The Demands of Discipleship
Brad Martell, Inland West USA Mission Center president
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. -John 6:56-59
If I were to summarize in one word what John 6:56-59 means to me, it would be the word intimacy. Not in a romantic sense, but in the sense of close friendship or familiarity. The author of John’s Gospel wants his audience to understand that the demands of discipleship start with a belief in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God incarnate. The disciples’ belief in Jesus is the start of the journey of ever deepening and intimate discipleship. To truly follow Jesus we are called to become like him. To be a disciple of Jesus is to live one’s life intimately aligned with Jesus’ ministry of justice, peace, generosity, compassion, and healing.
The image of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood was a bit hard to swallow for some in the crowd. They did not understand the language to be metaphor, the images of bread and wine (the daily physical sustenance) representing the intimate relationship of following Jesus. We understand that Jesus calls us as his disciples to become so close to him that we become his hands and feet, his eyes and ears; thus his ministry becomes incarnate in us.
In Doctrine and Covenants 165:3a, we are reminded of the demand of discipleship: to become like Christ through the sacraments and sacred community. “More fully embody your oneness and equality in Jesus Christ. Oneness and equality in Christ are realized through the waters of baptism, confirmed by the Holy Spirit, and sustained through the sacrament of Communion. Embrace the full meaning of these sacraments and be spiritually joined in Christ as never before.”
The demands of discipleship begin with our belief in and proclamation of Jesus Christ. Our journey as disciples, through the sacraments and sacramental living, brings us into an intimate relationship of “oneness and equality in Jesus Christ.”
“In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being” (Job 12:10).
All That Lives
Sit quietly and sense God’s presence flowing through the trees and all creation. Offer a prayer of gratitude for your connection to all that lives. Ask for grace to discern and carry out one small act of justice or healing that creates greater wholeness for the plants, animals, trees, waters, air, and land that are part of the community of creation.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.