Signpost for Sunday August 16, 2015: 1 Kings 2:10-12, 3:5-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58.
Wisdom, in the Old Testament, may be defined as the art of being successful. Of course, part of this is the ability to know what should be the aim of success, so that in one sense one needs to be wise to become wise.
Solomon, in the depths of his mind, grasped this, so, in a dream when the Lord appeared to him, he asked for understanding to know how to discern between good and evil. God gave him a wise and discerning mind. The request pleased the Lord, since he asked not just for himself, but for the people he was to govern. He did not ask for long life, or wealth (compare Aristotle: It is plain that wealth is not the good, for all you can do is exchange it for something else).
God is the source of all wisdom, and in God we find the way to get started on the path to it: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10). The apostle Paul linked being wise with knowing what the will of the Lord is.
Since our God is the source of all wisdom, the behaviour of Jesus himself will give us guidelines as how the wise will choose what they will attempt to be successful in doing. Jesus, using the image of food that is eaten, describes what he is doing in the world.
This is a confronting image, in several ways. The statement I am the living bread that came down from heaven carries within it the divine name I AM. Eat my flesh and drink my blood carries within it ideas which we are not willing to take literally. The idea of eating and drinking something implies a sort of destruction of that which is eaten or drunk and its incorporation into a different body, giving strength and vitality.
I suggest that here we see the way the wisdom of God is dealing with the world. Christ was giving himself up for the world. Eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ incorporates Christ into our own bodies and lives, giving strength and vitality.
This form of self-giving is how God works in the world, and as we partake of Christ’s body we can begin to participate in the process of being consumed, in order to bring life to the world. Here is the success to which the wisdom of Christ will lead us.