You read through Jesus’ teaching in John 6 and you kind of get why “when many of His disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?'” (6:60). Teaching about a bread which comes from heaven. Bread from heaven which removes hunger and gives life. Bread which must be eaten if it’s life-giving properties are to be appropriated. And what is this bread Jesus spoke of?
“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. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ~ Jesus (John 6:51, 53-54 ESV)
Feed on My flesh? Drink my blood? No wonder many found this “a hard saying.” No wonder many failed to understand it (NKJV). No wonder many could not accept it (NIV). No wonder Peterson has some fun with his tongue-in-cheek paraphrase of their reaction, “This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow” (6:60 MSG). Too tough to swallow indeed!
I get why many tapped out and from this point on stopped following Jesus (6:66). But what’s caught my attention this morning is the prize offered for those who work through such a hard saying. The motivation presented for working through what it means to eat this bread from heaven manifest in the person of the Son of Man. It’s worth pursuing because it’s food with a promise.
“Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ~ Jesus
I will raise him up on the last day. I will raise her up on the last day. Eat the food . . . drink the drink . . . and know the promise of eternal life.
This is the fourth time in this chapter that Jesus offers the promise of being raised up on the last day (6:39, 40, 44, 54). Whatever Christ meant by eating His flesh and drinking His blood (I took a run at that last year, see the post here), as hard as noodling on that might be, there was a promise that came with this food. For those who understood their mortality the promise of eternal life, of being raised again in newness of life, was so intriguing they couldn’t follow the “many” who bailed out. For them the love of life, and the desire to know the Life-giver, compelled them to stick with the Teacher, even if they didn’t fully get what He was teaching.
I’m feeling like that dynamic still comes into play with those of us who have decided to follow Jesus. Though we may not still be wrestling with what it means to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, there’s enough other tough stuff that surfaces from time to time to create a crisis of faith. Whether it’s other hard teaching, or simply hard circumstances, it can be tempting to look for another place to feed from. But there is no other place that offers food with a promise.
No other source of life-giving, life-sustaining, life-enhancing food which results in a life forever reality. No place I’d rather be than at the table He sets.
Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed . . . (John 6:67-69a ESV)
Believing in food with a promise by His grace. Feasting on food with a promise for His glory.