Common English Bible (CEB)
52 Then the Jews debated among themselves, asking, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Human One[a] and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me lives because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. It isn’t like the bread your ancestors ate, and then they died. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Jesus is ridiculously offensive. Like, all the time.
Seriously, it takes some serious chutzpah to talk about eating someone’s flesh and drinking someone’s blood in a synagogue. Not only that, he commands people that if they don’t do it, they don’t get eternal life. No wonder Christians were accused of cannibalism back in the day.
That said, Jesus is trying to do something here, and that thing is not trying to gross us out. He’s trying to get us to realize what it means to be believers in Jesus:
It’s a group effort people. And if we’re going to be together we have to eat and drink together. Therefore, we need to have communion with one another, and in doing so, we better realize the divine reality that God has in mind for us.
I like what Augustine has to say on the matter. Essentially, there’s a reason why he chose bread and wine for the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper.
He’s talking here about the fellowshiup of the saints where there is peace and unity, full and perfect… Bread is a quantity of grains united into one mass, wine a quantity of grapes squeezed together. Then he explains what it is to eat his body and drink his blood: “He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him.”
The very elements of the table are representative of the kind of life that Christ wants us to live: out of many, one. E Pluribus Unum.
The very motto of my country is a profoundly theological statement in and of itself, so I really don’t see why people need to whine and complain about saying that the motto of the country is “In God We Trust.” “E Pluribus Unum” does a much better job of conveying the kind of life that God wants us to have, in my humble opinion.
I know the founders never intended it to be a theological statement, and in fact, they meant quite the opposite. Most of them, informed by the enlightenment, were interested in a secular, but united, country. Heck, Jefferson even went through his bible and edited out all the bits in the gospel that talk about miraculous stuff, so there you go.
But, in my task as a theologian, I try to find God peeking through in just about everything, and to me, this is something that really gets my attention. It’s an idea that conveys an ethos of togetherness and unity, getting beyond petty differences to realize that we are all in this together. Besides, “E Pluribus Unum” its even more specific than “In God We Trust,” at least when it talks about theology.
So you trust in God, eh? Which God is that? The God of money? The God of nationalism? Selfishness? Pride? Greed? You’re not being specific enough for me.
No, my God is the one that says out of bread and wine, with everyone present, we are given new life. Together. Out of many, one. In living, eating, drinking, and working together, and loving one another without reservation, we truly are the kind of people Christ would want us to be.