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 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

Completing Our Assignment

Daily Devotion: Day 217 | By Stephen Bilson-Ogoe

“But He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples], ‘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, NKJV).

Jesus’ disciples had gone out to buy food. While they were away, Jesus had a lively discussion with a woman from Samaria who had come to Jacob’s well to draw water. Finally, the disciples returned to find Jesus speaking with the woman. At first, they were surprised, but they didn’t make a big deal of it. Once the Samaritan woman had left, the disciples urged their Master to eat. Today’s Scripture reading tells us what happened next.

Jesus stunned his disciples when He said, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” This left the disciples wondering if someone had brought Him something to eat. They were thinking about physical food. But, Jesus meant something else. “My food,” He explained, is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.” This was Jesus’ secret food; call it His spiritual food.

What Jesus said reveals something profound about His spirituality. Food is necessary for life. Without it, we can hardly survive – let alone thrive. What Jesus meant, therefore, was that His very survival depended on doing the Father’s work and finishing it. This was Jesus’ source of spiritual nourishment.

One more thing: There are two parts to what Jesus said. The first part is doing the will of the Father. The second part is finishing the work. This is very important. It is not enough to do God’s work; it is necessary to complete the work. Why? Because, first, God deserves completed work. And second, for God, only completed work counts. Anything less is unacceptable. Jesus understood this.

Jesus indeed finished His work, as He declares in John 17:4, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You gave me to do.” And again, on the Cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus finished His work, not so we will have no work to do, but to give us power to finish ours.

Even among us humans, we expect people to complete their assigned tasks, whether at home, at school or at the work place. No one wants uncompleted work. If you truly are committed to someone or something, you will put in your best effort by completing the work given to you. Uncompleted work is, usually, a symptom of laziness and lack of commitment.

Today, God wants you to draw inspiration from Jesus’ sense of duty, His tenacity and His commitment. Jesus completed His assignmentComplete yours.

May the Lord command His blessing upon you today. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: Matthew 25:14-30