For the joy of Christ’s presence in the Supper
To seek the Lord where he may be found
Today’s text: John 6:52-59
IN DISCUSSING THE HOLY SUPPER Lutherans often use the phrase “Real Presence.” What we mean by that phrase is that Jesus Christ is truly present “in, with and under” the elements of bread and wine. We then make a mental move that notices that the “bread” and the “wine” are just that, bread and wine, and so we think of the elements of the Supper in the same way that we think of a photograph of a loved one: yes, that is my beloved, but no, it is not: the picture is only a symbol or a representation of the embodied being I love. The smile, the posture, the hair style of my beloved is seen there, but my beloved is somewhere else.
But Jesus doesn’t seem to let us off the hook that easily. “My flesh is true food…my blood is true drink.” Jesus’ listeners were deeply offended by the implication of his teaching; we are not the first to be squeamish if we wander toward a more “literal” understanding of the Lord’s words. Yet, each Sunday we hear the words—this is my body, this is my blood—and we have to ask ourselves, what does the body of Jesus, risen from the dead, look like?
And the answer: like that loaf and cup on the altar. The implications for physics aside, we must acknowledge that the Supper is no sign, no symbol, no representation, but an encounter! The power of Jesus’ promise to raise you and me on the last day is tied to his promise that he is truly present to us in the meal we share, and Jesus never goes back on his promises.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks