BIBLE STUDY

POST DATE: 2009-10-23

SCRIPTURE

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Psalm 111 or Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalm 34:9-14
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

LESSON BY Jeff Krantz

Dear Friends,

First, my apologies for the tardiness of this post. I'm off on vacation and I just couldn't get my head around writing for a couple weeks there.

But for the last couple of days I've been struggling with the writing bug again, so here I go. Trouble is, for the last 3 or 4 weeks we've had those passages from John wherein Jesus speaks to us as the Bread of Life and I'm having trouble finding something to say that doesn't sound trite.

Most of us, I think, have joined the side of those Jews who took offense at this teaching and muttered, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"

Oh, we don't say that exactly, but we've reduced this saying to something Eucharisitic, or symbolic, or just so un-earthly that we don't hear it any more. At the same time we sing "I Am the Bread of Life" so often that we don't hear the words any more, we just enjoy the familiarity of it and the uplifting chorus, "And I will raise him/them up..." (Depending on how PC your translation is.)

We're all for being raised up, but not too many of us fancy the imagery of feeding on Jesus' flesh. Not the bread, His Flesh. Not some spiritual symbol of His being, His Flesh.

I know that Jesus in John's Gospel frequently uses double meanings to talk about things that defy description with our limited vocabularies. This is surely one of them but I just can't let that become an excuse for me to spiritualize His Flesh into something that doesn't rock my world.

In the third chapter of the Fourth Gospel, Jesus speaks of being born "from above" and Nicodemus misunderstands this and thinks of a second physical birth. From this we have taken the phrase "born again" although this is not what the text says. The thing is, those who have made the phrase "born again" a cornerstone of their relationship with God are trying to describe the totality and violence of this re-birth "from above" and the only image that fits is that of passing through the trauma of entering into life at birth, not some spiritual awakening that wouldn't offend a New Ager. So I think that even if the text doesn't say "born again," Nicodemus gets the meaning more right than those who insist on the literal meaning of "born from above."

In the same way I think that we need to recover the enormity of these words about Jesus' Flesh, the offensiveness of them. Of course you and I don't feed on bleeding flesh taken from Jesus' arm or leg, but the gift He gives is no less costly, and the effect on us is likewise no less profound than consuming muscle, tendon, and bone.

The hunger for "being" that Jesus satisfies in us by giving us His Flesh is so ravenous, so carnivorous that we are terrified by it and rarely look deeply enough within to risk its discovery. Still, in the company of the Savior, you and I are encouraged to travel to the place of such black-hole emptiness that it threatens to suck us and everything around us into it. There, at the threshold of of oblivion Jesus gives us Himself, His Flesh, and the ravening and roaring lion is sated.

Then we sing. Not just songs, but heart-worship. Then we discover ourselves transformed by the Love that has rescued us from the abyss at the expense of Love's Own Life, possessed of a new life that is truly eternal.

In Him,

Jeff

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BIBLE STUDY ARCHIVES

Bible Study from 2009-10-23
Bible Study from 2007-06-30
Bible Study from 2007-05-31
Bible Study from 2007-04-30
Bible Study from 2007-03-31

RUMINATIONS

BE STILL AND KNOW I AM GOD

Ray Talbird

Some time ago a monk in the Order of the Holy Cross told me a story of when he was a missionary in Africa. They were moving some supplies across country and were being assisted with their move by some natives. They had been on the move for several days and had been making very good time. They had just finished eating breakfast and were preparing to break camp when the natives’ leader approached them. He told them that they had to stay where they were for that day. The missionaries responded; “why, we have been making such good time and in staying here for a day we would loose that advantage”? The leader of the natives said that his men believed that they had been moving so fast that they had left their souls behind. They believed they must stay in one place for a day to allow their souls to catch up with them. In our lives today we maintain such a fast pace that we do sometimes feel that we have left our souls behind. We need to stop and spend time with God so our souls can catch up with us. Or, we need to, “Be still and know I am God”.
For many years I made an annual retreat to an Order of Holy Cross monastery in Pineville, SC. I would spend the last week of December and the first week of January with them. What a wonderful time. You would be awaken before daylight, get dressed and go to the chapel for Matins (Morning Prayer). After Matins we would have Communion. We would all have breakfast together and the monks would start their assigned chores. If you liked you could assist them. At noon we would all go back to the chapel for Diurnum (Noon Day Prayers). The afternoon would be filled with completing their chores, study and rest. Around sundown we would have Vespers (Evening Prayer) and then Compline before bedtime. What a mountain top experience to join them in their rhythm of prayer, study, and service.
It is critical that we attend to our spiritual health. We must nourish our soul through prayer and study. We must exercise our spirit by bearing fruit through Christian service. And we must rest our self in the bosom of our Heavenly Father. Stay in one place and allow your soul to catch up with you. Be still and get to know God.