Connections 07.25.2021: Needing Jesus

John 6:1-15

When my children were small, they wanted to be near me constantly. I work from home, so this meant that almost as soon as I grabbed a few quiet minutes to edit a Bible study lesson or book chapter, a little girl’s voice would call out to me, wanting one thing or another. “Mommy, read to me.” “I’m hungry.” “I need to use the potty.” “Can we watch a movie together?” “My tummy hurts.” “Play with me.” Sometimes I could stall them in order to finish my work; most of the time I had to address their needs and save my reflective moments for later.

My girls are teenagers now, and while they still seem to enjoy spending time with me, they’re much more adept at taking care of their own needs. They rarely interrupt me when I’m working. I have lots of quiet time to edit and think and ponder.

When I read passages like today’s lesson text, I imagine Jesus in the first scenario. It seems like every time he tries to sneak away for a quiet moment of reflection—some time to gather his thoughts, commune with God, rest, and regroup—the crowds press in with their needs. “I’m sick.” “I’m hungry.” “My brother is dying.” “My mother is grieving.” “Teach us.” “Pray with us.” “Heal us.” Sometimes Jesus is able to withdraw and be alone; most of the time he chooses to address the people’s needs when they come to him.

I imagine Jesus enjoyed those times when he was around people who knew more about him, understood him a little better, and were not so needy. Maybe those were the moments when he truly got to rest and commune with his Father. But even the people who knew Jesus best still had a hard time grasping his mission. They still needed him to teach, encourage, challenge, and comfort them. And he did that for them.

When it comes to matters of faith, we need to grow and mature and become more independent—to, as Paul puts it, eat “solid food” (1 Cor 3:2)—but we will always need Jesus. And unlike an emotionally tired and physically exhausted mother, our Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus is ready and willing to meet our needs whenever we come to him. He knows what we need better than we ever could.

Discussion

• Who needs you on a regular basis, whether for physical needs like food, shelter, and clothing or for emotional needs like encouragement, support, and attention?
• How do you make time to rest—to be alone with your thoughts, pray, meditate, or whatever you do that helps you regroup and recover from the daily challenges of life?
• The New Testament mentions Jesus withdrawing from others several times: Matthew 14:13, 23; Mark 1:35-37; 6:31-32; Luke 5:15-16; 6:12; 9:10; 9:28. Why do you think it was so important to Jesus to have these quiet moments? What do you imagine he talked to God about?
• Do you feel that you are on “solid food” as a Christian? If so, how do you still acknowledge your daily need for Jesus?
• How can you make it a priority to spend quiet moments alone with God?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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