Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Daily Devotion for Lent 2017 - Day 12, Tuesday

Today's Reading: John 6:22-59 (NRSV)

John certainly has a mystical quality lacking in the synoptic gospels.  We have already seen Jesus use the statement "I am" and today we see the first of the "I am" statements that is connected with a metaphor.

Of course, "I am who I am" is the name God gives to Moses during the encounter at the burning bush.
But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”  God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”  God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:
               This is my name forever,
               and this my title for all generations.
                                                   Exodus 3:13-15 (NRSV)

This title for Jesus often lends
itself in nourishment for a hungry world.
When Jesus states "I am the bread of life" it is designed to draw us to the connection between God and Jesus.  Christian theology states that Jesus is fully divine but also fully human.  The human nature features more strongly in the synoptic gospels while the divinity of Jesus is more prominent in John.

We also see here a strong connection with the Eucharist to which United Methodists more commonly refer as Holy Communion. In speaking of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, Jesus is instructing us in the sacrament.  Even knowing this, when we read about consuming flesh and blood today, it sounds a little weird.  It was certainly as taboo for Jews within Palestine during that time as it is for us.  When I read these words, it is important for me to see them theologically.  I know that eating and drinking our Lord's physical body is not to be taken literally.

So we must theologically interpret how Jesus is the bread of life for us today.  How do we find our daily sustenance in our relationship with Jesus Christ?  What practices give you strength, courage, energy and life?  How are these spiritual practices?  If you don't see them that way, is there a dimension to them that you are missing?

Here's a prayer for the day that was likely composed and used as a communion hymn during the first generations of the early church:

We are proclaiming your death, Lord;
we praise you, Christ, for your holy resurrection.
It is fitting, you say, for us to approach the table
of these ineffable mysteries.
Let us be eager, then, to receive our share
of the spiritual gifts here spread before us;
let us sing with the angels
the triumphal Alleluia.

God the Word, he in the Father's bosom,
was lately here upon the cross as well.
He was laid in a tomb like any mortal
-stooped so low, would have it so;
but on the third day rose again and gave us
O what gift of mercy.

Photo by Tadson Bussey via Flickr.com.  Used under the Creative Commons license.

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