Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 6)

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 studyExodus 16:1-21

Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 5)

Daily Devotion | Day 339

“For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:28-29, NKJV).

The night of the Last Supper (Passover) was special meant a lot to Jesus. He had been looking forward to this particular night with intense expectation. Here is how Luke put it, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16). In today’s presentation, we will pay attention to something Jesus said at this supper. It will help us better understand what it means to eat Jesus’s flesh and drink His blood.

When some think of what happened at the Last Supper, they assume that the Apostles alone ate the bread and drunk from the cup. That would mean Jesus was a spectator at the Last Supper. But that is not the case. After Jesus gave the cup to His disciples, He added, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). The bread Jesus gave them, as well as the drink, were all part of the Passover meal. This was a moment of fellowship. Jesus and the Apostles all partook of the same meal. Jesus was no spectator. We know this from what He said: “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on . . .” By “this fruit of the vine,” Jesus was referring to the fruit of the vine He had just given to the Apostles.

This means Jesus drunk the same fruit of the vine which He gave the Apostles. He added that He would not drink of it again until He drunk it new with them at a later time, in the Father’s kingdom. This explains why He instructed the disciples to celebrate this supper in His remembrance. He would no longer be physically present to sit and dine with them (feasting together and drinking the fruit of the vine). He wanted them, in the meantime, to keep His memory (as well as their fellowship with Him) alive by regularly breaking bread and drinking the cup at the Lord’s supper. As often as they did this, they would be proclaiming the Lord’s death until He returned.

Furthermore, Jesus had indicated that there would be yet another supper, a fulfillment, where He and His disciples would drink again the fruit of the vine which they had together enjoyed at the Last Supper. That would happen when He appeared a second time to gather His bride (the Church) to be with Him forever.

The Book of Revelation gives us a hint of what to expect: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb [Jesus] has come, and His wife [the Church] has made herself ready. . . Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (19:7, 9). This marriage supper of the Lamb is what Jesus was speaking of when He said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” This tells us that the new covenant is a marriage covenant between Jesus and His wife, the Church. And this covenant is established in His blood.

Jesus had no problem drinking the same fruit of the vine He gave the Apostles because He knew that His blood was not in the cup. His blood would be shed on the Cross, not in the cup. When He gave them bread (His body) and drink (His blood), Jesus was indicating something more profound. He was indicating that He would soon offer Himself (body and blood) as a husband offers himself to his wife with the aim of becoming one flesh. Therefore, when we eat the Lord’s Supper, we remember Jesus as a Loving Husband who gave His life for His wife, the Church. At the same time, we long for the ultimate  Lord’s Supper celebration in heaven: the marriage supper of the Lamb.

If we suppose for a moment that at the marriage supper of the Lamb, we would be served the meat and blood of Jesus, we are in for a rude awakening. That did not happen at the Last Supper, and it will not happen at the main event in heaven. May the Holy Spirit increase our understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice. Amen.

In our subsequent presentations, we will turn our attention to what John chapter 6 says about eating the Bread of Life. Stay blessed. Amen.

For further studyMatthew 22:1-14

Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 4)

Daily Devotion | Day 338

“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29, NKJV).

What we are doing in this series is examine what the Scriptures say about eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking His blood. In later presentations we will have much to say about John chapter 6. In the meantime, stay with us as we explore this subject one layer at a time. We want to shed light on all the necessary pieces which form the mosaic of how Jesus feeds His people. We concluded yesterday’s message on the theme of nourishment. Today, we will go deeper by addressing the question: In what ways does Jesus nourish His Church? After all, eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking His blood boils down to the issue of nourishment. We will find out if the means by which Jesus nourishes us includes putting His flesh and blood in our mouth or not. To address this question today, we will appeal to the authority of two prominent Apostles, namely Peter and Paul.

Let us start with what Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25-29. We are interested in what he says about nourishment. He says, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes itjust as the Lord does the church” (v. 29). Here, Paul is urging husbands to do for their wives what Jesus did (and does) for the Church. But what is it that Jesus does for His wife, the Church? The answer is, Jesus “nourishes” the Church. And how does Jesus nourish the Church?

Paul gives us the answer in v. 25-27: “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” The key ways Jesus nourished (nourishes) His Church are highlighted in bold font. Jesus nourished the Church by loving herdying for hersanctifying her and cleansing her. He did this so that His Church would be a beautiful, spotless and presentable bride, full of vitality.

After making this point, Paul told husbands to learn from Christ and nourish their wives as He did. Now we know that Jesus’ love for us is our nourishment. When He sanctifies and cleanses us, that too is His way of nourishing us. What is missing here is the idea that Jesus nourishes us by putting His flesh and blood in our mouth, down into our stomach. If Jesus would nourish the Church by putting His flesh and blood in our mouth, now would have been the perfect time for Paul to tell us. But he did not. Either Paul knew about this kind of nourishment (feeding on the Son of God via the alimentary canal) and did not tell us, or He was unaware that such a nourishment existed. The latter is the reality. Paul did not know about such nourishment.

Now let us turn to Peter. He was writing to Christians (most likely recent converts) scattered around “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (1 Peter 1:1). At one point, Peter said to them, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (2:2). When Peter speaks of “the word,” he is referring to the word of God. Earlier, he had reminded these believers that they became born again through the incorruptible word of God which was preached to them (1:23-25). Now Peter tells them that the word which brought about their new birth is the same word by which they would grow. Therefore, he encouraged them to nourish themselves on the pure milk of God’s word.

Here, as in the case of Paul, if chewing the flesh of Jesus was part of the believer’s nourishment, now would have been the best occasion for Peter to say so. But Peter new nothing about feeding believers by putting the Son of God in their mouth. He knew nothing about it because Jesus said nothing about it.  

We have said enough for today. We will continue next time, if the Lord wills. Until then, feed on Jesus by feeding on His word. Amen.

For further studyJohn 6:1-36; 15:1-17

Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 3)

Daily Devotion | Day 337

“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and His church” (Ephesians 5:29-32, NKJV).

Yesterday we discussed Adam’s marriage covenant with Eve and how this covenant made them one flesh. We also noted that the one flesh principle is true for all married couples. Husband and wife are one flesh because they feed on each other. They do this through fellowship of their bodies, not through chewing of their flesh. The questions before us remain the same: At the Lord’s Supper, do we eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood? If so, how? If not, why not?

Toward the end of yesterday’s presentation, we noted that Jesus does indeed give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink, but the means is not through our mouth. Feeding on Jesus does not involve swallowing Him the way we chew and swallow lamb chops. Today we will take our discussion one step further. Note carefully every word, every phrase and every line of our opening Scripture.

We are told that Adam is a type or figure of Jesus (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). The Bible calls Jesus, “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). In the Old Testament, Adam is paired with his wife, Eve. Similarly, in the New Testament Jesus is paired with His wife, the Church. Just as Adam had a marriage covenant with Eve, so does Jesus have a marriage covenant with the Church. Jesus is not paired with (or have a covenant with) any other woman. When Jesus took bread and wine, saying, “Take, eat; this is My body . . . Drink . . . For this is my blood of the new covenant (Matthew 26:26-28), He was inviting us to enter into a marriage covenant with Him. The price He paid to marry us was the sacrifice of His body and blood (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

“A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” was first applied to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:24). But now Paul applies it to Jesus and the Church (Ephesians 5:29-32). In Paul’s own words, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and His church” (v. 32). Jesus left heaven’s glory and came to earth to be joined to His wife, the Church. Because He did this, the two (Jesus and the Church) have become one flesh just as any husband and wife are one flesh. Keep the word “flesh” in mind. In v. 29 Paul writes that no one ever hated his own flesh. By “his own flesh,” Paul is referring to the man’s wife. But the same is true for the wife. Her husband is her flesh indeed. Therefore, when a man sees his wife, he sees his own flesh. Likewise, when a woman sees her husband, she sees her own flesh.

Applied to Jesus, when He sees the Church, He sees His own flesh. And when the Church sees Jesus, she sees her own flesh. Jesus and the Church now form one indivisible entity. Without hesitation, Paul drove the point home when he stated, “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones” (v. 30). This reminds us of what Adam said when he saw Eve, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23). Notice the striking similarity.

Jesus’ invitation that we eat His flesh and drink His blood does not involve chewing His flesh as meat in our mouth. It is an invitation to be married (and stay faithfully married) to Him, thereby becoming one flesh and one blood with Him. When He tells us to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He is speaking like a husband to his wife: “Take all of me. In turn, I take all of you. Together, we will be one flesh and one blood.”

Jesus is not asking His bride (the Church) to swallow Him like a piece of meat. Jesus is a Person and our Husband. We feed on Him through love, obedience, fellowship and holiness – abiding by the terms of our covenant with Him. That is how we stay nourished. And it is in this sense that Jesus is our Bread of Life.

To be continued next time, God willing. Remain faithful to Christ. Amen.

For further study1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and John 6:47-58

Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 336

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV).

Jesus said He will give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink (John 6:48-58). Then at supper with His disciples He took bread and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). Then the cup, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do . . . in remembrance of Me” (v. 25). Therefore, when we eat the bread and drink the cup at the Lord’s Supper, are we eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood? This is the question we are discussing.

As we delve into what Jesus said, we want to look at as many relevant Scripture passages as possible. One of these passages is found in Genesis 2:21-24. Our opening Scripture captures only v. 24, but we will not overlook the remaining verses. At first this passage may seem to have nothing to do with the Lord’s Supper. But soon, we will discover that it does. Recall what we said yesterday about marriage and covenant.

God put Adam to sleep and from him, He made Eve. Then He presented Eve to Adam. When Adam saw her, he exclaimed with delight, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (2:23). What the Bible said next is striking, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (v. 24). What we have here is the first marriage covenant.

We will focus on the idea of joining and becoming one flesh. A bond had been established between Adam and Eve through marriage. This bond created a union of the two individuals. So strong was the bond that Adam and Eve ceased to be separate flesh. They became one flesh. Applying this truth to every husband and wife, Jesus declared, “so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:8-9).

The union of Adam and Eve meant he was in her and she was in him. But at the same time, they did not lose their distinct individual identities. Adam was still Adam and Eve was still Eve. It is the same with all married couples. They are one flesh in the real sense of the word, yet they preserve their unique individuality. We now must point out an interesting fact. 

By what means do husband and wife become one flesh? They become one flesh as a result of the marriage covenant which is ‘activated’ through intercourse. Without intercourse, we cannot properly speak of one flesh. This explains why Paul wrote, “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He [God] says, ‘shall become one flesh’” (1 Corinthians 6:16). Observe that Paul uses “body” and “flesh” interchangeably. The joining takes effect as soon as a man and a woman have intercourse. Whether they are married or not, is irrelevant. If they are married, they become one flesh in God’s sight, legally and righteously. If they are not married, they still become one flesh in God’s sight, but illegally and sinfully (fornication or adultery). The first instance draws God’s blessing, but the second draws His wrath (Ephesians 5:3-7).

We must point out that the Bible refers to husband and wife as one flesh in a real and literal sense. However, for them to become one flesh, the man does not have to cut his flesh and serve it on a plate for the wife to eat. Nor does he have to bleed in a cup and ask the wife to drink his blood. The wife does not have to cut her flesh, either. They both are one flesh but the means by which they become one flesh is not through a mutual consumption of their flesh and blood. To become one flesh, they do not need to serve their flesh to one another as one does with barbecue or steak. Rather, they become one flesh by entering into a marriage covenant via intercourse. This is the only means God has provided for a man and a woman to become one flesh. 

Once the marriage covenant is in force, husband and wife abide in each other in a loving union as one flesh. In this sense, they partake of each other’s flesh and blood. One flesh cannot exist without fellowship of the flesh (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). In other words, there can be no union unless both parties ‘feed’ on each other. And it is the marriage covenant which creates this fellowship of two bodies, resulting in one body. In the end, husband and wife experience a mutual partaking of body and blood through their covenant, not through tearing away each other’s flesh in vampire-like fashion. 

What we have said so far brings us to our main question: When Jesus speaks of giving us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink, is He suggesting that we swallow Him in our mouth; or is He inviting us to something more profound? We have just begun. In the coming days we will build on what we have said today, if the Lord permits.

Until then, remain in the Lord. Amen.

For further studyEphesians 5:22-33