The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

“Eat my flesh” too tough to swallow (Readings for Sunday, August 27)

with 2 comments

apsemosaicstcatherinesmonasterysinai-c565.jpg“Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.”

Jesus has insisted on a grisly metaphor and refused to back off. Some – many – say, “Enough” and are gone. Things have gotten a little too crazy.

Many commentators are convinced that Jesus here points up the significance of Communion.  But I have a hunch that’s missing his point: that both the sacrament and Jesus’ aggressive words are devices, rather than ends in themselves, that he uses to suggest a much more costly reality.

If I am to follow him, I must devour him, until he becomes the very substance of my own existence. Maybe the question isn’t the theologians’ “What does the Bread become?” but  the seeker’s “Am I becoming the Bread?”

Someone writing on a TextWeek link last week (I’ve lost the reference, sorry), quoted Benedictine liturgist Aidan Kavanaugh, who dared to see and say something similar to Jesus’ words:

His broken body is my broken body upon which others feed. His blood spilled is my blood shed to rejoice the hearts of all. His tomb is mine, and in it others die to rise again.

It is not hard to see why people shrink from it. What Jesus asks is frightening.

John 6:56-69 (The Message)

But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.”

He said these things while teaching in the meeting place in Capernaum.

Too Tough to Swallow

Many among his disciples heard this and said, “This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow.”Jesus sensed that his disciples were having a hard time with this and said, “Does this throw you completely? What would happen if you saw the Son of Man ascending to where he came from? The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making. But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this.” (Jesus knew from the start that some weren’t going to risk themselves with him. He knew also who would betray him.) He went on to say, “This is why I told you earlier that no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the Father.”

After this a lot of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: “Do you also want to leave?”

Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.”

The Message Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.


Written by Monte

August 21, 2006 at 1:28 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks very much! Others can follow Pacpics’ amazing photographs of Pakistan at Worth a visit!


    August 25, 2006 at 12:18 pm

  2. Hi Monte,
    what a nice post it is, I am impressed by the way you have written this post. I will keep coming to read something interesting.
    Thanx for your kind comments too.

    Pakpics :)


    August 24, 2006 at 8:40 am

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