Thursday, March 9, 2017
In this week's readings, I've been doing a lot of pondering about the things Jesus said. Not so much the philosophical parts, but the nitty gritty, let's call it.
The fact that in chapter 6 he spent a lot of time demanding cannibalism, though the Christian church has interpreted it metaphorically. Why did he insist to this crowd that, yes, they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood, if he really meant bread and wine?
The fact that, in chapter 7, he told his brothers he wouldn't go to the feast, that it wasn't his time, but then he went. I find it hard to believe he changed his mind . . . but is the alternative that he lied to his brothers and told them he wasn't going when he knew all along he would?
And several times (chapter 8 is one example) when he heals or forgives he tells the recipient to "go and sin no more." But isn't that impossible?
If I'm operating on the assumption first and foremost that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life--and therefore not deliberately deceiving people--then that leaves me with one thing to do with these passages: assume I'm missing something, LOL. That my "easy" understanding is, apparently, wrong.
The eat his flesh and drink his blood part, for example. Saying he's talking here about his later institution of communion is easy. But over and again in chapter 6, he quite deliberately makes this hard. So hard that most of the people following him leave, because it's too difficult for them to accept.
And let's face it. If some teacher we'd been following started insisting that we had to literally eat him . . . hmm. Would you stick around, or would you declare him a wacko? I can kinda see where the crowds were coming from when they shook their heads and wandered off.
But even if we do assume a metaphorical meaning--it's honestly even harder then, isn't it? Because that would (and I believe does) mean that we're to consume him and his teachings. He's to be our life, our sustenance, our craving. Everything that we take into ourselves should be him. Not just when we take communion (and let's not get into transubstantiation right now), but always. He stresses the eternal quality of this Bread and Blood.
This, too, makes people wander away. Because while most of us like a little bit of faith, that all-consuming, every-moment, nothing-but-Him kind, where we spend all day every day at his feet, learning . . . that's difficult.
Kind of like being perfect and sinning no more. But if we're again operating on the assumption that Jesus means what he says, how can we dismiss this command as impossible?
I think this ties in with Paul's teachings in the epistles, that once we have put our faith in Him, and as long as we're walking in it, the law and sin no longer have dominion over us. We can and should and are called to live in perfection.
A friend of mine once pointed out that Jesus's forgiveness exists outside of the constraints of time. If that one action of his could forgive every person who came after him, then it also applies to every sin in that person's life, even the ones that come after the initial acceptance of his forgiveness. So if I'm walking in my faith, though I may stumble, it's already forgiven. Now, it becomes different when people CHOOSE to disobey him. There's plenty of talk in the epistles about how bad that is for the person too. But if our hearts remain his, our sins are all forgiven.
I've long felt it's dangerous to give ourselves an excuse right out of the gate--to claim that we can't cease to sin. Isn't that just the easy way? I choose to believe here that Jesus means what he says. That he's telling us not to sin in the same breath that he declares us healed and forgiven. And Jesus doesn't tell us to do what he doesn't want us to do.
It's difficult. But you know . . . I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be.