Daily Devotion | Day 340
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (John 6:27, NKJV).
The statements Jesus made about His flesh and blood were occasioned by His miraculous feeding of five thousand people by the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1-13). What transpired after the miracle is recorded in v. 14-69. To understand what Jesus said about His flesh and blood, it is important we first understand why and how Jesus got to that point. Therefore, in today’s presentation we will look at the people’s initial reaction after Jesus fed them. Their reaction revealed their state of mind. Jesus then took the opportunity to enlighten them about who He was, the main point He wanted to convey in the miracle and how He intended to nourish them.
Immediately after they were satisfied with bread, the people declared, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (v. 14). This statement in itself is accurate. However, they said this for the wrong reasons. Astonished by Jesus’ ability to feed them bread, they planned to take Him by force and make Him king. But Jesus would not let them (v. 15). Up to this point, what they cared about was their belly. This is why they wanted to make Jesus king, i.e. king of their belly. They rightly declared Jesus a prophet. But to love, obey and submit to Jesus was the last thing on their mind. Jesus knows He is a king. But if people want Him to be their king, He demands they submit to Him fully and do what He says. Only then would Jesus be their source of nourishment.
Jesus got away the first time. But the people did not give up. They pursued Him until they found Him (v 22-25). When they did, Jesus exposed their motives: “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life . . .” (v. 26-27). Note that for the first time in this encounter, Jesus speaks of two kinds of food; one which perishes (ordinary bread from the oven), and one which does not perish but lasts forever. The first kind of food perishes because it is subject to the laws of nature (corruption). But the second kind of food is not perishable because it is above the laws of nature, i.e. it is not subject to corruption. Jesus told them to labor for this second kind of food.
We must ask: Which kind of food is Jesus describing? The bread or drink we partake at the Lord’s Supper, is it perishable? If it is (and we all know it is), then it is not the food Jesus promised to give us in John 6:27. However, if we insist it is not perishable, then on us lies the burden to prove it. If we claim that the bread we eat at the Lord’s Supper is Jesus’ flesh, and this bread ever perishes, then Jesus’ flesh has perishes with it. The same applies to the drink (and the blood). But we know that neither Jesus’ body nor His blood can perish. The conclusion is, the bread and drink in our mouth are not Jesus’ flesh and blood. Our digestive system is not designed to process Jesus’ flesh and blood the way it processes earthly food.
We eat Jesus’ body and drink His blood in the sense that “as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). Therefore, as often as we eat the bread and drink the cup at the Lord’s Supper, we proclaim Jesus’ death till He returns (1 Corinthians 11:26). And as often as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we celebrate our oneness with the body and blood of the Lord, as well as our own oneness as brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). This ongoing fellowship with Jesus (through righteousness and holiness of life) ensures that we stay connected to Him as our source of life, just as the branches must stay connected to the vine to remain alive and fruitful (John 15:1-5).
We will continue next time, God willing. Until then, labor for the food which does not perish. Amen.
For further study: Exodus 16:1-21