When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” John 6:60-65
There are some verses that I would just as soon not write about. Yesterday’s were some of those. When Jesus talks about eating His flesh and drinking His blood that is just a little weird, ok, it is a lot weird. In fact enemies of the early church spread rumors that Christians were cannibals. They could use Jesus’ own words in their support. In today’s verses we see a great number of Jesus’ followers felt what He had said was so hard to follow they up and left. In fact everyone left except for the twelve.
So what do I do when I come to a verse or verses that sound so far out in left field that I want to ignore them? First thing I do when trying to understand any verse is use something one of my Sunday school teachers taught me a few years back. I am not sure who said this first, but he told us that when plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense. If you follow this advice you will not go down rabbit trails seeking some hidden meaning, God knows our limitations so He speaks plainly to us. Now what if a verse still makes no sense to me? Then I look at verses around the confusing verse. If I am still confused I look at the entire book and then the entire Bible.
Now with yesterday’s verses I knew Jesus really did not mean for us to eat His actual flesh, after all there was only so much to go around. Two thousand years later we would be out of luck. So it had to be symbolic. When we look to what Jesus said at the Last Supper we see once again He uses His body as a symbol when he distributes the bread and wine. So why did Jesus make such an outlandish statement that we should eat His flesh and drink His blood? I think He did it to shock the Jewish people out of their complacency. They were in a religious rut, one that was almost two thousand years in the making.
There is a program on the History Channel called “American Restoration” that I love to watch. In it they restore all things old to like new. On many of the items they have nuts rusted to the bolts and no amount of strength can budge them. In order not to break the bolts they take a blowtorch to them and once heated the nuts come right off. I think Jesus used His words as a blowtorch to get the Jewish people unstuck from their traditions and customs. Jesus was bringing a new way of thinking about God and blazing a new way to God. But first He had to get their attention. He wanted them to totally immerse themselves in His words. To consume them if you will and make His words a part of themselves. And it was not like Jesus said these things out of the blue. He had been teaching them for days. We do not know everything Jesus said to this particular crowd but I can guess that when He said we should eat His flesh and drink His blood it was in the context of these teachings over the past few days.
We always need to interpret what Jesus taught in context of all His words not just the ones that suit our purpose. God cannot contradict Himself and His words do not contradict. If you think so you need to go back to the source and look at the contradiction in context of all of God’s Word.
Have a blessed day,