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11 January 2008

The Z Axis

I have four partially-completed writings but have not been perfectly happy with their development, so I was happy that my long-time friend, Bill Fowler, consented to allow me to repost one of his recent articles.

This is the second guest-post, or at least, the second post which I will have transplanted from somewhere else to here. This comes from Bill's blog notes on Tuesday, January 8. I thought it was too good to risk any of you missing it. It was decidedly long enough to meet the strict quality standards we have here about long posts, too...



This week, I read a passage that has stuck with me. Thought I'd share it here. The setting is just after Jesus fed the 5,000. The crowd sets out in search of him in order, as John says, "to make him King by force", but Jesus avoids them and retreats across the lake - the scene of the walking on water miracle. Not giving up, the crowd finally finds him on the other side of the lake where he addresses them saying:

John 6: 26-27 "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."

Do not work for food that spoils. I love this. The crowd has followed Jesus since he just gave them a meal. A very tangible response to a very tangible event. Jesus however, makes the point that while the tangible meal might be satisfying at the moment, soon there will be another hunger, then another and another.

They don't get the message.

John 6: 30-32 So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"

He tries again.

John 6: 35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

Again, they're not listening to what he's actually saying.

John 6: 42 "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?"

This exchange is fascinating. Jesus tells them what bread they actually need for life. Unfortunately, Jesus and his audience are not connecting. They cannot see beyond the immediate; what's sitting in front of them. I like to think in metaphors for things like this. I thought of 8th grade math class. Graphing equations on the X and Y axis (the Cartesian Plane). Once you see the 4 quadrants that make up this graphing model, numbers begin to look very simple. One of the few math classes in which I made good grades. It's only much later that the Z axis is introduced, creating a 3rd dimension on which to plot numbers and equations (see image above).

This visual metaphor really worked for me. I see the crowd as a group only able to understand what's directly in front of them. They were hungry, Jesus fed them, literally. Therefore, he must be the Messiah. The crowd and their concerns exist only on the X and Y axis. Jesus tells them that a completely different kind of hunger exists, for which he is also the Bread of Life. Jesus is the Z axis. Here where the wheels fall off for the crowd. They just don't understand.

Not that I'm totally comfortable with what continual life on the Z axis must be like, but I know that plane exists. I think all of us are pre-wired to exist in the here and now - the X and Y. It's a very easy and safe place to be. Once we look up and realize that not only does the Z axis exist, but it's been there all along do we get a glimpse of what the real meaning of life is.

Courtesy of Work, Write, Worship

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Christy says: WOW! I think I actually understand what you just said here! Just don't test me on it later, please. ;)

BTW: I highly recommend that you watch the DVD "The Gospel of John". It goes through the book of John word for word (unless you don't consider anything but the KJV the Word, this adaptation uses the "Gospel Message" version). The movie, if you want to call it that, came out shortly after "The Passion of the Christ", but I don't think it was widely known about. I have the DVD if you ever wish to borrow it. I've read the four gospels many times, but seeing this one on the screen really made me see things that I hadn't before.

Dean Lusk said...

"I think I actually understand what you just said here!"

Could it be because someone else wrote it?! (Sigh) I think this guest-post business could lead to self-esteem problems down the road...

Preston N said...

Isn't this like the equivalent of cheating?

"Everyone stay calm, I've alerted the Blog Police and they have assured me they will handle this. Dean's punishment will be he will have to write "I will not copy other peoples blog material and post it to mine" 100 times."

Honestly, though I have to admit I have done this on more occasions than you so I am in really big trouble!

Dean Lusk said...

I think this is may be equivalent to cheating only because it involves a form of math.

Bill did grant consent, so I guess I'll just need to make sure all royalties resulting from this post go to him.

Oh, and I will not copy other peoples blog material and post it to mine...

I will not copy other peoples blog material and post it to mine...

Etc.

:)

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