I give you two examples of this kind of decision. One is a video in the positive (providing life) and one is in the negative (taking life away). On to the videotape. . .
As you can see from the above clip from The Shawshank Redemption, Red left his place and gave up his life to follow Andy in Zihuatenejo, Mexico. I love that last line from Morgan Freeman, who played Red: "I hope." That's what it's all about, friends.
Our next video is in the negative: what do you abstain from or avoid to keep your life? Watch!
Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich gives the warning at 1:13 in the clip: "By the way, we had that water come in special for you folks. Came from a well in Hinkley." The response from the Ms. Sanchez character is mostly nonverbal as she refrains from drinking the now recognized deadly water, lowers the glass, and declares the meeting over. Visibly shook up, and put on the spot by Erin and her law partner Ed Masry, Ms. Sanchez backs down in the presence of her law partners, as well as the opposing side in the legal case. Telling scene. . .
* * *
The Gospel of John, chapter 6 contains the "Bread of Life" discourse of Jesus, which is below in its entirety.
I Am the Bread of Life22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
The Words of Eternal Life60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
* * *
Let's set the scene here. Jesus has just fed 5000 people with fish and bread on the opposite side of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum, on a hillside. The people sought him not to find out how he got to the other side of the Sea of Galilee so quickly, but when. The "when" aspect of their question reveals the spiritual condition of their hearts - the when shows Jesus they are looking to be fed the fish and bread again, and are not concerned with how Jesus got to where he now was (a story in itself, as Jesus walked on the water and approached the disciples' boat, and once in, the boat immediately came to land where they were headed - see verses 19 and 20).
Jesus calls them out on this. From our passage: 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
There's a limit to this physical world. Food only lasts so long. The human body lives on this earth physically only so many years. One can intellectually assent to someone being right or true, and not be changed physically beyond that. Faith begins when you go beyond the physical world, and trust in "things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). This is what Jesus is driving at in this conversation. Hoping in what is unseen that is beyond this mortal life. Eternal Life.
The next question from the people is "what must we do? Jesus replies with "believe in him (Jesus) who he (the Father) has sent." Now the word believe here in verse 29 is pisteuo in the Greek (Strong's Concordance word #4100) which has to do with being persuaded, and placing confidence in another, even saving faith. The Apostle John uses the word 85 times in his Gospel, and 7 times in 1 John. A rather important word to him, and to us.
The people asked Jesus for a sign again. This was so soon after the feeding of the five thousand, and a further indication of them not believing (pisteuo) in Jesus, placing their trust in him for eternal life. They talk of the manna given to Israel in the wilderness by Moses. Jesus lets them on a little secret: physically it looked like Moses fed them the manna from heaven, but it was really the Father who did it. The spirit world, heaven (and hell), and God are not seen, but are nevertheless real.
Jesus then said this:
33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
Give the bread, give the bread. . . that's all they are thinking about. Bread. Physical mortal life. Jesus' bread is far different from what they are used to: the bread of life. No hunger, no thirst - ever! But that's not good enough for the people. They don't pisteuo Jesus, and so go on nonbelieving. That's called eternal death - eternal separation from God and heaven. A sobering thought it should be.
So this Jewish crowd grumble about Jesus saying he is the Bread of Life. They know him only as a carpenter's son, son of Joseph, and not as anyone else (which he is. . . eternal lifegiver and judge of all). Jesus then states "51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
That flesh part is one that confounds the Jews. They reply with " “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” It's one I probably would have asked not knowing anything more about Jesus than they did at that time before his crucifiction and resurrection.
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[c] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Have you ever heard of initiation ceremonies? Now, I'm not an expert on every world religion out there, but I imagine there's one where you drink someone's blood and/or eat their flesh. There's cannibalism out there in human society, both in history and at the present time, as well as those who drink human blood. We all know from the HIV/AIDS situation how it's important not to share infected blood from those infected with HIV in blood transfusions, for example. The deal here is folks, if you share in another's flesh and/or blood, you partake wholly and completely of them, without reservation. You aren't just a pal or casual acquaintance. You're a true blue friend. A friend for life!
This is what Jesus is driving at. Going all the way. Not having artificial boundaries from a human intellectual point of view on Jesus. Not having simply intellectual assent. No more knowing about Jesus, but knowing Jesus. Through and through. No reservations, no regrets. A friend for life.
Red left his abode and job at the grocery store to follow his friend Andy in Zihuatenejo. He hoped to find a better life there, and did, recognizing that if he did go back, he would be found in violation of his parole. So he didn't go back. He came.
You can too, friend. You can too. I did. So can you.