Eating Metaphors 072812
If I get this right, Jesus, in John 4:31(below) is offered food by his disciples, who seem genuinely interested in their Rabbi, Jesus. But Jesus responds and changes the discussion into a metaphor.
And there are many times when we all might do better to pray for the sower to come, or the reaper to come than to eat another meal. I’m not sure which. I’m not sure which is God and which is Jesus and which is all of us, but the message is still clear. The ‘food’ we all need comes from the Holy Spirit and not from the crops in the field ready for harvest.
It was certainly a time in Israel and Judea when food was in short supply. But it was in short supply because the crops of the field belonged to the Roman Empire! Israel and Judea were Roman colonies, and the reasons for having a colony is to have more food, which translates sometimes into ‘gold’ and money. There used to be a brand of bread called ‘Roman Meal’ bread (as if sliced, light wheat bread were used by the Roman legions as they conquered the world).
So, Jesus’ fasting or preferring the ‘bread of the spirit’ is a not very subtle slap in the face to the Roman overlords. In actuality, neither the sower or the reaper got any food beyond the daily wages of a peasant laborer—working one’s life away on the lands of the Roman lords. Jesus is saying ‘keep your bread, I have the bread of God to share with all’. The metaphor seems to me to be a disguise of the political and economic truth of Jesus’ time, that is diverted to the things that matter.
In our time how does this metaphor work? It is not only a metaphor that works for us, but it is a metaphor that speaks against us, for we are the modern equivalent of the Roman empire; we are the modern overlords, the modern legions. (I’m making the assumption we’re all benefiting from a colony somewhere, somehow because we are each wealthy enough to have access to a computer, and we speak English—two signs that one is part of the modern empire.
Share the bread, and share with the reaper and the sower. Pray for peace.
Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).
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10All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your faithful shall bless you.
11They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and tell of your power,
12to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
14The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.
15The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
16You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.
17The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.
18The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
2 Kings 4:38-41
38When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land. As the company of prophets was sitting before him, he said to his servant, “Put the large pot on, and make some stew for the company of prophets.” 39One of them went out into the field to gather herbs; he found a wild vine and gathered from it a lapful of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. 40They served some for the men to eat. But while they were eating the stew, they cried out, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” They could not eat it. 41He said, “Then bring some flour.” He threw it into the pot, and said, “Serve the people and let them eat.” And there was nothing harmful in the pot.
31Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.