Except a man eat my flesh and drink my blood, he has no life in him (John 6:53).
How can this man give us His flesh to eat? So wondered the crowd, and so we wonder, even when we know that Christ is referring to Himself in a spiritual sense (My Words are Spirit and Life…the flesh profits nothing). So what is meant by this strange command? How may we apply it to our Christian life?
It is actually not as mysterious or enigmatic as it sounds. Let us say at once that what man needs is more than healing of the body, or restoring of the soul. He needs the impartation of Life into his spirit, his inner man. In order to abide in the Living Christ one must be alive in spirit. This presence of Life in the inner man is absolutely essential. We need more than a touch from God; we must have God Himself. There is an ocean of difference between receiving the blessing and receiving the One Who blesses; between getting a touch and receiving the One Who touches; between healing and the Healer; between redemption and Redeemer; between salvation and Savior. The former deals with what God has or can do, while the latter deals with God Himself.
For too long we have contented ourselves with what God can do for us and what He can give us. We come the Lord with a need in mind, and the next day we approach with another need, and the following day we return with yet another request. This pattern repeats itself continually. We return again and again to withdraw a little more from the heavenly bank. Surely we should let our requests be made known unto God, and we must also ask, that we may receive. But think: if a man owns a field, does he not also possess the buried treasure in the field? Christ even gave us a parable to this effect. Does it not stand to reason then, that if we receive HIM, we possess all He has? How shall He not, with His Son, freely give us all things?
So when we turn to the matter of His Life in us, it is important that we grasp Christ for Christs sake, and not look on Eternal Life as a separate thing Christ gives to those who ask. Christ is Our Life. We do not call upon a friend and say, I would like to speak to your emotion for a few minutes, but later I want to address your intellect. Later I hope to commune with your heart for a bit, and maybe then our bodies can go out to eat dinner while our souls remain here and read a book together. How absurd to even consider it, for we do not divide people into parts and relate to them as separate things. We relate to others holisticly, and even though we can clearly identify the parts we would never dream of isolating one part of a persons life and trying to separate it from who they are.
In like manner we must begin to see that Christ is Life, the sum total of many parts which equal His Being. The individual parts are what we usually seek – a little life for the dying, some health for the sick, a word of wisdom for the ignorant, a dose of guidance for the confused, a shot of patience for the impatient, a wave of joy for the depressed. We ask for, and receive, a thousand and one little pieces of Christ and think this is Christianity. This is not Christianity.
If we would realize that God only has one Gift, that is, His Son Jesus Christ, it would save us a lot of unnecessary heartache and effort. Would it shock you to learn that God has not given us a thing called eternal life? The Apostle John made this quite clear in his inspired writings, saying first of all, in the oft quoted John 3:16, that the Son is that which was given, and eternal life is simply the reward for those who receive the Son. It becomes even more apparant in the First Epistle of John, and one of my favorite passages of Scripture: This is the record, that God hath given us Eternal Life, and this Life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath Life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not Life. Yes we are given Eternal Life, true, but the Life is not floating out in space somewhere waiting to fall on those who ask. Eternal Life has nothing to do with everlasting existence. Eternal Life is a Person; the Life is the Son; hence, we need only ask if we have received Jesus and we shall know whether we have Eternal Life. The Life is bound up in the Son, as is every one of Gods precious gifts. Having the Son, we therefore have all the Son has. Eternal Life is simply an alias for Christ.
Now the Scripture concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood becomes clear. Jesus had just multiplied the bread and the crowd was thrilled. Give us to eat of this bread evermore, they said. Please hear what I am saying. It is good to be fed, to have the bread and fish multiplied before your eyes, and to take up the basketfuls that remain. This was indeed a miracle. But the things Christ gives you and does for you will never satisfy you. Only He alone can satisfy. They ate of the loaves, and were filled, yes. For a time. After a little while the hunger came back again, the stomachs began to growl, and they had to seek Christ for bread all over again. This pattern would fain repeat itself for ages. So Christ offered them more than another meal; He offered Himself as the final solution and fullfilment of all they hungered for.
The simple, beautiful truth of this passage is that we must receive Christ into ourselves, digesting Him so to speak, and thus uniting with Him. For he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Obviously the physical Christ could not be received, as the crowd pointed out. How then do we receive Christ? May I say it reverently? The Holy Spirit is Christ in a receivable form. The physical Christ can multiply the loaves and fill our stomachs; but the Spiritual Christ can satisfy us with His Presence. This is why He said, It is expedient for you that I go away… but I will come again. We look forward to His Second Coming, and the Rapture of the Church, but there is an immediate sense to which He refers to as well: that is, His coming to us in the form of the Holy Spirit. As a Man we could only behold Him, as Holy Spirit we may receive Him; as a Man He could give us to eat; as Spirit He becomes our food and drink, our life and sustanence.