The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6:52-59)
Can you just imagine the scene in today’s scripture?
The Jews began to quarrel. Jesus knew this concept was very difficult, virtually impossible, for them to wrap their minds around because not only was it philosophically challenging to first-century Jews, it was also utterly disgusting. Their laws were clear. They were forbidden to eat blood, for the blood is life, and they shall not eat the life with the meat (Deuteronomy 12:23).
What is this bread that Jesus offers? Jesus said, ‘The bread which I give is my flesh, the drink which I give is my blood’. The bread which Jesus gives is himself, his own flesh and blood, his body which was broken on Golgotha for our salvation. ‘Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood’ means those who identify themselves with the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. By eating this bread they become participants in his dying and so in his risen life. Jesus went on to say, ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him’. To eat his flesh and drink his blood is to abide in Christ. Jesus said: ‘I am the vine, and you are the branches. He who dwells in me, as I dwell in him, bears much fruit’.
For John, the fourth evangelist, to eat his flesh and drink his blood, is to believe in Jesus, to abide in him. It is to have an inter-personal relationship with Jesus. Just as the life of the vine gives life to the branches, those who abide in Jesus participate in the life of Christ.
This is why this passage is so central to Christians. For John and evangelists throughout the history of Christianity, to eat his flesh and drink his blood, is to believe in Jesus, to abide in him. It is to have an inter-personal relationship with Jesus. Just as the life of the vine gives life to the branches, those who abide in Jesus participate in the life of Christ.
Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The manna in the wilderness sustained the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land. It could not produce eternal life for the Israelites. The bread which Jesus offers his disciples sustains us not only on our journey to the heavenly paradise, it gives us the abundant supernatural life of God which sustains us for all eternity.
The food that makes us live forever.
THERE is the promise and the centrality of our belief. It lies not in one act. It lies in our joining our spirit with the Lord’s.
Jesus offers us the abundant supernatural life of heaven itself – but we can miss it or even refuse it. To refuse Jesus is to refuse eternal life, unending life with the Heavenly Father. To accept Jesus as the bread of heaven is not only life and spiritual nourishment for this world but glory in the world to come.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you are the living bread which sustains me in this life. May I always hunger for the bread which comes from heaven and find in it the nourishment and strength I need to love and serve you wholeheartedly. May I always live in the joy, peace, and unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, both now and in the age to come.”
At the last supper when Jesus blessed the cup of wine, he gave it to his disciples saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Jesus was pointing to the sacrifice he was about to make on the cross, when he would shed his blood for us – thus pouring himself out and giving himself to us – as an atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sins of the world.
The cross we must take up every day is not the misfortune that befalls us or the heaviness that weighs us down, but rather the cross of the Gospel, the Good News, the cross is the certainty of being loved for all time, the security of having been forgiven.