The following is a reflection on John 6:35, 41-51, the Gospel lesson for Proper 14B, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
There was one brief, shining moment in the Hebrew Bible where things were pretty good. We had safety, and security, we had the Presence of God walking among us.
We had a nice garden.
And then we blew it. We had only been given one “thou shalt not,” and we couldn’t manage the “not” part. So we ate of the tree.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And, what happened when you ate of this tree? Your eyes were opened, and you became “like God,” knowing good and evil.
But, you know, there was another tree in the Garden…The Tree of Life. And what happened when you ate of this tree? Well, we get the scoop on that when God talks of the consequences of eating from the Tree of Knowledge:
Then the Lord said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.’
So…obviously…we ate from the wrong tree. We were never told that we couldn’t eat from the Tree of Life…but we ate from the tree that we were told not to.
We could have lived forever. In that garden. With God.
We were so close. It could have been great.
In John chapter 6, Jesus isn’t talking about trees and fruit, but rather bread. But, he talks about this bread in a familiar way:
This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.
Jesus is speaking of himself. He’s speaking of the benefits of believing and abiding in him. Of consuming him, and making him a part of us, and us a part of him.
And…he’s so very clearly identifying himself as the new creation. The new garden. The new tree. The new fruit.
God’s dream in Genesis was that we would live forever with Him, and in Jesus that dream gets a fresh start.
In Eden it could have been great, but we messed it up. But, now, in Jesus it can be great again.
And, great forever.