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11 May 2017 Bible Reading

Today’s reading in John 6 contains some difficult reading:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

While we recognize that Jesus is speaking metaphorically, or figuratively, about His role in providing a sacrifice for sin, many misunderstand Him, just as those who were present did. Jesus went on to use these same figures in establishing the communion memorial. The figures are intended to be powerful, but they are figures.

When crafting false religions, powerful figures and metaphors can be a way of spreading confusion and leading others astray. For example, Catholics teach that the bread and the wine literally, not figuratively, turn into the body and blood of Christ. They call this “transubstantiation” because the “substance” of the elements “transform” into Christ’s body and blood.

1 Samuel 10-11:15
10 Then Samuel took the vial of oil, and poured it on his head, and kissed him, and said, “Hasn’t Yahweh anointed you to be prince over his inheritance? 2 When you have departed from me today, then you will find two men by Rachel’s tomb, on the border of Benjamin at Zelzah. They will tell you, ‘The donkeys which you went to look for have been found; and behold, your father has stopped caring about the donkeys, and is anxious for you, saying, “What shall I do for my son?”’
3 “Then you will go on forward from there, and you will come to the oak of Tabor. Three men will meet you there going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three young goats, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine. 4 They will greet you, and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hand.
5 “After that you will come to the hill of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is; and it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the high place with a lute, a tambourine, a pipe, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. 6 Then Yahweh’s Spirit will come mightily on you, and you will prophesy with them, and will be turned into another man. 7 Let it be, when these signs have come to you, that you do what is appropriate for the occasion; for God is with you.
8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings. Wait seven days, until I come to you, and show you what you are to do.” 9 It was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all those signs happened that day. 10 When they came there to the hill, behold, a band of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came mightily on him, and he prophesied among them. 11 When all who knew him before saw that, behold, he prophesied with the prophets, then the people said to one another, “What is this that has come to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
12 One of the same place answered, “Who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.
14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?”
He said, “To seek the donkeys. When we saw that they were not found, we came to Samuel.”
15 Saul’s uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.”
16 Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys were found.” But concerning the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel spoke, he didn’t tell him.
17 Samuel called the people together to Yahweh to Mizpah; 18 and he said to the children of Israel, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, says ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have today rejected your God, who himself saves you out of all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said to him, ‘No! Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before Yahweh by your tribes, and by your thousands.”
20 So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by their families; and the family of the Matrites was chosen. Then Saul the son of Kish was chosen; but when they looked for him, he could not be found. 22 Therefore they asked of Yahweh further, “Is there yet a man to come here?”
Yahweh answered, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”
23 They ran and got him there. When he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom Yahweh has chosen, that there is no one like him among all the people?”
All the people shouted, and said, “Long live the king!”
25 Then Samuel told the people the regulations of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before Yahweh. Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. 26 Saul also went to his house to Gibeah; and the army went with him, whose hearts God had touched. 27 But certain worthless fellows said, “How could this man save us?” They despised him, and brought him no present. But he held his peace.
11 Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabesh Gilead: and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you.” 2 Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make it with you, that all your right eyes be gouged out. I will make this dishonor all Israel.”
3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days, that we may send messengers to all the borders of Israel; and then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you.” 4 Then the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, and spoke these words in the ears of the people, then all the people lifted up their voice, and wept.
5 Behold, Saul came following the oxen out of the field; and Saul said, “What ails the people that they weep?” They told him the words of the men of Jabesh. 6 The God’s Spirit came mightily on Saul when he heard those words, and his anger burned hot. 7 He took a yoke of oxen, and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the borders of Israel by the hand of messengers, saying, “Whoever doesn’t come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen.” The dread of Yahweh fell on the people, and they came out as one man. 8 He numbered them in Bezek; and the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 9 They said to the messengers who came, “Tell the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you will be rescued.’” The messengers came and told the men of Jabesh; and they were glad. 10 Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will come out to you, and you shall do with us all that seems good to you.” 11 On the next day, Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the middle of the camp in the morning watch, and struck the Ammonites until the heat of the day. Those who remained were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. 12 The people said to Samuel, “Who is he who said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring those men, that we may put them to death!”
13 Saul said, “No man shall be put to death today; for today Yahweh has rescued Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.” 15 All the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before Yahweh in Gilgal. There they offered sacrifices of peace offerings before Yahweh; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

John 6:43-71
43 Therefore Jesus answered them, “Don’t murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who hears from the Father, and has learned, comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father. 47 Most certainly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, that anyone may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews therefore contended with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. 54 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven—not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?”
61 But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 Then what if you would see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life. 64 But there are some of you who don’t believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn’t believe, and who it was who would betray him. 65 He said, “For this cause have I said to you that no one can come to me, unless it is given to him by my Father.”
66 At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67 Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You don’t also want to go away, do you?”
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
70 Jesus answered them, “Didn’t I choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 Now he spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for it was he who would betray him, being one of the twelve.

Psalm 107:1-43
107 Give thanks to Yahweh,
for he is good,
for his loving kindness endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed by Yahweh say so,
whom he has redeemed from the hand of the adversary,
3 And gathered out of the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a desert way.
They found no city to live in.
5 Hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted in them.
6 Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble,
and he delivered them out of their distresses,
7 he led them also by a straight way,
that they might go to a city to live in.
8 Let them praise Yahweh for his loving kindness,
for his wonderful deeds to the children of men!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul.
He fills the hungry soul with good.
10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
being bound in affliction and iron,
11 because they rebelled against the words of God,
and condemned the counsel of the Most High.
12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labor.
They fell down, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble,
and he saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them praise Yahweh for his loving kindness,
for his wonderful deeds to the children of men!
16 For he has broken the gates of brass,
and cut through bars of iron.
17 Fools are afflicted because of their disobedience,
and because of their iniquities.
18 Their soul abhors all kinds of food.
They draw near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cry to Yahweh in their trouble,
he saves them out of their distresses.
20 He sends his word, and heals them,
and delivers them from their graves.
21 Let them praise Yahweh for his loving kindness,
for his wonderful deeds to the children of men!
22 Let them offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and declare his deeds with singing.
23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
who do business in great waters;
24 These see Yahweh’s deeds,
and his wonders in the deep.
25 For he commands, and raises the stormy wind,
which lifts up its waves.
26 They mount up to the sky; they go down again to the depths.
Their soul melts away because of trouble.
27 They reel back and forth, and stagger like a drunken man,
and are at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cry to Yahweh in their trouble,
and he brings them out of their distress.
29 He makes the storm a calm,
so that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because it is calm,
so he brings them to their desired haven.
31 Let them praise Yahweh for his loving kindness,
for his wonderful deeds for the children of men!
32 Let them exalt him also in the assembly of the people,
and praise him in the seat of the elders.
33 He turns rivers into a desert,
water springs into a thirsty ground,
34 and a fruitful land into a salt waste,
for the wickedness of those who dwell in it.
35 He turns a desert into a pool of water,
and a dry land into water springs.
36 There he makes the hungry live,
that they may prepare a city to live in,
37 sow fields, plant vineyards,
and reap the fruits of increase.
38 He blesses them also, so that they are multiplied greatly.
He doesn’t allow their livestock to decrease.
39 Again, they are diminished and bowed down
through oppression, trouble, and sorrow.
40 He pours contempt on princes,
and causes them to wander in a trackless waste.
41 Yet he lifts the needy out of their affliction,
and increases their families like a flock.
42 The upright will see it, and be glad.
All the wicked will shut their mouths.
43 Whoever is wise will pay attention to these things.
They will consider the loving kindnesses of Yahweh.

Proverbs 15:1-3
15 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouth of fools gush out folly.
3 Yahweh’s eyes are everywhere,
keeping watch on the evil and the good.

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