Are they gone? Are they all gone? Alright, now it’s just us people-who-have-read-the-story-already people 😁. Great, now we can get started. Phew!
I’ve always loved the symbols and pictures the Bible uses to describe how God came to save us from sin and death, and how He works in our lives. Light piercing darkness. A groom courting a bride that felt undeserving. A shepherd seeking a lost sheep. And, the image this story was based on, receiving God’s very life like we eat bread and drink wine.
If the part in John 6 where Jesus told them to eat His flesh felt strange to you, don’t worry. You’re in good company. The people in the room that day felt the same way. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood? “This is too tough to swallow,” someone said, pun intended or not. And I didn’t make that up. It’s recorded here:
Many among his disciples heard this and said, “This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow.”
John 6:60 (MSG)
But He didn’t mean it ‘literally’. It was a symbol of a sacrifice He was going to get done. So that the essence of it could forever be emblazoned on our minds, He solidified at His last supper with His disciples in what Christians call Communion or the Eucharist.
As the bread is broken we are reminded of His body that was broken for us. As the wine is poured we are reminded of His blood that was shed for us, His very life given so that we who were dead could come to life and have a relationship with God. I loved looking at these things, and I still do.
But as I grew and encountered the world outside my bubble, I came to see that the world is complicated. Not everyone sees things the way I do. People have sincere questions about the evil and decay in the world, and how that jibes with the idea of a God that loves us. Questions went all the way back to the beginning in Eden. If God loves us, why did He let us fall knowing it would hurt us? These and more made me consider what I believe, if I truly believed it or if I was just going with something because it felt comfortable.
Sometimes we need our bubbles popped, you know, so that the only thing that remains is what truly endures.
But then this made me come to realise, understand and appreciate the promise of Immanuel, a Hebrew term meaning ‘God with us’. As first seen in Isaiah 7:14, In the midst of Israel’s troubles God promised “Immanuel”, that Someone would come Who would be God with us (that’s what immanu-el means in Hebrew). But it’s so much more, and here’s why.
God has not been aloof from all our suffering. In His love He gave us free will and, when we chose the way that led to destruction, He didn’t leave us to our fate. He came to be a part of what we experience. Our hunger, our thirst, our joy, our pain. He knew no sin, but He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He became one of us. God as us. God amongst us. God with us. That is what Immanuel means, and that is what Jesus came to encapsulate.
Like someone once said, that’s why He’s the Word of God: He’s everything God ever wanted to say to us. And it’s true. God has always loved us and in embodying what love is, He wants to be a part of our lives and wants us to have a part in His.
But He is holy, and sin cannot stand in His sight. Friendship with God could not work.
And that’s why God went for the jugular in dealing with our biggest problem first, sin and death. Just as the bread is broken and loses its form, Jesus would be broken for our sakes, dying the death we deserved. Just as the wine is poured out and drunk, His life would be cast down for us. And this one offering would be what saves us from the slavery to death that we had lived in. And now that He is risen everyone that believes in Him and receives His sacrifice receives God’s life just like one swallows something eaten.
It’s as close as it gets.
Like the beloved poem by William Cowper goes
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
This is why my story went the way it did. We were the walking dead and we didn’t even know it, because of the virus of sin that plagued our very souls. Death reigned in us, dooming us to eternal separation from God. But God did everything to end that. He came to have a union with us, becoming Man, so that He could extinguish that virus.
This lover of symbols couldn’t resist using this story to represent the mother of all living, Eve as Eva (well, Eve and Adam, actually) who instigated it all just as we would have. Andy represented Jesus obviously, and the greenhouse was Eden. DIABLO is Latin for devil, and pictures how the devil deceived them and prodded them towards the mistake.
But the story and work of Immanuel is not over yet, and that’s where Lisa’s story comes in.
One of the reasons there seems to be a disconnect between the loving Father the Bible speaks of and the God the world understands is because of the need of this, for lack of a better word, incarnation. People don’t see where the good all-powerful God fits in all the decadence we experience around us. But His plan is that everyone that has the life of God represents Him on Earth. We are the Light in a desperate, dark and dying world. There need not be a disconnect because He has placed you where you need to be to shine His Light. So that when they see your actions and reactions, they’ll see what God is about.
Even in suffering, they’ll see how God delivers us from or sustains us in the midst of the trial. Jesus said,
In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration;
but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!
For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
John 16:33 (AMP)
One of God’s children, a man named Paul, told us of a time he also went through a rough patch like this, a problem that didn’t seem to let go. But here’s what God said to him:
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (KJV)
That’s why the life of a child of God is not dictated by circumstances. God’s grace and power that He provides is enough for us, and that’s why we can trust Him.
Even as believers we may not always ‘feel’ upbeat. There may be more month at the end of the money (no, that wasn’t a typo), or nothing in the bank, or many other reasons to be discouraged. There may be more questions along the way. . While we have a responsibility to always trust in Who our Father is, He knows us – our strengths and weaknesses– and He reminds us of His promise and helps us up. That’s where strength comes from.
…He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]
Hebrews 13:5 (AMP)
We’re human and for now, until the day we are fully united with Him in death or at His return, we see Him and His eternal realities dimly. As clear as it may seem, as close as God feels in our best moments, there is so much more ahead of us than anything we’ve ever experienced.
This is the promise Communion reminds us of. Fully in union with God, that’s what Jesus made us. And nothing can ever separate us from His love.
I truly hope this story has moved you and has been as much of a blessing to you as it has been for me. Thank you for reading this far.
God loves you, so much! Talk to Him today. If you haven’t already, ask Him for this Gift of His Life that He has for you. It’s yours for the asking, and it’s just the beginning.
No matter where or when you are in your life’s journey, He’s right there at that table with you. He knows what you feel. He knows who you are. And He loves you.
May the eyes of your heart be open to see Him better.
He adds life to the mundane.
He makes bland colourful
He calls it all very good.
He makes it beautiful.
Thank you so much for reading once again!