Sometimes reading and understanding Scripture can be difficult. Today is a good example, with pretty gruesome words in John’s gospel, with Jesus talking about “drinking his blood” and “eating his flesh”.
John’s “Bread of Heaven” talk is more like a theological treatise. Sometimes I wonder if outsiders to our faith really know some of the radical stuff within our holy texts. Today is a text for insiders. It contains some troubling words: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” He says the phrase “eat my flesh” four times I believe. No wonder early Christians faced rumors of secret meetings where they engaged in cannibalism and child sacrifice!
What a graphic way to describe Communion! Provocative and in contradiction to the Old Testament Laws, it pushes the disciples and the Jews to the edge of trying to understand Jesus.
They, like we, come with baggage. They are not listening with the right ears. All they are hearing is cannibalism. They are hearing about eating flesh that still has blood in it. Blood is life, and it is not to touch the lips of any good Jew. So what is Jesus talking about?
Well, hindsight is such a privileged position, isn’t it? We know he is referring to the bread and wine of communion. But that doesn’t change the fact that this teaching was difficult and the Jews and disciples were struggling to understand.
How often is that the case for us? It is hard to hear the Word of God, because of the coded language, difficult subject matter, and twists and turns. It is hard for us to hear anything in 2016 that doesn’t fit our cultural expectations. We live in a world bombarded by technology, and by many voices. We also live in a time of choices, where if we don’t like what we hear, we simply UNFOLLOW them on Twitter, UNFRIEND them on Facebook, or change the channel back to FoxNews or MSNBC when we don’t like what we are hearing on PBS or NPR.
Beyond Scripture’s difficult subject matter, often we are simply distracted. There are so many competing for our ears. Even as you read this Morning Reflection, I am guessing there are 20 more tweets that have arrived, begging for your attention, 3 more emails awaiting action from you, and your boss is looking over your shoulder wondering why you are taking 2 minutes for God’s Word.
The fact is at the end of the day God is above all these words and worries. God is bigger than all of this. I am called only to sit in God’s presence and enjoy and glean what I can from the Almighty. I am not called to understand, but to breathe deeply of our risen Savior – to be washed in his blood – to be filled with his Spirit.
So listen intently for God today. Rest in God’s Words for you today. Cherish them. Don’t pass by them casually like a Tweet that is here today and gone tomorrow. Come back to God’s Word often, and find a deep truth beyond the words, that knits your life into the life of love provided to us by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.