[Jesus said] “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”
Take Jesus at His Word
Hope. Compromise. Change. Tolerance. Whenever an election rolls around, we drown in a sea of political buzzwords. It’s easy to be skeptical because politicians are often big on words and small on action.
Of course, the seeming meaninglessness of words isn’t confined to politics. Human beings are sinners, and when words come from sinners, they can be empty and unreliable.
But we make a big mistake if we judge Jesus’ words the same way. Jesus does not promise much and deliver little. In fact, Jesus spoke the words in today’s Bible passage because he had just delivered quite a bit—he had turned five loaves of bread and two fish into supper for over five thousand people.
But Jesus wanted the people to know that his goal was not to satisfy their earthly hunger but their spiritual hunger. He taught them: “I am the Bread of Life. Believe in me and you will be satisfied eternally. Reject me and you will starve eternally.” In other words: Jesus is all you need for eternal life.
How was his message received? Like empty words! The crowd grumbled and left him. This whole business about needing to believe in Jesus and reject your own works to get to heaven offended them. As they left, Jesus warned them that this attitude came from their sinful flesh.
Your sinful flesh will try to cultivate the same attitude in you and get you to treat Jesus’ words like nothing but empty sounds. But you can always take Jesus at his word because his words are full of the Holy Spirit and the life that only the Spirit can give!
The Word of God contains the good news that you are forgiven, and heaven is yours because Jesus lived for you, died for you, and rose for you. Here Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit works hand in hand with the Word to give you spiritual life. Through that same Word, the Holy Spirit defends you, forgives you, and empowers you. So take Jesus at his word, and don’t let go of it for all the world!
Blessed Jesus, help me to always trust your Word. Amen.