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YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
by Ramona Cook
8/21/2015 / Christian Living
We've all heard that line from the medical community, warning us to be careful about the food we ingest because "we ARE what we eat."
Apparently, Jesus agrees with them.
The Lectionary Lesson from the Gospels, for today, was a difficult teaching of Jesus to those congregated with Him. In fact, it was so disagreeable to them that many of His disciples left and did not return, that is what our text tells us.
The original twelve did remain with Him, and He asked them, "Will you also go away?" Simon Peter had answered Him, "Lord to whom else shall we go? You are the One with the words of eternal life!"
Jesus continued to say repeatedly, "You must eat My flesh and drink My blood to have life in you, and when you do that, I will raise you up in the last day."
We are reading from the 6th Chapter of John. John packs a lot of information from several different settings into this Chapter; he tells us about the feeding of the 5000; about Jesus walking on water; he says that after the feeding of the 5000 that the crowds went looking for Jesus again, and when they found Him they were asking for a miracle, so that they might believe that He was the Messiah.
Can you wrap your mind around that? Jesus had just taken 5 small fish and 2 small loaves of bread and fed them all, with 12 baskets of food left over, and yet they can allow themselves to ask for a miracle.
(Let us be careful to note this fact, that too often when we wag a finger at others, there could be a dirty thumb pointing back at us. It is a matter for which we should be aware.)
Jesus answered them by saying that they were not seeking Him out for a miracle, but because of the bread they had eaten and were satisfied in the eating thereof; so He uses the moment to tell them some vital information. It is vital information for us as well.
Jesus said to them, "I AM the bread of Life." He cautioned them to not work for bread that perishes, "But to partake of the bread that endures to everlasting life, which the Son Of Man shall give to you."
There is dialogue between the people and Jesus that we read in verses 31 and following: they discuss the manna that was given, they say by Moses in the wilderness, but Jesus corrects them saying, "It was not Moses who gave the manna, but rather My Father, which in Heaven that sent the manna."
"However," said Jesus, "They ate and they died. But whosoever eats of this bread that I will give him shall have everlasting life."
So the usual rational reasoning of our human nature showed up in some of the group, and they were offended because they thought Jesus was making Himself to be God, and they knew Him, He was the son of Mary and Joseph, and beside that, He was suggesting something disgusting.
They were absolutely correct! Jesus was telling them that He was God and in addition to that He was telling them a truth, in the way that Jesus told very often truths, by way of metaphor.
Six times in this portion of text, Jesus says that He is the Bread that came down from Heaven, and that it is imperative that all who want eternal life must eat His flesh and drink His blood.
We can understand, that at face value, that was a hard saying for them.
Was that what Jesus meant? Yes, but it's real meaning is found in the context of "marriage between the physical and the spiritual."
A man or a woman is not a married person because they wear a ring on their left index finger. They married in their hearts, before they appeared before the minister or magistrate to perform the legal act of marriage. The ring is a symbol worn to say, the marriage is a fact within their hearts and lives.
It is just as when sitting to our dinner table we ingest food and the food is digested and processed into our body, and then becomes the stuff our body is made of and sustained by, so our deliberate, on purpose, willful participation in asking Jesus to come into our hearts, and to become the life giving Sustainer of our very being, even as we on purpose and deliberately read the Word of God and incorporate it into our very minds and spirits, and then live out by actions the things we read, and as we practice in the observance of Passover, in New Testament style of the Communion Table, we are in effect, by those participations, identifying with Jesus, and He with us, and He that lives in us and we in Him because of that moment in time, when we invited Him into our hearts and lives. We are saying, "I own the bodily death of Jesus and the shedding of His blood."
As we read the Bible we are ingesting The Bread of Life as well, for those are the Words of Jesus; as the Bible's words become actions in us, we are one in agreement with the Life of Jesus in us.
There is no way to separate the physical experience from the spiritual experience. That is the way it works, hand in hand. Jesus knew that fact.
Nothing you or I do is purely physical or purely spiritual.
Everything we do, in what we call the physical, happens also in the spiritual. It may be on the positive side of spiritual or the negative side of spiritual, but it cannot be separated in to simply "physical only OR spiritual only compartments."
That is why Jesus warned us repeatedly to be careful about the words we say; even our physically spoken words have a spiritual effect that brings what we say into the physical. So say good words; and be especially careful what you say about your children and family!
So let's look now at the very words of Jesus as recorded in John 6: 52-58
Jesus truly meant exactly what He said. He was telling them and us, that He is God and that only through becoming one with Him can we have life in ourselves that will produce for us that eternal fellowship of beauty and blessing with Him for eternity. He says that HE will even raise our sleeping body, called dead, in our terminology, that He will raise it up in the last day.
How does that happen? Well, as we read the Bible we see that when we have Jesus living in our hearts and lives that we receive His very Life by way of The Holy Spirit, the One He called, "One just like Me." That same Holy Spirit, according to Paul's teachings, places a seal on us.
The Holy Spirit is powerful, more so than massive amounts of dynamite, and when the time comes, and the Trumpet of God is sounded, and the Voice of the Arch Angel is sounded, it will be as if the computer we left unused but turned on is suddenly awakened by the click of the mouse, and our bodies will awaken and arise. Amen!
This seemingly hard thing which Jesus said to them that day and to us today, is a beautiful and holy thing. It is something we must embrace, and ingest and become. Because His Life being present in us is our assurance of His protection here, and hereafter.
In closing I would like to direct our attention, briefly, to the act of Communion.
We take Communion and the words that are said at that time are the same words Jesus said. "Take eat, this is My body which is broken for you." Take this cup, drink all of it, it is My blood, shed for the remission of your sins."
Over the years of Christendom there has been much discussion as to whether the wafer actually does become the body of Jesus, or whether the grape juice or wine actually becomes the blood of Jesus; to me it does not matter what happens to the elements.
To me, when I take the bread I am acknowledging the body of Jesus broken for me, and I receive it into myself with thanks.
When I take the cup, I receive and accept the blood of Jesus shed for the remission of my sins, I own it to myself, and I am grateful.
I ingest the elements in confirmation of the fact of Jesus' life and presence in me, but it doesn't stop there; it is a reminder that I am in Him and He is in me, and that I am committed to living my life according to the directions of His Word.
Thereby, the eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood are symbolically enacted, and the rule of "marriage between the physical and the spiritual" is a true thing. I am not saved by the act of Communion, but I confirm that I am already married to Jesus, I am one with Jesus.
I was married to Him when I understood that He was asking me to allow Him to live inside of me and I said, "Yes, please come in and live with me forever,"
So, let us close this time together with the Words of Jesus, John 6: 53-56:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you."
"Whosoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day."
"For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed."
"He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood, lives in Me, and I in him."
Have you invited Jesus to live in you? It is not a thing conferred upon you; it is a thing that happens because you deliberately, decidedly, and willfully request it of Him.
Jesus promises that anyone who asks Him to come into their hearts and lives, that He will never ever refuse them, not for any reason, and that He will come to them and live in them, becoming one with them giving them life, and that He will raise them up in the last day.
It is His desire to live in us and with us. He loves us; we have no eternal life apart from His presence in us.
So if you have never asked Him into your heart, right now, as you are seated there, or as we sing the closing hymn, this is the right time to do that; He is yours for life, just for the asking.
I have resented to you truth from the Words of Jesus; may the Lord bless them to your entire person, body, soul, and spirit, in the Name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Spirit, Amen.
Ramona: 08/21/2015 For The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Ramona, Master in Ministry Arts, BA in Biblical Studies, I am an Ordained Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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