To assist you in spending time each day asking God for the overflowing presence of the Holy Spirit, we will share a brief devotion several times each week for the next two weeks. They come from Nicky Gumbel, creator of the Alpha Course. If you would be interested in his daily devotional, find it here: Bible in One Year. I encourage you each day to launch from Nicky’s concluding prayer into your own time of asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you more of Jesus, and to let His power move powerfully in your life. Today’s text begins below:
2. Fullness of life
Over and over again, we see that following Jesus is a tough call. Alice Cooper, the rock singer said, ‘Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s real rebellion.’ And yet, it is at the same time the way to life in all its fullness. This fullness of life comes, Jesus explains, from the Holy Spirit.
The teaching of Jesus is not easy. The disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ (6:60). In fact, some of the teaching of Jesus was so hard that ‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him’ (v.66).
It is not so much that the hearers found Jesus’ teaching difficult to understand, but that they did not like its content. They actually found his teaching offensive (v.61). It seems that they were particularly offended by Jesus’ huge claims on their lives. He claimed to be ‘the bread of life’, he called them to believe in him and he offered eternal life.
This teaching brought offence. Not only was it ‘hard’, it was ‘hated’. Jesus says, ‘The world … hates me because I testify that what it does is evil’ (7:7). He was accused of being a deceiver (v.12). There was a very high cost in following someone who was hated in this way.
When many turned back and no longer followed him, Jesus asked the Twelve, ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Simon Peter, the spokesperson for the group, answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God’ (6:67–69). In this passage we see the whole Trinity. Peter recognises Jesus as ‘the Holy One of God’ (v.69). Jesus is unique. He embodies the holiness of God. He is divine. He speaks about the Father (v.65). He also speaks of the Holy Spirit (v.63).
He says, ‘The Spirit gives life’ (v.63a). Just as physical flesh gives birth to physical life, so the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. He says, ‘The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life’ (v.63b).
There are two Greek words for ‘life’. The first one is bios, from which we get the word ‘biology’. This means physical, biological life. The other Greek word for life is zoê – which is the one used here. It means more than just physical existence. It describes the kind of life which Jesus is speaking about when he talks of ‘life in all its fullness’ (John 10:10).
When Jesus speaks of eternal life, he is speaking of a quality of life which starts now and goes on forever. This is the kind of life that the Holy Spirit brings. That is why, although Peter sees that there is a cost in following Jesus, he also sees that the benefits far outweigh the cost. In fact, there is no real alternative. Only Jesus can give us fullness of life. Only Jesus can give us the Holy Spirit.
Prayer to guide you today:
Lord, we need your Holy Spirit to give us life. Please fill us with your Holy Spirit so that the words that we speak today may be spirit and life to those who hear.