Forsaking the Bread of Life

“I am that bread of life” John 6:48

The day after Jesus multiplied the loaves of bread and two small fish to feed the five thousand, a great rejection of the Son of God took place. It did not start out that way.  At the beginning of the day, the people searched everywhere for Jesus, getting into ships so they could be with Him on the other side of the sea in Capernaum.

Jesus knew their hearts. He told the crowd that the reason they pursued Him was not because of the miracles, but because they ate of the loaves the day before and were filled. Yes, filled to their heart’s content, so much so that there were twelve baskets full left over.

Knowing that humans labor for food and drink for the sustenance of life, Jesus directed the crowd not to labor for food that perishes, but for that which lasts unto everlasting life, which only He can give.

“I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger, and he that believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)For my flesh is flesh indeed, and my blood is drink indeed”. (John 6:55).

The people, including many of His disciples murmured.  They were offended, saying these were hard sayings.  Who can accept it?  How in the world can one eat human flesh and blood, never hunger and thirst, and have everlasting life?

Jesus responded, revealing the central core of the truth:  It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. Jesus capped His statement with the resounding words, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” 

Herein  lies the answer why one must not labor or put prioritized value on feeding the flesh.  The body perishes. Man is an eternal being.  He has a soul that needs to be redeemed to life eternal. Jesus claims that only He can give this everlasting life through faith in Him.

But after Jesus spoke these words, many of His disciples walked away and no longer followed Him.  They rejected His words.  They determined that they would rather live and perceive things as they did before they heard the words of Jesus:  to labor each day for the meat and drink that perish, and be hungry and thirsty again before the very next meal,  to ignore their souls and be mindless that their lives on earth are finite, to overlook the fact that they are appointed to die one day.

Will you also walk away from the Bread of Life?  I pray that your answer will be as the apostle Peter’s: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

Delusions of Garlic

“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat?   We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic”  Numbers 11:4-5 NKJV

The Bible presents the nature of mankind as age-old and universal.  In spite of the phenomenal achievements of the modern age, human nature has remained virtually the same since the fall of Adam.  Science, economic progress, education, the ideals of humanism, and all the other remarkable feats of the human race still leave this world in as miserable condition as it was thousands of years ago.  All of these advances have not addressed man’s underlying, fundamental dilemma.

At the very root of the problem, the Bible says, is the heart of man.  Jeremiah the prophet lamented, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Contrary to what humanists believe, the Bible demonstrates that the very nature of man is not basically good, but evil.  Knitted into the fiber of mankind’s nature is the system and structure of sin and its corresponding traits of lust, passion and craving.  This course of sin is so powerful and overwhelming that it grips and enslaves the human heart of natural man.  Education, self-will, and intelligence cannot tame it: sin pervades and masters the very depths of one’s being.

The children of Israel illustrate this lust, this craving in the wilderness, after they fled to freedom from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Their memories became selective; the craving for the exotic foods in the land they fled from was so intense that they forgot the sufferings and despair they underwent as slaves: the oppression, the arduous labor, the harsh sun, the hunger from lack of food. They wanted to go back to the very place that enslaved them, hankering after the watermelons, the cucumber, the onions and the garlic that they probably ate meagerly as slaves, and not “freely” as they claimed. The craving was so intense that nothing else mattered, not even their freedom.

Sin perverts, creates a duality in man.  On the one hand we behold all the impressive, awe-inspiring achievements; on the other hand we survey the towering garbage heap of  human failures.    No one is exempt from this condition. It made Paul cry out when he realized the gravity of it all:  “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

Sin eventually leads to death, physical and spiritual.  It hastens the physical, and elongates the spiritual into eternity.

There is an answer, the only answer to this terrible malady called sin.  In His great love and compassion, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that through Him we can be delivered from the tyranny of sin and death and be born again into a new kind of life: everlasting life.  But we must first recognize this oppressive nature of sin within us and yield ourselves to God and His way of salvation. Until then, we will forever be restless, unsure, and live in constant contradictions within ourselves, for as one former sinner St. Augustine prayed: “Thou hast made us for Thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in Thee”.

How to love our enemies

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”  Matthew 5:44-45

The second of the two commandments of Jesus is to love our neighbor as ourselves.  The definition of “neighbor” is all-encompassing: it includes our enemies, for Jesus asserts that we should also love them.   What was His reasoning?  So that we may become the children of the Father in heaven.

How are we to carry out this kind of love?  We are to be as children, imitating their Heavenly Father, Whose love is unconditional, and even undeserved:  One  Who makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

What kind of love is it?  It is an absolutely disinterested, impartial love, one that does not depend upon the qualities of the object of this love, but in spite of it. And this is the kind of love we are to have towards our neighbor, too, and yes, even towards our enemies: those who are arrayed against us, who curse and hate us, those who despitefully use and abuse us.

I like how Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains it:  “The whole secret of living this kind of life is that man should be utterly detached.  He must be detached from others in the sense that his behavior is not governed by what they do.  But still more important, he should be detached from himself, for until a man is detached from himself, he will never be detached from what others will do to that self. ”   For as long as a man or woman is living for self, he or she will always be sensitive and reacting to what others will do towards oneself, therefore, “the only way to detach yourself from what others do to you is to detach yourself from yourself.”

Hence our treatment of others must not be dependent on how they treat us, or how they are towards us, but rather, dictated by how we view them and their condition.  Instead of reacting to their negative treatment, our actions toward them are to be governed by the principle of love: to understand that their attacks towards us either are due to the basic imperfection and failings of human nature,  and/or perhaps influenced by the god of this world; therefore, we are to pray for them.

Detachment from self, dying to self, takes supernatural grace, and the good news is that it is possible for a Christian to carry out this kind of love by living his or her life in Christ.  For in Him, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are a new creation who can live in this present evil world at a higher level, belonging to a different kingdom, the kingdom of God.

The Politics of Pilate: A Poem

Art by Anthony Ciseri (1821-1891), painted in 1871

And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.”  Luke 23:12

The Politics of Pilate

The Politics of Pilate,
the Hubris of Herod,
on the day of preparation,
before the Sabbath,
when they beheld the Christ
as a lamb led to slaughter —

Two men of clout
could find no fault
yet looked
the other way.

Luke recounts,
Politics and Hubris once
foes became friends
the same day
they met the Christ:
they reasoned and found
their judgments  jibed —

Two men of consequence
saw nothing in the Christ
that was worthy of death.

Such is the substance
of man,
for politics must please
and hubris defies
the truth
if it has to stoop —

Yet let it be
for all righteousness
to be fulfilled.

by D. G. Vachal © 2012


The Precious Possession

7 dimineata

“A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.” Proverbs 12:27,  NASB

There is a certain possession that the Bible esteems as valuable, something to be desired.  It is not a material treasure; it cannot be bought with worldly currency.  That precious possession is diligence.

The best way I can expound upon this scripture is to share how I have witnessed this trait from my parents. To this day, they continue to amaze me beyond words.   I don’t ever remember seeing them idle or wasting time.   When I was growing up, I recall both of them going to work early in the morning each day.   As both of them are lawyers, they had plenty of things to occupy them; however, they somehow managed to come home and eat three meals with their children almost every day.

When my father was home, I remember that he would either be reading or writing.  My mother incessantly tended to projects that she would follow through to completion.  They were compassionate people, reaching out to help the poor and underprivileged.  I remember many times when we children would have to sit squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder at the dinner table because some poor folks were invited to dine with us.

My father is now in his eighties, but he still goes to work every day:  he serves the people as the oldest member of Congress in a Southeast Asian country.  Surrounded with books and so many documents to read and review,  he always carries a pen,  a small pad of paper, or a book to read.  My mother is in her late seventies, and yes, she also goes to work each day.  A long time ago, when I was a little child, she started a cooperative to help and encourage poor people to save their money and to free them from the grasp of greedy usurers.  What she set into motion decades ago has now grown by leaps and bounds — from a membership of less than 20, and at present, to almost a hundred thousand — one of the biggest cooperatives in a Southeast Asian country.

Diligence involves perseverance, persistence, and tenacity.  It is not achieved overnight, but grows through the days and through the years as it is applied.  It is honoring one’s Creator with making the best use of one’s time and talents, and like the cooperative that my mother once started, through daily application, grows exponentially in value.  Diligence eventually becomes a person’s precious possession where moths cannot corrupt, nor can thieves break through and steal.