Gleanings – Smart? Or Too Smart by Half?

John 6:52-59

The Jews disputed among themselves, saying “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

We often struggle with metaphor and image and analogy. Hyper-rationalists that we enlightened people are, we trample upon truth that transcends fact. Literalism and empiricism cause us to overlook or ignore major truths that should be impacting our lives.

Today a dear friend was hammered in the form of being summarily dismissed on Facebook for using the “frog in the kettle” image. has proven that to be an urban legend. Apparently, the frog won’t jump out of hot water to save itself. This misses the point. The image is meant to communicate the danger of being in a situation in which the heat is on the rise. The change is so small as to be imperceptible and thus we end up being boiled to death. Whether or not a frog will jump from boiling water to save itself does not adversely impact the truth that the image or legend or myth communicates. And here it is. Sometimes we find ourselves in such comfortable surroundings, we are unsuspecting of impending danger. I always picture the frogs lying out on floats sipping on Margaritas just before the heat overwhelms them.

In our lesson under consideration, Jesus is factually a man, though God incarnate, and therefore cannot be bread, food or drink. So everything that follows such analogy can be dismissed. “No need to worry” the Jews say. However, such obvious inconsistency is our first clue something more profound than that which can be investigated empirically is at work. Ultimately, because his body/flesh is broken and his blood shed, we have life. These basic elements, food and drink, sustain life. Ultimately, in the life of the church, the symbolism is taken to another level where the body/food becomes bread and drink/blood becomes wine. These outwards signs are reflective of a greater truth, a sacrifice had to be made for us to be at-one with God.

So here is the thing. Some, perhaps many, Jews summarily dismissed Jesus and his metaphor or analogy becomes the scapegoat or genesis of the rejection. They are seemingly unaware of the impending danger around them. Each day they draw closer to death (physical and eternal) and they are rejecting the means by which God is addressing this mortal threat, Jesus. They are lulled into a false sense of security because what threatens them is not visibly imminent. There is no real axe raised. It’s just not that hot. But denial of the truth doesn’t change the truth. They are at risk.

Likewise, we are always at risk and with each day the water becomes hotter. Let’s hope we aren’t not like them in this regard. They are too smart. Too smart by half, that is.

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