It is now that we find out, in verse 59, that all this exchange between Jesus and the religious teachers and leaders was taking place in Capernaum’s synagogue, where Jesus was teaching. He had delivered possibly the most offensive sermon ever given in his time, a message so viscerally horrifying, so unspeakably grotesque, that many must have been left actually speechless.

There really was no imagery that could have been worse than crunching and chewing—gnawing like a wild animal—on the flesh of a human being, then washing that all down with a great quaff of the person’s blood. My guess is, the sheer monstrousness was so repugnant, and the implications so massive, most everyone experienced the kind of numb blackout that happens with sensory overload, particularly trauma.

Even today, with our inurement to gore and horror due to overwhelming media, movies, games, and “mature audience” viewing we expose ourselves to, this teaching would have felt like treacherous betrayal from someone we had grown to love and trust.

Thus, many of his disciples who heard said, “Fierce-and-hard, rough-and-violent is this word [logos]: who is able to listen to it, to comprehend-or-attend to it?”

Jesus’ many followers, John 6:60

Their offense was not because the teaching was too difficult to understand.

They were offended because the Logos—both Jesus, and Jesus’ word, or teaching—was offensive to hear.

There were no words strong enough to describe the detestable abomination of being urged to crunch on Jesus’ flesh and gulp down his blood.

But even more so, they could not even bring themselves to put words to the allegorical implication of what Jesus was teaching.  

Their wants and desires were much more prosaic, much more external, much more traditional. They wanted

  • Miraculous manna.
  • The blessings of a powerful rabbi who could do miracles.
  • A conquering king, who would reclaim the Promised Land for God, and for God’s people.
  • The ushering in of the New World Order, the prophesied Glorious Kingdom the prophets of old had seen in their visions and comforted the exiled people with.

They did not want to be attached to someone who was edgy, fringy, who talked about dying for the world. Who resorted to such ugly and revolting metaphors. Who claimed to be God, the nourishment of the cosmos.

But Jesus, discerning-and-aware in himself that his disciples were muttering-and-grumbling about this, said to them, “This is offensive [for] you? [This hinders-right-conduct-or-thought, and causes-to-stumble?]

Therefore, what if you all behold the Son of Humanity[1] rising up to where he formerly was?

Jesus, John 61-62

This teaching, as hard as it was, was only just the beginning of hard things to come, the crucifixion, Jesus’ resurrection, and his departure from them, which would precipitate the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is who makes alive, the flesh does not benefit even one person, the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.

Jesus, John 63

Jesus explained to them that he was talking about spiritual matters. When he ascended into heaven, he would send his Spirit—God the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ—to those who believed in Jesus and followed him. It would be Jesus’ Spirit that each believer would literally take into their own person, their inward being, and thereby they would be taking eternal life, God’s life, into themselves.

These were men and women who took their religion seriously, for they were here, in the synagogue, to worship God and to hear from one who spoke from God, who taught the scriptures, who had performed many, many miraculous signs pointing to heaven, and the great love and power of Almighty God.

And so, these who were listening to Jesus’ teaching would have been familiar with the Holy Spirit as described in the Hebrew Bible.

  1. They knew well the first lines of the first book of their scriptures, Genesis. Here the Spirit of God was God’s agent of creation, hovering over the void at the beginning of time and bringing the world into being at God’s word.
  1. They would have remembered the Spirit equipping the artisans to make the tabernacle and ark of the covenant, in the book of Exodus.
  1. The Spirit of God also equipped kings to rule and inspired prophets to speak the words of God.
  1. They knew from the Psalms the Spirit provided what believers needed to live a moral life, and the Spirit spoke often of a coming Messiah, prophecies they were so well-versed in that they knew were being fulfilled in the Jesus.

Today, we understand God the Holy Spirit as the third member of the Trinity, Who provides the way for all people to understand truth and come to know the way back to God, to be reconciled with God. The Spirit is called an ever‑present  Counselor, Advocate, Comforter, and Strengthener.

When Jesus would later tell his disciples he would have to leave them, he would have to go up into heaven, it would be in order to send them the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus called “One Who is another Me”—exactly the same in every way as Jesus himself.

The LUMO Project |

This is the true baptism of the Holy Spirit. By definition, this occurs only once, permanently and immediately altering a person from being mortal to immortal, and every spiritual blessing in heaven is given at once to that person. To this day, every believer receives the Holy Spirit when they believe and put their faith in Jesus Christ.

In fact, it is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that makes belief possible. And the Holy Spirit imparts to every believer Jesus’ own love, agape love, that will protect the unity and harmony of the church, what Jesus wants most for believers besides experiencing his glory.

Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit would interpret Scripture, illuminate God’s word, witness to believers and through believers, would even give us the actual words to say about the gospel. One of the reasons the Christian Testament is so trusted, in fact, is because Jesus promised his original disciples his Spirit would cause them to remember everything Jesus had done and taught, whenever they needed it.

In Acts 1-2, when Jesus ascended into heaven, every believer received the Holy Spirit and was filled with a supernatural power, just as Jesus had predicted would happen.

Pentecost |
  1. The Holy Spirit illuminates God’s word and empowers believers to do God’s will.
  1. The Spirit gives believers particular gifts, like teaching, preaching, giving, and serving, in order to build up the whole of the church.
  1. Believers discover that they can grieve the Spirit and even douse the Spirit’s flame, God’s Spirit will not leave such a person, but it will seem like the Spirit is gone if one chooses to refuse or resist the Spirit of Christ.
  1. So the New Testament also talks about a “filling” of the Holy Spirit, which may occur repeatedly, and is signified by God’s equipping to bear truthful, faithful witness to the Gospel, to witness about Jesus as the Savior. Every reference in the New Testament to a filling of a person, or a group, by the Holy Spirit is followed by a verbal testimony to Jesus.[2]

Jesus’ Logos, his person, works, and words, are Spirit and are Life.

[1] The traditional way to translate this phrase from the Greek “uion tou anthropou” is “Son of Man.” This is because “Man” connoted “humankind” for a few centuries in the English language. Interestingly, in Middle English, the female version of “man” was “wimman” or “wifman,” our modern-day “woman.” The male version of “man” was “werman.” This left the word “man” as truly neutral, referring to male and female alike as humans.

However, at some point the prefix “wer” fell away, so that “man” came to mean both male humans and humans in general.

Today, being more sensitive to the implications of using the male version of human as standing in for all humans, more and more people are making the intentional effort to use more accurate language when translating. In this case, “anthropos” in Greek is the neutral term denoting humankind (like “anthropology,” the study of people). If a male term is desired, the Greek uses “aner/andros.”

[2] Paul the apostle taught much on the person and work of the Holy Spirit; however, his circular to the assemblies in Ephesus is particularly rich, and most of what is written in this post comes from it.

[Cornucopia |]

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