Jesus' Journey and Ours: Reflections on John 6:56-59
Jesus' journey has become our journey. We throw in our lot with him. And what kind of journey is Jesus on in the Gospel of John? The Gospel of John is an ancient biography in dramatic form. It depicts Jesus' journey as Wisdom's descent and return. He is the Word incarnate who comes down to earth to reveal the Father, take away the sin of the world, and empower the "children of God."
Verses 6-18 of John's Prologue summarize Jesus' journey. Like Wisdom, the Word comes into the world, is characterized by light, reveals the nature of God, calls the chosen to faith, and gives them life. Jesus' journey is one in which some recognize him and join his journey while others find it too difficult and go away; they "no longer go about with him."
John wants our journey to be one in which we accept Jesus' identity and the light and knowledge he brings into our world.
The three-year-old boy's question is a great one for communion: "Where are all the people going?" The answer is that they are going on a journey with Christ, nourished by Christ.
Augustine once defined sacrament sas "visible words"—actions that speak of the love and forgiveness of God. In communion we have the chance to recommit our journey to Jesus' journey and to experience the nourishment of the Bread from Heaven. In this sacrament, Christ unites his presence with the bread and wine and unites his life with our own, that he may live in us and lead us to his purposes. Christ draws all humanity and creation to himself and God's eternal purpose. This movement takes form and shape in the self-giving and reconciling life of the community of faith. That is where all the people are going.
And that journey, our text affirms, does not end with this life. As my colleague so eloquently and succinctly put it on his own deathbed: "Life goes on." Thanks be to God.
Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.