Year B – Proper 16 – John 6:56-69


“Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.  Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died.  But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”  He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.  When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?  But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you?  Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  But among you there are some who do not believe.”  For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.  And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”  Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.  So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve?  Yet one of you is a devil.”  He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

Summary – Jesus continues his discourse on the necessity of partaking His body and blood.  Here we see good evidence for the Reformed doctrine, articulated so valiantly by Ursinus in the Heidelberg Catechism, of the “Real Presence” (or “spiritual presence”) of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.  In the first place, those who partake of His body and blood (I am taking it for granted that He means the Supper) “abide in Christ.”  Secondly, in the same way Christ lived on Earth because of the Father, those who eats of Christ will live eternally because of Him (vss 57-58).  Participation in the Supper imparts life to the participants.  Thirdly, however, it is not physically Jesus’ body which has ascended to heaven that joins to the bread and wine in the Supper (vs 62), but rather the spirit gives the life (vs 63).  Though grace is given through the sacrament, the bread and wine merely signify the reality of grace and salvation accomplished by Christ and applied to believers.  Jesus goes on to point out that some among the crowds don’t believe and that belief is granted by the Father, which turned some away.  The disciples, however, truly believe, realizing that these words just spoken about the true Bread from Heaven are the words of eternal life (vs 68).

Insight – The very fact that you believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God, the promised Messiah, Son of Man and Son of God, is a gift.  No one can believe that, unless the Father gives it.  How often do you thank God for allowing you to believe in His Son?  Jesus’ words are THE words of eternal life.  When we stand on this truth, we can be confident when we talk to people who don’t believe in Jesus.  Instead of trying to convince them with clever arguments, we must rest on the truth of His Word, trusting Him to grant belief to these people as He wills.

 Child Catechism – What are the words of Jesus Christ?  Eternal life.

Discussion – Jesus teaches here that eating and drinking of Him gives eternal life.  Can you just eat the bread and drink the wine at Communion and be saved?  How does Simon Peter’s acknowledgement in verses 68-69 relate to this question?  What then is the proper mindset to have when taking Communion?

Prayer –  Loving Father, you have poured your mercy on us by sending us true Heavenly Bread, your Son.  Grant to us that, eating of Christ by faith, we might attain that eternal life you have promised.  Through your Spirit, who gives life, Amen.

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