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 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 1)

Daily Devotion | Day 335

“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” (John 6:55-57, NKJV).

Our message for the next few days will be a continuation of what has been said previously in The Lord’s Supper: Lessons from Corinth. Although the two messages are closely related, we found it helpful to treat the current series as a distinct sub-topic within the discourse about the Lord’s Supper. We did this for three reasons. Firstly, what we are about to discuss is indispensable if we want to grasp the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Secondly, the topic is extremely rich and profound. As such it requires its own time and space. Thirdly, it is a subject that has generated controversy, division and confusion among Christians for centuries. 

Christians deserve clarity about what Jesus did for their salvation, especially regarding the body and blood of Jesus. We can benefit from what Jesus did if we know what it means for us. We hope the current series will further this cause. If you have not read the previous five-part series on the Lord’s Supper, please do so. This teaching is an extension of that.

What Jesus has done for us – in His death and resurrection – is marvelous. Our responsibility and privilege is to examine it critically, and appropriate it for our edification and for the sole glory of the Father. As the title suggests, the question we will be addressing throughout this series is: When we eat and drink the Lord’s Supper, are we eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking His blood? Some (notably Roman Catholics) say, “Yes;” others (mostly Protestants/Evangelicals) say, “No.” And there are others who are ambivalent. But what do the Scriptures say?

As we tackle this question, we will look at what happened in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:21-24). Our study will take us also to Capernaum where Jesus said He would give us His flesh and blood (John 6:22-59). Additionally, we will examine vital truth from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (5:28-33) as well as highlight lessons from David’s friendship with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:11-17). Throughout this teaching, there are two Bible concepts we want to keep in mind: marriage and covenant. These two concepts are the keys for understanding what Jesus said about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In other words, the concepts of marriage and covenant provide the ‘hermeneutical parameters’ or framework for understanding and celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

The principle of fellowship, union or oneness is well established in the Bible, usually in the context of a covenant. Understanding how this principle works will clarify  how the Lord’s Supper works. Fellowship is a mutual sharing which makes the parties involved become (literally) one. This means at the Lord’s Supper fellowship we are joined to the Lord’s body and blood and the Lord is joined to us as one. Paul made this clear in the passage we read yesterday (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). The cup we bless, he said, is fellowship (communion) of the Lord’s blood, and the bread we eat is fellowship (communion) of the Lord’s body.

What Paul said is no different from what we hear from Jesus in today’s opening Scripture. The Lord says, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in Him.” Notice that Jesus has His mind on fellowship or union with Him. As we partake of His body and blood, it leads to an intermingling. In a manner of speaking, Jesus passes into us and we pass into Him, thereby becoming one reality. Therefore, Jesus and the Lord’s Supper participant, while remaining distinct individuals, essentially are one.

We will pause here. What we have said so far is an introduction. God willing, we will go in-depth starting tomorrow. Remain blessed in Christ and have a wonderful weekend. Amen.

For further study: John 6:1-59