JOHN 6:53-58: “Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: Why am I a Christ follower? This is an important question that I must ask myself. These verses from John chapter 6 offer some of the most difficult, misunderstood, and misapplied teachings in the entire Bible. What does Jesus mean when He says “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”?
As I read these familiar words again, I was drawn to simply stop and pray over them. I then took some time to read several commentaries to look at the different perspectives and interpretations of these verses. There were many helpful insights, but there was still something tugging at my heart that these did not answer. I think the Lord wanted to speak to me personally in a very simple and clear way. I know that the words He was speaking were not to be taken literally. As Jesus continued to dialogue with His disciples He made it clear that the words He spoke were spirit and life. Still, they caused many to be offended and to turn away from Him. What effect would these words have on my life?
I am moved to consider a powerful call and application for my personal life. The audience who first heard these words were the 5000 that had just partaken of the miraculous feast on the other side of the sea. They had followed Jesus after He and His disciples had crossed over to the other side. When Jesus spoke of the “bread of life”, they were all in! Just like the woman at the well who wanted the “water of life” so that she did not have to draw water anymore, this multitude wanted the “bread of life” so that they did not have to worry about their provisions anymore. Yet, when Jesus linked this bread to His flesh, and offered His blood as their drink – they were greatly offended. They wanted Jesus and all that He could provide and do. Yet, they wanted Jesus on their own terms, not on His terms.
This is where it gets personal. Do I simply want Jesus on my own terms? Do I follow Him for what He can do or for me, or what He can provide in my life? Am I seeking the Lord for my own personal benefit? Or – am I willing to take up my cross and truly deny myself? This is what Jesus did when He humbled Himself and became a man, being obedient to the Father in all things, even unto His sacrificial death on the cross. He gave up everything (His flesh), so that we could have everything (in the spirit).
I must also ask myself this question – Do I simply look to Jesus as the means to be forgiven for my sin? Am I content knowing I am forgiven through the provision in His blood, while continuing to live in brokenness and sin? Am I simply presuming upon the grace and mercy of God? Paul writes in II Corinthians,
- “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (II Corinthians 5:14-15 NKJV)
The shedding of His blood was not given so that we could simply get to heaven. We are not called to sin, repent, be forgiven, only to go on sinning again. His blood was poured out for both our redemption from sin, and our victory over the power of sin. We are forgiven so that we can walk in newness of life. We live for “…Him who died for us and rose again…”, through the power of His indwelling life, manifested through the gift of His Holy Spirit. All of this was made possible when He paid our penalty with the only acceptable and permanent sacrifice for sin – His own blood!
- “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:10-11 NKJV)
His body calls us to a life of surrender and commitment. His blood calls us to a life of cleansing and empowerment. When we eat of His flesh, and drink of His blood, we enter into the fullness of His life. We are not seeking Him simply because we want to get to heaven. Nor are we seeking Him simply for what He can provide. We are seeking Him – because in Him we find the fulness of life, in Him we find the fulness of God. We are seeking Him and becoming like Him because we love Him! Like Peter we proclaim, “…Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69 NKJV)
Some commentators made a great effort in pointing out that this passage has nothing to do with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper – “communion”. Yet, do not we find all of these principles in the proclamation and celebration of this sacred remembrance. Jesus reminds us that we are called to eat the bread (His body), and to drink the cup (the new covenant through His blood), to both remember and proclaim His death and resurrection (complete sacrifice and victory), until He returns.
- This is not a literal transformation of the elements. However, it is a literal proclamation of His provision and power!
When we take the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner we are committing ourselves anew to the only one who holds the words of eternal life. We are surrendering our lives to Christ, the Son of the living God. We are proclaiming that our sufficiency for all things that pertain unto life and godliness are found in Him alone! We are entering into the full victory and power of His Cross!
Lord, as I meditate upon these words, may I no longer live unto myself, but wholly FOR You, THROUGH You, and IN You!
In Jesus Name!