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