Eating Jesus

John 6:52-56 WEB

The Jews therefore contended with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” [53] Jesus therefore said to them, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves. [54] He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. [55] For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. [56] He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him.

This is a gross passage. It is easy to empathize with the disciples’ consternation. Many of Jesus’ disciples left after he preached the above sermon (John 6:66). They didn’t know Jesus very well. They were career disciples and when things became hard, they left. Still, a few remained. There were a few disciples who knew Jesus well enough to trust him, even though they could not understand his words (John 6:67-69).

It was hard to understand (John 6:60). The Jewish people were looking for a hero to come and rescue them from Rome (Isa 9:3-5). Instead, they got Jesus. Instead of a hero, they got a baby (Luke 2:7). Instead of freedom, they got told to wait better (Luke 21:19). Instead of victory, they were told to lay down their lives (Luke 14:27). Most of the people, especially the religious leaders, could not understand.

They could not understand because they had a fixed idea about God, and Jesus was not meeting their expectations. They could not understand because they wanted their freedom from Rome without having to obey God fully. They wanted salvation without suffering. They just couldn’t understand what Jesus meant when he said to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

It’s a shame they did not realize that eating the flesh of Christ means receiving his gift of salvation. More, in this passage, it also means suffering as Christ suffered.  Likewise, drinking his blood is simply the acknowledgment of his innocence when he died. More, it means giving our lives away as Jesus gave his life away. If we are genuinely ready to suffer and die for Christ, our faith will come to perfection.

Lord Jesus, please help me care enough about other people that I will suffer to see them reconciled to God. Teach me how to live a full life and also how to give my life away. Make me holy as you are holy Jesus. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

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