Proper 15B (OT 20)
First Reaction: Didn’t we just talk about this last week?
“v. 48-50: “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.”
Now it picks up with more eating flesh and drinking blood.
The Common English Bible translation on “Human One” makes this passage sound gross.
A little more explicit than in the previous passage, but same general idea.
This is an issue of life and death - Those who eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood will live and those who do not have “no life in them”
What does it mean to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood?
Martin Luther - Jesus is not talking about literally eating his flesh and drinking his blood, but instead is making a connection between following Jesus and eating and drinking. Just as eating and drinking are necessary for survival, so following Jesus is necessary to live life fully and abundantly as God intends
This is not "the sort of flesh from which red sausages are made," "not flesh such as purchased in a butcher shop or is devoured by wolves and dogs," "not veal or beef found in cow barns." From Martin Luther, Luther's Works, vol. 23, Sermons on the Gospel of John, Chapters 6-8 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), quoted in Feasting on the Word – Year B, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16).
John Chrysostom - God’s love became incarnate in the flesh of Jesus, therefore we can do more than look upon or observe Jesus, we can “fix [our] teeth on his flesh and become commingled with Him”. By uniting our flesh with Jesus’ we unite ourselves to his presence, his body and his love. Saint John Chrysostom: Commentary on Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist, Homilies 1-47, trans. Sister Thomas Aquinas Goggin, S.C.H., in The Fathers of the Church, vol. 33 (Washington, DC: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1957). Quoted in Feasting on the Word – Year B, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16).
What is Jesus talking about?
Eucharist - Chapter 6 is the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the Gospel of John
“The Gospel of John is written for insiders, for the beleaguered little group of believers whose allegiance to Jesus has brought them to the crisis of separation from their neighbors and families, "the Jews" who now hate them. When these believers hear this Gospel read to them, they know the story well. They have heard the echoes of the liturgy of the Lord's Supper from the beginning of chapter 6, echoes that are found in all four Gospels' accounts of the miraculous feeding.” Wayne Meeks, Feasting on the Word – Year B, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost 1 (Propers 3-16).
The question about Jesus literal flesh and blood are as absurd as whether someone will crawl back into their mother’s womb to be born again (John 3). This passage uses the same rhetorical pattern, “How can this (anyone be born/man give us his flesh) be?”
Jesus will give himself, his body, his flesh and blood to the world, just as he gave bread to the multitude so that they might be fed and live.
The bread of life, Jesus’ life and body are given/sacrificed to reveal God’s way of abundant life for all people
When we life in that way of self-sacrificial, non-violent love and grace we receive Christ’s gift and partake in the body of Christ
When we live as Jesus lived, eat as Jesus ate, love as Jesus loved and are willing to die as Jesus died - we are participating in the body of Christ and Christ is truly present in our midst.
We celebrate communion to remember Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and to encourage us and give us strength to let Christ dwell within us
“One avenue of interpretation is to take the institution of the Lord's Supper as Jesus' gift to the church (and through the church to the whole cosmos) for life abundant now, and for life with God everlasting.” O Benjamin Sparks. Feasting on the Word – Year B, Volume 3: Pentecost and Season After Pentecost (Propers 3-16).
“Eternity keeps on dipping into our time. Our memorial feast of bread and wine joins us with the living Christ, who is forever—and thus joined to him, we are forever.” (Sparks)
New Revised Standard uses language of “abide.” Those who eat also abide. This reveals a sense of living together - doing life together.
Common confusion about early Christian - whether or not they were cannibals
Live forever & eternal life is not about immortality but about living in the WAY of Jesus
Thoughts and Questions
A great opportunity to discuss the Eucharist- what happens? Why do we do it? How is Jesus present? What does it mean? All important questions that too often go unanswered in the church.
Last week was 4:1-16, what the CEB calls “Living in Unity”
Skip 4:17-5:14, which CEB calls “Living transformed lives” and “Behaving as God’s children.”
This section, 5:15-20 (could have included v. 21) is “Living wisely.”
Stops just short of household codes
Next week we wrap up Ephesians with 6:10-20, “Living in God’s victory”
Steps to living wisely:
Make good use of your time
“The language of ‘making the most of the time’ is borrowed directly from the commercial vocabulary of the marketplace. The verb is exagorazomenoi, which means literally snapping up all chances of a bargain that are available. It refers here in part to the stewardship of time as God’s priceless commodity. There is a call to invest our energies in occupations that are worthwhile.” (Ralph Martin, Interpretation: Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, p. 66)
Don’t be ignorant
Understand the Lord’s will
“Pertains not so much to the acquisition of intellectual knowledge as to the orientation of persons to the values approved by God.” (Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 470)
“In the first century philosophical tradition, the opposite of foolishness is self possession, discipline, independence of the spirit and will. For Christians, however, the wisdom that stands opposite of foolishness is not one’s own wisdom, but that which stems from understanding God’s will.” (Beverly Gaventa, Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 470)
Don’t get drunk on wine
Be filled with the Spirit
Speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs;
Make music to the Lord in your heart
Always give thanks to God.
(Not included in lection) Submit to each other out of respect for Christ.
Paul presents opposites and pairs:
Ignorance // Understanding Lord’s will
Drunk on Wine // Filled with spirit
Speak to each other with music // Make music in your heart
Give Thanks to God // Submit to each other
Thoughts and Questions
How many of these things do we confine to worship? Making music, psalms, giving thanks - all feel like something we do ‘at church’ but maybe not other times.
Christian radio / podcasts / literature / movies.
Unfortunately most of it is tripe.
What are some ways we can help fill our time/energy with things that are helpful in discerning God’s will?
Giving thanks at all times and for everything
Seems like an impossible task
“Gratitude” by Diana Butler Bass reveals that Gratitude is the undoing of “the system,” where everything was quid pro quo.
- Gratitude as a lens can also shift all of life’s experiences. Even the bad things can be seen through lens of gratitude and can be transformed from crisis to opportunity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzNSRYP00uQ
One of 2 stories people know about Solomon- the other being the story of the divided baby- which won’t appear for another couple years in the lectionary (Proper 12A)
That story occurs immediately after this as an example of Solomon’s wisdom
Good example of Solomon’s wisdom- easy to use knowing you aren’t going to overlap next week
Great storytelling exploration- looking forward to hear Story Divine on this one
What would you wish for?
David is now dead and Solomon is now King
1 Kings 2:13-3:2
Adonijah, Solomon’s brother is executed
Abiathar, priest, is exiled from priesthood
Joab, David’s former general, executed
Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter!
Builds the temple and a wall around Jerusalem.
There is no separation of Church and state in ancient Israel- religion is the state
Humility: “I am only a little child” (NRSV), “I’m your servant”
Acknowledgment of God’s actions: “You showed kindness”, “You’ve kept this great loyalty”, “You made me, your servant, king”
Can’t do it without the help from God
the ability to distinguish good from evil
How strange since this is the very thing Adam and Eve sought
Wisdom is not the problem, but intent. Adam and Eve sought to be God, Solomon seeks to be a better servant
Wisdom is something which can only be given from God, never taken
Focus on how to govern God’s people
Solomon is set up as the best King that was or will be
Better than David
For tells the disastrous divided monarchy to come
Thoughts and Questions
Exploring the difference between intelligence and wisdom: Intelligence is knowing a tomato is a fruit- wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad
Ask the congregation- what would you ask for?
As churches and individuals - are we focused on how best to serve God and serve people? Would we ask for wisdom? Or would we ask for balanced budgets and larger memberships?
Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Bryan Odeen for our closing music.