May 3, 2010

To Live is Christ — who willingly died

Last week my son sent me a series of photographs showing what happened in an African country when a bull elephant died. Within fifteen minutes an army of hungry people descended on the massive body. At first they fought over it, but eventually worked together. They took the hide, the flesh, everything. For them, this meant life, survival. Even the bones were broken up for soup. In the last photo, all that remained was a patch of blood on the dry ground.

The elephant had no say in the matter. He was consumed so that others may live. While I felt queasy looking at the gruesome photos, I thought of them this morning when I read today’s devotional verse. Jesus is speaking:

I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)
Like the people of Zimbabwe, the world is starving. They sense a hunger, yet most do not realize it their condition is far worse; they are spiritual dead, separated from God and without hope. Hungry for life, they look in all the wrong places trying to find satisfaction for their souls, sometimes in religion but usually in material goods and pleasurable pursuits that will not last.

Unlike the people of Zimbabwe, those who are spiritually dead do not recognize that the Bread of Life has willingly given His flesh up to death that they might live. Instead of descending and participating in Him, God’s gift of eternal life, they either fight over or ignore the body.

The solution is the power of the Gospel in combination with the enlightening and life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. That combination can open blind eyes and give life to the dead. The Gospel is simple: Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day. He offers eternal life to all who place their faith in Him.

The Holy Spirit brings that life. He is like the wind that “blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

I cannot make anyone understand that they are spiritually dead. I cannot convince anyone that the body of Jesus Christ has the power to give them life. I cannot make the wind blow or the heart soft. I can share the good news — God has provided life. Jesus is ours for the taking, for the participating. When anyone feasts on Him, they live forever.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

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