Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 11 2013 - John 6:41-71 – You have the words of eternal life

People did not always find Jesus’ teaching easy: it was not always easy to understand; it was not always easy to accept. In John 6 we read that Jesus had been speaking of himself as the bread of life. He then goes on to say that he will give his flesh for the life of the world and that those who eat his flesh will live. As if that were not enough, he then goes on to speak of the necessity of drinking his blood – this to a people who were scrupulous about avoiding blood. Jesus’ words were not easy to understand. They often caused offence.

As the crowds began to drift away Jesus challenged the twelve by asking, “Do you also want to leave?” Peter immediately replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69). Peter and the other disciples may also have been perplexed by many of the things that Jesus was saying and doing, but they knew that they could not leave him; he alone was the source of life.

These same words have often sustained me in times of perplexity. There are times when I find it hard to understand the things that Jesus is teaching me through his word or through the way in which he leads me. There are even times when an inner voice seems to say, “Is it all worth it? Why don’t you just turn back?” But at such times, my response echoes Peter’s words, “Where else can I turn? Jesus alone has the words of eternal life.” There is no one else like him, and even though I may not always understand what he is teaching me, I can trust him – trust him absolutely. He is the source of life and there is no one else to whom I can turn.

In the preface to his helpful book, The God I Don’t Understand, Chris Wright says;

Some of my friends raised their eyebrows when I told them I was writing a book entitled The God I Don’t Understand… This may have had something to do with the fact that they know I have written three books with titles beginning Knowing God. Was this a sudden collapse into apostasy or backsliding? I told them it was a sign of a healthy balance…

I live daily with the grateful joy of knowing and trusting God. But knowing and trusting does not necessarily add up to understanding… To know God, to love and trust him with all one’s heart and soul and strength, is not the same as to understand God in all his ways. For as God himself reminds us, “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’.”

We have come to believe and to know that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Many things that he said may still confuse us. The way he leads us may sometimes perplex us. But we love him and trust him and cannot turn away from him.

Father God, there are many things I do not understand, many things that perplex and even trouble me. But there is one thing above all that I do not understand – that you should have sent your Son into the world to redeem me and bring me to glory. I love you because you have first loved me. Lord Jesus, I trust you with my life, for you have given your life for me. By your Spirit, help me to grow in understanding of your ways and in likeness to your character.

May 11 2019 - 2 Samuel 15:1-23 – Absalom's revolt

Absalom had killed his half-brother Amnon and fled from his father David. After three years, David longed for Absalom to return home. Joab, the commander of Israel's army persuaded David to allow his son to return to Jerusalem. David agreed but said that Absalom must return to his own house in the city; he could not come to the king's palace to see his father. Only two years later was David persuaded to allow Absalom to come to court and greet him. This is where we pick up the story in 2 Samuel 15.

Absalom appears to be the oldest of David's surviving sons and probably expected to succeed his father as king. But, having allowed a single meeting between them, David seems to have then to have sent Absalom away and ignored him. So Absalom decides to take matters into his own hands.

Absalom sets himself up with a chariot and horses and has fifty men run ahead of him. He is behaving like a king and parading his power and splendour before all the people. Then he set himself up as a judge and counsellor in the gateway of the city of Jerusalem – the traditional place where people came for judgement. In these ways "he stole the hearts of the people of Israel" (v.6) – he is beginning to become more popular with the people than his aging father.

After four years, Absalom went off to Hebron with 200 men from Jerusalem. From there he "sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, “Absalom is king in Hebron.”’" (v. 12).

When David heard of Absalom's conspiracy and that he had the support of many of the Israelites, he decided that he must flee from Jerusalem so that Absalom does not come and wage war against the city. So David, his household and his band of supporters left Jerusalem. Among those supporters were 600 Gittites, led by a man called Ittai, who had accompanied David when, many years before, he had left Gath. David tried to dissuade Ittai saying, "Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland… shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you." (vv 19-20). But Ittai replies in words similar to those spoken by Ruth to Naomi, "As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be" (v. 21).

David had failed to discipline his sons and to bring them up to love and serve the Lord. They had seen how he behaved and had followed his example by descending into rape and murder. And David had done nothing. Now the judgment which God had pronounced on him through Nathan is working its terrible consequences: "The Lord told David, 'You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'" (2 Samuel 12:9-10).

Praise God that we have a perfect King to rule over us in the Lord Jesus, one who has left us an example of humble obedience towards God and loving service of others. If Ittai could promise unfailing love for David, with all his faults, and declare that he would follow him in life and in death, how much more should we be ready to declare our love for the Lord Jesus and promise never to forsake him. After all, he has promised never to leave or forsake us; he has promised that nothing in life or in death will separate us from his love.

Father, we thank you for our Saviour and King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you that no power on earth or in hell can threaten his kingship or rob him of his kingdom. Help us by your Spirit to follow him closely and to live lives that reflect his holy character and glory.

Peter Misselbrook