Editor's note: Knowing that the Bible can become very bloody, I still do not think this particular lesson will pave the way for the traditional Vacation Bible School. However, it is very instructive and should not be overlooked in this secular version of VBS.
By David Madison
Here is a Bible exercise for the eye-opener. Read Marcus & gospel – everything – right through, careful. This requires a few hours, maybe a little more, about the time it takes to watch a movie. Then relax a bit, drink a glass of wine. Then read the Gospel of John – everything –careful. You will see why I recommend the wine.
It is difficult to see how the same Jesus can be; these two gospels are very different. Attentive readers can not help but notice, for example, that there is no last supper in John. Now, in chapter 13 there is a reference to Jesus and his disciples who were having an evening meal in which Jesus washes their feet – and he gives a piece of bread to Judas. But there is no description of bread and wine, with the well-known words "this is my body" and "this is my blood" that we find in Mark 14: 22-25. In other words, there is no Eucharist here, but elsewhere John offers a chilling reformulation of it.
In John 6 we find the story of Jesus who fed the 5,000 with a few loaves of bread and fish, and the next day he brags,
"I am the bread of life: he who comes to me is never hungry, and whoever believes in me will never get thirst …" (v.35)
Then he gets into a fight with "the Jews" and makes this shocking statement (verses 54-57):
"Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day, for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood remain in me and I in them. Just as the living Father has sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live through me. "
In the next verse he refers to this "bread that has descended from heaven", but John does not present this in a context of a meal with the disciples, as in the case of Marcus, that is to say, the wine is his blood, the bread is his body.
In John, magical thinking overwhelms the story – and is overwhelmingly repulsive:
"Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life … whoever eats me will live through me."
It is a pity that no one looked over John's shoulder to give a little bit of advice:
"Do not go there!" Among other things, as many commentators have pointed out, a devout Jew – as we suppose Jesus was – would never advise to drink blood. This is as strange as a peasant preacher from Galilee. It is so strange in character for decent theology.
But myopic theologians walked with John's bad idea. I suspect this text is behind the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation: since Jesus left, we have to eat his real body and drink his real body. anyway.
How many Christians are willing to tell it as it is?
"Oh, this is the story where Jesus tells us to drink his blood."
The eucharist of Marcus is much easier to take.
David Madison, a member of the Clergy project, grew up in a conservative Christian home in northern Indiana. He served as a preacher in the Methodist Church during his work at two graduate degrees in theology. By the time he finished his doctorate in Bible studies (University of Boston), he had become an atheist, a story he shares in the prologue of his book, published in 2016: 10 Difficult problems in Christian thinking and belief: a ministerial reversed atheist Show why you have to drive out faith.
>>>>>> Photo Credits: By Leonardo da Vinci – High resolution scan by http://www.haltadefinizione.com/ in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Culture. Scandetails, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3032252; by Andrea Reese