March 21, 2015
Daily Scripture Readings for Lent 2015
They say that teachers often learn more than their students. This is true when I teach the Fellowship Class at Park Lake on the fourth Sunday every month. I learn from long lives of faith and experience with God’s amazing grace.
I also learn “new” hymns. Not new by date, but new to me. Most of these hymns are not in our blue Presbyterian Hymnal or even “Old Red,” the Hymnbook that I grew up with. One of these songs is linked below, “Wonderful Words of Life.” Today’s reading from John 6:60-71 brought this hymn to mind.
But John’s text doesn’t start out with wonderful words; first come hard words. “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” the disciples ask. Some translations say harsh or offensive.
Jesus has just said, in conversation with some Jews, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life” (6:53-54). No wonder his hearers were disturbed!
These “offensive words” wouldn’t begin to become clear until later–after Holy Week and the Last Supper, after Jesus is raised and appears to his followers, being “made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).
But here, these strange and harsh words cause some of Jesus’ followers to fall away. Of the remnant, Jesus asks, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answers for them all, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life…You are the Holy One of God” (6:68-69).
What once was offensive — the body and blood of Jesus as heavenly food — becomes the sustenance of our life of faith: bread from heaven, the cup of salvation. Thanks be to God!
Linda Wright Simmons