Tagged: flesh

Romans 8:6-11

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on April 2, 2017.

Romans chapter 8 is the highpoint section in Paul’s most remarkable letter. Romans 8:6-11, along with the previous five verses (8:1-5) and subsequent six verses (8:12-17), conveys a series of dichotomies: flesh vs. the Spirit; death vs. life; the law of the Spirit of life vs. the law of sin and of death; death and resurrection; Spirit of God and children of God; spirit of slavery vs. Spirit of adoption. Verses 6-11 form a small part of a broader exposition Paul provides the contrast between flesh and Spirit. It is crucial for the preacher to understand Paul’s perception concerning these two forces and to avoid misrepresenting the metaphorical concepts he uses to convey his message.

Do we understand what Paul means by “flesh”? How should preachers interpret Paul today, particularly, in a world where we idolize attractive celebrities, vigorous athletes, carnal desires, while we are embarrassed by grotesqueness, physical atrophy, and the ailments of senility?

Is the Apostle’s understanding of “flesh” as trivial as that diffused by today’s secularized culture? Is Paul simply offering us the pitfalls of network television? Is he describing practical Christianity with the unreserved dismissal of the luxuries of a consumer-driven society? Perhaps this is what countless of faithful believers assume.

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John 6:56-69

This text is used for the Lectionary Year B on August 23, 2015.

Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina

(This is the third of three reflections on Jesus’ “I am the bread of life” statements in John 6, and all three really need to be read together.)

John 6 opens with thousands of excited people who have witnessed Jesus’ miracle of multiplication and have been generously fed by His hand.  The chapter ends with most of these persons having defected and with just the inner circle of the Twelve, who are as surprised and offended by Jesus’ teaching as everyone else… and one of them is rapidly moving toward the disillusionment that will lead to betrayal.

With Jesus’ repeated affirmations that “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (6:56), many of those who were following Jesus pushed “eject.”  “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?” they asked.  Not only was Jesus speaking in offensive—even heretical—ways, but He was challenging the structures of power with such boldness that it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see how this confrontation was going to end, and most of Jesus’ previously enthusiastic followers got out while they still could.

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