Glencairn Methodist Church
Newer and Better
In the days of Moses, God used miraculous ways to save and sustain his chosen people. First there was the Exodus - the deliverance of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The last of the ten plagues sent by God to persuade the Pharaoh to "let my people go" resulted in the death of the firstborn of all Egyptian families and livestock. The Israelites were spared "by the blood of the lamb" - the houses of the Israelites were "passed over" by God when He smote the Egyptians because they had smeared the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts and lintel. Read about this in Exodus 11 and 12.
Then during their wilderness wanderings, God miraculously provided the essentials of life - water, bread and meat. In Exodus 17: 1-6 we read that the people demanded "Give us water to drink!" Gods instructed Moses to strike a particular rock with his staff, and water came gushing out. And the people complained about not having any food and so God sent manna - "bread from heaven", and flocks of little birds, quails, which landed in the camp and provided meat to eat. Read about this is Exodus 16.
The trouble with the manna and the quail meat was that it didn't stay fresh for very long and had to be provided every day. And of course the water, indeed any drinking water, only quenches thirst for a while and then the craving returns.
Roll forward over 1000 years to the time of Jesus. Sometimes we think of Jesus as the first Christian, but this is not what the Bible says. Jesus was a Jew who came primarily to make Judaism newer and better, as we might say today, to bring "new expressions of church" to his people.. At first the followers of Jesus were considered to be a Jewish sect. But Judaism was always intended to be "a light to the Gentiles" and that emerged out of the Jesus-sect and became the Christian church.
Now St John, the writer of the fourth Gospel constructed his story of Jesus in such a way as to convince his Jewish readers that Jesus was the new Moses, the long expected Messiah. He brought newer and better "living" water to people, he brought newer and better bread - bread of life, and it was through his blood shed on the cross - the blood of the Lamb of God - shed once and for all, a sacrifice not needing to be repeated - that all nations could be saved and delivered from their slavery to sin.
Read of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman in John 4, where he teaches that he can give people, who believe in him, "living water". Not only will they not thirst again but they themselves will be a spring of water gushing out to other people. Read in John 6 the story of the miraculous feeding of a great crowd. A boy in the crowd gave Jesus his wee lunch comprising five barley loaves, made from barley the poorest of flour, and two sardines. And Jesus not only satisfied the hunger of the great crowd but also provided twelve baskets full of left over fragments. John records that Jesus said, "It is my Father who gives you" [not manna but] "the true bread from heaven." Jesus continues, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirst."
We commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in our service of Holy Communion. Here we find that our souls are fed with the very life of Jesus, just as our bodies are nourished by the bread and wine.
Reader, think about these things and accept Jesus' call on your life. It will make you newer and better in every way.
2nd August 2012
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm