Growing up with two older brothers, there was never a shortage of GI Joes, Micro Machines, and Legos in my house, but to be honest I never really knew how to play with them. After growing tired of one of my sets of toys, I gave them to my older brother. A little while later I came back, only to find him in the middle of an epic battle in a world he had created and was now playing the hero. In true little brother fashion, I got jealous and demanded he give my toys back to me. I took them back to my room, stared at them for a little while, tried unsuccessfully to recreate the battle my brother had modeled, and after a while gave up and went outside to play basketball. My brother had loads of something I have never fully developed: imagination.
I completely identify with the Jews in this passage. Jesus is talking about being bread from heaven, and the Jews are basically thinking, “Umm, isn’t this Mary and Joseph’s kid...from Nazareth?” Jesus responds with what I have usually read as a rebuke or warning: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” But the more I reflect on this passage, the more comfort I find. Thank God it isn’t up to my feeble imagination to understand or earn my way to the Father. It is up to “God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4) to extend the invitation. And he does so, incredibly, by sending His only son, Jesus, to live and die as one of us.
For my unimaginative self, physical hunger is usually easy to detect, and is nothing a little Chipotle can’t fix. But the season of Lent helps me to reflect on my spiritual hunger, ever present though harder to recognize. It manifests itself in many ways; apathy, lack of empathy, and hopelessness to name a few. But my prayer is that we will be reminded of the fact that on the cross Jesus’ flesh became the bread we so desire, and that Jesus would teach us what it means to feast on Him.
As we fast this Lent, let us look forward to the celebration feast of Easter, and even more to the day when Jesus will return and, once and for all, satisfy the longing soul and fill the hungry with good things (Psalm 107:9).
John is a middle school teacher in DC and lives in Brookland with his amazing wife Hannah, and two children, Ellie and Benjamin. His “plan” of moving to DC after college for a two-year adventure has turned into a 10-year and counting experience for which he primarily blames on the Advent community.