Eating the Flesh and Blood of Christ

(John 6:52-65)

What on earth is going on here? Is the Lord suggesting we become cannibals or vampires? He is saying that we need to eat his flesh and drink his blood, which sounds pretty sick. In fact there are laws in the Old Testament that strictly forbid such practices, so what is going on here?flesh and blood

If you are puzzled by these statements, imagine how those standing there felt listening as he said these words. They were shocked and had no idea what he was talking about. But with the value of hindsight now and applying a little logic to His words, the answer is reasonably simple.

Consuming Jesus

I have mentioned the first part of what these is about in a couple of my previous posts, so if you have read them this will not come as a surprise.

Anytime we eat anything we consume it. It goes into our bodies as food and is broken down in the stomach and intestines to become nutrients that feed our bodies so that grow and mature. The consumption of food and drink is essential to sustain our life and without them we die.

When Jesus is talking about eating him he is speaking of consuming His teachings and drinking in the truth of the gospel so that our spirit is nourished. We have a need to learn the spiritual truths of God so that our mind and spirit can grow and mature. Jesus wants us to be mature so that we can stand against eveil and can discern right from wrong to be able to live a life pleasing to God.

So when we consume Jesus we are taking in his teachings to be nourished and fed. But there is more to this “eat my flesh and drink my blood” that we see Jesus allude to here and in other places.

Flesh and Blood Sacrifices

Jesus gave His life and died for us. His blood was shed as the perfect sacrifice for our sins and he became the gift that was sacrificed so that we could have life.

He says in verses 53-54, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” So there is life eternal in the eating and drinking of His flesh and blood.

So let us look at the blood first. All the covenants of God with man were established with a blood sacrifice. The covenants were not brought into effect until the blood was shed and poured out on an altar. We see that the Old Covenant was ratified by Moses through the sprinkling of blood as it shows in Hebrews 9:18-20.

18 Hence even the first covenant was not ratified without blood.
19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.”

This was when and how the covenant was established. But because the Old Covenant sacrifices were not perfect, they had to be done over and over. So every year at the day of Atonement, blood sacrifices were offered to do two things. First the sacrifice established and ratified the covenant and second, the sacrifice was offered for the sins of the people.

Flesh and Blood of Jesus

So now we see in the same way the flesh and blood of Jesus was offered to do the same things. His blood was shed to ratify and establish the New Covenant. But under the New Covenant a better sacrifice was required than the blood of goats and bulls as we see in Hebrews 9:22-23.

22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

The shedding of blood is required for the forgiveness of sin. Why? because death is the payment for sin. We “earn” the right to die because of sin for the “Wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) Thus under the old covenant the animals died to purify the people of their sins. They received forgiveness of their sin, but their sins were not removed as they would continue to fail and sin requiring further sacrifices each year to balance the ledgers.

But Jesus came to “Take away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) Now to take away sin means to permanently remove those sins, not to have to repeat the process year after year, but to get rid of sin once for all. And the necessary sacrifice to achieve such a state had to be perfect and sinless. A man who lived under the law but never, ever once broke the law. And of course if such a person existed who never sinned, then they had not earned the right to die. They did not earn the wages of sin and thus have to die. For if they did die, then the ledger would be out of balance. A sinful person earns the right to die, so logically a person who has never sinned should not die.

And yet in spite of His right not to die, Jesus did die in horrific circumstances so that we could live. He was the perfect sacrifice because he died without reason. He did not earn the right to die, unlike the rest of mankind.

So in his perfect sacrifice, his blood spilled in his death became the ratification and establishment of the New Covenant. His body of death was then made availble to us so that we could take on His death so we could live.

Under the Old Covenant the people took on the death of the animals they were sacrificed and so were forgiven their sins. But in Jesus Christ we enter His death when we are baptised in water and we take on His death as our own and are set free from sin. In Jesus it is as if we had died with him and are raised with him to commence a new life, born again to live with Jesus Christ.

Spirit and Truth

But this is not a physical thing. It is a mental and spiritual process. We see in verse 63 Jesus explains this saying, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” This is the key scripture in all of this so read it again.

The flesh of a man is of no importance. The truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the New Covenant are not about the flesh. They are teachings to lead us to live in the spirit in obedience to the word of God.

Our flesh is doomed to die. However our spirits have the potential to live into eternity when and if we come to the Lord. That is the focus and thrust of the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When He says, “…the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” he is showing us that the value of the truth is for the spirit of man, not the flesh. And the life that we have is in the sacrifice of the blood of Jesus Christ, not the blood that flows in our veins.

And we must learn how to come to Him in spirit and trauth for he said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24) So if God is spirit then we too need to learn how to worship him in spirit and truth. We need to learn how to overcome the passions of our flesh that lead us away from God and subjugate them so we can have the victory over the flesh in Jesus Christ.

And we need to learn how to love as God and Jesus Christ love for that is what passes into eternity. Almost everyting else will pass away, but love never ends because God is love and the love of God is of the Spirit and truth.

(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by irisale87)

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