The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom which was attributed to King Solomon. The beginning verses of this book tell us the purpose of the book. These sayings were written for teaching “the simple, “to gain instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity…” (Proverbs 1:3) The word “simple” in this case means those who are not yet wise.
In the Old Testament times, wisdom was highly valued. In the Proverbs, Wisdom becomes personified; Wisdom is a woman. Let’s call her Lady Wisdom. Proverbs 8:22 tells us that Wisdom was there even before God created the earth. Perhaps wisdom is a facet of the personality of the Holy Spirit, and this is an Old Testament way of describing her. In any case, Lady Wisdom teaches us how to be spiritually wise.
Today’s reading is the first part of chapter nine. In the latter part of this chapter, verses 13-18, Lady Wisdom’s actions are contrasted with her alter ego, Lady Folly. If you have time, I encourage you to read those as well.
- Lady Wisdom has built a house, set a table, and prepared a feast. (vv. 1-2)
- She sends out her servants to invite us simple people to a feast. We will feast on her wine and bread. This is the connection to today’s gospel lesson. (vv. 3-5)
- Finally, she entreats us to not to live our lives immaturely, but to walk with insight or mature wisdom.
The Holy Spirit is alive and well, working within us each day. Let us pray for and work to increase our spiritual wisdom. Let’s come to her banquet, and eat and drink.
These are part of Paul’s concluding instructions to the church in Ephesus. They are similar to last week’s verses. We learn more ways to become better Christians.
- Verse 15 encourages us to be wise. I guess we need to read more Proverbs, then!
- We need to make good use of our time, because “the days are evil”. This hit me odd at first. But wasting precious time is sort of evil, isn’t it? Our life on earth is a gift. We should make good use of this precious gift of time. (v. 16)
- We should not do foolish things, such as getting drunk. This does not mean that drinking wine is forbidden. After all, Jesus drank wine at the last supper. It was the common beverage of the time. What is meant here is overindulgence. Overindulgence in anything is not good; it is foolish behavior. (vv. 17-18a)
- Instead, we should be filled with the Spirit, sing spiritual songs, and give thanks to God. (vv. 18b-20)
Here’s that wisdom thing again! I guess we should “live our lives worthy of the calling to which we have been called…” (Ephesians 4:1) In this passage, God is calling us to be wise Christians, and be mindful of our actions.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
We Christians are not perfect. Many non-Christians observe us doing unwise or ungodly things, and draw conclusions about the Christian life. As ambassadors for Jesus, we need to be mindful of this, and strive to show the love of Christ in our actions. (Easier said than done!)
Jesus has been puzzling some Jews who followed him across the Sea of Galilee. He has been calling himself bread from heaven. This confused them, and they complained. In today’s reading, Jesus concludes this discourse. He also adds another log to the fire. They have a hard time swallowing all this bread talk. In fact, even some of Jesus’ disciples find this teaching confusing or difficult. Let’s see what he says.
- Today’s beginning verse is actually the climax of a long discussion that Jesus has been having with some followers. Not only does Jesus say that he is the living bread, but that we must eat of his flesh. Since we believers know the rest of the story, we know that he is talking about holy communion. John wrote these words many years after they were spoken, so the initial readers would also have understood this. But imagine being amongst those sitting around Jesus when he spoke these words. (v. 52)
- Quite frankly, verse 53 sounds like something I would have said!
- Now look what Jesus does. He says that we must not only eat his flesh, but drink his blood! If I didn’t already know about what he said in that upper room at the Last Supper, I’d find these words very difficult. (v. 53a)
- This is interesting. In the second half of verse 53, he says that if we don’t do these things, we have no life in us. Those are harsh words. Fortunately, he goes on to explain.
- In verses 54-57, Jesus explains that by receiving his presence in the body and blood of holy communion, we:
- Have eternal life (v. 54b)
- Will be raised up on the last day (v. 54c)
- Will have a deep fellowship in him (v. 56)
- When we eat his body and drink his blood, the life that flowed from the Father to the Son also flows to us. (v. 57)
- Jesus concludes this discourse by stating that this bread is different than the manna that given to the Jews of the Exodus. With this food, we will live forever! (v. 58)
To me, these words of Jesus underscore the importance of the rite of Holy Communion. Some churches, like the one I go to, include this meal as part of every Sunday’s worship. We believe that it is important for to recall and relive these words every week. They are an important way to come into a deep fellowship with Jesus. They are part of how we receive eternal life, and are raised on the last day. (vv. 54-56) They are a means of receiving grace from God.
In the verses following today’s passage, we learn that many didn’t understand, and turned away from following Jesus. It is here that Peter says his famous words “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6: 68) Let us feast on his words and receive him through the gift of Holy Communion.