A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 10.19.2005

    Eat My Flesh. Drink My Blood



    In speech classes, teachers instruct students to use various methods to gain an audience’s attention. One of those methods is called the “startling statement.” Jesus used the startling statement to its full effect when he said:


    Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (John 5:53).


    That statement is just as startling today as it was 2000 years ago. It is startling because we don’t talk in terms of eating one’s flesh and drinking one’s blood. In fact, some during the years of the early church thought Christians were practicing a form of cannibalism. They were clearly confused. Nevertheless, Christ said that unless we consume His flesh and blood, we are eternally lost, without life, forever.

    Jesus had been talking to the Jews about the nation’s experience during their wilderness wanderings centuries before. The Passover had been eaten. The Red Sea had been parted. Pharaoh’s armies had been drowned. They went to Mount Sinai to receive the Law, the priesthood, the sacrificial system, and the tabernacle. Later, they unfortunately, decided to rebel against the Lord by refusing to conquer Canaan land at the right time. God condemned that generation to wander the desert for forty years. How can a large crowd of almost 2 million people survive desert life like that?

    Exodus 16 tells how God provided for His chosen people, the Hebrews, during their wilderness trek. Each day, He miraculously provided a bread from heaven called manna. The meaning of the name manna is close to the question “What is it?” The Scriptures say, “It was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey (Exodus 16:31).” Every morning, the Jews could go outside and get their daily bread. They could not store any of it, except for the Sabbath, lest it rot. God showed his lovingkindness to the nation. “Man did eat angels' food (Psalm 78:25)

    They had manna for breakfast, dinner, and supper. They had it for snacks, hors d’oeurvres, and desserts. They ate it poached, pureed, sliced, diced, sautéed, and grilled. Their cookbooks had only one main ingredient, and everyone knew how to get it. Every so often, the Jews would think of eating something different--the food of Egypt.

    We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes (Numbers 11:5-6).

    God had to deal with their grumbling spirits as well as their grumbling bellies. In it all, He was laying the groundwork for Christ’s statement centuries later.

    In John 6, Jesus tells the Jews that real life is found in Him, and he uses the illustration of bread--manna--to do it.

    "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world (John 6:47-51)."

    We know that Jesus is not talking about eating literal flesh and drinking literal blood because later, in this very text, He tells His disciples, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).” He is not even talking about the church ordinance of communion here because it had not yet been established. He is talking about how eternal life is received (something not even communion can impart).

    How does one eat His flesh and drink his blood? Again, Jesus provides the answer in John 6:29, “"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." The word believe is the verb form of faith. One trusts in Christ alone for eternal life. The act of believing, trusting, faith-ing is the act of eating and drinking. In order to take Christ in for ourselves, we must know with whom we are dealing!

    Who is this Jesus? Who is this one who says "For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed (John 6:55). Here is a short list of who Jesus is:

    1. Jesus Created You: John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    2. Jesus Sustains You: Colossians. 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

    3. Jesus Will Judge You: John 5 :22 "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: "

    Revelation 1:17-18 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”

    4. Jesus Loves You: John 6 :33 "For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world."

    5. Jesus Sacrificed for You: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life "

    6. Jesus Will Save You: John 3:17 "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

    It is this Jesus who gives Himself for you to eat and drink.

    Eating and drinking is a personal thing. I don’t like to have people push something right into my face and try to make me eat it. (One-year-old girls and three-year-old boys are known for doing such things to Daddy.) I like to choose what I eat and when I eat it. Some spiritual parallels apply:

    1. What You Take In Becomes a Part of You. The knowledge of Christ is not a mental process of acknowledgment. You have to take Him in! He has to become the sustenance of your life.

    2. Nobody Else Can Eat or Drink For You. Family, friends, colleagues, your church. Everyone can hope and pray that you’ll come to Christ. In the end, you must do your own eating.

    3. Spiritually, Nobody Can Force Feed You. When I was in high school, I spent a week at a camp near Kansas City and wrangled their horses (not that I am a horseman). In the morning, I, with the other wranglers, saddled the horses, took campers on rides, and tended the horses in the evening. One day, I actually tried to make a horse drink. It doesn’t work. The old cliché about horses and water holds true. We cannot make people into Christians. People must come willingly and take Christ in. They themselves must eat his flesh and drink his blood.


    4. Spiritually, Only One Food Will Work. Such talk is offensive to many people. It was when Christ spoke as well.

    “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, "Will ye also go away?”

    Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:66-69).”

    Do you see the faith of Peter? He said, “We believe.” They had eaten Christ’s flesh and had drunk His blood. In this statement Peter recognizes that eternal life is found only in Jesus Christ.

    This is a difficult statement, and many could not accept it. So they left. Jesus did not soften His position at all though. He simply asks, “Will ye also go away?”

    And that is our choice. We either find life in Christ, or we “go away.”

    For those who don’t know Christ, the Scriptures are here saying that Christ is the only source of life. You must take Him in.

    Christian: Why Feast at Another Table?

    1. This world has nothing to offer.
    2. Jesus is just as satisfying as he’s ever been.
    3. If we have become bored or unsatisfied, it is because we have become worldly.


    Abandon pride. Return to faith, not sight.

    5 Comments:

    At 12:52 PM, Blogger DOGpreacher said...

    Truly a wonderful post, John. One of my favorite chapters in the Bible to preach through. I started preaching through John about 7 months ago, and just began chapter 9. Chapter 6 takes a long time, because it is HUGE!

    graced,
    The DOGpreacher

     
    At 9:19 PM, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said...

    Amen.

     
    At 10:35 PM, Blogger Joe said...

    He provides the only satisfaction to our hunger.

     
    At 12:12 PM, Blogger Rose~ said...

    John,
    Thanks for that great writing. Jesus was quite controversial at times, wasn't He? I'm sure He wasn't surprised when His words were twisted by the transubstantiationists, but dismayed nonetheless. God bless!

     
    At 5:46 AM, Blogger Michael said...

    EAT MY FLESH

    The book of John was written in the Greek Language. And when the author recorded things down - when he said you must eat my flesh - he used the Greek word "trogo."

    Now in the Greek language, many words can be used for "eat". However, the word "trogo" was chosen; it's a very special word because it cannot be taken symbolically. When that word was chosen - when you trogo something, you actually gnaw on it. The definition is to aggressively or loudly munching, gnawing and chewing, as an animal would eat.

    This cannot be taken symbolically, and the author chooses this word so that later on when people read this - it's not a soft word - it's meant to actually gnaw and to eat. It's very important; it cannot to be taken symbolically.

     

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