Thursday, April 22, 2010

Food Indeed

Jesus has laid it out before them. Now comes the defection of unbelievers. This is just too much for them to believe. How is it possible that Jesus could give them His flesh to eat? But unequivocally and with authority, Jesus says that the only ones who will have eternal life are those who eat His flesh and drink His blood. It is food indeed!

Friday of the 3rd Week of Easter - John 6:44-51.
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 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; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caper'na-um.
Now what is this about abiding? The word abide comes from the Old English BIDEN and Middle English ABIDAN which means to remain or continue in one place; to live, dwell, or sojourn. It is also where we get the word abode meaning a place where one lives.

Jesus states, "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." So one who eats the flesh of the Risen Christ and drinks the blood of the Risen Christ, abides in God and God in him.

Where else do we hear of Jesus calling us to abide? It is also in Chapter 15 of the Gospel of John that we find another of the "I AM" statements of Jesus. The RSV uses the word abide but the New American Bible is a little easier to understand, so I will substitute the word abide here for the word remain.

John 15:1-11 (NAB with the word abide substituted)
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Abide in me, as I abide in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it abides on the vine, so neither can you unless you abides in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not abide in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.  
Here you have the word abide 11 times, the number of faithful apostles. Notice that this passage has to do with the vine and branches, the source of grapes, the fruit that produces wine. Wine was often used as a symbol of joy in scripture. Even Jesus' final statement in this passage is "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete."

Besides the bread, what else does Jesus consecrate at the Passover meal? It is wine. The blessing He places on the cup of wine affects us for we will be filled with the very life of God when we drink of it - if we abide in Him. If we do not abide in Him, there are consequences to our eating and drinking the body and blood.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. ~ I Corinthians 11:26-29

If the branch does not abide in the vine, it dies. So too, if we do not abide in His love, we will fail to keep the commandments of Jesus. His gave two commands at the last supper. In the synoptics, the command is in reference to His body: "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

At the last supper in the gospel of John, Jesus' command is a little different. After the washing of the feet of the disciples, Jesus says,  
When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. ~ John 13:12-14
This is not just an example to follow. Only two chapters later Jesus says,
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you." ~ John 15:12-14
So, Jesus is telling us to repeat His very act of sacrifice, not only with the bread and wine, but also in our actions by laying down our life for one another in love. Such food indeed!

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