The Bread That Lasts Forever

Finally! After 37 weeks separated by the ‘Rona, we were able to meet face-to-face. Or should I say, mask-to-mask?

Still, it was a delight to see (nearly) everyone in person. Christians are ‘social creatures,’ designed by God to connect, and connect regularly, with each other. That’s one of the reasons why the book of Hebrews warns us to not neglect meeting together [see Heb 10:23-25]. It’s just not good for our (spiritual) health.

It was a joy to join together with precious brothers and sisters-in-Christ to sing the praises of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Few things in this life can beat the sound of voices – and hearts – raised to exalt Him.

We finished off the meeting with Communion, which we also haven’t celebrated together since March. John – in an excellent presentation – reminded us of the ‘once-for-all’ nature of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; an offering never to be repeated, because it never needs to be repeated. Christ’s offering is sufficient and effective for all who would receive it, for all time.

It was fitting to end with the bread and the cup, because our text for the day was the one in John 6 where Jesus talks about the necessity of “eating His flesh and drinking His blood.”

Strange language, graphic and gruesome language. This language was the reason the early Christians were sometimes accused of cannibalism.

What in the world would move Jesus to use such disturbing language?

Interestingly, Jesus didn’t start out the discussion talking like that. But, as His hearers become less receptive to what Jesus what He was saying, He seems to make it more difficult to accept. Strange way Jesus has with words, sometimes…

It wasn’t entirely out of the blue though. It was the implication that flowed out of the feeding of the multitude yesterday, and the demand to provide manna to feed them today. And it was the consequence of His claim to be the True Bread that the manna only represented.

Now, Jesus had made fairly clear earlier what He expected them to do with His claim. They were to “believe in the One the Father has sent” [Jn 6:29] if they would have eternal life [John 6:47]. He meant, of course, to believe in Himself.

They were to “come to Him” to have their hunger and thirst satisfied – forever [Jn 6:35]. But as always, they were only thinking about how to get their physical needs met. They were too smugly confident in their spiritual ‘rightness with God’ to understand their desperate need and their dire situation.

So Jesus uses graphic language to shock them out of their complacency and dullness. And shock them it did. For by the end of the chapter, they’ve all abandoned Jesus, except the 12.

Jesus, sometimes You have a unique way of evangelising people…

So what did He really mean? He meant that we have to recognise our deep spiritual hunger, and come to Him in faith to ‘feed on Him.’ And the primary way of feeding on Him is to get His word – the Bible – into us. To read it, to sing it, to meditate on it, to sit under the preaching of it, to study it, to discuss it – to love it.

For “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” [Matt 4:4].

Like any food, it is not enough just to know about it, to see it spread out on a table. Unless you eat it, it will benefit you nothing. It won’t matter that your parents were good eaters, or that your spouse has a healthy appetite. Unless you eat, you will die.

So it is with the word of God. Each of us must eat for himself, or for herself. Sometimes that food seems hard to digest, even unpalatable. But we can be assured that it will nourish us just the same, even if we can’t see how.

For Jesus Himself promised that it would. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” [John 6:54]. And “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” [John 6:56].

Eternal life, abiding in Him, being raised up in the final resurrection – all promises that He guarantees to those who would come to Him for nourishment, for sustenance. He promises it to all who would put their trust in Him. Have you done that? Will you do that? I promise – on the authority of His words – you won’t regret it.

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