Richard Bauckham on Participation in Christ from John 6

Richard Bauckham in his recent collection of essays/lectures, Gospel of Glory, writes about the possibility of the sacraments in the Gospel of John. One of the striking aspects of the fourth gospel is the absence of the sacraments but many theologians and scholars throughout history recognize the presence of sacramental type language throughout. Bauckham argues that John in chapter six is making an allusive reference to the Lord’s Supper to highlight the believer participating in the life of Jesus. He says,

It now becomes clear that eternal life is not just a divine gift to those who believe in Jesus; it is actual participation in Jesus’s own life, made available through his death. This is the significance of John 6:56–57. In verse 57 Jesus explains that he himself lives out of the eternal divine life of his Father, and so believers, participating in Jesus’s life, are alive with this same divine life. In verse 56 he explains that faith in the crucified Jesus unites the believer with him in a union so intimate and enduring that it can be depicted as mutual indwelling and abiding. This language of the reciprocal indwelling of Jesus and the believer is itself, because of its reciprocity, an advance on the language of eating and drinking. John introduces here as a means of connecting this discourse with the Last Supper Discourse, where the image of mutual indwelling recurs (John 10:14–23; 15:4–7) in the context of fuller discussion of the life of discipleship.1


  1. Richard Bauckham, “Sacraments?” in Gospel of Glory pp. 102–3. ↩︎

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