Archives: John 6:1-21

Holy Communion Gritty Reboot

I learned several new things this week that I really probably should have known before now.

This is not an unusual experience for me, to be honest.

I was talking in my sermon planning group with my friends Suzanne and Jeff, and we were thinking about different routes we could take with our text from John this week, the Feeding of the 5000.

And Suzanne said, “Well, you could use this gospel to give an open communion sermon.”

That caught me off-guard. Really? How?

It turns out that there are several interesting facts about the Gospel of John that frankly I should have known before now.

There is no scene in John of what we would call “The Last Supper.”

In John, as the end of his life approaches, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, and continues to teach them. He says to the disciples, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

They want to know who it is, and Jesus says, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish,” and then he gives it to Judas.

He tells Judas to do quickly what he plans to do, and then Judas leaves.

That’s it.

No blessing and breaking of bread.

No, “Take, eat, this is my Body.”

No giving thanks for the cup of wine, declaring it his blood of the New Covenant, and passing it around.

None of that. We can’t trace our idea of Eucharist today to a Last Supper scene in the Gospel of John, because there isn’t one. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Kings

Today’s scriptures are a tale of two kings, both born in the city of Bethlehem.

One would lend his name to his birth city; it became known for ever after as the City of David.

One would bring a star to his birth city; people followed it there to worship him in the manger that was his cradle.

David was the great king of the Hebrew Scriptures, the archetype for all who came after him and originator of God’s favor on the throne of Israel.

Jesus was the great king of the New Testament, the king who cared nothing for political power and turned the definition of kingship inside out.

But this is not a simple story of compare and contrast.

David is far too complex a figure for us to simply dismiss him with the old interpretation of, “Well, the old kings of Israel tried but they were no good so it’s a good thing Jesus came along.”

David is one of the most deeply human figures in the whole Bible.

He reaches sublime heights of worship and leadership, and commits monstrous sins that result in almost destroying not only his life, but his family for generations afterwards.

Perhaps what fascinates us the most about David is the unique designation that he alone bears in the entirety of scripture: he was a man after God’s own heart. Continue reading