John 6:52-59 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.
Jesus gets more challenging here. He brings up His blood. Now He’s not just describing Himself as the bread from heaven, but the Passover Lamb. Remember it was the Israelites placing the blood of the slain lamb over their door that protected them at the first Passover.
But here’s Jesus talking about drinking His blood. In the law of Moses, God sternly forbade drinking or eating meat with blood remaining in it. The only permissible use for blood in the Old Testament was to make atonement for sin. Because of this law, Orthodox Jews today drain all blood from meat before cooking. But Jesus now said, “Unless you drink of this blood you have no life in you.”
This shocked and deeply offended the people who refused to acknowledge the spiritual meaning of His words. But, remember when John the Baptist saw Him in the crowd and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’
God’s grand story of redemption in the Old and New Testaments and Jesus’ historical death on the cross make the spiritual meaning of these words clear. With the pictures of the Old Testament sacrifices in mind, the New Testament states, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”. Because shed blood points to death, to “drink” Jesus’ blood is to participate personally in His death. It means more than simply knowing He died for sinners. It means trusting that He died for you and for the forgiveness of your specific sins.
Jesus’ blood shed on the cross not only cleanses believers from the guilt of sin, but also delivers us from the power of sin. His very name was given to Him because it means, “He will save his people from their sins.”
To “drink Christ’s blood” is, through faith in His death, to count yourself as having died with Him to your old life. This means you renounce your own rights and all merit, strength and wisdom that come from your own resources. Instead you trust in His sacrifice as the only atonement for your sins acceptable to God and experience deliverance from sin’s power
When we receive Christ “eating His flesh” and “drinking His blood” we share in His nature. We trust His promises, fight our sin in His strength and apply His reactions to human circumstances, to our own lives. Christ gives us His thoughts and feelings, His will, actions and words. Christ is then lived out in every believer.
The way Jesus lived on earth is the way God designed each of us to live – that’s why as believers we are to become more and more like Him – and one day when we stand before Him in Heaven we will be completely transformed.
John 6:60 – 66 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Jesus’ tremendous statements and personal claims brought His followers to a crisis of decision. We ALL have to make a decision about Christ. Some of His disciples left Him. When they said, “this is a hard teaching,” they didn’t mean difficult to understand. They meant unacceptable, harsh, even offensive.
Jesus was offering them eternal life. But they wanted a Messiah who gave them their earthly desires: miraculous manna, material blessings, political freedom. They didn’t want a suffering Messiah who would die on the cross even though He told them it would save them from their sins.
The Apostle Paul described their mindset when he wrote, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Paul preached that a crucified Savior is “a stumbling block” to the religious Jews and “foolishness” to the intellectual Gentiles.
Jesus answers their grumbling in 4 parts.
First, aware of their heart attitude, He asked, “Does this offend you?”
Second, He mentions His death, “What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before?”
His resurrection and ascension prove He is who He said He was.
He started out in Heaven and came to earth and rose again as a man to His authority back in Heaven.
Third, He mentions the Spirit. It is the Spirit that gives us understanding.
And fourth, He mentions unbelievers. “Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
John 6:67-71 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
Jesus seems to have intended to separate those who were swept up by the excitement of the miracles from those who truly believed in Him. The fact many who formerly followed Him no longer wanted to be with Him proved they had never truly believed. They were swayed by the crowds and mere passing desire.
It still must have hurt. You can hear it in His words to the 12, “You do not want to leave, too, do you?”
Peter’s glorious reply marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and in the lives of the disciples. Speaking for the faithful 11, Peter and the other 10 committed themselves to follow Jesus all the way to the cross. There would be no turning back, even as His earlier popularity declined and persecution began. The Father had drawn them to Christ, and they were God’s gift to His Son for eternity.
People today still refuse to believe if they think what He calls them to do is “too hard.” They don’t want the new way of life – so they turn their backs on Him.