I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Summary – One of my favorite New Testament passages. Jesus basically says the same thing repeatedly: eat and drink my flesh and blood and you will live forever. How should we understand this eating and what is the flesh? Is the “eating” a non-literal sort of spiritual partaking of Christ’s “flesh,” i.e. believing in what Jesus did, and getting eternal life? Maybe. Kind of. Is it actually physically “chewing” Christ’s flesh in the form of the Lord’s Supper? Mostly yes. In fact, we could probably put the two together. The former is what happens (i.e. the “thing signified”) and the latter is the outward “sign” of what happens (i.e. the vehicle through which God communicates this reality). Interestingly, too, we here get a typological/biblical theological key to the manna in the desert. The manna, which was a type of Christ’s flesh, while pointing to Christ, falls short of the reality of Christ. This is the reality with all OT typology, and here Jesus shows us how to read types.
Insight – What really happens when you go forward to the Lord’s Table each Sunday? Is it a meaningless game you play to make yourself remember what Jesus did, kind of like tying a string around your finger? Or is it a meaningful way in which what Jesus did is explained and made real to you? When you have a birthday party, you are celebrating that you are another year older. Is the party just a way to remember that? In a way, yes, because you would still be a year older without a party. But the Lord’s Supper is a bit different because Jesus tells us that unless we eat of His body and drink His blood, we have no life in us! It is absolutely necessary. If you lived in the jungle, where days, weeks, and years weren’t counted like they are here, your birthday would be meaningless. Your age would be meaningless. But through a birthday party, the public acknowledgement that you are a year older, that new year is made real. Any time you eat the bread and drink the wine, you are remembering what Jesus did for you. But also remember that God is using that event to continue making your salvation real in your life.
Child Catechism – How does Jesus give you His body to eat? Through the bread and wine of Communion.
Discussion – Jesus said, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” What are the implications in this verse for how often we should take Communion?
Prayer – Father, we acknowledge that Jesus is the True Bread that came down from Heaven. By your Holy Spirit’s work, graciously feed our bodies and souls that we may walk in faith, and live forever with you. In Christ’s mighty name, Amen.