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.’
John 6:53-57 (NIV)
Read: John 6
Consider: The aspect of the Blood of Christ that we look at today is something that society at large thinks cannot be experienced in this lifetime: eternal life. Eternal life, is a consequence of Jesus dying on the cross and rising again and is something that we are given when we believe in Christ. However, until we die and leave our mortal bodies, we won’t necessarily be conscious of it.
When Jesus spoke to the crowd at Capernaum about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he was speaking figuratively. To his Jewish listeners it might have seemed as if he was contradicting Jewish Law that forbade the drinking of blood. The incident recorded in John 6 follows on from the feeding of the five thousand and it is clear from the detail that it was many of those same people who followed him to Capernaum. So if Jesus wasn’t speaking literally, what was he speaking about? Some commentators speak of this ‘eating and drinking’ in a number of ways:
– indicating that as a believer we have an appetite for Jesus;
– applying Jesus’ teaching to our lives (not just knowledge);
– delighting in Jesus;
– nourishment from Jesus;
– depending on Jesus.
Can you see that it is speaking of the intensity and desire of our hearts? Do we pay lip-service to our faith, or is it all-consuming?
Eternal life is a gift and is not something we can earn (see Romans 6:23). Remember the question the man put to Jesus in Matthew 19:16 – ‘… what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ (my emphasis). Jesus was quick to point out that eternal life was about following him, not about good works. When speaking to Nicodemus (recorded in John 3), Jesus said these very well-known words: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). When being persecuted for doing good on the Sabbath, Jesus said this to the Jewish leaders: Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24). Although we look forward to eternal life, it is already a reality in our lives. This puts dying into perspective; for the Christian it is a case of continuing in Christ. Thinking if this the words of a well-known hymn come to mind:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in his blood.
Pray: Father, we thank you that through the Blood of Christ we have the gift of eternal life. May we live daily in the reality of this knowledge, keeping death in perspective. Amen