What We Can Learn From Alferd E. Packer

In the winter of 1874, a man named Alferd E. Packer showed up in Gunnison, Colorado claiming that the rest of his party of gold seekers had perished in a snowstorm. Eventually he confessed that during the blizzard, in order to stay alive he had eaten some of his friends who had died in the storm. He had no choice, he remarked. If he hadn’t eaten them, he would have perished as well.

The legal authorities couldn’t stomach his claim, and convicted him of murdering his cohorts. After serving time in prison, he was released and died not far from my home in Littleton, Colorado.

One hundred years later, the students at the University of Colorado christened their new cafeteria the “Alferd E. Packer Grill” with the slogan, “Have a friend for lunch.”

Stories of cannibals have existed for millennia. Like Packer, some have resorted to “having their friends for lunch” out of necessity. But for the most part, cannibals have resorted to eating people in order to gain something from the person being consumed.

In many ways, the same holds true of Jesus’ followers.

Please join me…but not for lunch!


1 Samuel 10:1-11:15
John 6:43-71
Psalm 107:1-43
Proverbs 15:1-3


1 Samuel 10:1-11:15. Samuel’s words to Saul in 10:1 are very telling: “Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance?” Samuel was appointing Saul to lead God’s people. Israel didn’t belong to the newly anointed king. Instead, God appointed Saul as a steward over his possession. This is a great perspective for any leader.

In chapter 11, it quickly becomes obvious that although Israel now had a king, each tribe operated independently. Faced with the possibility of one region being forced into servitude, Saul rallied the other tribes into battle. Saul—and Israel’s victory—solidified his role as king.

John 6:43-71. Jesus’ words in this passage make it abundantly clear that he was more than a prophet. Every line is saturated with meaning.

Psalm 107. I always enjoy reading this psalm. The theme of this psalm gives praise to God for his unfailing love. Despite our digressions and failures, God proves that his love never ends. We can run out of patience, out of ideas, even out of gas. But God’s love and forgiveness is in infinite supply!

Proverbs 15:1-3. The subject of the first two verses concerns our words: “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

I readily admit that I’m a talker. But when I reflect on these two proverbs, I’m inclined to talk less, listen more, and measure my words wisely.


Yesterday’s post about Israel’s evil request for a king generated an interesting insight from one of our readers. In two different posts, Elna remarked

Can you imagine how it was before Israel got a king? Everything belonged to the people, no excessive government spending, no overbearing and under-achieving bureaucracy? And no, I am no socialist…

Maybe that’s why God called a king a curse.
Being answerable to your direct family/family head makes your ‘sin’ more real…because it’s not “them” you are in rebellion against; its “us.” People always talk about the inhuman way of stoning. But it really puts the onus on the community to keep the sinner from sin because you really don’t want to stone your friend/family member. And from wrongful accusation/fraud because if you lie you will be committing murder. By putting justice in the ruler’s hand we are shirking our duty towards our community, and our own conscience because it is so far removed from ourselves that we don’t take responsibility.

My colleague and co-blogger Eugene Scott responded,

It seems that though the people sinned by each “doing what was right in his own eyes,” God’s idea of a theocracy (if we should call it that) in Judges and even part of Samuel had to do with the people not having an excessive government, bureaucracy, king, dictator, etc. But rather a loose system of family and tribal leaders that allowed them to be in more direct dependence on God.

What an enlightening and thought-provoking discussion! That’s why a daily Bible conversation is so much better than one person droning on and on about what the Bible says.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.


The early Christians were accused of being cannibals–and what would you expect when outsiders heard that the Christians were gathering on a regular basis to eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood?

Today, we read some fairly confusing words uttered by Jesus:

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. John 6:53-56

What in heaven’s name does Jesus mean?

For centuries, theologians have debated this passage, likening it to various interpretations of communion. Granted, it points to communion, but on a deeper level, it points to the way you and I regard Jesus. Do we keep him at a distance or do we make him our life…and our death?

Ingesting Jesus means to consume him and look to him to give us life. It means to seek him, rely on him, and give him predominance in our thoughts. It means depending on Jesus to be our savior and follow him as our Lord.

That’s why his disciples told him, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

At the end of Jesus’ hard words, and after many of his disciples left him, Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Peter then answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood means leaving no room for other options. He is our only way to true life.

You see, following Jesus doesn’t mean he’s a part of your life, it means he is your life.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What does John 6:43-71 tell you about Jesus?
  3. How do you consume Jesus? How have you discovered him to be your life?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.


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2 responses to “What We Can Learn From Alferd E. Packer

  1. Todd Lowther

    Had the opportunity to watch America–The Story of US. One segment retold the wagon train tragedy of the Donner group, marooned in 5 feet of snow on its way to CA. Only a few survived, living off pack animals and each other. What I’ve enjoyed about this reading together (Daily Bible Conversation) is the discipline of knowing others are doing the same. Plus it had been awhile since I’ve read all the way through, and with the perspective I have as a more mature person, I’m more sympathetic with the trials and bad decisions the people of God have made.

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