Friday, November 8, 2013

Substance and Essence, Bread and Wine

This story kind of piggybacks off of something I wrote recently for Faith and Football (book 3. Sorry - no sneak peeks this time). But that's why I've chosen to post it today. It comes from the story of the meal with the disciples in John 6.

I am the bread of life. ...I can guarantee this truth: If you don't eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don't have the source of life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will bring them back to life on the last day. My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.

As I was reading this passage the other day, what struck me was that the flesh and the blood are not one and the same. I'm not sure I bothered to realize that before, at least not in such a profound way. And maybe it's not profound to you, but here goes nothin'.

The flesh of Jesus is true food. It's something of substance, which was the realization I had when reading this passage this time. What is substance? It's something tangible. It's something with a little meat on its bones. It's something that has a measurable existence, a weight if nothing else. So of course this is His flesh.

His flesh is the substance of His being with us. The substance of Jesus is that He was the Son of God, in the flesh; He was the Son of Man, walking among us. That's powerful stuff. That's something with a little weight to it, that God would come in full flesh to be among us and be present in our world. It's something tangible, this very substance of Jesus living like us.

And for that, I praise God in one way. In the ritual of Communion, I use the bread to remember His body in this way, in the substance of His being.

But His blood is true drink, which is not the same as the true food of His flesh. When I think about drink, I think about something that's refreshing but not quite tangible. You can't grab onto the drink in the same way as the bread; it moves around and molds around the form of your hand reaching in. There's not quite a whole lot to it, and yet without it, you would die. Your body consists primarily of drink, of liquid, of water - you spirit, of living water - and it's crucial but not..substantive.

His blood is the essence of His being with us. It's not that He lived and walked among it; it is how He lived and walked among us. It's the way He served, the way He worked. It's the way He taught and heard and answered. It's the way He loved. It's not quite so substantive; we can't hold onto it the same way we do the reality of His flesh, but it's absolutely essential to our being able to function as beings of the spirit. We have to have this essence. We have to understand the essence of God among us, and in us, in order to let God show through us. We exist primarily, on a spiritual level, as living water, and this is the blood that He offers us as true drink.

And for that, I praise God in another way. In the ritual of Communion, I use the drink to remember His spirit in this way, in the essence of His being.

So that struck me this week, and I wanted to share it with you. It changes the way I think about Jesus. It makes me more deliberate in remembering both sides of the Son of Man, and love divided only multiplies - I love Him all the more for both.

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