Week Three of 42 Days through Good News according to John

Spiritual Practice of the Week: Study and Memorization 

Since the Devotional Guide itself is a study, we already have a head start on this practice. This week, as you read, you might imagine yourself in the scene of the particular passage of scripture. What do you see? What do you hear? What are your reactions to what is taking place? How does it make you feel?

For families and groups this week, you could try adding some extra discussion and imagination into your reading of the passages. Some conversation-starter questions you might ask other members of your family or friends are, “I wonder what your favorite part of the story is? I wonder what the passage makes you think about? I wonder what character you’d be in this passage?”

Many people also find memorization helpful when studying the Bible. Here are some ideas for making memorization a game, not a chore:

• Put the verse to music.

•Write each word on a different index card, arrange them in order on a surface, then take away one each time you recite the verse.

•Add actions to the verse.

•Add character’s voices as you say the verse.

Try memorizing a couple of these famous passages from the Book of John:

•“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – 3:16

•“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” – 6:51

•“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.’” – 8:12

•“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – 10:11

•“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” – 11:25-26

•“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” – 15:1

At the end of the week, think about what you liked and what you might not have liked about this particular spiritual practice. Share your thoughts with each other.

Monday, March 9

John 6:41–71—Many Disciples Desert Jesus

41 Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.45 As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)

47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life!49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.

53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”

59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

60 Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”

61 Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again?63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 65 Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”

66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” 71 He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.

Points of Interest

  • ‘We know his father and mother’—suddenly, he’s gone from being the Prophet Like Moses to being Mary and Joseph’s boy from down the street. They really don’t like being told, ‘No.’ When Jesus refuses to give them more bread, they decide to put him in his place.
  • ‘They will all be taught by God’—this is Isaiah 54:13. It’s part of Isaiah’s description of what things will be like on ‘the last day’:

13 I will teach all your children, and they will enjoy great peace.
14 You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.
Your enemies will stay far away.
You will live in peace,  and terror will not come near.

 The Last Day is the day when fear and injustice die, when everything is beautiful and luxurious, when people live peacefully with one another and with God, when God himself is every child’s favorite elementary school teacher, and when life is an unbroken series of blessings. This is what Jesus is promising to whomever draws closer to him.

  • ‘in the synagogue in Capernaum’—this is basically Jesus’ old neighborhood. We’re dealing with his parents’ bowling team, his friends from high school, the kids he played pick-up games of street ball with, and his third grade math teacher. It seems over-familiarity with Jesus makes it hard for them to accept the claims and offers Jesus is making.
  •  ‘You have the words that give eternal life’—while Jesus has described his offer in numerous ways over the course of John, it seems that ‘eternal life’ has become his favorite label for it. It might be worth considering for a moment what in the world ‘eternal life’ is:
    1. While it seems to me that what’s being described here is more than just not dying, that does, in point of fact, seem to be one element of it: ‘Anyone who eats this bread … will live forever’ (6:58).
    2. It’s also a deeply and lastingly satisfying life. Our needs and cravings are filled in a more fundamental, more complete, and more enduring way than they are in ordinary, non-eternal life: ‘But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them’ (John 4:14).
    3. It’s still on its way. Eternal life in its fullness hasn’t entirely arrived yet: ‘the time is coming [my emphasis] when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem’ (4:21).
    4. But it’s also not entirely absent. We can get started with it now: ‘the time is coming, indeed it’s here now [again, my emphasis], when the dead will hear my voice’ (5:25).

In short, I think the ‘eternal life’ Jesus is offering is the kind of life we’d really want for ourselves, starting on a sample basis now, available in increasing measure, without end. I might call it ‘perfect life’ or ‘heavenly life’ or ‘the good life.’

  • ‘but one is a devil’—kind of a bummer note to end on. I think Jesus’ point here is that the Twelve are proving to be who he thought they were when he called them. For eleven of them, that means that they are making their way toward eternal life; for the twelfth, regrettably, it’s quite the opposite. I am curious as to why Jesus would hire someone whom he believes will almost certainly end up working against him.

Taking It Home

  • For you: What’s your favorite kind of bread? Think of one that tastes really good, that’s good for you, and that you could eat every day without getting tired of it. Jesus says that he is kind of like that bread. How do you feel when you eat that favorite bread of yours? (Happy, grateful, satisfied, hungry for more, perhaps?) How does knowing Jesus make you feel the same way? What are ways you feel like you could use a little taste of Jesus today, just like you might want a snack of your favorite bread?
    FF Family/Household Option:  Discuss the “For you” section with each other.
  • For your 6: Ask God to draw each of your 6 to closer to Jesus. As John points out it seems like we all actually need God’s help to do that. Ask God to soften your 6’s hearts to Jesus. Ask God to give your 6 understanding of who Jesus is and what he is offering them.
  • For our church: Ask God to help our church be faithful. Pray that none of us would turn away as so many of Jesus’ disciples did. Instead, pray that God would strengthen our church and that we would stick with God even through hard times as a community.