Ananias wrote this message for Sunday, August 19, 2018, because of the focus on Jesus using the verb for eat that is better translated as gnaw. The main lesson was the Gospel lesson, John 6:51-58.
Grace & Good News to you from our Creator and Lord. AMEN.
My Big Guy has started having a text study with other pastors at his office at St. Mark on Tuesday mornings. They listen to a podcast from Minnesota where some professors talk about Sunday’s lessons. Usually, I’m just trying to get something to eat from them, but the people from Minnesota said that when Jesus was talking about eating the Living Bread, he changed the verb from eating, to chomping or gnawing or sinking your teeth into.
I got all excited because those are things that I am good at. My Big Guy has given me an iPawd to play with, and I downloaded some of his Bible software onto my iPawd. I looked up what these people were talking about.
Beginning in verse 54 of the Gospel reading from John 6, Jesus uses different Greek words, but both are translated as eat. Normally you would use ἐσθίω (es THE o), which means to eat. But then, he changed the word; even though most Bibles still translate it as eat. Jesus uses τρώγω (TRO go) which means to gnaw, munch, chomp or crunch. At that same time, when he changes to trogo, he also starts to talk about his flesh and blood, rather than him being living bread.
The people from Minnesota didn’t make a big deal about that, but I understood what Jesus was talking about.
You see, when I eat, whether it is a treat or my bowl of food, I rush through it all at once. I eat it. I enjoy it. But it isn’t going to take me long. Bulldogges like me were designed to have big mouths and powerful jaws so we can hang onto what we get. My Big Guy likes to think that he lets me win when we have tug wars, but he is not going to beat me, unless I let him, and I doubt that will happen.
Eating is essential. We need to eat. But it is just something that we do.
Now gnawing or chomping; that is an event. If you give me a bone or a new toy, I can really sink my teeth into it. I will spend hours or days working with that bone, getting all of the meat scraps, chipping or chomping away at the bone until I get every last drop or part of nutrition, enjoyment or pleasure from it.
If gnawing or chomping or chewing are too gross for you, I’m sorry, but think about what it means to sink your teeth into something. If you have a dog of your own, or have ever seen a dog with a bone, that fixation and devotion is what Jesus wants from you.
Jesus wants you to totally commit to Him and what He has told you to do. He wants you to focus and fixate on it. He wants you to be relentless. He wants you to be devoted and protective of it. Gnawing is a lot more than eating; when you gnaw or munch, you really have to work at it. You aren’t done until you have totally devoured it and every piece of it is now a part of you.
I understand you can read what he is saying it challenge you. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who gnaw on my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who gnaw on my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever gnaw on me will live because of me.” (John 6:53-57)
But I hear that and am comforted and reassured. That’s because there is another word that I experience everyday that you may not think about. In verse 56, Jesus says that Those who gnaw on my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. You hear abide, and My Big Guy says you may think of a hymn. I don’t know, but for me, abide means I have a loving home. The dictionary for the Greek word says that μένω (MEN o) means abide or stay with. I hear that as what My Big Guy has done for me. I may abide with him, but he has given me a warm, or better yet down here, a cool, loving place to live. I am safe and I am always cared for.
Plus, you remember from when you studied Luther’s Small Catechism that daily bread isn’t just food, but means all of the things that we need each day to survive, food, shelter, water, friends and family, all of that.
Jesus wants those who believe in him to do more than just have faith. In John’s Gospel, he never uses faith as a noun. In John’s Gospel, faith is a verb. You do not have faith; you act out of your faith.
It isn’t enough to eat the living bread, you have to take the flesh of the Son of Man into you, and make it a part of you. It isn’t enough to believe in Jesus Christ, you have to be living in the way of Christ. Because if you bring Jesus and his will and his ways into you, your life will be changed for now, and forever. So let me re-write this passage in bulldogge and I think you may understand what Jesus is trying to say.
I came down from heaven to give you everything that you are ever going to need. Those who take me into yourself will live beyond death. The bread, all of the things I provide for the world to live is myself.
I really, really mean it. If you don’t take in what the Son of Man is giving to you, you are not living. Those who gnaw on me and on what I am doing will have life after death; I will wake them up when I come back. My life will totally sustain you. Those who gnaw on me and take me in will live with me, and I will live with them. Just as God sent me, and because I exist because of God, those who gnaw on me will live because of me. Everything you need has come down from heaven. It isn’t like anything else that happened before when others died. But those who gnaw on me will live forever.
Jesus had fed 5,000 of these people in what I would eat in a few bites. They ate what he gave them. Now he wants them to gnaw on what he gives for them. And he wants us to do the same.
Take time to focus and fixate on what Jesus Christ has done for you.
Take time to gnaw and chew on the blessings God has given you.
Take time to sink your teeth into how you can live out your gratitude.
Let us pray: May God fill your life with blessings, big bones and belly rubs. May we share these gifts and grace with those who need it. AMEN.