As we begin chapter 8 of Acts, we see that the church is beginning to fall apart. Jerusalem is in chaos. People are leaving so they don't get caught up in it all. Stephen needs to be buried before the remaining faithful depart for other lands.
We now see another person enter the story, Saul. We briefly saw his name yesterday as we finished Acts 7. He was the one who gave permission for Stephen to be killed. If you are familiar with the various people in the Bible, you may recall that Saul later becomes Paul of Tarsis. He was transformed on the road to Damascus. But, before that happens, he remains Saul of Tarsis. And at this point, he is going house to house, finding anyone who is a believer or follower of Jesus, and throwing them in jail. Jesus has really turned things upside down!
Philip arrives in Samaria and begins to teach the good news of Jesus Christ. The crowds of people are spellbound while they listen to what Philip has to say. Those who are full of sinful ways, those who were ill or handicapped were blessed and made well. The people of Samaria rejoiced! Never have they seen such miracles! The uprising in Jerusalem was a blessing in disguise as it gave more people the opportunity to hear about Jesus, to have miracles performed, and to have the number of followers multiplied!
Our reading in John continues with the Bread of Life discourse. Jesus is telling the people that He is merely doing the will of His Father, "I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the One who sent Me" (v38). Anything that is given to Jesus by the Father will be passed on to those who come to Jesus. And anyone who has seen Jesus and believes in Him will be given eternal life.
I know this seems redundant. I have had to go back and check to make sure we weren't repeating any readings. I do know that when something is repeated often it means that it is something that requires you to pay attention because it's important. Obviously, it is important that we pay attention to everything we read in scripture. But this lesson is even more important. This is the basis for our belief. We know that Jesus will sustain us. He will save us. He will bless us. All He asks is that we believe in Him and follow Him. I think that's a pretty reasonable request. One that should be easy enough to do, as well. I know that in my own life and what we are dealing with currently, if I didn't have my faith, if I didn't have that promise of hope in Jesus, I probably would've given up by now.
And, on that note, dear reader, I'm going to crawl back under the covers and try to take a nap. I'm at least feeling slightly better today than I did yesterday. I wish you blessings for the day and remind you, as always, to be a nice human. 😇
Father Bill's reflection on today's readings: https://youtu.be/GXTCFKfAqC8