Eating His Flesh; Drinking His Blood
Until now, Jesus has been calling himself the “bread of life.” Indeed towards the end of the passage we read yesterday, he calls himself “the living bread that came down from heaven.” He then makes the remarkable claim that this bread which he will give for the life of the world is his flesh. His flesh! Picking up the passage for today, Jesus then says, “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. Whoever feeds on 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.”
One might suggest that if Jesus were trying to drive people away from himself, he couldn’t have said anything more repelling. But as we cannot believe that, we must assume that our Lord was teaching us a great truth, albeit, with metaphorical language. Our Lord would sometimes use graphic language to grab people’s attention; for instance, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5:30). Cutting your hand off won’t get you any closer to heaven; Jesus is telling us to shun whatever particular temptation is causing us to stumble. Regarding today’s passage, it is my opinion that the next line explains the foregoing: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” It seems to me that this graphic, almost offensive, language speaks to an intimate and close relationship to our Lord. What is closer to us than what we eat and drink? As eating and drinking sustain earthly life, being in relation with our Lord through saving faith is abundant life here and eternal life in heaven.
I do want to touch on another line in this passage. Jesus says, “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.” Be apprised that when Jesus says he lives because of the Father, he simply means that his life is bound up in that of the Father, as the Father is the Fount of both the Son and Holy Spirit from all eternity. The truth he is teaching us in this statement is that as his life is bound up in the Father with whom he is in perfect communion, so our lives are bound up in his through “feeding,” that is, being in communion with him. Indeed, the Father sent the Son for this express purpose: to purchase and redeem the people he chose in Christ before the foundation of the world. And so we are commanded to eat his flesh and drink his blood if we will have any life in him at all. This is how deep and abiding a relationship with himself that the Lord wants for you!