned about mundane things and didn't recognize the miracles that came from the Father, and were only seeking Him because they had all been fed from the few barley loaves. Jesus tries to explain that they are more concerned about doing works for food that perishes than they are about eating the food that endures to give them eternal life. Jesus says the only work they need to do is believe in the One that the Father has sent, referring to Himself. So the crowd challenges Him... what miracle [sign] do you do that we can visibly see, and then we'll believe. And they made it clear that they were seeking a miracle like the manna from Heaven that appeared by the hand of Moses. 

Jesus tells them that it was not Moses that did the work, but God who provided what they needed to survive. He reminded them that their ancestors had eaten the manna in the desert and they died. And here is where I gained a new understanding of the "manna miracle", as we will call it .... In reality the manna was provided by God sending the dew [or more likely rain] from the 1st heaven (our skies and atmosphere) to cause the manna to grow on the ground in the wilderness. We find this scenario in Exodus 16:14-15 where Moses instructs them to gather it because "this is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat". God was the Giver through natural means. But this time Jesus was giving them the true bread from heaven [the 3rd Heaven where God resided and Jesus had come from] that they might never hunger or thirst again. 

I believe this passage has been so misunderstood in our life time! The manna the Israelites received in the wilderness was physical bread. It was like coriander seed and they ground it in their mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it (Numbers 11:7-8). It had a "shelf life"; it molded and could not be counted on to sustain their flesh and bodies after a period of time. But Jesus is true bread; a spiritual bread that is everlasting and sustains their souls and spirits. He is the bread of LIFE! He states in verse 51, "I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

Of course, this confuses them again ... "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink." Then He qualifies exactly what He means in this strange discourse by repeating what He had said earlier, "This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever."

First of all, any serious student of the Bible understands that if something is restated in a passage, then it is an important concept that God wants us to comprehend. When Jesus repeats that He is the bread that came down from heaven, [and He is not like the bread the Israelites ate in the wilderness], He is making a distinction between being fed spiritually and being fed physically. Also, there is the principle that the physical bread can't keep you from dying, while the spiritual bread gives you eternal life. Furthermore, I know that there are some denominations that teach that when we take communion, we are literally eating Jesus's flesh and drinking His literal blood. But this passage is not to be read as a literal translation at all. Instead, His words symbolize His action of sacrificing His flesh and blood for us.

 Again, He is making reference to His flesh as true food in a spiritual sense, and His blood as true drink; again referring to that which feeds us spiritually. In no way, does He suggest that we are to physically eat His actual flesh or blood. That would make us zombies and vampires! Instead the sacrifice of His flesh and blood, which resulted in His death on the Cross, made way for us to restore our relationship with our Heavenly Father -- something all mankind had been starving and thirsting for since Adam's fall in the Garden! That's the essence of verse 35: He is the Bread of Life! Whoever comes to Him will not hunger, and whoever believes in Him shall never thirst -- our eternal life will be a spiritual one, sustained by His power in us.

Did you notice the two different sets of circumstances in that last sentence? You must come to Him and you must believe in Him. It is the only way to satisfy what your soul and spirit hunger and thirst for. Come, eat of the Bread of Life and partake of the Living Water. It is eternal and nothing will ever taste as sweet!

Matthew 5:6    Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied.

October 6, 2018

John 20:21-23 ... The Authority to Forgive Sins

     My husband and I will be traveling for the next couple of weeks, and it will be difficult for me to get an internet signal to upload new posts for you. So I have decided to take a look at several Scriptural passages that I have talked about before and present them to you again. I have chosen those I feel are the most relevant to us leading our lives in Spirit and Truth. 
     Repeating the Word is never a bad idea, and these particular passages are speaking to my spirit, even as I see them particularly appropriate for some issues my fellow Christians are dealing with today. So even though I may not be writing in a current time-frame, I think you will still find value in what the Bible speaks to us through these powerful words. So, if this is the first time you've read this post, or the second, I pray it will bless you.

Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives]. And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven [because of their faith]; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained [and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief].

     This is an interesting passage, whereby the risen Jesus is appearing to the Apostles, who are hiding out in an undisclosed room in Jerusalem, fearing retribution from the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government because of their association with the crucified Christ.  Although they had spent nearly three years with Him, and Jesus had tried to prepare them for this time, you can imagine their confusion, dashed hopes, and fear of what the future might mean for them.
     But in these verses, Jesus appears to them to calm them, bring them peace, and remind them of their mission to co-labor with Him on behalf of the Kingdom of God.  He then breathed the Holy Spirit on them, and gave them a very important and precious gift: the authority to forgive sins.
     I know that is a foreign idea to us 21st Century Christians, and it certainly is not taught in the Church as a matter of our authority.  And I can hear the naysayers now ... Where do you get the idea that we have the authority to forgive sins? Isn't God the only One who can forgive us our sins? That second question sounds exactly like the Pharisees in Mark, Chapter 2, who, upon hearing Jesus tell the paralytic that his sins were forgiven, asked, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” I am sure there are some within the Body of Christ who would assign the same doubt to my statement that we can forgive sins. But let me see if I can explain my understanding of these verses in John...
     It is very important that we have a clear understanding when it comes to the dynamics of the relationship between the Father, the Son, and us.  Over and over, Jesus declares in the Bible. I only do what the Father tells Me ... I only do what pleases the Father ... I only do what I see the Father doing ... I only say what I hear the Father saying ... If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father.  Therefore, Jesus is an exact representation of the Father.  And here, in John 20, He is telling the apostles, Now, you're MY representatives; meaning by extension, they are representing the Father, too, just as Jesus did.  Furthermore, Jesus tells the Apostles that all authority on Heaven and earth has been given to Him and their Commission is now to teach all the nations what He has taught and commanded them to do -- i.e., we now represent Jesus!
     But there is another aspect of our relationship with Christ and how we represent Him.  In 1 Peter 2:9, the Bible calls us a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and power] of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Remember, God instituted the priesthood in the Old Testament as the means by which His chosen people could be forgiven their sins.  The priests served a particularly important function in the sacrificial system that brought the sins of the Israelites before God to be forgiven.  But in the New Testament, Jesus became our High Priest and the ultimate, once-for-all sacrifice, so that system is no longer needed.  However, as it is revealed in 1 Peter 2 and Revelation 5,  we are to still serve God as priests of His Kingdom, bringing people "out of darkness and into His marvelous Light (Jesus)".
     That is what I believe Jesus is telling us here in John 20... He is our High Priest, and as His representatives here on earth, we serve the Father's Kingdom as His priests.  So how does that work, and what are our duties as priests?  Have you ever known someone who has given their life to Christ, and declared Him their Savior, yet cannot seem to receive His forgiveness of their sins, even after they have confessed and repented?  Even though their salvation is certain, there is some area of their life that satan still holds in bondage, and they are mired in self-condemnation? 
     Even though the Bible tells us that Jesus has forgotten their sins, as far as the east is from the west, they still feel He is distant and they don't feel forgiven.  I believe John 20:23 declares our position as the royal priesthood and Jesus is giving us permission to declare to that tortured Christian that if they have faith, their sins are forgiven.  On the other hand, we must take our holy priesthood very seriously (as the representative of Christ), and when it is clear that a sinful lifestyle has not been confessed or repented for, and Jesus has been rejected, then we have no authority or duty to forgive anyone's sin.  Very simply, for me, John 20:21-23 is Jesus defining a priestly duty, and since we are called to be a royal priesthood of God's Kingdom on earth, it is part of our allegiance to our High Priest.  
     But, here's the thing ... the powerless Church, today, is all too eager to call themselves priests of the Kingdom, but only in the sense of a noun, and not as a verb -- meaning there is an obligation to act out our identities as priests, (and representatives of our High Priest) and to be willing to take the sins of a fellow Christian and wash them in the blood of Jesus, pronouncing those sins forgiven.  If that sounds anti-Biblical, think on this.... Are we not in Christ, and Christ in us?  Did He not take all sin upon Himself, and by His Blood we are forgiven and healed?  If Christ is in us, we can take those sins and present them to Him, being confident of His mercy and grace upon all who believe in Him.
     Personally, in our deliverance ministry, my husband and I have often reminded someone being oppressed by spirits of unworthiness, inadequacy, self-condemnation, shame, or guilt that their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and their confession of their sins allows us, as His representative, to speak Jesus's forgiveness into their life.  In that, we serve both our God and our fellow man.  That's why God sent Jesus, and that's why He sends us.  

Current Note: This Scripture has particular significance to me today because my heart is broken for the number of marriages that I see the Enemy attacking. I truly believe this Scripture is telling us that forgiveness is the key to the restoration of relationships, and this is especially important when it comes to the restoration of a marriage. If you are unable to forgive your spouse, then I think it is important that you remit their sins to Christ -- hand them over [or release] the sins to Jesus and let Him deal with them. You have a choice -- forgiveness or remittance. Either way, unforgiveness will not be a stumbling block to you.


September 18, 2018

Give Us This Day Our DAILY Bread

     I am sometimes filled with wonder at the deeper and more relevant conversations I have with my Sisters and Brothers in Christ after the Lord has brought Mark and myself out of the confines of the four walls, and directed our path in His narrow way. What I mean by that is this: I feel we are entering into conversations that increase and strengthen our relationship with Christ far greater than ever before. 
     For example, I have a dear Sister whose faith walk has grown by leaps and bounds this past year or so, and we were having a frank and honest conversation about our struggle to maintain a righteous life; of having faced some spiritual issues and personal sins that we were delivered from, yet we continue to battle on those same fronts. She said something to the effect of, "I thought once I was delivered, I would be free from that [sinful area] of my life, going forward".
     My first thought was this... I remembered Paul saying, I discover that even when I want to do good, evil is ready to sabotage me. Truly, deep within my true identity, I love to do what pleases God. But I discern another power operating in my humanity, waging a war against the moral principles of my conscience [mind] and bringing me into captivity as a prisoner to the “law” of sin—this unwelcome intruder in my humanity. This is a principle about which I always caution someone [who has gone through a deliverance session].
     I think everyone of us can identify with those thoughts that we know are wrong, and which in the past, have led us to say or do something that we know displeased God and is not in alignment with our identity as a new creation in Christ. These thoughts are the fiery darts that the Enemy sends to tempt us to do evil. Various translations call them the "flaming arrows" or "blazing arrows" of the Evil one; all designed to return us to captivity by penetrating the protective shield of faith, which is part of our spiritual armor that we are to put on and never take off.
     But here's the thing.... just because you've experienced a spiritual encounter with Jesus whereby He has covered that particular sin in your life; and you have been forgiven; and you have forgiven others and watched Jesus remove that area of bondage from your life [as far as the east is from the west], it doesn't mean the Enemy is going to quit launching those fiery arrows of the devil. Why should he? They have worked for lots of years in your life, and you have responded to that temptation in the past.... so he's going to see if they will work again. And he might continue for awhile before he realizes that you have truly renewed your mind and heart and those fiery darts no longer work on you. And this is where the concept of our DAILY BREAD comes in.

     We are all familiar with the verse in the Lord's Prayer, where Jesus tells the disciples to pray, Give us this day our daily bread. Have you ever wondered why He uses that particular terminology? Well, a study of the hermeneutics of the word "bread" reveals the following: It originates from the Hebrew word nacah, which among it's many meanings are "to pardon; to spare; to undertake the responsibility of the sins of others by substitution or representation". The Greek word airo also defines "bread", as well. It means "to take away what was been attached to anything; to remove", and I can't tell you how many times during the deliverance sessions we have witnessed, the Beloved sees Jesus [in the spirit] remove a spirit of shame, or guilt, or self-rejection -- whatever false identity the Enemy has attached to them that has kept them in bondage. Finally, in the most basic sense, the Greek word artos defines "bread" as the necessity for the sustenance of life. I don't think any of us would argue that Jesus is necessary for eternal Life.
    So, now let's go back and see the big picture Jesus is painting for us here. Because the Enemy is going to continue to launch those fiery arrows of tempting sin at our minds, hearts, and flesh, there will be those inevitable times that our shield of faith is not positioned correctly to deflect them. And we will be able to identify with Paul when he says, For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]  -- those darn fiery darts have found their mark! 
     So the truth of the matter is that we need the provision of deliverance  -- the bread that removes whatever sin has attached itself to us; the sustenance offered by Jesus, and we need it every day -- DAILY -- because we are engaged in a daily war against our minds and hearts. Just because Jesus has delivered us from a lifelong bondage in an area of our life, it doesn't mean we will never encounter another temptation or never sin again. As long as we are in our humanity, we are going to sin. It is up to us to receive that Daily Bread that renews us every day, delivers us from the consequences of our sins, and provides us with the power to fight back.  
     In short, "Daily Bread" is a renewal of God's righteous principles in our life each and every day. We are not strong enough, in our humanity, to resist the temptations of the Enemy to sin again, so Jesus offers Himself as the sustenance [and the power] to withstand the sinful appeals of the devil. If you have been blessed to be delivered from bondage, then you know how sweet is the taste of the renewed life He offers. This bread is not only life-giving, but both a daily preventative and eternal. And here is the benefit of being called His own ... It's a daily offering, and we would do well to never skip our portion of it because what Jesus says in the Lord's Prayer immediately following this request for Daily Bread is the reason we need it ... forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And And rescue us from temptation, and deliver us [set us free]  from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. The Daily Bread is the means by which we can ensure our prayers are answered. Praise Him for His everlasting faithfulness to deliver us!

Proverbs 30:8     Keep deception and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion,