I find myself today in John, chapter 6, verses 26-58. And because I spend every work day with a gaggle full of sweet, busy, constantly moving children (try to imagine nailing Jello to a wall)I, my head cannot get out of the teacher perspective. I find myself drawn to this encounter with Jesus because He is the ultimate Teacher and His students are no different from the 20 little cherubs waiting for me every school day.
v. 26 Jesus reminds His students of what they did together previously and what they were supposed to learn. “I showed you who I Am with signs and wonders, and this is why you are with Me.” Then He reminds them of the lesson they were supposed to learn. “The whole show I put on was not about the here and now, but about what I offer to you for FOREVER!”
And the response of His disciples? Exactly that of my students, so often. They completely missed the point. v. 28 “When can WE do that? We wanna try! What do we have to do to be able to do those nifty tricks?”
So, like the patient Teacher He is, Jesus ignores their question, because it misses the point of the lesson and reminds them of the reason for the demonstrations. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
And the students? Do they understand yet? Nope. They asked what He will do so that they can understand. It’s the proverbial “I don’t get it.” If you’re a teacher, you’ll understand. I can’t tell you how many times I have deliberately and slowly, with visual representations, demonstrated a concept my students needed to learn, and through it all, they paid attention (if I am lucky!) to the details and missed the ‘big picture’. At the end, it’s I don’t get it!
Then the students reveal the depth of their misunderstanding. They begin talking about Moses and manna. So Jesus, being trained during the best Professional Development Seminar there ever was, backed up a bit and met them where they were. “It wasn’t Moses, it was God, and I am the true bread from Heaven.”
Well, things get a little better. The disciples recognize the importance of what Jesus was trying to teach them and ask for what is valuable. “Lord, evermore give us this bread.” Of course, they completely missed the fact (again!) that Jesus IS the Bread of Heaven and He’s been with them all along. They already have what they need, right in front of them. Yes, I have been there (almost daily) with my students.
Being a far more patient educator than most, and with the stakes much higher, Jesus doesn’t give up. He doesn’t count the minutes until recess or dismissal. He stays in the game and tries to explain the Truth, Himself, using different words and different illustrations. “It’s Me! I am the Bread of Life! God sent ME, to YOU. And He doesn’t want any of you, who are here with me right now, who walk with me and follow after me, to be lost along the way!”
So what have I learned here? Jesus was, and still is, a great Teacher. He never gives up on His disciples’ hearts. If at first we don’t understand, He constantly tries new ways of phrasing things and illustrations to use and links to make so that we ‘get it’ and stay with Him.
Another amazing truth revealed here, is how God the Father desires that we ALL stay with Him. He frets over our wanderings, over those of us who leave. It is His will that we stay tightly embraced in Jesus’ arms as He shepherds us to His Presence in Heaven to dwell with Him forever.
My Challenge?— To never give up on people’s hearts. If they don’t “get” Jesus today, and maybe haven’t for years, I won’t give up. I’ll keep trying new and patient ways of talking about Jesus and God and Heaven, and living them for others. I’ll try to make links to what they already know and have experienced with God and His plan. Also, I will commit myself to helping His followers stay the course. There are some things in life that are CLEARLY the will of God. Not losing anyone is one of them.
“This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3,4