"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, 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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum." John 6:52-59
How can one eat Jesus' flesh and drink His blood? The Jews did not grasp Jesus' meaning, nor do many in our day.
Jesus is not indicating that Christianity is some kind of cult in which the faithful literally eat human flesh and drink human blood. Even in the Lord's Supper, participants do not chew Jesus' flesh and drink and digest His blood. Rather, as they partake of the bread and wine, they partake of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for the sins of all the world -- His body given into death for our sins and His blood shed for the remission of our sins.
But Jesus' words in John 6:52-59 are not a specific reference to the Supper Jesus later commanded His followers to observe in remembrance of Him and His innocent sufferings and death on their behalf. The Lord's Supper had not yet been instituted when Jesus spoke these words. And, if He were referring specifically to partaking of the Lord's Supper, then those not able to partake of Christ's Supper, regardless of the reason, could not be saved and have life in them.
Rather, Jesus here refers to partaking of His body and blood by faith. The children of Israel ate of the manna from heaven and yet died. Those who partake of Jesus' body and blood -- of His sacrifice for the sins of the world -- by faith in Him have eternal life and Jesus will raise them up on the Last Day!
Jesus says in no uncertain words, "For my flesh truly is food, and my blood truly is drink" (John 6:55 translated literally from the Greek).
The one who partakes of Jesus, the Bread of Life, by faith -- trusting in Christ Jesus who gave His body into death for our sins and shed His blood upon the cross to make full atonement for all our iniquities -- has the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. As Jesus said, "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me."
People look to Jesus for earthly bread. They come to Him in hopes that He will provide them with all their earthly wants and desires. But few recognize that Jesus came into this world to provide us with heavenly food -- with food which nourishes our souls unto life eternal.
Jesus came into this world to fulfill the righteous demands of God's law for us. And He came to be our sacrifice for sin -- to offer up Himself on the cross as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He gave His body into death upon the cross in full payment for your sins and my sins. He shed His blood upon the cross as our sacrifice for sin and made atonement for us and all the world before the very throne of God.
The question is this: Do you partake of Him? Do you trust in His holy life and His innocent sufferings and death for the forgiveness of all your sins? If you do not partake of Jesus, you can have no life in you; you are eternally lost and condemned. If you do, through faith, partake of His flesh and blood, you have the forgiveness Jesus won for you when He gave His body into death and shed His holy and precious blood to make atonement for your sins and redeem you.
When we, in this way, eat His flesh and drink His blood, Jesus dwells in us -- not in the sense that He enters our mouth and passes through our digestive system, but in the sense that He comes into us and gives us life in fellowship with the Father.
It's really as simple as this: "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 John 5:12).
If we partake of Jesus' holy life and His bitter sufferings and death for all sin by placing our trust and confidence in Him, we have life. Jesus Himself comes to us, dwells in us by His Spirit and gives us spiritual and eternal life in fellowship with the Father. If we do not partake of Jesus and His sacrifice -- if we go it alone and on our own, so to speak -- we remain dead in our sins and under the wrath and condemnation of God.
In John, chapter three, Jesus says it this way: "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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (v. 15-18).
Those who believe and trust in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God made flesh, are saved and have life because Christ gave His body and shed His blood for the remission of all sins. They partake of His body and blood and of the benefits Jesus won for them through faith.
On the other hand, those who do not trust in Christ's body and blood given and shed for all mankind are condemned. Why? Because they reject the only way of salvation God has provided for them -- in His Son!
Jesus said, "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 6:51).
Jesus gave His life for you. His body was nailed to the cross to suffer for your sins and mine. He shed His blood for you when He made atonement for the sins of the whole world. His flesh is food indeed and His blood is drink indeed to nourish our souls and to give to all who partake of Him through faith everlasting life!
God grant you to partake of Jesus, the Bread of Life, and to drink of His blood shed for the remission of your sins through faith in Him! Then, you will have life!
O merciful Father, grant us faith in Messiah Jesus, the Son. Grant that we eat His flesh and drink His blood through faith, trusting in His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. Amen.
Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible. Opinions expressed are those of the author.