Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 9)

Daily Devotional | Day 343

“For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).

 We will conclude the current series by looking at two things Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10 because of their relevance to what we have so far discussed.

The first point is from our opening Scripture in which Paul writes, “we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” Paul is talking about believers, specifically those gathered for the Lord’s Supper. And the bread he is talking about is the loaf of bread used for the Lord’s Supper. This is the same bread of which Paul said, “The bread which we break, is it not the communion [fellowship] of the body of Christ?” (10:16). But now he says the Lord’s Supper participants are one bread, referring to the Lord’s Supper bread.

Next, Paul tells us the reason why we are one bread: “for we all partake of that one bread.” Because believers eat from the one bread, they are one bread (and therefore one body). Paul’s point is, the bread we break represents us. We are that bread. As the bread is one, so are we. Anyone at the Lord’s Supper who eats a piece of that one bread is acknowledging and celebrating the fact that he or she is part of the one bread.

Paul chose his words carefully. Notice he did not say Jesus is that one bread. Rather, he said we are that one bread. The obvious question is: If we are indeed one bread, does this mean that when we eat the bread, we are chewing on each other? The answer, of course, is no. The Lord’s Supper, as we have emphasized throughout this series, carries a more profound truth which has nothing to do with chewing Jesus’ flesh or our own. What we do at the Lord’s Supper is celebrate fellowship with Jesus’ body and blood, as well as fellowship with one another.

Let us now look at Paul’s second point. He drew an example from Israel’s temple sacrifices to illustrate how fellowship works: “Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” (v. 18). In the Old Testament those who served at the altar, Aaron and his sons, ate the sacrifices brought to the altar (Deuteronomy 18:1-5). Paul says, because they ate the food sacrifices (meat, grain, etc.), they became partakers of the altar. Did they have to chew or swallow the altar to become partakers of the altar? No. All they had to do was eat food sacrificed at the altar, and this resulted in them having fellowship with the altar.

Using the same (spiritual) logic, Paul explained that those who ate food sacrificed to idols were in effect having communion (fellowship) with the demons to whom the food had been dedicated (v. 19-20). To have fellowship with demons, one does not have to swallow demons. All one has to do is eat what is dedicated to demons. This is the same principle by which Paul explains that the bread we break at the Lord’s Supper is fellowship with the body of Christ, and the cup we bless is fellowship with His blood (v. 16). And it is on this basis that he warned the Corinthians, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons” (v. 21).

By the very fact that the Lord’s Supper is in remembrance of Jesus’ body and His blood, that makes the celebration sacred – dedicated unto Jesus’ death. As a result, everyone who eats the bread and drinks the cup is in effect having fellowship with the body and blood of Jesus. Likewise, whoever behaves in a manner that tampers with the sacredness of the celebration is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. Such a person eats and drinks judgment (11:27, 29).

In sum, at no point did Jesus indicate – even remotely – that He would give us power to convert bread into His body or convert drink into His blood. No one can create Jesus from bread. Jesus dwells in us, not in bread. To suggest that the Lord’s Supper bread in our mouth is Jesus’ flesh is the result of misreading the Scriptures. Such a misreading inevitably leads to serious temptations, including the temptation to worship the bread and the drink. It is our hope that this series has shed some light on this all important topic. We further hope that the insights we have shared will help us draw closer to Jesus and better understand what He did (and did not do) for our salvation. Amen.

For further study1 Corinthians 10:1-33; 12:12-27

Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 8)

Daily Devotion | Day 342

“As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (John 6:57, NKJV).

Yesterday we learned that the people were shocked when Jesus told them He was (is) the bread of life. As the people struggled to make sense of this, Jesus added, “and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (v. 51). This is the first time Jesus revealed that the bread He would give was His flesh. He further explained that He would give this flesh for the life of the world. Jesus was speaking to them about His death on the Cross by which He would save the world. But again, they missed His point. Throughout this conversation, they were stuck with the image of food in their mouth. They could not get past it.

They had associated bread with what goes in the mouth, so when Jesus spoke about giving His flesh, they were extremely offended. This resulted in their second major objection, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” (v. 52). Jesus did not slow down. He ‘complicated’ things when He insisted, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (v. 53). He also stated that His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink (v. 55). This was the last straw which broke the camel’s back. The people were done listening to Jesus: “This is a hard saying,” they said, “who can understand it?” (v. 60). Subsequently, many of His disciples left Him (v. 66).

To understand what happened, we must point out two obstacles which prevented the people from following what Jesus was saying. First, notice that from the time Jesus started speaking about being the bread of life, the people did not ask Him a single question. They had difficulty grasping what He said. But instead of addressing their questions to Him (for clarification), all they did was quarrel and murmur among themselves (v. 42, 52, 60). By acting like this, they had no one to blame but themselves, for their inability to understand. If they had sought clarification, Jesus would have given it.

Second, they were right to understand that Jesus meant to feed them with His flesh and blood. Their mistake, however, was in assuming that Jesus would cut pieces of His flesh and ask them to eat it, the same way they ate the loaves. In this, they were wrong – very wrong. They were right about the what, but they were wrong about the how. They instinctively associated food with the mouth, just like Nicodemus instinctively associated birth with the womb.

Now let us turn to our opening Scripture. As He concluded His discourse, Jesus shed light on how we will feed on Him: “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Fatherso he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (v. 57). Here, Jesus is showing us a link between three persons: the Father, Jesus and believers. Jesus is connected to the Father as His source of life (and nourishment), and we in turn are connected to Jesus as our source of life and nourishment. Jesus is telling us that He feeds on the Father. That is how He stays alive. If He were disconnected from the Father, He would have no life. Just as Jesus feeds on the Father to stay alive, we too must feed on Him (Jesus) to stay alive. This means divine nourishment flows from the Father through Jesus to us. This is a crucial point.

How does Jesus feed on the Father? Certainly, not by swallowing the Father. Jesus gave us a hint as to how He feeds on the Father. One day when His disciples brought Him food, His response was, “I have food to eat of which you do not know . . . My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:32, 34). Jesus does not swallow the Father for nourishment. His nourishment consists in obeying the Father. Similarly, we do not swallow Jesus for nourishment. We are nourished if we maintain fellowship with Him through obedience. This is how Jesus put it, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My lovejust as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). Observe how similar this is to what He said in John 6:57.

We will conclude this series tomorrow, if the Lord wills. Until then, obey Jesus and stay nourished. Amen.

For further studyHebrews 10:1-25

Eat Jesus’ Flesh and Drink His Blood? (Pt 7)

Daily Devotion | Day 341

‘“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”’ (John 6:33-35, NKJV).

As the conversation went on, Jesus explained that the people needed to believe in Him (John 6:28-29). At this, they asked Jesus for a sign. They reminded Him that God fed their fathers with manna from heaven. If Jesus wanted them to believe in Him, He needed to do more than talk (v. 30). But Jesus had just fed them by multiplying bread before their very eyes. It is therefore strange that they would demand another sign.

This is the danger of leaning on signs and wonders to build one’s faith. When people’s hearts are hardened, they crave more and more signs, yet remain where they are. This is the problem Jesus faced.  Signs and wonders may help faith, but they are not the antidote to unbelief. The cure for unbelief in repentance. When you have genuine faith in the Lord, you do not need Him to prove Himself to you every time.

The people were still thinking of bread (what goes in their belly). This is why they spoke to Jesus about the manna, not because they cared about the Scriptures. Obviously, they did not pay attention to Jesus’ earlier admonition that they stop laboring for food which perishes. Jesus responded by saying that the Father would give them “the true bread from heaven” (v. 32). This means the manna God supplied in the wilderness was not the true bread. It was but a shadow of the real bread from heaven.

Up to this point, the people did not know what (or who) the true bread was. But Jesus disclosed the true bread when He stated, “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (v. 33). Notice Jesus describes the bread of God as “a He,” not “a what.” In other words, the true bread (the bread of God) is not an object. It is not made with human hands. It is not bread from the oven. The bread of God is a person. That person is Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. Because He is a person, Jesus can be believed in and loved, but not swallowed. No one swallows Jesus for eternal life. 

Notice that Jesus spoke in the third person (“the bread of God is He”). When the people heard this, they said, “Lord, give us this bread always” (v. 34). They wanted this bread. However, did they know what they were asking? Because Jesus used the third person, they missed His point. Their mind was still fixed on bread, except this time they thought Jesus was referring some supernatural (magical) bread which they would swallow for their nourishment.

Their response is similar to that of the Samaritan woman. When Jesus promised to give living water, she thought He was referring to water for the mouth, so she said, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst . . .” (John 4:13-15). She did not realize that believers would drink living water alright, but it would not pass through their mouth like ordinary water. Another somewhat related incident is when Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born again. Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus and assumed that being born again requires people to re-enter their mother’s womb. But Jesus was referring to a birth which does not involve the womb (John 3:3-4), just like He is speaking to these people today about bread which does not involve the mouth.

Returning to the bread of life conversation: Jesus was aware that the people had missed His point, so He made Himself clear by speaking in the first person: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (v. 35). The bread of life is the Person standing right there in their midst. Naturally, the people were shocked.

With this last statement, Jesus shifted the conversation. He took their minds off food in the mouth, and suddenly He had their attention. When the people finally realized where Jesus was taking the conversation, they delivered their first major objection: “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’”? (v. 42).

We will pause here and continue next time, if the Lord wills. Until then, may the Lord keep you safe, sound and healthy. Have a blessed weekend. Amen.

For further studyJohn 3:1-18; 4:1-26

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