Even if you don’t know what it means, you can’t help but know without a doubt what Jesus was saying. What started out as day trip to find Jesus and hopefully some more food, has escalated into a head-to-head debate between Jesus and “the Jews that grumbled.” Having followed Jesus across the sea, the people were hoping to be the beneficiaries of another food miracle. But Jesus calls them on it . . . and says that rather than wanting to fill their bellies, they should be seeking after “food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”
Ok . . . now He has them thinking. How do we get it? What do we have to do? But, says Jesus, it’s not about what you do, but about what you believe. And then He tells them of a bread from heaven, like manna . . . but not like manna. Manna in that it too is bread given by the Father . . . not like manna in that those who ate manna eventually died, but those who eat the bread Jesus speaks of will live forever.
And then, it starts getting a bit more complicated.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35 ESV)
The people are intrigued. The Jews, the religious leaders, start to grumble. “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” And Jesus doesn’t back off a bit.
He repeatedly affirms His claim to being “living bread” come down from heaven. And if that isn’t weird enough to them, He presses it further by stating that He’s not just showbread, but that He is bread to be eaten.
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 the world is My flesh. . . . 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. (John 6:51, 53 ESV)
Ok, so that even assaults my sensitivities. Eating flesh . . . drinking blood. No doubt of what Jesus is saying, He states it repeatedly. So what does it mean? For me it comes down to one of the first mathematic formulas I learned. If A=B and B=C then A=C. And here’s how I apply it
In John 6:47 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” Then, in John 6:54, He says, “Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” Believe and have eternal life . . . feed on His flesh, drink of His blood and have eternal life. Therefore feeding on His flesh and drinking His blood equals believing.
Jesus wasn’t talking about some mystical cannibalism . . . He wasn’t even talking about some religious rite as being the secret to eternal life . . . He was talking about believing. And not some simple, superficial mental assent. But an all in, as in consuming it all, trust and faith. Seeing in Jesus the bread that gives eternal life and pursuing it with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. Seeking Jesus and Him alone . . . wanting nothing more than to abide with Him and for Him to abide with us. All because we believe He is the bread of life.
Eating is believing.
By the grace of God . . . for the glory of God.