REFLECTIONS ON JOHN 6:16-27 - AYLA YEAKLEY, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
, John 6:16-27
Jesus Walks on Water: Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
The Bread from Heaven: On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone -- however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks -- when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
Many people, over two thousand years later, still seek Jesus because of what he offers. Christianity is the only religion that believes in grace over karma. Christians all over the world continue to focus on eternal life with Jesus rather than perishable Earthly things, whether those things are bread, money, the latest technology, or the colorful toy from a commercial. Christianity compels people because of the purposeful way of life that comes with it.
We follow a loving God, yet, no matter how fulfilling a life we strive to create, it can be so difficult. We are meant to seek Jesus because we “ate the loaves and were filled.” We are not meant to seek Him because of signs and wonders. This is very hard for me, as I am autistic, and think very logically. I have a hard time comprehending abstract things like spirituality.
My autism is a gift. It makes me a creative deep thinker, but it does hinder me sometimes when it comes to religion. On top of that, I’ve suffered painful orthopedic issues all my life that lead me to question God’s goodness, when He can let me be in such agony. How can there be Heaven, where even my stiff spine and persistent anxiety can’t hurt me?
Of course, that’s definitely not to say you shouldn’t think things through. Sometimes difficult questions can strengthen faith, if they are answered well. Believing in something that has no evidence to support it is like running across the highway blindfolded just because someone told you to. It is dangerous, and can lead to harmful, destructive beliefs. Sometimes, seeing really is believing. Though it is okay to look for evidence to remind us of the reality of Christ, it shouldn’t ever be the reason we worship and believe.
We shouldn’t pray because we saw a documentary about how evolutionary human psychology wouldn’t allow that many of one species to be martyrs for a cause unless it was true. We shouldn’t pray because our basic human understanding can process Christianity to some small extent; that’s not a good enough reason. We can’t even tell God’s seven days of creation from our short week based on the movement of the sun. Our reason for loving Jesus should be even more than evidence, signs, and Jesus’s promises to us. It should be because we feel whole when we think of His love for us. We should be filled.
Dear God, please help us to seek You, not for the sake of understanding, but because we love and trust You. Guide us through our doubts and show us Your glorious presence. Remind us of all you’ve done for us to deserve our praise and discipleship. Help us to believe in You, and the land of Heaven, no matter how hard it may become to believe in a place without sorrow or pain.
~Submitted by Ayla Yeakley, Saint Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.