John 6:53 – Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (NIV)
Our reading for today has some very difficult words from Jesus. Modern Christians are troubled by the imagery that Jesus’ words suggest. However, I think if we understand them in the context of his day, we will still find them difficult!
For a person of that culture to say something like, ‘unless you eat my flesh’, was an idiom. An idiom is a saying that has a different meaning than what it appears on the surface. For example, we know of the horrible events of People’s Temple led by Jim Jones. We know of the mass suicide of nearly 1000 people. We know that they drank Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. As horrible as the root of the saying is, today when one is talking about being fully committed, they may say, “I drank the Kool-Aid”. Drinking the Kool Aid means an all out commitment.
Likewise, Jesus was calling for an all out commitment. In Jesus’ day, eating one’s flesh meant an all out commitment. It meant that you took upon yourself the very same life of the other – the one whose flesh you would eat. We spiritualize this saying of Jesus as we connect it to Holy Communion. That is a good connection, but the saying truly meant an all out commitment.
Jesus is calling for us to make an all out commitment. The body and blood of Jesus represent to us a sacrifice, and when we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we are committing ourselves to live sacrificially. We are committing ourselves to living like Jesus lived, and to love like Jesus loves.
Today, let us reaffirm our commitment to live sacrificially. Let us live and love as Jesus.
Posted by Ramón Torres