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John21 – a consuming friendship

He said these things teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum. So, many of his disciples, having heard, said, “This word is hard. Who is able to hear it?” 
Capernaum in Galilee (in Israel) c. AD 30. In John’s first century eye witness biography of Jesus, Jesus had indeed been saying “hard” things – see John19 and John20. In particular he had stated that he was “the bread of heaven” come down to give “eternal life” to all who would “believe into him”. 

More, he had said these “hard” words: “I myself am that living bread that descended from heaven. If someone may eat out of this bread, he will live into eternity and in fact the bread that I myself will give on behalf of the life of the world is my own flesh.” And he had added: “The one consuming my flesh and drinking my blood stays in me and I also in him. Just as the living Father sent me out so I also live through the Father and the one who consumes me—that one will live through me.” Shades of cannibalism?

In fact, Jesus, having discerned in himself that his disciples are arguing concerning this, said to them, “This stumbles you. So, what if you may observe the Son of Man ascending where he was in the former times?”

He asks them to revise their shock and horror by bearing in mind that, one day, they may “observe” him, as a physical body, “ascending” back to heaven.

“The Spirit is the one making alive; the flesh accomplishes nothing. The messages that I myself have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

He adds that his “flesh” is not what “makes alive”. It is his “messages” that are the key. His “messages” are both “spirit and life”. Although intangible, his “messages” are more real than all the tangibles in the world. Why did Richard Syvret neglect them for so long? 

“But there are some from among you who do not believe.” Because Jesus had discerned from the beginning who are those unbelieving and who is the one giving him away. And he stated, “Through this I have said to you that no one is able to come towards me if it may not be having been given to him from the Father.” 

One might imagine that Jesus has immediately changed the subject by challenging his disciples – yes, his closest friends/followers - as to whether they “believe” or not. In fact, he gently presses them into self-examination as to whether - or not - they are those “consuming my flesh and drinking my blood”. To him, this was the vital issue.  

“Through this”? Jesus explains that through this “hard” statement about eating his flesh, he had been saying what he then repeats: “No one is able to come to me unless it has been given to him by the Father.” The consuming friendship - the oneness - he is speaking about is very "other".

Those who turn away from such a consuming friendship with Jesus will not have been able to come to him for a reason. That ability to come will not have been “given to" that person "by the Father.”

From this many of his disciples came away into the things behind and were no longer walking with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You also do not desire to go away?” 

This clarification made things worse. Some of the disciples could not accept the sovereignty of the Father over them. They leave him. Jesus asks those who remain whether, now, they also wish to move away. Decision time.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, towards whom will we come away. You have messages of eternal life and we ourselves have believed, and have known, that you are the Holy One of God.” 

Those who remain with Jesus have made up their minds. Only Jesus has “messages of eternal life”. Only he is "the Holy One of God". Those who so remain are “consuming his flesh and drinking his blood” because his “messages” “are spirit and are life”? The start of a consuming friendship.

Jesus answered them, “Did I myself not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is diabolical?” In fact he was stating Judas, of Simon Iscariot, because that one—from the twelve—was about to give him over.) 

A moment or two earlier (above), Jesus had said “some among you … do not believe”. Now he states that one of the twelve – chosen by him personally – “is slanderous".  Why did he choose a slanderous person? Did this man want Judas “to give him over”? Was it so he could show what a true friend does for his friends?

Sinner Syvret

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