reducing mystery to a straight line | John 6.52
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
John 6.52 | ESV
All this “Bread of Life” talk had the whole Judean crowd at odds with each other, trying to figure out what in the world he was talking about. “What is he talking about!? How can he serve up his flesh for us to eat (talk about non-kosher)?!” MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
I came upon this statement from Richard Rohr that applies well here:
“Jesus said ‘Eat it’ and did not say ‘think about it,’ which is our defensive control tower. The Christian strategy seems to be this: struggle with divine presence in one focused, determined, and assured place (bread and wine, which is just about as universal a symbol as you can get).”
Ah, but we’d much rather think in our restrictive control towers than eat what is openly offered on the table.
And they were thinking hard that Sabbath in the synagogue at Capernaum, for that is where this “sermon” found its conclusion.
Temples, synagogues, mosques, and churches can often be reduced to think tanks where we chant and debate our theologies and theories trying to reduce the divine to a straight line.
We could all do with a healthy dose of the Preacher’s wisdom: “Take a good look at God’s work. Who could simplify and reduce Creation’s curves and angles to a plain straight line?” (Ecclesiastes 7:13 in the Message).
If this applies to Creation, how much more to Creator?
We’re so busy thinking so hard we end up choking when he invites us to chew.
Most scholarly observers of this “bread of life” sermon in John 6 are agreed that this is essentially John’s commentary through Jesus’ mouth on what we know as communion.
Bread and wine.
Flesh and blood.
Don’t think. Eat.
Jesus invites us to struggle with the divine presence in this one, focused, determined, and assured place – the bread and the cup, the person of Jesus, the body of Christ, his flesh, his blood. Instead we typically choose to wrestle with each other.
How is this his flesh?
All of our questions are not far from, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” More exercises in missing the point. As if understanding the nature and process of ingestion is required to simply eat – to experience the reality of Christ on a mind, heart and gut level. And so we end up with more constipation and indigestion than comprehension and inspiration.
If only we would hear his simple call to each of us: “Take. Eat.”
And then move towards the Table.
How do you manage the tension between thought and experience? How often do you find yourself over-thinking? Under-thinking? Which is the greater pitfall for you?
Abba, forgive me all the times and ways in which the screen of my life is like one unending circular arrow – something’s trying to download, but no application ever opens up! Show me where I need to think more, and where I need to simply eat what you have given me – which is, ultimately, yourself. Through Jesus.