Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. - John 6:53–58 MESSAGE
Jesus offended a lot of people when he talked about his flesh and his blood, when he told him that his flesh was real food and his blood was real drink. Ultimately, he was talking – as he did in so many other places – about abiding in him. He was talking about connecting so closely and so intimately with him that our lives naturally flow from and reflect him. The apostle Paul used phrases like, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” (Gal 2:20) and, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come,” (2 Cor. 5:17) to convey the depth of abiding that is necessary for us to live as the people God intended us to be.
“Eat my flesh and drink my blood.” That, Jesus said, is the way to think about your faith in him; devour him, take him in, let him be the source of a whole new life, the sustenance for which we have been starved. The words he spoke were offensive to those who heard them. If we are honest, they are to us as well. When he spoke these words, most of the people who heard them walked away; his words the breaking point that caused them to leave. They still cause people to leave today.
But those who left missed out on real life. They did not want to be challenged, they did not want to reprioritize their lives, so they got booked down on the semantics and used that as an excuse to walk away. Many today do the same thing, “I love you I love you I love you, but don’t ask me to go to Africa.” “I worship you, but don’t ask me to change ethics about sex, business, culture, money.” The reality, however, is that Jesus does ask us to change our ethics; he asks to change all of us. Sometimes we feel pushed to far and we leave.
The crowds in John 9 felt they were pushed too far, and they all left him; except the 12 – whose lives were changed, and who changed the world. As we take him at his word, as we “eat his flesh and drink his blood,” as die to ourselves and become alive to him, we too are changed. This change is the first step to an awakening where an entire community changes -- the way they drive, finances, how they live, they become different. (Acts 2).
The world is longing for something different, as followers of Jesus we are lounging for something different as well. Jesus did not come to simply make our lives better, but to completely transform them. It takes submission to him, even to what seems to us offensive. The result? He promises us peace, joy, contentment, love, and fulfillment – lives not wasted, a community with the power to bring about healing to both a world and a church looking for something different.
I want a to be a part of that, don’t you?
Peace, hope and love