The Nourishment of Jesus Brings Eternal Life

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John 6:41 – 59

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 

45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46  not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

 48 I am the bread of life. 49  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 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.”

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52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “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. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 

56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 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. 58  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.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

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This is perhaps one of the hardest section of the teachings of Jesus.  In fact, the disciples said themselves in verse 60, the very next verse after this passage, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it.”  With that said, I would like us to consider what it is exactly that makes this passage so difficult to understand.  And if we can figure some of that out, then let us try to find an application for our lives.

As I looked over this section of John 6, I saw at least three things that Jesus was stating that would have caused conflict between Him and the religious leaders of that day.  First, He claims to have divine origin, i.e. that He came to earth from heaven sent by God.  Secondly, much more than the physical food which Moses had brought done from heaven, Jesus claims to offer spiritual bread from heaven.  And thirdly, He makes an outrageous claim that those who eat His flesh and drink His blood will live forever.  Wow!!  Well, let’s look at these in more detail.

    

His Origin: when Jesus stated, “I am the bread that came down from heaven”, the Jewish leaders immediately saw in this figurative language that Jesus was in fact claiming to have come down from heaven himself.  That was the same as claiming to be divine in origin, equal to God.  For men are “created” and born into this world; only God can originate from heaven and come down.

His Offer: as all good Jews know, Moses was a great prophet who was able by the power of God to bring down the daily manna, the wafer-like flakes that could be made into bread, while the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years after coming out of their slavery in Egypt.  The Jews also knew that this manna-bread only lasted a day and had to be collected each morning, and ultimately all of their forefathers died in the wilderness, or after they settled in Canaan.

But Jesus says that He can offer “bread from heaven” which will allow a person to live forever.  If that is not bold enough, Jesus also stated that He himself is this “bread” that brings spiritual life to people.  He asked His listeners to believe, that is to believe that He has come from the Father in heaven, and can offer spiritual life and will raise that person up into new life after death.  Wow!!  Quite the offer.

    

His Outrageous Claim: to top it all off, Jesus boldly stated to His listeners, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. ”  This must have sounded rather crude and offensive to those who first heard these words of Jesus.  Imagine now for a minute what this must sound like to a person born in Papua New Guinea where they have just come out of the practice of cannabalism.

But we know that Jesus often used hyperbole (exaggerated figurative language) to drive home a point.  What Jesus was saying is that we who would receive eternal life from God must be totally consumed with knowing and having Jesus in our lives.  In other words, Jesus’ teachings and His life given for us on the cross are the only true source for spiritual nourishment for us and result in providing eternal life for us.

    

The Conclusion: what must we do then, my friends?  We must recognize Jesus as God who has come to earth, accept His offer to be our spiritual “bread”, and be so intimately involved with Him that He becomes our true source for spiritual nourishment, leading us to an everlasting life with God in heaven.

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Jesus, The One Equal To God The Father

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John 5:16 – 30

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

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In this passage, we see the open hostility of the Jewish leaders that broke out against Jesus.  It was bad enough in their opinion that Jesus had performed a miracle on the Sabbath, the holy day of rest for the Jewish people.  (See my last article on “Christian Compassion vs. Religious Criticism“.)  But now they hear Jesus utter words that show that He equated Himself with God the Father.

As I reflected on the blindness of the Jewish leaders, I realized that they did not have the benefit of living in the period of “post-resurrection”, nor the hundreds of years that the Church has had to understand the implications of Jesus Incarnation, His death, and His resurrection.  The Jewish people were all waiting for the Promised Messiah, the One whom God would anoint and bring salvation to His people.

I do wonder though, what exactly they expected to see when they would meet the Messiah.  Would He just suddenly appear, without having any background of a birthplace or a family such as Jesus had?  Was the Messiah going to just appear as some super human and lead the nation to victory against their enemies in this world?  We know that is partly what they thought.  What caught them off guard was that Jesus was rather ordinary, being born in Bethlehem and raised as a carpenter’s son in Nazareth.

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And then Jesus elevated Himself high above all other humans by making claims of being equal with God Himself.  In this passage we see a number of ways in which Jesus is equally compared to God the Father.  We see these similar things:

  • God is always at work in the world, and so is the Son (implying supernatural activities)
  • what the Father does, He shows to His Son, and the Son also does the same things
  • the Father and the Son can both raise the dead and give them new life
  • God gives the authority to judge all men into the hands of the Son
  • people will honour the Son just as much as they honour the Father
  • the Son is the source of Life just as the Father is also the source of Life for all people

That is quite a list of qualities that Jesus attributes to Himself.  No wonder that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Him.  They were actually right to challenge Jesus, for no ordinary man could claim these things.  But Jesus was no ordinary man.  Twice Jesus refers to God as “the One who sent Me”.  As people who now live after the Resurrection, we know that Jesus’ claim to be God the Son was validated by Him rising from the dead.

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And it was the will of the Father that caused Jesus to leave Heaven and come down to earth.  He in fact was the awaited Messiah.  And the promise here is that for anyone who will accept Him as the One who is equal with God and who was sent by God the Father, that person is able to come to God by means of Jesus (like walking across a bridge) and will no longer be under the penalty and curse of death, but will receive the gift of eternal life with God forever.

It really is too bad that the Jewish leaders did not have all the information and insight that you and I have today.  So it is easy to criticise them as being so blind that they could not see Jesus for who He really is.  But I wonder if we would have done much better ourselves?  The key thing right now is for us to not miss the point, namely that Jesus really is the One who is equal to God the Father, the Author of Life, and the One who saves us from death and brings us into eternal life.