I'm sorry to be so long away from the site. It's no sin, of course, but it is unpleasant. I have had at least 3 posts go stale and die on the mind, while I have been too busy to do much typing at all.
Especially after posting such an emotional piece, I hate to create the appearance that there might actually be something wrong by staying gone so long.
There's nothing up that being a parent, a son, and a dude in need of money cannot explain. (I am also doing a programming side-job upgrading an application I wrote back in '98. That's pretty cool, BTW. To be called back to maintain a piece of software I wrote 600 miles and 8 years away, and that is still going strong is always a pleasure.)
Thanks for checking in.
So, I have been "teaching" a bible study on Thursday nights, lately.
Here's how it goes. Last Thursday I suggested a verse for everyone,
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
On Sunday, I gave everyone a half-sheet of paper reminding them of the outline of the process of studying a verse that I laid out back in July. It's a dozen or so steps to looking at a verse from numerous directions to try to open your mind to things it might mean. We all have established hamster trails in our heads, and anything that opens our mind to new thoughts is a good thing.
So, on Thursday everyone showed up for bible study. Seven of us, actually, which is a nice number. Of the seven, six had done some studying before getting there, and that's a really nice number. Nobody did anything much in the way of studying, including me, but everyone had looked at the verse and some references and a couple commentaries.
I actually looked at every single commentary this time around, because there was so little of value in any of them. When I was done doing that, I still felt like I was going to the meeting woefully underprepared.
When I do this, I am doing something very similar to what I do out here. I am hoping to stir a new thought, and learn something. I'm hoping that between the seven of us, we can find something new and inspiring about the eternal Lord.
For the first 10 minutes, I made everyone stop and just come up with questions about the verse. That was helpful, though not terribly rich. Then we prayed, and started looking at what everyone had found. It's a good group, so there's no problem getting people to talk. 4 of us went right away. The pastor is part of the group, so he works to make sure he doesn't over-function, so he went fifth. Eventually, everyone had shared.
All together, we basically came up with:
Jesus telling a crowd of complete strangers that they had to drink His Blood to be saved was shocking. Jews had never tasted blood, and never would. God would cut them off. So, for Him to say that was almost intentionally rude. He was not going to win friends and influence people.
This was not a foreshadowing of communion. Communion, rather, was a picture of this. Eating and drinking of Christ is the reality, and the Lord's Table is the picture and remembrance of that reality.
Eating and drinking ties back to John 6:29:
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
In that part of the incident, Jesus is talking about Himself being the Manna of God, and He directly ties believing and eating the Bread from heaven. So, eating and drinking of Christ is believing that which He has done, and that which He says He has done.
That's cool, because when we pray we pray believing. When we read, we read believing. And when we work, we work believing in Him.
And when we believe, we are eating and drinking. We are taking God's divine Life into ourselves. We are, by believing, bringing the essence of the eternal God into our own beings. But, when we eat and drink of Him, John 6:56 says that we are taken into Him. We abide in Him when we eat of Him.
So, believing creates a cycle. We take God into ourselves and we place ourselves into God. He is built into us, and we are ingrafted into Him.
That was cool, and that was past the commentaries. And that's the goal. We come prepared with all the data that we can find, but then as the Spirit opens things up, we move past our preparations, and we find Him.
Thank the Lord, though, He was not done yet.
Our youngest brother pointed out that eating was the very first thing. Right there in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were supposed to eat, from the very first day. We remember that they were commanded not to eat of one tree, but we need to remember that they were also commanded to eat of all the other trees! And especially of One Tree!
From there we talked about eating, and how we need to do it just to survive.
Then I remembered the Passover lamb in Exodus 12. There is a special way that lamb was to be eaten, and it was a picture of how Christ is to be eaten. Among the really cool things is that the stranger is allowed to eat exactly as the native person, so long as he is cleaned by circumcision. The lamb must all be eaten under one roof - no leftovers are to be taken away. And no bone of the lamb should be broken. The lamb must be roasted, too.
So, we learned that there was a special way to eat the Lamb. Had I been a little more careful, I might have remembered that there was a special way the Lamb must be prepared, but a sister had found that eating makes it all the way to the Revelation. In Rev 2, 3, and 22 we find eating, and even that there are 12 fruits to eat.
So the revelation of eating and drinking starts at the beginning, and is expanded and deepened all the way to the end of the world.
Praise the Lord.
If I had "taught" that bible study, it would not have been anywhere near so rich. Two of the six or so really cool things in that class were mine, but one of them would never have happened without building on what another brother brought.
We need each other to find the Lord.