Monday, October 16, 2006

Difficult Words of Jesus

My blog-o-friend TS wrote that he was reading his Bible—the sixth chapter of John--on the bus recently when he began to question “whether Jesus actually spoke the exact words quoted in John or not.” He says, “This posed a problem, because I believe any real Christian has to believe in the inerrancy of scripture simply because it can't be inspired if it's not accurate. And if it's not inspired, then why are you believing it?”

Through Jesus, God was trying to establish a “new covenant”—a new way of understanding the people-God relationship—a new way of relating. He wants us to be totally committed to him, to be filled with delight in him, to be open to all the riches of his love. He offers a relationship grounded in personal, passionate oneness with him; in fact, he longs for such a relationship with us. We long for it, too, whether we realize it or not, and we have a large, empty space that can be filled only by God.

In the Bible are many images of physical closeness. These illustrate, I believe, how close we can be to God. After I had read these things about 98 times, prayed a lot, and puzzled until my puzzler was sore, I realized that God was trying to show people through these images--especially in images of eating and drinking—how complete oneness with him can be.

In Ezekiel 3, Ezekiel had a vision in which God told him to eat a scroll. He did, and it tasted “as sweet as honey,” and it filled his stomach, so that then, he could go out and talk to the people about God.

The Lord’s Supper is a time of eating the bread (Christ’s body broken for you) and drinking the wine (his blood shed for you). It's a time when we remember him and open our hearts to him.

Jesus offered a Samaritan woman living water in John 4:8-26 . We can find many other “living water” references.

In the part TS was reading, John 6, Jesus said he is the living bread—the bread that gives eternal life. He said, “I am the bread of life. . . . if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Then he said, “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” Some people were horrified because they thought he was talking about cannibalism.

I don’t think that is what he meant at all.

If you think about it, when you eat something, it becomes so much part of you that you can no longer separate it from yourself—it nourishes you, gives you strength, keeps you alive. In a very real sense, what you eat and drink creates you, giving you life. In a physical way, your body cannot live without food and drink. In a spiritual way, you cannot live without “eating” the bread of life—Jesus Christ—taking him into yourself completely so that he is part of you.

“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” (John 6:57).

3 comments:

Gattina said...

I red the bible too. Just like a book without any other thoughts. The first testament is quite "pornographic" in our today's laws and believes. Father sleeps with daughter, mother with son, brother kills brother etc. It's quite hard but it's the bible and therefore allowed.
The new testament was written by all Jesus disciples (except Judas of course) and they all have different meanings and interpretations of what they have seen and lived. So after Matthew, priests can marry and should raise their sons in god's belief. After Paulus they should stay away from women and concentrate only on church.Result : protestant priests marry, catholics not. Everybody can find in the new testament what suits him best. Therefore I could believe in something but not in all what is written in the bible ! And if you read the coran, the old testament is the same and the second is based of what Mohamed said and that also is almost the same what Jesus said. I hope I don't offend your believes and feelings, as I said I respect ALL religions.

ts said...

Hi Judy,

I was actually referring to the entire book of John. Sure, there are many spiritual pearls to be found, but most of what Jesus says is just downright confusing.

I understand and agree with your explanation of Jesus' words, and I'm not implying anything theologically wrong with the Book of John ... it's just that it could have been said more plainly, that's all. Jesus could have simply said, "Through me, you can have a truly close relationship with God."

Anyway, I'm not about to fall away or anything.

Gattina,

I don't think you'll offend anyone here. This is a place to speak your mind, and you are very respectful, even though you have different views. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Gattina,
Those are some bold claims and assumptions you have about the Bible. Certainly we're all free to disagree, so with no offense taken, I'd like to offer some of my own response at several points. It's late and I have some time, so I hope this is not to long:

The "pornographic" nature of the Old Testament you refer to is clearly the nature of man on display, which is also utterly condemned in the Old Testament. We humans have not changed in our abilities to sin over the years, and this is clearly evident by just turning on the nightly news. The Bible simply let's human sinfulness speak for itself, and we're disgusted by it as we should be. More than just the news, when we tune in to our own hearts, we see the same darkness. As Jesus put it: to look with lust is to commit adultery, to hate is to commit murder in your heart, etc..., (Matthew 5:21-30), not to mention the many other things you and I do and have done wrong. We see plainly that even if we have not actually ever killed another, we are still guilty of the same things, while worse goes on all around. The picture the Old Testament paints of us, "warts and all," clearly contrasts us with the beauty and holiness of an all glorious God.

Regarding the New Testament, I submit that everyone cannot "find in the new testament what suits him best," and the "different meanings and interpretations" you refer to are not variations of substance, but of varied perspective that demonstrates a great deal unity - not unlike two sides of the same coin, or viewing a diamond from various angles. While many people certainly approach the Bible this way, it is not because the document is vague or unclear - rather, because we are uncomfortable with its implications and seek to impose our own beliefs and values upon it. Once we have altered its teaching, it then seems to fit us better. The only problem is that at that point it's not parts of the Bible we agree with, but our own fancy.

Finally, while there exist some similarities in ancient Middle Eastern culture represented, the Koran and the Bible could not be more different. Any theological similarities between the Koran and the Old Testament come more from Mohammed's ill informed exposure to Judaism and Christianity than any thing else. And especially, what Mohammed said is not almost what Jesus said, since (as an example) Jesus said "love your enemies" not slaughter them. The Bible teaches that we are hopelessly seperated from God because of our sin, rebellion and pride, and that God would be unjust not to punish us. However, in His incredible mercy, he came in the person of Jesus Christ to bear "the sins of many," the "righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

I am truly not offended by your comments, but have personally thought long and hard about these things myself and love to dialogue on these issues.

My encouragement to you is to consider how you can believe some of the Bible and not all of it, since there is no way to know what parts are reliable if we start to divide it up.

Good night!
Mark
(I'm only anonymous because I don't currently have a site)

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