Summary: This message is the fourth in a series that deals with some of the difficult sayings of Jesus. This message examines the meaning behind Jesus saying to eat His flesh and drink His blood.
The majority of us are grossed out by what this statement suggests. These are the actions that are usually confined to a horror movie. Cannibals eat flesh and vampires drink blood. These are not things that normal people do. If Jesus is meaning this literally, we would all say, “That’s a little bit too far out there for me.” Those of us who have grown up in the church have an advantage over those who have not. We understand the symbolic nature of this saying because we know to look back and see what would unfold later on. However, do those on the outside of the church understand the symbolic nature of those words?” Our text and other historical documents seem to suggest that those in Jesus’ day didn’t. In fact, during the first and second centuries Christians were viewed as a peculiar people with very strange worship rituals. The main rumor that was spreading throughout the Roman Empire was that Christians were participating in cannibalism during their worship gatherings. This was fueled by the fact that Christians met in secret due to the extreme persecution they were facing. I admit that we have less difficulty with this saying then Jesus’ first century listeners had. But I have to wonder do we fully understand the significance of this saying? Do we really understand the implications of what Jesus is saying? Do we really take it to heart? Today we are going to try to accomplish two things as we examine this text. First gain a better understanding of this saying and second try to understand how this would be difficult for someone outside of the church to understand.
I. A saying that goes against all the cultural norms of Jesus’ day.
A. The crowd could not believe that Jesus was actually making this statement.
1. The Jews had many forbidden foods. In fact God gave the people explicit instructions not to eat anything with blood still in it.
2. Cannibalism was a practice that was seen as gross and immoral throughout the entire Greco-Roman world.
3. It is understandable why there was a lot of confusion in the crowd in regard to this teaching.
4. What Jesus is suggesting in a literal sense is not only taboo but against the law.
5. The people begin arguing among themselves in regard to exactly what Jesus means.
6. The Greek word that is translated argue is machomai which means to participate in a heated exchange.
B. The disciples completely missed what Jesus was trying to communicate.
1. The disciples are going to struggle with this teaching on the basis of their Jewish heritage. So it’s little wonder that this begins to thin the ranks of those following Jesus.
2. We need to remember that this teaching takes place shortly after Jesus fed the 5,000 plus people.
3. God stressed the value of a human life in the Law. In fact, human sacrifice was one of the things God pointed out as being detestable as He was warning the Israelites about the pagan religions in the land of Canaan.
4. Jesus’ opponents and many others just could not comprehend what Jesus was saying. Not only did they view this statement as improper but as impossible.