Friday, August 05, 2005

The life-giving flesh: The God-Man shares the life of his Father with believers

John 6:51-57 "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh... As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me."

In the light of such passages as these [John 5:17-19; 8:28-29; 9:4] it is clear that the relation described in the words, "I in the Father in the Father in Me," is conceived as a dynamic and not a static relation... It may be described as obedience to the word of the Father, or imitation of His works, but at bottom is nothing so external as mere obedience or imitation. It is the sharing of one life, which is of course life eternal or absolute... "As the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself" [John 5:26]. We cannot miss here the reference to the "living God" of the Old Testament. Finally this sharing of life and activity is rooted in the love of God... If we put these passages [John 3:35; 5:20-26; 6:56-57; 13:32; 14:8-31] together, the thought is clear. At every point the unity of Father and Son is reproduced in the unity of Christ and believers. As the love of the Father for the Son, returned by Him in obedience, establishes a community of life between Father and Son, which exhibits itself in that He speaks the Father's word and does His works, so the disciples are loved by Christ and return his love in obedience; in doing so, they share His life, which manifests itself in doing His works; it is really He who does them (just as the works of Christ are done by the Father), and by the doing of them the Father is glorified in the Son. This is what is meant by the expression, "I in you and you in me." ...all these passages [John 5:19-47; 6:54; 11:25-26] affirm, first, that eternal life may be enjoyed here and now by those who respond to the word of Christ, and, secondly, that the same power which assures eternal life to believers during their earthly existence will, after the death of the body, raise the dead to renewed existence in the world beyond.
– C. H. Dodd (1963) The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, Cambridge University Press, pp. 194-196, 364.