Choice or Obligation?

A reading for Monday, March 16, 2015: John 6:1-15.

What's the difference between our choices and our obligation?

In the lesson today, Jesus chooses to be with his disciples on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also know as the Sea of Tiberius. Perhaps Jesus needed some time with his disciples for rest, or to teach them something without the large crowds around.

But large crowds were following Jesus and his band of men, in search of healing. Perhaps that's what reference Tiberius refers us. It would have been the local name for the great lake. When the local people discover where Jesus has gone, they don't hesitate. Here they come again...

Jesus doesn't hesitate either. Immediately, he seeks to feed them and comfort them. Jesus recognizes their need and their hope in him for help. The scriptures say, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul... and your neighbor as yourself." Even though Jesus had made another choice to just be with his disciples, he knows he is also obligated to help the stranger when he can. That's what God sent Jesus to do. Jesus models loving the neighbor, and the miracle Jesus performs proves that God blesses our obligation to our neighbor.

We live in a world where choice is almost the highest ideal. We choose where we live, what we do for a living, where we go to school, who we associate with, and even what we do for fun. Everything in our culture is about choice.

What is our obligation to our neighbor? What must we do for the stranger living next door to us? If they came seeking our help, would we help? What if they don't come seeking, and yet need help?

One last question... what if we are the ones that need help? Have we considered that?

The good news is that we might just end up being the ones fed and healed by Jesus as we embrace not only our choices but also our obligation. Jesus chooses to be obligated to others. How about us?

“This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”


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