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Feeding from Jesus

John 6:51-59
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live for ever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’ Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live for ever.’ He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (NIVUK)

These verses have stimulated many questions.  The idea of physically eating somebody's flesh and blood seems grotesque: and so it is.  Nothing in the Bible suggests that cannibalism would please God.  Some think Jesus was referring to the Last Supper and Christian communion.  But Jesus spoke these words more than a year before the Last Supper; and anyway, the mechanical consumption of bread and wine cannot give eternal life.  So what does it mean?

It is all to do with how we engage with Jesus.  Eating and drinking is very personal and intimate.  The food and drink we take in becomes a part of us.  So it is with Jesus.  We cannot just admire Him at a distance and call ourselves His disciple, or applaud His words if we are not willing to obey them.  He wants to be inside us, making His home in us.  As Jesus said, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." (John 14:23).

Jesus used the eating/drinking analogy to help us to understand that the relationship with Him is very personal; and it is essential to sustain life.  It starts as we gratefully value Jesus' sacrifice for us; that His body was broken on the cross and His blood was shed in payment for our sins (Matthew 26:28).  When we believe that Jesus was crucified for our sins, and welcome Him, an intimate relationship is established (John 1:12). It is so precious to Him that He will not discard or abandon us at death, but will keep us secure in an eternal relationship until we are welcomed into His home for ever (John 14:1-3).

Until then, bread and wine remind us that this eternal life has come at such a great cost to Jesus (Luke 22:20-21).  Every believer is called to remember Him whenever they eat bread and drink wine (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).  He has promised to nourish our souls every day (1 Peter 2:2-3), until we are raised from the dead and welcomed into His home (Philippians 3:21).  This is the Christian's hope, the eternal horizon to which we must look.  It should put our temporary troubles into perspective and encourage us to keep looking to Jesus every day.  That is the only wise way to look ahead.

Loving God. Thank You for wanting me to be in an eternal relationship with You. Thank You for the sufferings of Christ which make it possible and for making Your home in my heart. I am sorry when I have trivialised Your love for me and forgotten that You will welcome me into Your home for ever. Please help me to live today, enjoying the nourishment of Jesus and His company, so that I will serve You wholeheartedly in Your strength. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams