When we walk down the aisle at the grocery store or when we see commercials and advertisements, food companies draw us in with bright colorful boxes, with promises of "all natural meat," â€ścertified organic,â€ť â€śmade with whole grains,â€ť â€śmade with real fruit,â€ť real ingredients, real food, complete satisfaction. However, with a bit of investigating and experience we learn that the truth is stretched as much as is legal and the food industryâ€™s promises are many times empty and leave us wanting.
Our culture has great food anxiety. We are told so many different things day after day that we often donâ€™t know what to believe, or who to believe anymore. We are overwhelmed with expert opinions and fad diets and we constantly question what we eat. We know in the back of our minds that the food industry, the marketers, advertisers, and the experts all have agendas and are primarily in it for the money. They do whatever they can to convince us that what they have to offer
is what is best for our bodies, the best deal for our money, the product we can put our trust in.
We have anxiety over food because we know that what we put into our bodies is important, that what we eat has a profound effect on our immediate and long-term health and on our quality of life. What we eat and what we put into our bodies becomes part of us--we are what we eat so to speak. Today Jesus promises us that his body, his flesh is real food. That his blood is real drink.
Real food and real drink that bring everlasting life.
For the past several weeks weâ€™ve been reading from the 6th chapter of the gospel of John. The last section of this chapter is the gospel for next Sunday,
and at that point weâ€™ll have a more complete picture of what Jesus is doing.
But each Sunday weâ€™ve heard Jesus revealing himself to his followers little by little.
The feeding of the 5000 grabs their attention and they canâ€™t seem to get enough of him and follow his every move. But Jesus reveals himself in ways that the disciples donâ€™t understand and find difficult to accept.
â€śYouâ€™re the Bread of Life? Well, weâ€™re hungryâ€”give us this bread always so we never have to search for bread.â€ť â€śYouâ€™re the Bread of Life? We thought you were just the son of Mary and Joseph, how could you be from Heaven?â€ť It seems as if the large crowd that followed Jesus after the feeding of the 5000 is shrinking. And the crowd gets even smaller this Sunday, when Jesus shocks his listeners by saying that the Bread of Life he offers is actually his flesh and that they must eat it to have eternal life.
Jesus is trying to tell his followers that although theyâ€™ve been following him to get more bread for their stomachs, he offers a different kind of bread, bread that the world cannot offer: â€śThis is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live foreverâ€ť (John 6:58). Jesus reveals to his followers that he came down from heaven, became fleshâ€”the flesh that they are made ofâ€”and offers himself to them so that they might have life, that the world might have life.
But many of his followers walk away unsatisfied when they hear that this Bread Jesus offers is his own flesh and blood. They are shocked and offended at Jesusâ€™ word that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life.
And Jesusâ€™ words have continued to profoundly affect the world ever since. There have been centuries of theological debate, differing interpretations and a variety of beliefs about what Jesus meant when he said that we were to eat his flesh and drink his blood.
But what is true and what is truly shocking is that Godâ€™s love is so great that God would come down to us in the fleshâ€”the flesh that we are made ofâ€”and become one with us. â€śThose who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. (John 6:56). What could be more shocking than God wanting to become one with us in the flesh? What could be more shocking than God becoming one of us as a child in a manger, living among us and teaching us, being nailed to a cross, and rising from the dead all so that we might live?!
And not only has God done this for us, but all of it is given to us freely.
Freely given as real food and real drink. For us. So that we might have life.
Jesus has no hidden agenda, no secret motives, nothing but so much love
that he would offer us his very flesh and blood so that it can be ours;
so that we can be completely and intimately united with him.
Through Jesusâ€™ body and blood, true food and true drink, we are united with one another, as the body of Christ. We are united as one, and sent as one, to a world crippled by anxieties; to a world uncertain of who or what to believe. We are united as one, sent as one, to witness to this bread that never fails to satisfy, that never fails on its promises, that gives us peace, and healing, and rest when our burdens are heavy.
We may continue to be skeptical of the food industryâ€™s agenda and motives. We may continue to question everything we put into our bodies. But one thing we can be sure of is Jesusâ€™ promise that his body and blood bring us life. We never need to question Jesusâ€™ agenda. All he wants is that we might have life and have it abundantly.