Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reflections from the book of John #6: Crazy. Just crazy.

John 6:53-54 “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day." 

Really?  Really?  Honestly, I know Jesus uses symbols and metaphors, but those words make Jesus sound like he's advocating cannibalism.  

It's just that Jesus' symbols usually make more sense.  In John 1, John describes Jesus as "the Word," and although this sounds a little vague at first, it makes sense after you think about.  Later, John describes Jesus as the "light of the world," and Jesus uses those exact words.  And no, Jesus isn't actually a candle or a light bulb, but his presence clarifies things.  It's like someone turns the light on in your life.  

He's a little less obvious when he tells Nicodemus that he has to be born again, Nicodemus interprets the words literally.  As if he has to enter into his mother again and go through the birth process a second time.  If you think about that in literal terms, it's just weird.  And maybe a little gross.  

And when Jesus offers the woman at the well "living water," he isn't actually going to pour a drink for her.  He's offering her something to satisfy other thirsts in her life, like her longing for forgiveness, her longing to know God, her longing for peace.  Even the "bread of life," isn't so bad--until Jesus starting talking about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.  

I don't really get it.  Not totally.  I mean, obviously, bread nourishes our bodies, providing strength and satisfying hunger.  As we draw close him, Jesus nourishes our souls, providing spiritual strength and satisfying our longings.  

Blood? It's life.  
I think.  

And at that point, my explanations just sort of break down.  We're not literally eating Jesus.  We consume him metaphorically.  And I don't know how to explain that.  Normally when I don't understand things, I can just move on, but like I said before, these words sound crazy.  

I think sometimes we get so used to the symbols and the metaphors that we don't even think about the literal comparisons.  And we don't recognize how confusing this use of language can be.  We're so used to some of these words, that we don't realize how crazy they sound. 

It's no wonder a bunch of his followers freaked out and said, "Yeah, Jesus.  No thanks."  

Sometimes Jesus says crazy things we don't understand.  And sometimes he says crazy things we do understand.  Like when he tells his disciples that he's going to die and come back to life.  Or when he says that those who love their life in this world will lose it, but those who don't care about their lives in this world will find eternal life.  

But back to John 6.  When some of the people start complaining about what Jesus says, he makes it even harder.  He says, "You think this is bad?  What's going to happen when you see me go back up to heaven?  And by the way, nothing you can do will earn you God's approval.  Human effort accomplishes nothing.  God's Spirit gives life.  And my words offer spirit and they offer life."  

And so the people start leaving.  

Jesus turns to his disciples and asks, "What about you?  Are you going to take off too?"

And Peter says what they're all thinking.  "No matter how crazy things sound sometimes, where else would we go?  You alone have the words of life.  We don't always understand you, but we know you.  You are life.  You are One we've been waiting for."

And I think I understand.  Once you've spent time with Jesus, once you get to know him, once you experience his love on a personal level, it's hard to walk away.  There's nothing like him.  

He's the exact representation of the invisible God.  He radiates God's glory and expresses his character in every way.  He's God.  

And I say it all the time, but I want to say it again.  We must pay much closer attention, therefore, to what Jesus says, even when we don't understand it and even when it sounds crazy/  We must pay attention and follow him.  Or we will drift away.  


Anonymous said... was interesting reading your blog tonight as I've just finished the chapter on blood in my Medical Language for Modern Health Care textbook. A few things struck me regarding the functions of blood in our body and how they might compare to Jesus being our spiritual blood. The functions of the blood are as follows: 1) To maintain the body's homeostasis, which is the stability or equilibrium of the body's internal environment. 2)To maintain body temperature. 3) To transport nutrients, vitamins and minerals to wherever they are needed. 4) To transport waste products away from the cells for elimination. 5) To transport hormones. (Keep in mind that the function of a hormone is to stimulate or inhibit a function in another tissue or organ.) 6)To transport gases, both oxygen towards the cells and carbon dioxide away from the cells. 7) To protect against foreign substances like microorganisms and toxins. 8) To form clots, which both protects against blood loss and is the first step in tissue repair. 9)To regulate pH and osmosis. Our body must maintain a specific balance between acid and alkaline for sustained life. Osmosis is the passage of water (remember Jesus is the Living Water) through membranes.

So, I have to ask do I maintain spiritual balance? Am I hot or cold? How is my spirit fed? How do I get rid of spiritual waste products? (I don't want to be full of crap!) How does my spirit know when to move (be stimulated) and when to be still (be inhibited). Am I continually be filled with the things I need (oxygen) and getting rid of the things I don't need (carbon dioxide)? How is my spirit protected? When injured, how does spiritual repair begin? Have I been a little to acidic lately and is the Living Water permeating every spiritual cell?

The Holy Spirit in me needs Jesus' blood to function, maybe?

God bless, Nancy B.

Erin Flew said...

Good reflections on the role of blood--

In this discussion, it's interesting to note the the Jewish prohibition on consuming blood. I think that's part of what makes Jesus' comments so inflammatory.

I also like the way you ask, "How is my spirit fed?" Because ultimately, I think that's what Jesus is talking about. His words, his life, his example, his presence, are all nourishment for our spirits. We can consume other things, but they won't satisfy us in the same way.

Are you in school, Nancy?

Anonymous said...

I'm studying for a Medical Transcription Certificate online so, hopefully, I can work from home.