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