Scripture: John 6:
53Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"
61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit[e] and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him."
66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
67"You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
Observation: The real job of becoming like Christ is in moving from the physical life to that of the spiritual.
Application: I’ve heard many anti-Christian comments concerning the notion that Holy Communion is a cannibalistic ritual. This is indeed a hard teaching from Jesus, and it’s one that takes some real thought and reflection. Lets go back to yesterday when we asked if Jesus was hiding cookies. His disciples were worried that he hadn’t eaten anything but Jesus said “I have food that you no nothing about.” That food was not physical, but spiritual and its the same thing that Jesus is talking about here.
The crowd around Jesus had grown tremendously and there were many there who Jesus knew were not ready to hear or accept the spiritual teachings. This may have been an intentional culling of the flock on Jesus’ part when he talked of eating his flesh and drinking his blood. He knew that some would only see this in a physical way and that they would be offended and leave. In the end, we are back to twelve. A small group who are willing to stick by Jesus no matter what.
I wonder if they really understood the spiritual teaching here, or if they were just knew it was something that they needed to understand more fully. Either way, they stay with Jesus and no doubt later obtain a better understanding of this teaching.
To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is not about the physical elements of flesh and blood, or bread and wine or juice and crackers. It has nothing to do with transubstantiation and whether or not the elements in holy communion actually become the physical body of Christ or not. It’s a spiritual teaching. Jesus is saying – in order to have eternal life, you must take me into yourself. You must become me – you must consume the whole of who I am and live your life through me, for me, and in my power.
To eat the flesh – To be Christ in the world. We are the Body of Christ, we are Christ to the people we meet, and those that we reach out to in His name are not being reached out to by some ordinary person, they are being touched by God. To drink his blood – we are told that we shall also suffer with Christ, his blood is our blood. We are not above Christ, and can not expect the world to accept us any more than it did him.
Yes it’s a hard teaching. If you look at it with only your physical eyes it is repulsive and taboo. But it’s still a hard teaching even when you see it for what it really is. Christ is saying, you are to become so much a part of me, you are to take on my physical ministry for reaching the world, and you are to understand that because of the work you will be doing that you will surely suffer as I have.
So for those who were not able to see beyond the veil of the physical, this was the end of their following Jesus. It got too odd and strange for them to continue, but Jesus never promised to keep everything Kosher did he? We must often look beyond the limited scope of what we call reality and realize that there is much more to the picture than we have ever seen yet.
Prayer: God of all of us,
Thank you for the great teachings of truth that are only revealed by a spiritual understanding and revelation from you. You enable us as we seek more knowledge and wisdom from you to see so far beyond the confines of this world and I am amazed at the vastness of your glory. Grant me a deeper spirit, a loving heart, a wise mind, and a ministering touch.