Flesh and Blood

This posting has me challenged on several levels:

  1. It is not a small or simple concept
  2. There are as many different opinions on this topic as there are human beings in the world
  3. It is doubtful I can treat this topic with the care it requires and deserves in such a small space.

Much of what we will discuss here is from John chapter 6.  A short summary of this chapter looks something like this:

  1. Jesus teaches and feeds the multitude
  2. He crosses the sea, and the crowds follow Him
  3. He warns them not to get caught up in eating just earthly food, but to eat of the heavenly food.
  4. Jesus and the Jews discuss the ‘bread from heaven’.
  5. Jesus tells them that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life.
  6. Most of His followers leave at this saying

Of course, this passage is tied together with the communion (Lord’s Supper) that would take place the night before Jesus is crucified.  We understand that the cracker and grape juice (or wine) is symbolic of Jesus’ body and blood.

What is not so simple is to have a fuller understanding of what is meant when Jesus says, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”  Of course, He is not referring to cannibalism.  This is symbolic.  But, is it just symbolic of the Lord’s Supper, or is there something more?

The key is to understand what is meant by the ‘flesh’ and by the ‘blood’.

According to related scriptures (some in this chapter, and some elsewhere) he also refers to His body as the bread which came down from heaven.  In fact, that is the image given by Paul as he describes the proper procedure for communion given in 1 Corinthians 11.  Here Paul describes the bread of communion as directly relating to Christ’s broken body.  But, what is the bread?  While some might argue, I contend that the ‘bread’ is the Word of God.  John 1:14 tells us that Word was made flesh.  So, the idea of eating the flesh of Christ is one of eating the Word.

In the discourse between Jesus and the Jews in John 6 we can see that Christ clearly says that by eating the bread which came down from heaven (The Word made flesh) it gives life to them.  Those who eat the ‘Word’ gain life from it.  In this life, we gain life from eating, but in the life to come it takes a different kind of food.  You must eat of the bread that God gives.  This is spiritual food, for the spiritual man.

So, is there a different between reading the Word of God, and eating it?  I suggest that there is.  Reading is a passive experience, while eating is an active experience.  If I pass by a bakery, I gain pleasure from smelling the fresh bread being baked there.  However, that pleasure is not sufficient for me to live on.  Only by eating the bread can I have the fuller experience that gives life.  There is a difference between reading the Word of God, and devouring the Word of God.  When we ‘eat’ the Word of God it becomes part of us.  The life it imparts creates life in us.  This life springs up into eternal life.  This is why Jesus stressed that whoever eats the bread that came down from heaven will never die.

And now for the blood.  This is too rich a subject to address in a few words, but let me simply state what Jesus said of the blood – it is the New Testament.  This is the new covenant between God and man.  This is the relationship God has made with man through the blood of His Son.  In short, this is the salvation that was purchased by the sacrifice that was made on Calvary.

So, when we eat his flesh (eat the Word), and drink His blood (receive remission and forgiveness of sin), we receive eternal life, and have passed from judgment to a state of righteousness.  This is not based on how good we are, or what we have done, or what we think we have earned.  This is a gift of God, made available to whosoever will.

One Response to “Flesh and Blood”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    Wow! This was awesome and explained in a way that anyone can understand it. Great food for thought! Inspirational…as always! Blessings….

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