Monday, August 10, 2009

John 6:51-58 - The Gospel Lectionary Lesson for August 16, 2009

This is my own translation of the lectionary gospel lesson for Sunday. Please make any comments concerning the passage you want. Together, let's discuss the Word of God:

51"I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone might eat from this bread, then he will live into the ages. And also the bread which I myself will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

52Then the Jews began to quarrel violently among themselves, saying, "How is he able to give us his flesh to eat?"

53Then Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, if you might not eat the flesh of the son of man and might drink his blood, then you don’t have life in yourselves. 54The one who chews my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55For my flesh is the true food, and my blood is the true drink. 56The one who chews my flesh and who drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57Just as the living father sent me and I live through the father, the one who chews me, this one also will live through me. 58This is the bread which comes down from heaven, not like the Fathers ate and died. The one who chews this bread will live into the ages."


  1. From: Mac McCuen
    Re: Gospel for August 16th: John 6:51-58

    I believe the application of this text has to do with THE SACRAMENT AND SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT. As I look out across the landscape of the soul, I see a number of rivers and streams that provide spiritual nourishment. One approach is to look at the typical list of spiritual disciplines:
    Worship (Sacraments included)
    These are rivers or streams of living water which nourish the soul. And he is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season . . . . (Ps. 1:3)

    So my application would focus on the nourishment we receive from the Lord's Supper. Backing up a few steps for perspective from the Gospel lesson, that is what I see here. If one accepts the words in this passage as historical (not part of an elaborate theological book written by John - a Christology of the first century AD), one could argue that Jesus was predicting Maundy Thursday and what He would begin in the Upper Room. Certainly John, writing in the last decade of the first century would have had the Lord's Supper in mind as he created this magnificent book of Christology.

    A quote from Calvin's Institutes intrigues me:

    "But the sacraments properly fulfil their office only when the Spirit, that inward teacher, comes to them, by whose power alone hearts are penetrated and affections moved and our souls opened for the sacraments to enter therein. If the Spirit be lacking, the sacraments can accomplish nothing more in our minds than the splendor of the sun shining upon blind eyes, or a voice sounding in deaf ears." (IV, XIV, 9)

    The context (next weeks Gospel) reveals that sun shining on blind eyes, and the voice falling on deaf ears.

    I am a diabetic and require insulin daily. I see the Holy Spirit here acting like that insulin, opening the cells of my soul to the nourishment of the Carbohydrates of Christ (bread of life - living bread).

    The great jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once said. "There is a little plant called reverence that grows in the corner of my soul's garden which I like to have watered once a week." Holmes, a Calvinist Congregationalist, probably was not referring here to the Sacrament alone, but to worship in general. But he did recognise that he needed this spiritual nourishment weekly. I for one need it more often. I currently am attending a Lutheran Church (ELCA) where I teach adult education. There I receive communion weekly, but daily I draw spiritual nourishment from the stream of Prayer and the stream of the Word. I also find spiritual nourishment daily in the Mission Yearbook of Prayer . . . which helps me to grow in my knowledge of how the Church is at work in mission around the world, and that gives me opportunity to contribute to some of those many creative projects.

    Feeding and watering the soul is important for every Christian whose heart has been opened by the Spirit.

  2. John 6:51-58

    This text selection continues to advance the claims of the Johannine Jesus to be the true bread from heaven that is incorporated into the earlier portions of John 6. In some congregations and denominations the words in John 6:53, "Jesus said to them, 'If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves,' " have been interpreted legalistically, resulting in the denial of Christian funeral services to persons who have not participated in the Eucharistic action as frequently as had been stipulated by the leadership of the congregation or by the synod of which the congregation is a component. Such legalism has been applied without the recognition that this kind of legalism with regard to John 6:53, if consistently applied, would require also the denial of a Christian funeral for children who die before they attain the age at which the congregation and synod would permit them to participate in the Eucharist.

    Obviously, the words of the Johannine Jesus in this text should not be applied legalistically, nor should they be interpreted only literally. If they are interpreted literally, we would be proclaiming to the world that we as Christians are indeed cannibals. It should be recalled that it was for this reason that the charge of cannibalism was leveled against followers of Jesus by some outsiders early within the history of the Church.

    This text provides for us a non-Pauline opportunity to emphasize the concept of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to show how the Real Presence terminology has been helpful in ecumenical discussions. We can also draw upon elaborations of the Real Presence of Christ concept within books, papers, and articles published within recent years that describe the Eucharistic action as a reactualization of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord. There is no longer the necessity for Lutheran Christians and for Christians who are in any other Christian group to think and to claim that they alone have the "correct" understanding and interpretation of the words of John 6:51-58 and of related texts. It should be sufficient to state that many Christians have found and are finding the Real Presence terminology to be helpful, meaningful, and desirable within the Church and fully in accord with texts such as John 6:56, "The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I abide in that person."

  3. Instead of dealing with communion, I'm going to focus on the grumbling the crowd. To make the point of what grumblers miss, I'll discuss the reality of Christ in communion.