Summary: An examination of a difficult passage in John 6 where Jesus floors the crowd with his declaration that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to receive eternal life. Appropriate for use prior to Lord's Supper.
Wisdom or Nonsense?
47“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48Yes, I am the bread of life! 49Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”
52Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.
53So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. 58I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”
61Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? 63The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 65Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”
66At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”
68Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.j”
70Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” 71He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.
In Chapters 1 – 6 of John’s gospel, we see Jesus gaining in popularity…
- It is recorded that Jesus changed water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This is his first recorded public miracle.
- It is recorded that he taught a paralyzed man how to walk for the first time in 38 years.
- It is recorded that Jesus fed at least 5000 people, utilizing only two pieces of fish and five loaves of bread.
- It is recorded that Jesus walked on water.
Each miracle that Jesus performed seemed to be more extraordinary than the last.
Certainly, no one had seen anything like this man. And people were responding…
- The Pharisees set themselves up in opposition to Jesus at every turn. Yet even among the Pharisees there were those who responded to Jesus – such as Nicodemus, a leader among the Pharisees. Jesus was bridging the philosophical divide.
- Samaritans, a mixed race with Jewish blood, were looked down upon by the Jews. Yet Jesus had a confrontation with a Samaritan woman that left her changed for life. He was crossing racial divides.
- Jesus healed a political leader’s dying son. This leader was a gentile – he had no ties to the Jewish religion. He probably was brought up worshiping the pantheon of Greek gods. But through the healing of this man’s son, Jesus was reaching out to the gentiles.
People from every race, philosophy, and religion were responding to Jesus.
As Jesus grew more and more popular, the Jewish leaders became more and more anxious.
They were upset when Jesus came in and cleared the moneychangers out of the Temple. And when Jesus healed the paralyzed man on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders felt certain that they had caught him sin.
How did Jesus respond? “My Father is always working – so I also must always be working!”
With that statement, Jesus was declaring himself to be equal with God. The Jewish leaders were furious.
And the crowd loved him. And they became more and more demanding. It wasn’t enough for them to see a miracle here and there.