This week’s sermon is available on podcast. John 6:41-59 is our text. Here are some after thoughts:
As I mention in the sermon, this passage of Scripture is a passage of judgement upon the Jews. This is why he changes the word he uses for “eat” after verse 54. The more specific and earthy phrase is intended to confuse the listeners in the synagogue, and in fact spells out their judgement.
In the Bible, the enemy being eaten was the ultimate symbol of judgement. So, here Jesus speaks to the Jews about eating/chewing on his flesh. The passage has been the source of lengthy conversations regarding the Eucharist (and I agree that the Eucharist context is correct), but it doesn’t have to do with the nature of the elements of present day communion.
Jesus’ declaration identifies him as the “new” Moses: He leads and guides his people like a shepherd; He feed his people like Moses did with Manna – He is the bread from heaven; He teaches his people as the Word, identified by the people as the Prophet in chapter 6. The Jews do not accept this new Moses and now are susceptible to judgement.
The Jews choices here are put into the metaphor of eating the bread of life. Had they believed they would have partaken of the bread of life, the Word that was Jesus. Since they don’t believe, they actually function as the priests who sacrifice the lamb of God in judgement for sin. They judge Jesus (ie eat his flesh). This misunderstanding of the Word and rejection of Christ is their doom.
The book of Revelation picks up this idea in chapter 19. There we see the vision of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In this meal though (also a Eucharist/Passover context), the meal is not the lamb. It is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb but there is a significant difference in Revelation: Jesus is not the meal. His enemies become the meal as seen in Revelation 19:17-18.
So this passage has roots in Numbers 11 and comes to fruition in Revelation 19. The Bible is an amazing book.