Communion and Gnawing Jesus

Reading today on the sacraments in preparation for preaching this weekend and came across a helpful anecdote. The author was trying to communicate how the sacraments are physical bearers of spiritual realities. In writing about the importance and power of the physical elements in the Lord’s Supper, the author comments that Jesus’ teaching in John 6 on being the ‘bread of life’ is extremely graphic. “Unless you eat [Greek: gnaw, munch, chew] the flesh of the Son of Man…you have no life in you.” Then this illustration:

What does it mean to ‘gnaw’ on Jesus for dear life? My mind shifts again to a vivid tale from the evening news, of one of the survivors of an earthquake…in Armenia several years ago…One woman was found alive after four or five days, pinned under a slab of concrete, yet holding an infant who had somehow not been injured. She was not its mother, and unable to nurse it, she had kept it alive by letting it suck on her lip – gnaw on her lip, actually – drawing her own lifeblood to keep from getting dehydrated and using her own flesh for food. Jesus gives us himself as food to keep us alive. It’s not very civilized, is it?1

1 Evelyn Diephouse, Gnawing Jesus taken from Leonard J. Vander Zee, Christ, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper

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