Rector’s Reflections: No Turning Back
It was all good when Jesus was passing around the bread and sardines.
It was fine when Jesus was poking his finger into the eye of the elites, the powerful.
But Jesus’s talk about drinking blood and eating flesh bursts through the earliest taboos in the Torah. So now, Jesus’s teachings HAVE proven too hard for some of his followers. They have not signed on for this. To drink blood and to eat flesh is unimaginable. They asked for bread, and Jesus seems to be giving them stones. Worse than stones, actually, they think. Jesus speaks matter-of-factly to them about bewildering mysteries when they were asking for another miraculous sign. "Moses," they said, "laid out feasts in the wilderness. We want bread just like that." They wanted manna, which they called the bread of angels, but Jesus instead gives them riddles. And so, many leave.
But a few remain—then and now. "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." The ones who leave and the ones who stay do not yet understand that, better than loaves and crumbs, Jesus is offering himself to them—and to us.
Too often, we fall into the silken trap that undergirds our modern world—the stubborn insistent voice that insists that each person is in control of his or her own destiny. Other people will get there first, and there won’t be enough to go around. We are driven by fear of scarcity, fear of the Other. We scramble after manna and ignore the feast Christ offers us.
Jesus, however, reveals a different standard for defining reality. Jesus comes into the world as part of God’s proclamation "God loves, therefore we are." God freely sends God’s Son into the world as the Incarnate Word through love.
There it is in John 3:16—" For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."
Jesus is the sign and representation, the icon of God’s love for the world, love that feeds and sustains real life, not just existence. The is no turning back from an embrace that pure, that holy. And yet, as we have heard these last many weeks, Jesus leaves it up to us to allow him into our lives-- to really allow him to nourish us, body and soul. For some people, the prospect of the way that might change us is too much.
Following Jesus is a decision we make every day, every hour. Like that beloved hymn leads us to sing:
I have decided to follow Jesus/
No turning back, no turning back.