“Who is Jesus?” John 6:41-58 I AM the Bread of Life. (Part 2 of 3)

When the apostle John writes of ‘the Jews,’ he is most often referring to the members of the Jewish religious groups. The referenced passage of Scripture begins with, “Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” They know where Jesus comes from – Nazareth – and they take exception to his claim to have come from heaven, from the place they know is of God. Jesus knows what is in all men’s hearts and addresses the issue directly.

Jesus answer must have made them even more upset because he refers to the Father, his coming from the Father, and that he, Jesus, is the specific destination of those who know the Father. Earlier in this section of teaching, the crowd wants to know what they should do to do the work of God. Jesus tells them that believing in Him is the work of God. This group of religious leaders believes that they have already achieved the favor of God. They are learned in the scriptures, and they are the privileged, chosen ones of God. Jesus demolishes these pillars of their piety. He then says, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:54-56) “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” (John 6:53)

I taught this section to a small women’s Bible study not too long ago. One of the young women was listening intently and when she heard these verses, she made the most awful face. Let’s be honest. The literal impact of these statements is hard to hear. It smacks of a most heinous behavior and I do wonder if Jesus taught with this blunt language on purpose. Later, in verse 66, we read “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” This is a difficult thing to hear. Jesus seems to be trying to advance the people’s concerns from their hungry stomachs to their starving eternal souls; from their outward compliance to their true inner thoughts; from a belief in themselves to a belief in the One the Father has sent to initiate a new covenant with His people.

Jesus words are to be applied spiritually. How then do we ‘eat’ his flesh and ‘drink’ his blood?

  1. We believe that, out of His great love, God gave Jesus to the world in a body (Hebrews 10:5). This body suffered temptations but remained holy to God. This body died on the cross. A body was resurrected on the third day and ascended to glory.
  2. We confess that we apply the blood of Jesus sacrifice to our hearts, just as the Jews in the tabernacle applied the blood of their sin offerings to the horns of the altar before God. Our hearts are acceptable as offerings to God when they are covered by Jesus.
  3. After this, it is God’s covenant promise that He will put a new spirit within us. A spirit that responds to His word and is sustained by the continuing gifts of Christ’s body and blood. (Jeremiah 31:33-34, Isaiah 54:13)

When we physically consume food and drink, we have an awareness of its taste, texture, and temperature but no direct consciousness of its transformation to energy and growth in our bodies. In a similar manner, we consume the body and blood of Christ by consuming His life, death, and resurrection by tasting of his Word, reading, studying, and comparing scripture to scripture, in prayerful communication with Him, and He will teach, change, and grow us to maturity.

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