“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
Jesus never did what was easy. Every teaching, every interaction, every action Jesus performed was to bring glory to the Father. He could have avoided the cross, run from God’s will, given in to culture. He could have evaded the responsibilities of the world rather than dying upon the cross for the sins of the world.
In this passage, Jesus speaks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. (Bizarre, if you are hearing this for the first time.) Most of us have heard this Scripture before and understand the sacrament of Holy Communion. Yet for the first century audience I imagine this to be quite shocking. Can you imagine the disciples looking incredulous and saying to each other– “He said what??”
When Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them,” he meant that by taking these elements we accept the his sacrifice for ourselves upon the cross. He for us to take within ourselves his own body and blood as the offering which covers our sins. Now our Catholic brothers and sisters believe when the elements of bread and wine are blessed/consecrated they become Christ’s actual body and blood in their core essence. As a Wesleyan, I believe it becomes his body and blood in representation (a symbol) which has deep significance for believers (for more on this visit https://www.gotquestions.org/transubstantiation.html).
My point is this — whatever form the bread and wine/juice takes, it’s a reflection of Jesus’ life given for us. And by choosing Jesus, who did what was difficult, we become one with him and remain in him.
Yesterday my beloved United Methodist Church chose what was difficult but what was right. With the adoption of the Traditional Plan, the UMC is maintaining their stance on Biblical marriage and sexuality. Whereas this is hurtful to almost half of the UMC worldwide, it is in line with a traditional, orthodox and Biblical view. I never wish pain on anyone yet to take a traditional Biblical stance of these topics is the only way of truth, love and grace.
Just as the UMC did what was hard this week, so Jesus did what was hard in an order to remain in the Farther and his will for our lives.
“O Lord God you are good. Thank you for calling me your own and for loving me with an ever lasting love. Thank you for being the bread that comes down from heaven and that through your sacrifice we might be saved. Come now, Holy God, save your people! Redeem your church. Make holy the things that are impure and glorify yourself through your Body. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen