Barry Newman's Blog

October 23, 2012

The Sacraments (part X)

Filed under: The Sacraments — barrynewman @ 10:06 pm

Re: John 6: 22 – 69 (cont.)

I have paid some attention to John 6 not because I think there is a strong case that the relevant texts are a reference to something underlying a ceremony such as that considered to be “the Lord’s Supper” and that the case needs to be argued against at some length.  To begin with the relevant passage is lengthy and requires some considerable discussion anyway. The issue is however, that some seem to be convinced that John 6 really is a reference to something fairly closely associated with the last Passover Meal and hence something associated with what might be considered to be “the Lord’s Supper”, “the Eucharist” or “Holy Communion”.  This conviction needs to be taken seriously and addressed. I suspect the strength with which this view is held results in part from their being no reference towards the end of John to the Last Passover Meal at all.  Those thinking that John must have made some reference to it, are perhaps driven to seeing far more in John 6 than the text can legitimately sustain.

There is a link between the Last Passover Meal and the reference by Jesus to his flesh and blood in John 6.  It is however simply yet profoundly in terms of the way Jesus describes his actual upcoming death and the need to appropriate for oneself this Jesus and his death in order to receive “life”. As the Scriptures state, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” (Lev 17: 11)  And in both instances, the language used refers to food and drink, eating and drinking.  The truth behind the language is the actual death of Jesus, yet to be, the necessity of that death in order for eternal life to be made available and the imperative to come to him and to believe in Him and his words.

One of the realities behind the situations of John 6 and the Last Passover Meal is that on both occasions Jesus uses powerful metaphors, just as he uses powerful parables as recorded elsewhere. In fact, these metaphors are parabolic. The Greek word “parabole” has an extensive coverage which includes “metaphors”. However the metaphors themselves must never be mistaken for the realities.  If we fall into that error we obscure the realities themselves.

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