RCL Year B, Proper 14
I Kings 19:4-8, Psalm 34:1-8, Ephesians 4:25–5:2, Saint John 6:35 and 41-51

Today marks the third Sunday of five whose Gospels are taken, in order, from the sixth chapter of Saint John. The first Sunday saw Jesus feeding the five thousand and walking on the water to the disciples. The second Sunday saw Jesus remonstrating with the people for their blurry perception of God and eternity, and the breadth of God’s love and activity in this world and in the next.

The Gospel today moves beyond the miracles and the people to the religious leaders, the Jews, whose religion is the Scriptures and God contained in the Scriptures. They, too, can broaden their perception. He speaks to them of God in his fullness and breadth, not just the stories of God’s past activity.

The first substantial thing Jesus says to them is this: “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.”[1] With these words Jesus tells the religious leaders that the prerequisite of understanding God is a relationship with God in addition to a relationship with the Scriptures. A relationship with the Scriptures leads naturally to a relationship with God. But if not taken, the absence of that step can prove quite damaging. But with it, with a relationship with God, that person Jesus will raise to God on the last day.

To make the point all the more forcefully, Jesus tells the religious leaders that the prophets had said that “they shall all be taught by God.”[2] If these religious leaders had heard and learned God’s voice from the Scriptures, they would recognize that voice in Jesus. The prophets Jesus refers to are Isaiah (chapter 54) and Joel (chapter 2). A relationship with God leads to a relationship with Jesus. These relationships are lacking in those who cannot see God and eternity in Jesus.

The Scriptures should lead to a relationship with God and with Jesus. The Scriptures are completed, and they are finite; we neither add to them nor subtract from them. But yet they open the door to the infinite, the door to God, and the door to eternity. In a way, the Scriptures do not change, but in their changelessness they lead to a relationship with God that is new every day and unending in its possibilities and the places a relationship with God will take you.

When I was ordained to the Diaconate thirty-five years ago, I had to sign my name to a paper, I had to subscribe to the words that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God and contain all things necessary for salvation. I testify that life has made more sense because I believe those things to be true. God in Jesus may lead you almost anywhere, and that journey begins with the Scriptures that tell over and over again of the bread that comes down from heaven[3] and gives life to the world.[4] As the Psalmist said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”[5]

[1] Saint John 6:44.

[2] Saint John 6:45.

[3] Saint John 6:50.

[4] Saint John 6:51.

[5] Psalm 34:8.