Communion is Anti-Cannibalism (John 6: 51 – 58)

… Jesus is calling us to know who we are not because of our division from others, but because of our connection.


“Those who eat of my flesh and drink of my blood abide in me, and I in them.”

Okay, Jesus. You’ve been going on about eating your flesh and drinking your blood for a while now, and it’s getting weird.

“The Jews” aren’t the only ones asking, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 2000 years later, plenty of Christians and people of other faiths baffled by this metaphor.

Implications of cannibalism may not be that far off. Jesus says this knowing that his body will literally be torn apart. He will be whipped and humiliated and his body will be broken on the cross. And through it all, he will be in solidarity with those who are also marginalized, abandoned, condemned, and broken.

In this graphic metaphor, Jesus exposes the way human beings have “cannibalized” one another. When we live over and against each other — exploiting, oppressing, or demonizing others — we feed our sense of identity with a false sense of division. We believe that we are “us” because we are not “them.”

Sometimes enmity gives us a sense of who we are. Less consciously, apathy often blinds us to our connection with those we take for granted. Those who live in relative comfort can be unaware of the hardship imposed on the poor and vulnerable. But in so many ways, poor and vulnerable people are “consumed” — utterly spent and depleted, while so many live at their expense.

How much “nourishment” do we feel like we get from finding our identity against enemies or at the expense of the vulnerable?

Jesus institutes communion as anti-cannibalism. In offering his body, he says, “Don’t take your identity over and against others. Find yourself in me, and let my spirit dwell in you. Find your identity and your belonging in the God who loves you unconditionally and provides freely for all your needs. And as you find your belonging in God, you will recognize each other as members of God’s body, interconnected and interdependent.”

In gathering us together, in calling us to “re-member” him, that is, put his broken body back together in the communal act of consuming the bread and wine, Jesus is calling us to know who we are not because of our division from others, but because of our connection. When we divide, marginalize, exclude, and harm others, we diminish ourselves. We cut off our own limbs. When Jesus calls us to put his body back together, he is calling us into the restoration and healing of a broken humanity.

The Olive

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We know this is a lot to chew on, so we’re giving you (and ourselves) a couple weeks to digest! Adam and Lindsey invite you to join them again on Wednesday, August 25, at 11 am CT/ 9 am PT on the Raven Foundation Facebook page!