Bible verse and the Spirit of Prophecy insight
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. 52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ is to receive Him as a personal Saviour, believing that He forgives our sins, and that we are complete in Him. It is by beholding His love, by dwelling upon it, by drinking it in, that we are to become partakers of His nature. What food is to the body, Christ must be to the soul. Food cannot benefit us unless we eat it, unless it becomes a part of our being. So Christ is of no value to us if we do not know Him as a personal Saviour. A theoretical knowledge will do us no good. We must feed upon Him, receive Him into the heart, so that His life becomes our life. His love, His grace, must be assimilated.Ellen G. White – Desire of Ages p.389.3
Present day application
This might sound absurd to you (it does to me), but according to second-century Christian apologists Justin Martyr and Athenagoras, early Christians were often accused of promoting cannibalism! To the unconverted minds, the ceremony of the Passover meal as established by Christ and combined with His words in John 6, might sound very strange indeed. It is hard to imagine why some people took it as far as they did. Perhaps because of the already existing pagan religious practices such as ritual sex with temple prostitutes, or the burning of babies as sacrifice to the gods… And if that makes you think: “thank God those days are long gone”, think again. Even nowadays people kill people so they can use their body parts as a sacrifice to ‘the spirits’.
What does eating His flesh and drinking His blood actually mean then? And how does it give us life eternal? If it was easy to explain, the apostle Paul would not be calling it a mystery. There are two very interesting, although completely opposite, mysteries in the Bible: mystery of godliness and mystery of iniquity. In short, the mystery of godliness is about a transformation of a sinful human being into a one that is fit for Heaven. Whilst the mystery of iniquity is the equally unthinkable transformation of a perfect unfallen being (namely Lucifer) into a most depraved creature in the universe.
Christians are born of the spirit, same as Jesus was. Every creature born of the flesh has to eat food to grow. A creature that is born of the spirit has to eat too. Only difference is the type of food. We eat physical food to survive, and we must eat spiritual food for the same reason. Only difference is that physical food sustains us only in our fallen state, whilst partaking in the spiritual meals gives us life everlasting. Jesus referred to this many times. Even before He came to us in the flesh, He gave us a lot of symbols relating to this. Think about Manna – the bread from Heaven that God gave to the Israelites in the wilderness. Think about the place of Jesus’s birth – Bethlehem, which translates into ‘a House of Bread’. Jesus told us He was that bread from Heaven, and whoever eats that bread will have everlasting life.
Once you are born a again and you continue to feed yourself with spiritual food, then Christ is formed in you. This process is also called sanctification. By getting to know Jesus we become more like Him. He becomes present in our thoughts and visible in our actions. Our physical growth depends on our physical food, whilst our spiritual growth on our spiritual food. The symbolism can go in many directions from here. For example: If you eat too much but do not use up that energy, it will be converted into fat… Perhaps that is a story for another episode 🙂
PS: Have you visited the heavenly bakery today?
Image courtesy of Brooklyn Museum