For the life of the world: death or life

living-breadMorris [335] offers this: “There is, moreover, a reference to the death of Christ, as we saw on verse 51. Flesh and blood in separation point to death. The words, then, are a cryptic allusion to the atoning death that Jesus would die, together with a challenge to enter the closest and most intimate relation with him.134 They are to be interpreted in the light of verse 47.” While most would accept the intuition of Jesus’ atoning death are implied, there are few who argue that is a major theme. Yet Morris strains against established biblical meaning. In Hebrew, the double formula “flesh and blood” emphasizes the reality and corporeality of human existence. Continue reading

For the life of the world: flesh and blood

living-bread53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

The language is graphic and direct, including images and actions that would have been abhorrent to faithful Jews: eating flesh and drinking blood (Gen 9:4). But is the language meant to be realistic or one of metaphor. Morris’ approach [335] to this question seems fairly standard among those who do not hold to the sacramental, Eucharistic understanding of this text. “Both ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ are aorists, denoting once-for-all action, not a repeated eating and drinking, such as would be appropriate to the sacrament. And this eating and drinking are absolutely necessary for eternal life. Those who do not eat and drink in the way Jesus says have no life. Eating and drinking Christ’s flesh and blood thus appears to be a very graphic way of saying that people must take Christ into their innermost being.” I would suggest that it is hard to make this argument and at the same time demand also other biblical sources inform the understanding. Continue reading

For the life of the world: unless you eat

living-bread53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

Most all scholarly works hold that v.53 is at the heart of the matter. In addition to the Protestant/Reformed – Catholic divide, there is a more subtle divide among scholars. Consider the position of Leon Morris [332] vis-à-vis these verses: Continue reading

For the life of the world: quarreling

living-breadThe Quarrel. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”

The “Jews” themselves make the first direct statement about eating Jesus’ flesh, as they combine Jesus’ words in v.51 into one statement. What shocks the crowd is that until Jesus’ words in v. 51, Jesus’ language has focused on the metaphor of the bread of life, but now the metaphor shifts. The content of the crowd’s protest in v.52 makes clear that the sticking point is the language about “flesh”—namely, its use to refer to Jesus himself. Continue reading

For the life of the world: context

living-bread51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51-58) Continue reading

Living Bread: death or life

living-breadMorris [335] offers this: “There is, moreover, a reference to the death of Christ, as we saw on verse 51. Flesh and blood in separation point to death. The words, then, are a cryptic allusion to the atoning death that Jesus would die, together with a challenge to enter the closest and most intimate relation with him.134 They are to be interpreted in the light of verse 47.” While most would accept the intuition of Jesus’ atoning death are implied, there are few who argue that is a major theme. Yet Morris strains against established biblical meaning. In Hebrew, the double formula “flesh and blood” emphasizes the reality and corporeality of human existence. Continue reading

Living bread: flesh and blood

living-bread53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

The language is graphic and direct, including images and actions that would have been abhorrent to faithful Jews: eating flesh and drinking blood (Gen 9:4). But is the language meant to be realistic or one of metaphor. Morris’ approach [335] to this question seems fairly standard among those who do not hold to the sacramental, Eucharistic understanding of this text. “Both ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ are aorists, denoting once-for-all action, not a repeated eating and drinking, such as would be appropriate to the sacrament. And this eating and drinking are absolutely necessary for eternal life. Those who do not eat and drink in the way Jesus says have no life. Eating and drinking Christ’s flesh and blood thus appears to be a very graphic way of saying that people must take Christ into their innermost being.” I would suggest that it is hard to make this argument and at the same time demand also other biblical sources inform the understanding. Continue reading

Living bread: heart of the matter

living-bread53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

Most all scholarly works hold that v.53 is at the heart of the matter. In addition to the Protestant/Reformed – Catholic divide, there is a more subtle divide among scholars. Consider the position of Leon Morris [332] vis-à-vis these verses: Continue reading

Living bread: quarreling

living-breadThe Quarrel. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”

The “Jews” themselves make the first direct statement about eating Jesus’ flesh, as they combine Jesus’ words in v.51 into one statement. What shocks the crowd is that until Jesus’ words in v. 51, Jesus’ language has focused on the metaphor of the bread of life, but now the metaphor shifts. The content of the crowd’s protest in v.52 makes clear that the sticking point is the language about “flesh”—namely, its use to refer to Jesus himself. Continue reading