08182021 – John 6. 51-58
It is not good to be misunderstood. Or to be misread. Or to be taken out of context. Or sometimes, to be taken literally…
It can result badly.
That’s the case of tonight’s gospel text, Jesus’ words are misunderstood and taken literally.
Remember we are in John’s gospel.
What we have before us is a “no-nonsense-Jesus.” He is severe. He is intense. He is extreme, if not extremist!
Jesus here, is not making nice. Not even close…
He is not “playing to the crowds.”
He is not attempting to “WOO” anyone!
Instead, he comes across as being deeply profound, harsh, abrasive, and extremely offensive.
He comes across with an “I don’t care” – “I’ve had it up to here” – kind of attitude.
It is obviously DECISION TIME…not to be confused with MILLER TIME!
This is one of those hard sayings. A hard teaching. Difficult to understand.
The ONUS is on YOU. This is MAKE or BREAK time. You will either be committed, or you will not.
There is no wiggle room.
It comes across very black and white…this is “TELL IT LIKE IT IS Jesus,” the only problem, the people failed to understand his words.
One of my favorite authors says: “We do not live by bread alone, BUT we also do not live long without it, either…
We are talking “a staple.”
Something that is necessary for life.
TO EAT – is to acknowledge our dependence both upon food and upon each other…
Jesus wants us to acknowledge our dependence and our need for HIM and HIS FATHER in our daily lives.
It is meant to be an on-going, lifelong, continual relationship.
The words of the scriptures also remind us – that there are “other kinds” of emptiness…and “hungers” – that not even the blue-plate-special at FW Woolworth’s lunch counter could satisfy.
Not everything is about food. Not everything is fulfilling.
Sometimes we are left wanting more. So, Jesus is here suggesting…that the Spirit must be fed, as well…
We need God. We need each other. We need community. Sometimes we need the whole village. We need social interactions…We can all be very needy people sometimes…
And sometimes, we need no one.
There is a flip side to these words as well. Words have power. Words take on a meaning all their own. Words can be misinterpreted, misunderstood, taken out of context, and sometimes even used against us.
These words in particular were troublesome.
In the case of the early Christian community these words…or words similar to these … brought about devastating hardship and even death.
The church knew and knows something about persecution. The church persecuted. The church was persecuted. It is kind of an interesting history.
Romans were a fairly tolerant people, dependent upon whom you read. They actually had a whole pantheon of gods and goddesses.
Roman persecution did not stem from “an aversion to God…”
The Romans as a whole were very religious. They strongly believed that their success was due to their strong belief in the Gods.
But like all peoples…they did hold that some things were just NOT ACCEPTABLE. Among these unacceptable actions were cannibalism and incest.
A MAJOR REASON the Romans persecuted Christians was because they did not UNDERSTAND the words that were being used by the early Christian community. Language, words, like the words of tonight’s text reeked of cannibalism.
Christians along with their fellow Jews would actually quote the scripture that says, “Oh, Taste and see, that the Lord is good.” Such words were repulsive and unacceptable.
NOW, let’s take it up a notch. THIS IS MY BODY…given for you. THIS IS MY BLOOD…shed for you. The body of Christ. The blood of Christ.
Christian rituals and worship were held in secrecy, behind closed doors. Non-believers were not welcome. It was just another-cult meeting in secrecy. What were they doing in there? Whose body were they digesting? Whose blood were they actually drinking. Rumors flowed…
We persecute and harass that which we do not understand.
“Whoever eats me, will live because of me.” “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” Oh, taste and see, that the Lord is good.
Words have power. And they came with a price.