Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 74

FOOD AS A SYMBOL OF GRACE - Harper gave us bread out of heaven. Moses gave us bread out of heaven.” Jesus starts to talk and I’m going to read John 6:48–58 (TNIV): I’m the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down out of heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” This is a very strange and graphic thing that he says. And it’s not just we who feel that way. A lot of them felt that way, too. That’s why at the end of this sermon of Jesus, a ton of people just say, “You’re crazy,” and they leave him. And he asks the disciples, “Are you guys going to leave me, too?” So what do you make of the symbolism here? How does all this graphic talk about Jesus as food speak to us theologically? Man 1: Community. It’s reminding them of the provision that God has given them. Not only just provision but responsibility that it’s a circular community that’s being established. In Christ it’s never going to leave. Man 2: I think that food consumption is what we need to survive, and likewise, Jesus and his sacrifice is what we need to survive. It’s a merging of the spiritual and physical into one. BH: There is a real connection between spiritual and physical. God is saying in Christ by the Spirit, “Just like you have to eat to live, you need me to live.” You need food to live physically. You need God to live spiritually. Here’s food again as a symbol of spiritual life and a symbol of relationship with God. Any other thoughts? Man 3: He is using the manna as an analogy in the way I see it. There is a contrast in that God provided both, but he is providing radically differently in 71