Holy Cannibalism, Batman! What in the World Is Jesus Talking About?

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September 8, 2020

John 6:47-57 (NIV)

Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. 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.

CONSIDER THIS

Years back I had a mentor and friend who mentored by walking. We regularly took long walks together and talked about life and the things of God. Almost invariably at some point in the walk he would stop, and in a piercing fashion, ask me this question, “What do you think Jesus meant when he said, ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’?” It always took me by surprise. This question served as kind of a gear shift in our conversation, changing the pace, depth, and character of our walks. Over the years this question commanded hours of our dialogue.

Clearly, Jesus shifts into a new gear in today’s text. It’s like he’s grabbing the people by the lapels and trying to shock and shake them awake. Jesus is revealing a completely different kind of life—eternal life. It is different in quality, quantity, depth, love, power, and every other similar category we could name. Understandably the people aren’t grasping it. They say things like, “How can a person go back into their mother’s womb?” and “How are you going to get any water from that well without a bucket?” and “It would take a fortune to feed all these people even a snack.” Today is no different.

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus is trying to tell them the how of eternal life while they are not yet grasping the what. I think this frustrates Jesus so much so that he literalizes (if that’s a word) his own metaphor.

“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.”

Clearly he’s not advocating cannibalism; which interestingly enough the early Christians were accused of doing. Nor is it fair to argue the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation (that the bread and wine actually become the physical flesh and blood of Jesus) from this text.

So let me ask you. What do you think Jesus means when he says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you will have no life in you”? I’ll share more of what I think in the next text.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the bread of life. Show us what it means to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. Come, Holy Spirit, and reveal this mystical reality to us in concrete fashion. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

1. What do you think John 6:53 means?

2. How would you describe eternal life?

3. What is your present experience of eternal life? Are you satisfied with that or are you wanting more?

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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I do believe that while this text is not a proof text for transubstantiation, It does reveal the “real presence “ we experience through Holy Communion. That’s why we who believe in the real presence refer to the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament and not a ordinance. It’s a mystery. Here in this text, I believe that to receive Christ means that he literally lives within us. That we experience eternal life now, having been raised to new life from above. While I’m aware of this new reality, I long to experience it more fully. I believe in progressive sanctification.

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