Hard to accept: final thought

TrinityNow that we reached the end of “The Bread of Life Discourse,” I thought it appropriate to have a “final thought.” I would offer this reflection from Bishop Craig Satterlee, a Lutheran bishop from Michigan [workingpreacher.org]

“Jesus promises rather than instructs or explains. Jesus promises that whoever eats the flesh and drinks the blood of Jesus, the Son of Humanity, has eternal life now and will be raised up on the last day. Jesus promises to provide food for the life of the world, his flesh and blood. Jesus promises to nourish the world with the gift of himself. For the “flesh” and “blood” of Jesus, his incarnate life and very real death on the cross, is life-giving food for us and for the world. In, with, and under the bread and wine of Holy Communion, which is nothing other than Christ’s body and blood, Jesus nourishes faith, forgives sin, and empowers us to be witnesses to the Gospel. What would it mean for preachers to proclaim Jesus’ promises rather than explain the sacrament?”

“All throughout John 6, Jesus has tried to help us embrace that God’s wisdom — to steal a word from Proverbs — is not so much knowledge to be explained and understood as it is relationship to be trusted and embraced. Jesus no longer speaks of “belief in,” as we find in chapter 3, but of “the one who eats me” (verse 57). For eternal life does not come through understanding correctly or believing the right things. Eternal life is being in close communion with Jesus. Eternal life is to remain in Jesus and to have Jesus remain in us. We take Christ’s body and blood into our mouths, into our stomachs, into our bodies, so that Christ remains in us and we remain in Christ. As we eat and drink, Christ moves us closer to himself. Christ moves us closer to the very life of God. Christ moves us closer to himself, so close that we are as intimate with Jesus as the Father is with the Son.”

“If in bygone days we leaned too far in the direction of understanding before being invited to eat, perhaps today we lean too far toward eating without proclaiming Jesus’ promise and inviting into relationship with him (baptism). There is certainly more going on at Jesus’ table and in, with, and under the bread and wine that is Jesus’ body and blood than loaves and fishes, manna, and a fellowship meal at which all are welcome. “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.” Jesus promises. “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me” (John 6:54-57). Indeed, as I hear many Sundays, it is Jesus’ table. What I hear less frequently is what Jesus promises to do at his. Perhaps proclaiming Jesus’ promises will bring our hearers from loaves and fishes to the body and blood of Christ.”

SOURCES

  • K. Beale and D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007).
  • Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, vol. 29a in The Anchor Bible, eds. William Albright and David Freeman (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1966) 295-304
  • Neal M. Flanagan, John in The Collegeville Bible Commentary, eds. Dianne Bergant and Robert J. Karris (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1989). 992
  • Colin G. Kruse, John: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003). 176-80
  • Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of John, vol. 4 in Sacra Pagina, Daniel J. Harrington (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998) 226-32
  • Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995). 337-46
  • John J. McPolin, John, vol. 6 of the New Testament Message, eds. Wilfred Harrington and Donald Senior (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1989)
  • Gail R. O’Day, John in the New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 9, ed. Leander E. Keck (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996) 609-13
  • Brian Stoffregen, CrossMarks Christian Resources, available at crossmarks.com/brian/

Dictionaries

  • Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995)
  • Horst Robert Balz and Gerhard Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990) –
  • The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman, Gary A. Herion, David F. Graf, John David Pleins and Astrid B. Beck (New York: Doubleday, 1996).

Scripture – Scripture quotes from New American Bible by Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. © 1991, 1986, 1970 at http://www.usccb.org/bible/index.cfm

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s