I was in John 6 this morning and came across this familiar section:
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.” (John 6:53-57 ESV; cf. John 15 for more on “abiding”)
I tried to imagine how odd it would have been for Jesus’ audience to hear these words for the first time. For many it was too odd, too weird, and they stopped following Jesus. Here Jesus is using physical, material imagery to demonstrate spiritual truth (one of his favorite hobbies – wake up, imagination!!). Everyone knows what it is like to eat and drink and how necessary it is. Abiding in relationship with Jesus is to be seen the same way.
The more I thought about this text, I remembered the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12:7-10. The blood of the lamb provided a “covering” for those inside the door where it was painted. But the people inside were then to eat the lamb and not leave any until morning (reminiscent of the manna that God gave the Israelites later on, also a tie-in to the John 6 text).
We stand under the covering of Jesus’ blood as we continue to put our faith in him and his sacrifice. But too few of us actually know what it is like to feast on him, know how to draw upon his life, his resources, his strength and vitality in the midst of our daily lives (esp. in the midst of suffering).
I am currently in a very dark place, in desperate need of the life that Jesus gives. My upbringing and faith development have made it very difficult for me to receive this life from Jesus on a regular basis. I have many obstacles to overcome, most of which have to do with my view of God and my view of myself. Receiving this life comes in spurts, often after an episode of dramatic surrender and trust that follows a deep crisis. I’ve got the deep crisis; now, how to find my way to ruthless trust? As Larry Crabb has wisely said, the Christian life is often a series of cycles of misery then relief.
Jesus, have mercy on me. If this is how you treat your beloved friends, then I fear for your enemies. If I don’t learn to find my life in you, in this particular dark moment of distress, doubt and despair, then I fear I never will. Please help me!