The work of God

The work of God

The Bread of Life.

(The Gospel History, Section 64)

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What then doest thou for a sign, that we may see, and believe thee? what workest thou? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.

The work of God

(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV, Book I, Poem XIII)

“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

Nay, will ye understand, one work for you
Is set, takes all your days to carry through;
Ye ask of ‘the works of God,’—there is but one,
Nor shall ye know when that is duly done:
(The little things ye do with mighty stir—
’Tis as if summer flies were buzzing there);
This, God’s one work—believe ye on His Son—
Behold, the work shall please Him,—that alone!”

As shattering lightning struck that luminous word:
What then of all the teachings they had heard,—
“Do this, and live?” What of that motion sure
In each man’s breast bids him,—Do well, endure?
“Nay, what is this ‘believing’? Come we here
But to anoint Him King; we have no fear,
Not we, of Herod, Cæsar, and their crew;
That thing the people willeth shall they do!

But we may die for this; what would He more?”
And, as they talked with hearts aggrieved and sore,
A shadow fell on th’ palpitating crowd,
Awed them to sudden stillness: what hath cowed
These demagogues loud for their country’s weal?
The Cross had cast a shadow each could feel
Lie cool, controlling, on his turbulent heart.
They thought upon the Lord:—He takes no part
Of all that wealth we covet at His hand;
We would be free; He goes as at command;
With feet fast held to the path He needs must tread,
He painful walks as one austerely led:
We, wilful, fain would rule with lordly sway,—
He,—“Father, do Thy will, I would obey.”
We, all self-ordered, do the thing we choose,—
He, “sent,” may no repellent task refuse.

And as they pondered, lo, the Cross grew plain;
Through sacrifice and service, grief and pain,
Men find the blessedness all would attain:—
Dim faith is dawning, they begin to see
The measure of Christ’s word, “Believe on Me.”
Lo, hot resentment stirs—in them and us;
“Unnatural,” we cry, “that men should thus
Deny their instincts, dwell in painful strife
With all those things delectable in life!”

“What doest thou for a sign, that we may see and believe thee? what workest thou?”

“Our fathers ate manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.”

They see Him as He is, and, sore at heart,
Fret and cry out against that better part
The Lord to each man offers. “What’s the good?
Wilt thou provide us with sweet, ample food
Laid daily on our board? What sign dost Thou,
That, seeing, we shall Thy sov’reignty allow?
’Tis not enough all goodness to fulfil,
’Tis not enough to bend our stubborn will,
Till, seeing Thee, to goodness we incline;
Moses, before men’s eyes, wrought greater sign,—
He gave them manna for their daily bread:
E’en so would we in idleness be fed;
Let’s see and we’ll believe; work sign to show
What great things Thou canst do; then will we go,—
But give us th’ meat we crave,—Thee to proclaim
Our King—till all the nations own Thy name!”

Lord, are we, then, like this insensate crew,
Insistent Thou their ignorant will should’st do?.

St. John vi. 29, 30, 31.