Words of Life

Words of Life

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 10/22/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats 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 he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

                                                                  John 6:55–58 & 66-69 (NASB95)

Chapter 6 of the gospel account of John has been an extended discussion, during the Passover season, on bread versus manna. The crowd that is following Jesus in Galilee is likely from Nazareth, or somewhere nearby, as they seem to know the parents of Jesus. This makes for some interesting conversation, especially when Jesus says, “I am the bread of life, that came down out of heaven.” This crowd is insistent that they get manna, the same food Moses gave their fathers in the desert. However, while their fathers did indeed eat manna, they all died in the desert. Jesus plainly states that the bread He offers is better because it is bread from heaven that gives eternal life for those who eat the bread He offers.  

Things seem to take a darker twist as Jesus says His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink. Of course, the crowd again finds the teachings of Jesus not what they expected. Many in the crowd following Jesus will find this statement to difficult to listen to and withdraw from Jesus, never to walk with Him again. When Jesus turns to the twelve, He chose, they confess they have no one else to turn to, for the twelve believes that Jesus is the Holy One of God who has Words of Life – eternal life.

Jesus speaks Words of Life to those who follow Him, proclaiming His flesh to be true food and His blood true drink. This is the bread come down out of heaven that gives eternal life. However, many withdraw from Jesus, never to walk with Him again. But the twelve have come to believe Jesus is the Hoy One of God.

Jesus makes a bold claim to be the food and drink of eternal life. By eating His flesh and drinking His blood, those who follow Him have eternal live in Him, and He, in turn, lives in them. While some walk away, the twelve know that Jesus speaks Words of Life as the Messiah sent by the Father.

In this message, we seek to answer the question, “How do these Words of Life impact the faith of the Christ follower?”

These Words of Life are true food, true drink, and lead to eternal life in Jesus – the Christ of God.

1). The Words of Life spoken by Jesus, lead to eternal life.

By eating the true food and drinking the true drink, we abide in Christ, and He lives in us.

As we come to this final portion of chapter 6, we find that the crowd has finally had their fill of the teachings of Jesus. It is not that the crowd doesn’t understand what Jesus is saying, they simply cannot listen to it any longer. What is it that the crowd simply cannot listen to any longer? The statement Jesus makes claiming His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink. Did Jesus mean this as a metaphor, or did He mean the disciples had to literally eat his flesh and drink His blood? What exactly does Jesus mean? Jesus said what He said here because nothing else could possibly describe what He was trying to make clear. There was a time when Christians were accused of literally serving human flesh and blood during their meals. But that is not what is going on here.

So, let me ask you, do you think Jesus expected His disciples to understand this statement, and more importantly to accept it? Could it be that Jesus chose this metaphor to make sure that only those who perceived its true meaning and were not afraid of being misunderstood could have the privilege of being His disciples? Was this statement so culturally and religiously unacceptable that only those who could “close their eyes to it” would be expected to remain? As I researched this passage more and more, I became convinced that Jesus expected His disciples to fully understand this statement.

The Jewish Middle Eastern society was much different than our own. They were a much more physical society. What I mean is they fully associated the human body to the person to whom the body belonged. For example, in Psalm 30:9, we read of the psalmist’s thoughts concerning his own death and burial. His thoughts were of his whole self, not just the physical body, going down into the grave. This is because there was no separation of the body and soul in the Middle Eastern society like we have in our own Western society today. We are very much at home with the separation of body and soul, but this was not true during biblical times.

In addition to this, the Bible specifically declared that the life of the flesh is found in the blood. This is why we find that the drinking or eating of blood is strictly forbidden when animal flesh is consumed. This is found in Leviticus 17:10-12. Animal blood was to be symbolically poured over the altar of the Jerusalem Temple to make atonement for the Israelites. Here is the part that sounds especially strange to us in the Western church, the blood was meant for God. It was meant to be consumed by God and God alone. Israel was not alone in this understanding of sacrifice. They offered God food for holy consumption. In the ancient mind, the slaughtered sacrifice was meant to symbolize a life fully dedicated to the deity worshiped, in the case of Israel it is Yahweh.

So, here is what I understand to be happening, Jesus is saying that the tables have been turned. It is now God’s turn to offer to Israel all that He is. Just as Israel offered the sacrifice to symbolize the whole life, so God is offering Israel Himself in the person of the Son. Therefore, when Jesus referred to His body and His blood, He meant the bread and wine should become, in the mind and hearts of His followers, fully associated with the entirety of His life – His person, His teachings, His works, and His commands. Jesus expects to be fully understood and received through ACTIVE PARTICIPATION by faith. It is by faith in Him that His followers partake of salvation, found in Him alone and freely offered to all.

The statement about the body and blood of Jesus is true and nothing else, no other picture, could make it any clearer. His flesh and His blood, meaning Jesus Himself – the whole Jesus – is the only thing that can sustain us, all people, to life everlasting. Jesus clearly says that no one can come to the Father but through Him. This makes it clear that the Pharisees and Sadducees are NOT the gatekeepers to the Father. This is the hard saying that the crowd and the religious leaders have such a hard time with the disciples understood Jesus – they know He is the Holy One of God.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How has your understanding of the body and blood of Jesus changed? How does this impact your faith?

Our bodies are meant to be a holy and living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). How are you using your body as food for God to consume?

How is Jesus acting as gatekeeper to the Father in your life?

These Words of Life are true food, true drink, and lead to eternal life in Jesus – the Christ of God.

2). The Words of Life spoken by Jesus, lead to the Messiah of God.

As we walk with Jesus, we come to believe He is the Messiah – the One with words of eternal life.

As the crowd begins to thin with those who simply cannot continue to listen to the teachings of Jesus, He turns to the twelve and asks them if it causes them to stumble as well. He then gives them an important line of reasoning for those who understood the implications of His teaching concerning His body and His blood. This line of reasoning comes in the form of a question, “What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” The point that Jesus is making to the disciples is this: “What I am saying about myself only makes sense if I am the Son of Man in Daniel’s vision. If you believe that vision, then what I am saying should also be believable.” Jesus is talking about the vision of Daniel 7:13-14 where Jesus is presented before God and given the eternal kingdom at the end of the ages.

The teachings of Jesus are beginning to crystalize, His message is becoming clearer. Jesus is confronting the Jerusalem Temple leadership, its power structure and following, but it is also clear that Jesus will not win a popularity contest in Judea. Many are said to withdraw from Jesus, but there are also those who remain with Him. This is reflected in the statement by the disciple, “Lord, to whom shall we go. You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”  I think it is clear here that coming to Jesus and staying with Jesus are connected. You cannot truly come to Jesus and then leave. Our faith is not a revolving door; thus, the opposite must also be true. If people come to Jesus and then leave Him, they had not truly come to Him in the first place, they have not come to Him as the Giver of Life, they have not come to Him as the Sustainer of Life, they have not tasted Him and have not fed on Him.  

How can we understand this? How can people who have seen the goodness and glory of God turn away from Him? The prophets of the Bible divided the world into three categories: 1) those outside the covenant; 2) those inside the covenant and keeping it; 3) those inside the covenant and not keeping it. Has this really changed all that much today. Are there not those outside of the church? Are there not those inside the church and keeping the true faith? Are there not those inside the church and not keeping the true faith? Those who remain with Jesus in the true faith are those the prophets call the faithful remnant of Israel. However even those who remain with Jesus will soon fail. Peter is our example from the disciples, the one who says to Jesus to whom shall we go, will also be the one to say I am not, when asked if he is with Jesus at His crucifixion.

At the cross the faithful remnant of Israel was reduced to one – Jesus Himself would remain faithful to the covenant of God. He alone, the Messiah sent by God, would be the One on which the foundation of the new covenant would be built – the New Covenant and the New Jerusalem – the eternal dwelling place of the redeemed. It is upon Jesus alone that God would begin the rebuilding and restoration of His people Israel, drawing them and all the nations of the world to Himself.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What Words of Life are you hearing from Jesus during this season of life?

Now that you have come to Jesus, what is keeping you with Jesus?

How is God rebuilding and restoring you in Christ?

These Words of Life are true food, true drink, and lead to eternal life in Jesus – the Christ of God.

We must be ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS in faith – faith in Jesus as the Messiah sent by God. The blood of Christ has been poured out over the altar as the sacrifice for your sin – past, present, and future. Unlike the animal blood that was sacrificed regularly in the temple, the blood of Christ has been poured out once for all, you are cleansed and redeemed with this pouring out. The body of Christ was broken and given for you as food for God to consume – it is the life fully devoted to God and the covenant He has made with His people. In the present, this sacrifice must become, in your heart and in your mind, the true food and true drink of salvation.

You must also understand that you WILL STUMBLE – it happens, but nothing that causes you to stumble should cause you to leave Jesus. Coming to and staying with Jesus is what we do in this faith of ours. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of Man, then you must believe He has the power and the willingness to forgive the sins of those who truly repent and turn to Him. You must believe He is the Holy One – the Messiah sent by God. Through faith in Christ, we have access to the Father, for Christ Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father; He is the ONLY means for salvation, freely offered to all.

We are to be ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS as the remnant of Israel – keeping the true faith in Christ. We must be willing to be misunderstood, dislikes, persecuted and even hated for keeping the true faith as outlined in the examples and teachings of Jesus and the twelve – not according to traditional teachings or church doctrine and tradition – especially when they are at odds with the teachings of Christ Jesus – the Messiah sent by God.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 7:1-10

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