The Old Testament lesson from 2 Samuel contains an “after the action” moment in the story of the life of David. After his sexual misadventure with Bathsheba, and after his arranged murder of her husband Uriah, David now receives God’s judgment, delivered through the prophet Nathan. What Nathan offers David is not only a statement of the divine consequences of his actions, but a view of how David’s actions appear in God’s sight. The effect on David is to evoke his repentance, his acknowledgment, “I have sinned before the Lord.” While this is not the kind of situation we find ourselves in (I certainly hope!), the basic pattern of this episode is instructive for us: we reflect on what has happened in our lives, and we ask what state of mind and heart God draws us toward and what changes God asks us to make.
Likewise, but in a very different context, our Gospel lesson is another “after the action” moment in Jesus’ ministry. On the day after the feeding of the five thousand, those people who remain go to find Jesus. When they come to him, Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” Jesus directs them to believe in the one whom God has sent. Seeing that they still do not understand, Jesus tells them, “the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they ask, “Sir, give us this bread always.” And Jesus replies, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Again, we find the pattern of this episode instructive: we reflect on how we have tasted the joy of God’s abundance and how we have known Christ in our lives, and we ask how we can live in such a way as to live in and share that abundance and the love of Christ always.
This Sunday when we gather to listen to God speaking to us in scripture, song, and prayer, we will also be asking two questions: 1.) What does God want us to do now? And 2.) How do we need to change in order to do it?