- Rev. James Sanders
HAVE YOU EATEN YOUR LAST MEAL OR ARE YOU STILL HUNGRY?
John 6:52 – 58
In time past when people received capital punishment for their crimes, on the day of their execution. They were given the opportunity to choose their last meal. It could be anything of their choosing. The cost was of no consequence. There was no limitation to the amount. The finest quiescence would be prepared.
Apparently, this meal was to be their last delight on the earth, or it was to last them throughout eternity, but little did they realized that the moment they took their last breath the purpose of that meal would end. If they died before the meal was digested, they would not have gotten the full benefit on earth.
Jesus however offers himself not just as a temporary meal for this life but one that will suffice throughout eternity. He says in verse 58, “He that eats of this bread shall live forever.”
The question that perplexed the Jewish audience was not of the duration of the provision but that of the possibility of the partaking of the meal. They said, “How shall this man give us his flesh to eat.” This misunderstanding was common to Jesus teaching because they were so often thinking of the physical when he was talking spiritually.
He uses the analogy of the manna provided for their fathers in the wilderness. He says in verse 49, “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead.” They thought that their fathers had received bread from heaven (vs. 31), because it appeared in the dew of the night and evaporated with the rising sun but Jesus let them know that this bread was a product made from the earthly realm and not the heavenly realm because it could not keep them alive forever. They were not supposed to trust in the Manna but in the one that provided the Manna.
The teaching of Christ as the Bread of Life is the first of the “I AM” saying of Christ used in John’s Gospel. He began with the miracles of feeding five thousand men plus women and children with only five barley loaves and two fishes. This miracle purposed to prove that Christ was the Sustenance of Life. His question to Phillip in verse 5, “Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” was his attempt to lead him to the place of trusting in him for this provision. Then in verse 35 He states that “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.” He expresses it as the Bread that will satisfy hunger and thirst forever. In verses 36 – 40 that he is the “Bread of Life that God sent from heaven;" then in verses 41 – 47 that He is the Bread of Life that the Father has entrusted the preservation of mankind; and in verses 48 – 52, He is that Bread of Life that mankind can trust with their preservation.
When we come to verse 53, he is not just showing that he is the Sustainer of life but that is also the Satisfier of life. In verses 53 – 58 he reveals to those who have believed in him that they are to learn how to be delighted with him. They must make a conscious mental and spiritual effort to partake of his provision through the conscious partaking of his sacrifice. Some have attempted to make this analogy as that of the Lord Supper, but the context does not embrace that teaching.
John the writer changes the word for eating in this passage that is different form the one he used previously in verses 5, 26, 31, 50, and 53. In verse 54 John uses a word which refers not just to how you eat but why you are eating. Matthew uses this word in 24:38 when he describes the attitude of those living in Noah’s day before the flood. “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” These words describe people who are consumed with their lives without any thought or consequence or recognition of God. They are consumed with the activity without concern for consequence.
Jesus is saying here that those who have partaken of him in faith, must now rely upon him with the conscious mental assent of allowing him to sustain them throughout their existence upon the earth. They must see him as the last meal they will ever need. They must deliberately seek to draw from the provision purchased by the sacrifice of his life for them. The New Testament writers were persistence in reminded us to draw upon the inner man and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. One familiar verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me” Philippians 4:13.
There are four principles thought taught by these verses...
1. They must partake of His Sacrifice for the hope of life, vs. 53. “Except ye eat . . . Ye have no life.”
2. They must partake of His sacrifice until hope become reality, vss. 54 , 55.“For my flesh is really meat, and my blood is really drink.
3. They must partake of His sacrifice until the indwelling of Christ is realized, vss. 56, 57.“He that is eating me, shall live by me.”
4. They must partake of His sacrifice until the existence of eternity is realized, vs. 58.“The ones eating this bread is living forever.”
The men who ate their last meal on the day of their execution lost the benefit of that meal by their sudden death. There are some who partake of the Sacrifice of Christ and the benefits of that sacrifice is short live for they forget to consciously seek him and the strength of that provision as their total provision for all that is needed to perform and produce the will of God in their lives, but seek to draw upon some other foreign substance to produce spiritual results.
Jesus is the Sustenance of God from heaven both for life in the flesh and the Spirit and you cannot get one without the other.