Many of the teachings of Christ that are recorded in the Gospel records were tough for many of the Jewish leaders and also for many of the normal Jews to understand. Jesus was so beyond Man’s thinking of who this Messiah was supposed to be, so beyond the systems and traditions that they tried so desperately to cage Him up in, that they simply couldn’t believe, or receive, many of the words that came out of His mouth.
Many times they tried to trick Him into saying something to accuse Him with. But they failed. They asked Him questions that should have baffled a normal man, but not Him. He had an answer to every question. He was able to cut directly to the heart of each matter and look beyond the outer appearance to the inner workings of each man’s soul. Now, whether they were able to receive and believe it or not was completely up to them.
There is one specific teaching that was recorded in John’s Gospel that caused Him to lose many of His followers. I personally believe it was one of the hardest teachings that was ever presented by Him while on earth. And I also think this is still one of the hardest teachings for many people–even for many believers.
It’s not that they necessarily deny this teaching, for say. But more they fail to recognize its practical, and greatly vital importance. Comprehending this teaching, spiritually, not just intellectually, in my opinion, can drastically alter our walk with Him. This specific teaching can revolutionize our relationship with Jesus Christ.
I know this by experience.
A Parallel of Today from John 6:26-59
In this passage, Jesus had just performed an astonishing miracle–He provided bread from Heaven for 5,000 people. After which the people went in search for Him in Capernaum–across the lake. Upon arriving on the other side of the lake, Jesus confronts them as to why they are following Him:
“I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” (John 6:26)
He was essentially saying, “You have come not because you saw some awesome things such as miracles, but because you are hungry.” He then proceeds to tell them not to work for food that spoils, but to work for the food that He will give that will endure to eternal life (6:27).
These people were hungry, not only physically hungry, but more so spiritually hungry. They were dying of spiritual starvation and Jesus saw this quite clearly. The bread from Heaven was just a shadow or a figure of what He was really about to show them. He then tells them that He is the Bread of Life and the works of the Father are to “believe in the One He has sent”.
He tells them,
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you…For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in Him.” (John 6:53, 55-56)
This holds within it a powerful truth for us today: when the people are starving spiritually, Jesus doesn’t offer them a method or a set of steps to a deeper spiritual life, He offers His flesh as food and His blood as drink.
This means so much more than atonement only. For a long time I considered this passage something that had already been fulfilled when He died on the cross. I thought He was speaking only of the atonement and washing away of my sins and the sins of the world. But again, Jesus Christ is much deeper than that!
Our atonement and forgiveness has indeed already been fulfilled. But there is part of this teaching that hasn’t quite been fulfilled in a sense–because it’s a day-to-day practice. It is that of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus Christ.
After Jesus had presented this teaching of eating His flesh, many of disciples deserted Him. They said themselves, “This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?” and, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
I think the same thing, in essence, happens today.
Many of the sons and daughters of God are able to accept the fact that their forgiveness and washing away of sins has been completely fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the cross. Though many still have a guilt complex, they still are aware of this fact. But when it comes to daily partaking and eating of Christ, many falter. They will sit and listen all day to how our sins are forgiven, how the blood of Christ covers all sins, and how He was the sacrificial Lamb. They will even sit and study the teachings of Christ laid out in the Gospels as though they can perform such demands themselves. But once mention is made of feasting upon Christ, many simply can’t understand. So, like the Jews in John 6, they begin to grumble amongst themselves with words such as, “That New Age stuff is so weird.” or, “That’s way over my head, he is being so philosophical.”
But they remain in a state of spiritual starvation. Many admit to this fact.
Partaking and eating of Christ isn’t in the literal sense of the phrase–this is how the Jews took it upon hearing Christ speak of it. No, it’s a daily, spiritual partaking.
All that we need for our fulfillment in all things spiritual is found in Christ. For, “in Him [Christ] all the fullness of Deity lives in bodily form.” All the fullness of God is in Christ and “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” too. These things do not dwell in the teachings of Christ, in the miracles of Christ, in the healings of Christ, in the actions of Christ, or in the commandments of Christ. These are parts of a greater picture. No, all the fullness of God is in Christ! Nowhere else are such things to be found.
So we can meet all our needs, physically and spiritually by partaking of Christ alone. We need not concern ourselves with fully understand the teachings of Jesus, the commandments of Jesus, or even the doctrine of Jesus. These are all side-notes, outlets of expression–they are not the main prize; though many have them the main attraction.
So what will you say when Jesus says to you, “Eat My flesh and drink My blood?” Will you then ask for a miracle? Will you then ask that He tell you the Greek word for “flesh”? Will you then grumble and say, “This teaching is too hard, how can I accept it?” Or will you be like Peter and say, “To whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life!”