“Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 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. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.57 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.58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.” John 6.52-59
When my daughter was young I use to say to her as I grabbed a food and brought it to my mouth, “I am going to eat you up!” She would giggle and I would pretend to eat her toes. It was a ritual we did hundreds of times. But I never actually took a bite!
In this passage, Jesus was not advocating cannibalism. John Wesley in his explanatory notes of the whole Bible (check it out at https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/wesleys-explanatory-notes/john/john-6.html) says this — ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man – Spiritually: unless you draw continual virtue from him by faith. Eating his flesh is only another expression for believing..’)
Wesley writes that what Jesus actually meant was that we eat his flesh and drink his blood ‘spiritually speaking’. Eating=believing. That’s a good word. We join Christ in his mission by taking the holy sacrament of communion but we (as Protestants) do so symbolically. We ask the Lord to make these gifts of bread and juice to become “in essence” his body and blood. And then by eating them, we are joining Christ on this mission.
Yet the Jews upon hearing this “argued sharply among themselves saying — How can this man give us flesh to eat?” To which Jesus responds in heavenly language (not explaining too much but allowing them to wrestle with God’s truth) — “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” More confusion. LOL.
But if eating = believing, then when we eat the meal we join with Christ and have eternal life. We have it now. Not just when we die. Celebrating communion gives us access to eternal life today. Think about that for a moment. Jesus said if you do this you “will have eternal life.” In essence we feed on Jesus. He says this in v. 57.
So what shall you? Will you consume Christ? Will you not just walk with him but fully digest him? Will you engage heart, mind and soul in the mission of the one who came to die in your place for the sins (and sinners) of the world? I think Jesus was saying this — It’s all or nothing! Just as he gave his life for us we must fully respond by taking his life inside our own.
Consume Jesus. Eat his flesh. Drink his blood. Be one with the One who knows you better than you know your self and this very day you will have everlasting life.
“O Lord God you are a consuming fire. I praise you for the sacrifice of your life and for the love you bestow on the people of this earth. Thank you for coming and giving us your body and your blood. For dying so we might life. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and love that we might be the body and blood for the world. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen