Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Feasting on Jesus

John 6 contains some statements from Jesus that send the unspiritual mind reeling. He makes several references to those who would desire to follow Him as being required to eat Him. Unfortunately, this has been dubbed one of “the hard sayings of Jesus,” when in fact, for believers, this is fundamental in our understanding of how Jesus Christ is uniquely able to satisfy our most basic needs. This “hard saying” is one that believers should look to for comforting delight rather than disheartening confusion. 

To begin, verses 32- 33, “...my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Here, Jesus clearly lays out that He is that true bread, he clearly describes His incarnation as well as the mission He would accomplish, to give life to the world. But the crowd did not understand. 

They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” I would speculate that Jesus was grinning on the inside. He probably was thinking to Himself, “...just wait till they see what I’m going to do….” The people asked Him to give them the bread so that they could consume it ALWAYS. Little did they know that this is exactly what Jesus had in mind. He would give Himself over to the crowd to be mistreated and eventually murdered. Surely Jesus was looking forward to His resurrection and the promise He would give; “And behold, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Furthermore, He was likely looking forward to His session by the Father, for Hebrews 7:25 says that “...he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since HE ALWAYS LIVES TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM.”

Jesus goes on to lay out more clearly, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst...I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of this world is my flesh.”

There it is. This whole time they thought He was talking about bread…

The murmuring heightens, accusations of cannibalism run through their minds. Jesus drives this discussion home by saying, “...unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no eternal life in you….”

The gospel indicative here is verse 33, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” The gospel imperative is verse 54, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” Jesus bids us, “Come and eat. Partake. Consume. I alone can satisfy.” When we become partakers in the flesh of Christ, we partake in His death and resurrection. When we drink in the blood of Christ, we become members of His covenant. His blood is applied to us, it runs in us, it covers us. (Confer with 1 Corinthians 11)

Just as our most basic physical need is sustenance, food and water. Jesus teaches that His life and death, would fulfill our most basic spiritual need. Jesus is the sustenance for which our souls hunger and thirst. This news is objectively true and existentially satisfying. It is a rest for our minds and a delight to our hearts.  

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Jesus is the righteousness of God (Romans 3:21). Come and Dine.