LD 28: Eating the Flesh and Drinking the Blood of Jesus
by Rev Arie den Hartog
Read: John 6:51 – 59.
Jesus does not in John 6 speak directly about the Lord’s Supper. He does however definitely speak about the meaning of the Lord’s Supper.
In partaking of the Lord’s Supper, we ‘eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus’; a very striking expression. However, this is not to be understood literally. Jesus Himself makes this plain when the multitudes that were listening to Him were offended by His words. He says in verses 61 – 63. “Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” This explanation of Jesus very definitely excludes the false idea that in the Lord’s Supper, when we eat the bread and drink the wine, we are literally eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ. The very thought of this is a gross abomination. This would not profit at all. We say this reverently, and because Jesus Himself said it.
There are several aspects of the meaning of the discourse of Jesus in John 6. First of all, Jesus emphasizes the necessity of His incarnation. It was necessary for Jesus to take on Himself our flesh and blood, that which composes our human nature. Jesus had to take on our flesh and blood in order that He could sacrifice Himself on our behalf on the cross. It is not wrong to say that the Son of God died on the cross. But it would be wrong to say that Jesus suffered and died in His divine nature. The divine nature of God cannot suffer and die. Jesus suffered and died very really in His human nature. But at the same time, because of the amazing greatness of this suffering, Jesus was sustained by His divine nature. Only the Son of God could bear the wrath of God that our sins deserved.
Jesus had to give His flesh and blood, His own life for us, by sacrificing Himself on the cross. Many are offended at the cross. They cannot imagine that the suffering and death of Christ on behalf of His people was necessary. They consider the cross to be foolishness. They also cannot imagine that our sins are so serious in the sight of God that they could only be atoned for by the suffering and death of the Son of God.
Eating and drinking Christ means that we must by faith appropriate the suffering and death of Christ. This begins with the humble realization and confession that the suffering and death of Christ on the cross was made necessary by the awful reality of our sins.
In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus commanded His disciples and us to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ. As we said in an earlier meditation, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is in the form of a meal. At this meal, Jesus provides for us all the blessings of salvation which He has merited for us and for our salvation. We appropriate these blessings through faith in Him. We do not merely look at the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. We eat the bread and drink the wine.
When we eat the bread and drink the wine, Jesus feeds and nourishes our souls unto life eternal. Jesus is the living bread that is from heaven. In the Lord’s Supper, we acknowledge that Jesus is the bread of life. By receiving through faith the benefits of Christ’s cross, we have the blessings of life eternal already now. We have the hope that He will raise us up also in the last day and give us eternal life in heavenly glory.
Originally posted here.