John 6:41-51 (NRSV) Journey to the Cross through Faith, with Hope
Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
What is a Journey: an act or instance of traveling from one place to another. Really? Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out that “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” The Israelites experienced a generation journey. As one Bible scholar stated, “God intended the journey through the wilderness to prepare them for living in the land. However, a whole generation died in that process because they did not love the truth God gave them throughout the journey. The journey symbolizes the process of being saved.” Our own “Journey to the Cross,” as with Jesus, is a lifetime; experiences, good and bad, joyous and painful, are along the path.
A close cousin (more like a sister) recently passed away. The wake and the funeral were difficult on the family. There was genuine comfort in believing, through faith, that she was in a “better place.” There was peace that there was no more suffering, no struggling for every breath. No more sadness from the ravages to her mind or her spirit, as we recalled from the “good times,” and the “better days.” And there was hope that she was in “the arms of an angel.” Her journey to her cross had pain and suffering, just as Jesus suffered on the cross and provided the path, the hope, to everlasting life. John 6 tells us, “Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.” The Pastor who offered words of comfort to those still here on our own journey offered an observation to think of hope as “heaven offers peace eternally.” It made me think that every journey that any of us starts is full of hope, and faith, that God is always with us. There will be trials and tribulations, pain and maybe suffering; life ‘happens,’ but with hope that the journey to our cross will bring relief from this world into heaven.
Dear Lord, please be with each of us on our journeys to our cross and to your heart, so that we my know your peace and love. Amen