One of the most difficult passages in the Bible to understand is from John 6 where Jesus teaches a crowd saying, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 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.” In fact, Jesus’ words were so difficult to accept and understand that we read in the very next verse, “The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” (v.52). In a world where Jews were not even allowed to eat pork or shellfish, for Jesus to offer his flesh to eat was beyond the pale. What is even more amazing is that Jesus doesn’t backpedal but instead doubles down and says, “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. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” What did Jesus mean by this? Context is key. Going back to the beginning of chapter 6 we see that it was the time of Passover, a time to remember God’s deliverance of his people out of bondage and how they were spared from the wrath of God by the blood of the lamb that was smeared over their door posts, and how God had commanded them to entirely eat the Passover lamb as they would need the energy for the long journey ahead. It was also a time of remembering God’s provision for them as they journeyed across the desert and were fed with manna from heaven. They lived by daily feeding on that which God had provided for them from heaven. However, all of that was designed to point God’s people toward the ultimate and true lamb of God and bread of life which would come down from heaven—Jesus Christ. Thus, temporary and physical life came to God’s people by consuming the Passover lamb and manna from heaven; however, eternal and spiritual life come to God’s people by consuming Christ. That is, by taking in Christ in all his fullness, by taking him in through the daily meditative reading of his Word, through prayer, through sweet fellowship with the saints, and through regular church attendance.
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