THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JESUS' FLESH AND BLOOD
John 6:51-56 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this Man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.
In a few verses preceding the lesson text we find the Jews, who surrounded Jesus, heard Him speak of His body being likened to the manna that fed the children of Israel during their wilderness wonderings. Then He said, in His discourse to them, that His body and blood were the source of eternal life. Although some understood His teaching, yet many did not comprehend this analogy. Some murmured at Him, because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven (Vs. 41). To murmur is to complain about or criticize something in a low, barely audible, muttering voice to oneself, or to someone very near to you. These Jews were very critical when Jesus compared Himself to the God-sent manna that sustained the lives of their ancestors. They criticized Him for saying that He came down from heaven (See Vs. 42), when they knew Him as the Son of a carpenter of Nazareth named Joseph, whose wife was Mary.
Jesus asked them this rhetorical question: why do you murmur among yourselves? Jesus was sent by His Heavenly Father to offer the hope of salvation to all mankind. This was not a novel idea of the current generation, but was spoken of by the Jewish prophets for hundreds of years, specifically identifying Jesus as a Nazarene of the lineage of David. The coming of the Messiah should have been known, expected, and looked forward to with much humble anticipation. Professing Himself to be the Christ and the Son of God, Jesus told the multitudes that all men and women that believeth on Me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Those in the wilderness that ate of the God-sent manna are (now) dead, but those that feast on the bread of life offered by Jesus may eat thereof, and not die (See Vss. 43-50). The man or woman that partakes of the living bread, which came down from heaven ...shall live forever. Jesus tells us that this living bread, which is given to the world, is My flesh. In previous verses, Jesus had already told the multitude that the bread of life He offered to the world, contained the power to feed the souls of mankind and preserve them unto eternal life. He had already told them that they could obtain this bread of life only through Him. However, until now, He had not explained what the living bread truly was. Here He tells them, as well as us today, that it is My flesh. The significance of this truth was not fully known then, but we fully realize that His human body of flesh was the atoning sacrifice, which gave the hope of eternal salvation to all men and women of the world, both then, now, and forever.
The Jews were not able to understand this concept at the time Jesus revealed this Christian doctrine. They strove among themselves, that is, there was a general rejection of this tenet among the Jews who took Jesus' words literally. Therefore, they could not comprehend how Jesus could physically give us His flesh to eat. Although God's plan of salvation was not known at this time, Jesus did give them the teaching necessary for them to recognize its significance when it was fully revealed. He told them that except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you, adding that My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. By obedience to this soon-to-be established Christian doctrine, each man or woman will dwell in Christ and He in him or her, and in Him, we live and have the hope of eternal salvation. How, then, do we get in Christ Jesus? Romans 6:3 answers this question: Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Once in Christ, we partake of His body and His blood by communion, a rite Jesus established when He ate the Passover meal with His apostles a few days before His crucifixion. His flesh is represented by the unleavened bread, and His blood by the fruit of the vine. Its significance is remembered by taking these emblems each Lord's Day.