When Jesus Creeps You Out

 John 6

He didn’t bill the hillside seminar as a Lunch ‘n Learn, but when the crowd approached at mealtime, he divided up rations sufficient for just a small boy into portions enough to feed around 5,000 folks and still send doggy bags home with the twelve.

The people let full bellies do their thinking, and thought then to make the Miracle Man their king.

He slipped away to the hills before they could get a good grip on His robes.

::

The disciples started across the lake ahead of Him by boat and He joined them later, hop-skipping three and a half miles across the top of rough waters. The folks left behind on shore — taste of free lunch still fresh on their buds –caught up with them on the other side in the morning.

They queried. He quizzed.

Supposing they’d loosed their own useful genie, they pressed Him for breakfast. Whip up another miracle; feed us all again. We’ll believe you this time, for sure. Are you as good as Moses? He fed people every day. Just do it again.

But all at once it seemed time to squeeze this ghastly sorcerer back into the bottle. He meant to make cannibals of them all!

How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

Was He really a hometown boy? Really Joseph and Mary’s son? Carpenters don’t produce prophets and they don’t offspring shamans. He’s making this stuff up.

And starting to really creep us out.

Stomachs churned at the thought of eating this man’s flesh, chasing it down with His red dripping blood.

And so came the first self-answering question of the day: This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?

Meaning, of course, not really Who but No one. Not anyone sane and decent. There’s only one way to answer a question like that. The sudden loss of appetite and distaste for late night horror movies overtook them, and most of them went away, losing interest in this Bela Legosi stagehand.

::

Saddened but by no means surprised, the Rabbi turned to those most close to him and asked, You do not want to leave too, do you?

Peter, speaking for his companions, wiped leftover breadcrumbs from his mouth and blurted out with sardine-laced spittle, Lord, to whom shall we go?

Again there could be but one answer to the question Peter sputtered out: You have the words of eternal life. Surely we don’t get it either. All this talk of blood and flesh and eating and drinking. It’s a little creepy to be sure. 

But we know You, and we believe You, and what else can we do?

::

Linking with Michelle today.
Use it on Monday

49 responses

  1. Good. Grief. Girl. If people didn’t get the point of that story before, they’ll never be able to forget it now. You’ve got quite the knack for the vivid description.

    And of course, no one sane and decent would stick around for this kind of thing. Or those of us with no place else to go.

    2011/11/14 at 3:02 PM

    • Once having been with him, what option does a person really have, I wonder? The other options just don’t look quite the same after that.

      2011/11/14 at 8:01 PM

      • Amen, Lyla. Where would we go? Who else does have the words of eternal life? where else is there hope?? No where. Even though sometimes it seems as if what He asks is just too hard, He is the only answer to it all. Who else will love me when I fail Him? Who else died for me? Who else is the friend who sticks closer than a brother? I know that my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him in the flesh. Yup. Once you’ve been with Jesus, there really are no other options!

        2011/11/14 at 11:27 PM

  2. That question of Peter’s always gets me. Where would we go? There is no turning back, is there? Not after we’ve felt his breath and presence in our lives. This one gives me goose. bumps.

    2011/11/14 at 3:44 PM

    • These are the times Peter’s knee-jerk honesty makes me smile.

      2011/11/14 at 8:01 PM

  3. DAD

    We’re in the midst of an 8 week study of the Gospel of Mark in our Sunday Adult Class. Yesterday’s lesson was from chapters 11 and 12 so your post is very timely. My commentary on Mark has examples and illustrations to help clarify the passages and occasionally commentary authors may even reference a movie, but Bela Lugosi? I don’t think so. To misuse a New Testament illustration, you have sorta’ put the old wine into new wineskins. Well done!!

    Dad

    2011/11/14 at 4:38 PM

    • I half expect letters from high ranking officials over this one, Dad.

      2011/11/14 at 8:02 PM

      • DAD

        Well, at least you waited until after Halloween. Don’t worry about high ranking officials. Most folks are too young to remember Bela Lugosi, Chaneys Sr and Jr, Vincent Price, etc. Now, if you had referenced Jason, Elm Street, Hannibal Lecter, etc. then you would have hit someone’s hot button.

        I think evangelicals have gotten so caught up in worship style, tips on parenting, problem solving, etc that we have neglected the priority that the Lord’s Supper should have in our corporate time together and in our lives as believers. I long for the time when churches, in general, move back to observing communion every Sunday, rather than monthly (if it doesn’t interfere with some special activity). Just keep writing and making us think.

        Dad

        2011/11/15 at 7:46 PM

  4. I never know quite what to say when you do this … you do it so remarkably well. In a way that’s difficult to forget. That’s a good thing!

    2011/11/14 at 6:53 PM

    • Thank you, Susan. You’re always so kind. I just don’t believe the (W)ords were ever meant to just sit there still on the page looking dull-gray. 😉

      2011/11/14 at 8:03 PM

  5. This IS a hard teaching (& why I’ve been Catholic for 20+ years re: the Eucharist!), but whether you see the Lord’s Table as a Memorial or the real deal (transubstantiation) we are commemorating the Death & Resurrection of Jesus – HIS Body – HIS Blood. I never thought about it being Creepy, but then again – we make beautiful crosses in our churches & wear crosses around our necks – it was the Electric Chair of Roman Times! Imagine wearing THAT around our necks? but that IS the PRICE Jesus paid for us.

    Your Blog is absolutely UNIQUE. Thank you for sharing your inspiring Gift of writing & faith (also like the Day of Preparation idea! cool.)

    grace, peace & VIVID FAITH
    Virginia (in Virginia : )

    2011/11/14 at 8:40 PM

    • Virginia (in Virginia — I like that!), thanks for stopping and adding your thoughts. I don’t know that I consider it creepy either, but I do think the folks Jesus spoke to were fairly well repulsed by His words. Whether it comes to me creepy or just plain hard, we come to the point where, like Peter, our reaction to it isn’t the point anymore — the point is that He’s our only hope. And yes! It’s a little crazy when you think of the way we’ve made crosses into elegant things of beauty when its meaning is so brutal. And yet, so very beautiful!

      2011/11/14 at 8:46 PM

  6. strange but true…

    2011/11/15 at 12:21 AM

  7. Huh. I’ve said this before: When I was a child, I misunderstood the “chicken and eggness” of the cross as symbol of faith. My thinking, when I was eight or so, was that it was insult to injury to use the very symbol of Christendom to crucify our King.

    I wonder sometimes, what else I’ll learn I’ve grossly misunderstood, inverted even, when the day comes that I stand before Him.

    And yes, once you’ve been with Him, there’s no where else to go. Peter’s impetuousness sometimes makes me smile.

    2011/11/15 at 9:57 AM

    • Most every day, Sheila, I discover yet another of my inverted, warped thoughts about Him. Sometimes it’s the same one I discovered yesterday, but haven’t unlearned yet.

      2011/11/15 at 6:27 PM

  8. I think that if Jesus doesn’t creep us out, then we aren’t reading very carefully.

    2011/11/15 at 11:05 AM

  9. I love this.

    We’re so fickle aren’t we? One minute feasting on His goodness the next running scared from Him because He won’t fit into the box…we’re…trying to…shove…Him….into…ugh all that shoving is hard work.

    Where else can we go, indeed. True words utterly descriptive of my own life. God knows I’ve wanted to go other places. He just won’t let me.

    2011/11/15 at 1:02 PM

    • I’ll follow you anywhere — as long as I get what I want.

      Thing is, I can totally understand the flight from the hard teaching. We don’t get it, we’re not sure we want to get it, let’s just get out of here. The disciples didn’t get it either. But yet, they got that he was the only hope they had.

      2011/11/15 at 6:29 PM

  10. Lyla, I am not a high ranking official, but I still have something to say here. I had managed to push the creepy things out of my mind and then I read this. I don’t know if I want to hug you or kick you in the shin.

    Jesus creeps me out in many ways. Asking me to be a flesh-eater is a big one. God told me that there were certain things I would not understand, and so I roll with that and don’t think too much about the things that remain a mystery or creep me out. Then somebody always has to pull out the creepy things and say, “hey, let’s look at this! let’s talk about it some more”. Augh!

    I know that there is nothing virtuous about ignorance. I know that I should dig in and learn more, but there are just some things that I want to leave alone because I’m convinced that all we can come up with is theory, not fact. That is probably wrong in itself, but I just felt like laying my whole truth out there today, so there you have it.

    2011/11/15 at 2:57 PM

    • Sweet, sweet Carolyn. Do not kick me in the shins. I write what I see, my friend. Some days, perhaps, I don’t see as well as we’d all like. 😉

      The biggest thing for me is this: I might get weirded out by some of what Jesus says and does. And I might get downright twisted up and befuddled by it. And it just doesn’t matter. i get him, and he is all I need. No matter what.

      2011/11/15 at 6:31 PM

      • Lyla, I wouldn’t really kick you in the shin. But next time you are going to talk about truly creepy things – like eating flesh – put a warning or something at the top of the post. I’m a real lightweight when it comes to these things. 😉

        2011/11/15 at 7:15 PM

        • The title, Carolyn. The title. 🙂

          2011/11/15 at 8:54 PM

          • Lyla, this was my first experience with you and the word “creepy”. I had no standard to measure it by. There was a guy at junior college who used to try to hug me without hugging me. He was pretty creepy. But he never ate flesh in front of me. 😉

            2011/11/15 at 9:07 PM

            • Point taken. And be assured, it’s not a common topic around here. I usually get creeped out just over having sticky stuff on my hands after breakfast. I try not to push my luck. 😉

              2011/11/15 at 9:10 PM

  11. Lydia once drew a picture of the disciples around the Last Supper table. She wrote these words in the thought bubbles above their drawn heads — “What?” “Huh?” — to express their shock over what he was saying about his blood and body …

    Yeah. Call it crazy, creepy, whatever. He has a pattern of making all things new and doing it in highly unpredictable ways. Me? I want to stick around to see what’s next. I’ll be the one with the “What?” thought bubble over my head. Glad He takes me anyway, questions and all.

    2011/11/15 at 6:05 PM

    • That’s just because Lydia gets it.

      In ways I never will.

      2011/11/15 at 6:31 PM

  12. That question: “Lord to whom shall we go?” The “Who have I in heaven but You?” I have stood outside of those words having to make the hard choice, but, in fact, there is no one else. He has secrets known to no one, but He is all we need to know.

    2011/11/15 at 8:48 PM

    • I love what you just said there, Linda. “He has secrets known to no one, but He is all we need to know.” It’s knowing him, not knowing things to know. Thank you for that.

      2011/11/15 at 8:57 PM

  13. I remember the first time I put myself in the disciples’ shoes and imagined how they struggled to wrap their minds around the concept of flesh and blood consumption. It was such a vivid, startling experience — and it made me appreciate their faith so much more.

    I think I can relate to Peter’s answer to that question because I imagine the tone, or what’s not said in that question…as in: “Well, we’ve come this far…and we can’t exactly go back.” I actually feel that way about my own faith sometimes: well, I’ve come this far. That’s got to count for something right? And I can’t exactly go back to my unbelieving ways after having come this far on the journey. Sometimes it feels like resignation or surrender, which doesn’t exacty sound very positive, but I actually mean that in a positive way!

    2011/11/15 at 9:02 PM

    • The blood, especially, maybe? When we think about Jewish dietary law? How shocking it must have been! (As if the flesh part wasn’t shocking enough….)

      2011/11/15 at 9:11 PM

      • I agree, Sheila — thought about that a lot as I studied this text. The idea is offensive enough to us. For the upright Jewish folks wanting to get behind this Teacher? Understandably more than they could stomach.

        2011/11/15 at 9:13 PM

    • Kind of like that moment they wheel you in to the delivery room to have that baby. What else are you going to do? There’s no turning back, though in the moment, it might not look so promising.

      I don’t think surrender in this way is a not-positive sounding thing. I think it’s a quiet, voluntary handing everything over to the only one who’s going to make sense of absolute nonsense.

      2011/11/15 at 9:15 PM

    • Michelle, I totally understand what you’re saying about Peter’s answer. There was a time recently when I actually tried not to talk to God-not to have faith. To simply live as if now is all there is. I couldn’t do it. God’s presence-even in His silence-is still too powerful. If you’re His, He simply can’t be denied despite our best efforts.

      2011/11/16 at 10:57 AM

  14. And you know, as creepy as that whole eating flesh and blood thing is….

    …how about inviting a Spirit to come dwell in us? Pleading with the Spirit to abide in us?

    For anybody who’s seen The Exorcist, that’s creepy! Unless you have complete and total trust.

    Which I guess is the part I learn again.every.day. Several times.

    2011/11/15 at 9:13 PM

    • Trust. And Michelle’s surrender. Can’t have one without the other.

      2011/11/15 at 9:16 PM

  15. Your Dad writes Bible commentaries? You know how blessed I am to read his thoughts and interactions with you… makes my heart warm…

    Love the way you wrote this, Lyla… excellent work (Eugene Peterson would enjoy this immensely…) like all the rest of us.

    Loved all the insight, input, and humor throughout the comment thread …

    Love this the most from the text in John 6:26

    “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

    Some days, believing does feel like work… but, oh how very thankful I am that it doesn’t say “to *understand* the one he has sent”…. cause I would still be one of those dumb lost sheep (now I’m just a dumb sheep… Oh! that almost sounds like a swear word =) how funny! … not intended … but still kinda funny… I’m so ba-a-a-a-a-d ) !

    2011/11/16 at 9:00 AM

    • DAD

      Patricia:

      You optimistically and graciously misread my comment. I may comment, but I definitely do not write commentaries on the Gospels. My reference to a commentary referred to a volume in my possession, not one authored by me. The commentary I referenced was written by David L. McKenna and was first published back in 1982.

      Paul W

      2011/11/16 at 9:22 AM

  16. Hi Paul…

    That’s kinda funny… oops…
    though I always enjoy your running commentary… =)

    2011/11/16 at 6:12 PM

    • DAD

      My wife says I walk too fast, but I’m not a runner.

      Paul W

      2011/11/17 at 9:28 AM

      • uncle weird

        Typical comment from a wife. One minute you walk too fast, the next minute she says you are not too swift!

        2011/11/17 at 12:21 PM

  17. Love this, Lyla. I’ve been gone and had funky internet problems, so I’m WAY behind in both writing and reading posts these days, but so glad to find this buried in my pile. Just about 10 years ago, I hit a wall – physically, emotionally, spiritually – and had to take some time off work. I had over ‘done’ in ministry – trying to keep up with a workaholic boss and office administrator in my first ever paid ministry role. I spent about 7 months recuperating, reading through the Northumbria Community’s “Celtic Daily Prayer,” book, basically memorizing their morning prayer liturgy – which includes this q & a with Peter. In many ways, these words were life for me. “To whom shall I go? YOU have the words of eternal life and I have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” Creepy or not (and yes, it is sometimes, if you think about it too hard or too literally) – this is the truth I cling to as I ride the roller coaster that is life. Thanks for this good reminder of what I know, where I find life.

    2011/11/17 at 12:56 AM

  18. uncle weird

    Lyla, frankly I have never thought of this passage as Jesus being creepy or the multitude being creeped out. To the contrary, perhaps modern day skeptics and non believers might use the literal interpretation, but the Jewish people of Jesus time had a rich history and tradition of poetry, allegory, parable and figurative language. I think they knew that Jesus wasn’t telling them to eat his fresh or drink his blood. What bothered them was wondering what he did mean. They knew he was challenging them to think. “These sayings are too hard” they said. We are following him for his ability to feed us and bless us, not to be required to think! Especially to think about spiritual things. Thinking is too high a price to pay for free food. Indeed it is a wonderful reminder to us that Jesus never came to perform miracles or to try to convince the world of his Sonship through them. It was always about his words. In fact he was The Word. His people still prefer his blessings to his words. We still struggle with the “hard sayings” We still wish he would talk less and do more, to do more for us instead of through us. Finally, it seems that the multitude found it hard to believe that Jesus wasn’t so impressed with their efforts to follow Him, that He wouldn’t continue to provide them with what they were seeking rather than what He knew they needed.

    2011/11/17 at 11:14 AM

    • I stand convicted. I want to be blessed without having to think about the hard things. Lord, please forgive me.

      2011/11/17 at 1:45 PM

    • Creepy or not creepy, David. That it was hard for them (including the 12) is clear. And there’s just that one response, that one hope. What else can we do? 🙂

      2011/11/17 at 8:07 PM

      • uncle weird

        Ah yes, on one thing we all agree, that the reason the multitude left is not as important as the reason the Disciples stayed! Not because they understood the hard sayings better than the crowd, but because they wanted to understand the one who gave the hard sayings.

        2011/11/18 at 2:37 PM

  19. right now I’m feeling blessed just to know Uncle Weird’s first name. ; )

    and at the end of this crazy day, that just brings a smile to my face…
    doesn’t take much to humor me, eh?

    2011/11/17 at 10:00 PM

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