Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Taking Away the Flesh and the Blood

From the Gospel of John, chapter 6:52-56, 60-63

"Then the Jews murmured among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Therefore, Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I tell you, if you don’t eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I’ll raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."

. . .

"Then, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you should see the Son of man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is worthless. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life."

Sitting in his tiny apartment in about 1960, Uncle Joe never guessed, as he sat reading the Bible and writing out his thoughts, that in 2008, his writings would answer a question that I had often asked myself when reading the words of Jesus from John 6:62 (above).

I never understood why Jesus all of a sudden changed the subject from eating his flesh and drinking his blood to that of his coming ascension into heaven. That comment seemed to me to be out of place, and there are several scriptures just like that in the Bible. When I read them, I say, “What is that comment doing here?”

But Uncle Joe answered my question about John 6:62 this morning. This is a portion of what he wrote:

"Now we know, and all sensible people will agree, that the wine that Jesus poured and gave to the disciples to drink, and bread that he brake and gave them to eat, was not his natural body nor his natural blood, for his flesh was still on his bones and his blood still ran warm in his veins. And, yet, he tells the Jews in John chapter 6that they must eat [his flesh and drink his blood] or “have no life in you” (verse 53). Since we see that the wine and the bread partaken of by the disciples were not really his flesh and blood, we know that it was symbolic of something else, yet to be given to them.

"In John 6, when Jesus saw that he had offended the Jews by his saying, he said to them, “What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before?” In my understanding, he was saying to them, 'Suppose you see me go away into heaven, taking this flesh and blood with me? What then?'

"Then again we hear his words, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you they are Spirit and they are life” (John 6:63)."

Of course! This is the reason Jesus made that surprise comment in John 6:62 about his return to the Father. Seeing that the Jews were offended because they thought Jesus was teaching that people had to eat his natural flesh and drink his natural blood, he asked them what would they do if he took his natural body away from mankind, and no one could ever possibly eat his flesh and drink his blood? Why, that would mean nobody would ever be saved! In reminding his followers that he would be returning to the Father, Jesus was trying to show them that he was not talking about eating and drinking natural things. That is why he finished by saying, “It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is worthless. The words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.”