RCL Year B, Proper 15 (Alternate Readings)
Proverbs 9:1-6, Psalm 34:9-14, Ephesians 5:15-20, Saint John 6:51-58

The dispute the Jews, the religious leaders, attempt to have with Jesus, that was the Gospel last Sunday, continues today. Those religious leaders say, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”[1] It is Nicodemus’ question in different words, “How can anyone be born after having grown old?”[2]

If you will think about the metaphors of being born again as birth in God and flesh and blood as spiritual food and drink, you can see that birth in God and spiritual food and drink are Jesus’ metaphors to stretch the minds of Nicodemus and the religious leaders so that they begin to perceive God and eternity. They know that they are flesh and blood, but Jesus wants them to think beyond those limitations to see themselves as creatures and children of God.

Later in John’s Gospel Jesus will say to Peter and the other disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”[3] He is telling them that he, having come from God and eternity, having become incarnate, having put on flesh and blood, he is the way for them to think about and to participate in God and eternity. In his incarnation, he connects God and eternity to flesh and blood.

Nicodemus and the religious leaders can be forgiven for failing to see all this before Jesus explains it to them and before Jesus demonstrates all this in his glorification, his death, resurrection, and ascension.

You and I have benefits Nicodemus and the religious leaders do not have. We have two thousand years of experience of living in resurrection light; we have the story of Jesus told to us over and over again, Sunday by Sunday as well as year by year.

We should begin to get it. We should begin to yearn for God and for eternity while, in our flesh and blood, we do what we can do to bring others to the Lord, to make it known that Jesus’ glorification is about our journey to God. It is a journey to which everyone is invited and to which no one is compelled.

The invitation Wisdom makes in the first lesson entwines all of these very big ideas and notions. “You that are simple, turn in here. … Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”[4]

[1] Saint John 6:52.

[2] Saint John 3:4.

[3] Saint John 14:6.

[4] Proverbs 9:4-6.