ATP Blog 43
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Communion’? A not-yet-Christian would go back to the original definition, the fellowship and interaction between individuals. Church people would immediately think of The Lord’s Supper, observed either weekly or monthly to remind them of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross to pay for our sins. I think that those of us in the latter group need to be reminded of the fuller definition of the term in the Christian context. Jesus Himself taught this concept in the passage we study today.
Lasting (verses 47-49) What an interesting place to start! Of course when Jesus was on the earth, they didn’t know about ‘The Lord’s Supper’ (as it hadn’t happened yet), nor did they know about a relationship with God, as it hadn’t been made possible yet aside from the sacrifices made at the Temple in Jerusalem. So, when Jesus claimed to be the ‘Bread of Life’ that came from Heaven, they were a little confused! They immediately equated this statement with the bread that was received from God in the desert (not dessert, even though the manna was sweet). Jesus clearly stated that there was a very important contrast between the bread He was talking about, and the manna that their ancestors had received: the lasting quality. The manna in the desert was only good for one day (except on weekends), whereas the Bread that Jesus Christ offered was everlasting … like, forever!
Sustaining (verses 50-51) Normally, we think of ‘bread’ as sustenance, that which we take in to keep us alive. The Israelites, in their wanderings on the way to Canaan, needed something to eat, and God provided it. We need something to sustain us, but Jesus is going beyond the physical to that which is far more important, the matter of the heart, and the spiritual. Eat His bread, and you will have everlasting life! Wow! So many people think about, and try their best to work towards everlasting life. Who doesn’t want to live forever? Well, in our sin-cursed world that could be debated … but the life God is offering us through Jesus Christ is far better.
Flesh (verses 52-54) Now comes the confusing part, which the people listening had trouble understanding. ‘How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?’ Other New Testament writers explain that Christ gave up His body as a sacrifice on our behalf (Ephesians 5:2, 25; Hebrews 10:5-12) in payment for our sins; His body was literally broken, like the bread at the beginning of a meal. He gave up His sin-free physical body to be broken, to give us the life we need in both the physical and spiritual realms! To eat of His body is to intake, by faith, that which He provides, accepting the gift of salvation that God is offering. When we eat of the physical bread, we symbolically take in the ‘bread’ that Christ sacrificed on our behalf. It is more than just remembering! Like baptism, it is both symbolic, and a physical reminder of the transaction where we accept the gift that God paid an extremely high price for us!
Life (verses 55-58) Now we finally get to the most important matter: what is this ‘life’ that we are talking about? So many people want to live longer, or forever, in the physical sense, but this is much bigger! True life is (1) about the relationship we have with our Creator God, and (2) involving all three aspects of our being (body, soul, and spirit). In eternity, when we are with God (or separated from Him), we will have all three in their perfect and eternal form. For now, we have all three, two (body and spirit) infected with decay and sin. Eating of Jesus’ flesh, that is accepting the gift of salvation by His body, we get eternal life through the revitalization of our spirit (we are given a new spirit, or new man – Ephesians 4:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:12-14), and the promise of a new and eternal body at the resurrection (1 Peter 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:21). Let us eat of this bread and receive the eternal life promised!