Flesh and Blood

Sunday, March 22, 2015, 10:56 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Living Water.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 6:22-71 (selected ESV).

Is Believing (v. 35)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…”

Young’s Literal Translation of v. 35 renders: “And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of the life; he who is coming unto me may not hunger, and he who is believing in me may not thirst -- at any time.” I am no Greek student, so I have to rely upon Bible study helps, but from what I understand of Greek, they have a verb tense in Greek we do not have in English. It translates to meaning a continuous action, such as “is coming,” and “is believing,” rather than “comes” and “believes,” which can sound like one-time events. So, what does this mean, and is it supported by other scriptures? What it means is that believing in Jesus Christ is not a one-time decision we make at an altar and “bam” we have our ticket into heaven and no one can ever take it away from us, not even ourselves.

One of the most misquoted scriptures I know is John 10:28-29 where it speaks of no one being able to snatch Jesus’ sheep out of his or the Father’s hands. In context, Jesus was speaking to unbelieving Jews. He told them that they did not believe him, because they were not his sheep. Then he gave a description of his sheep (v. 27): “My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me.” To listen is not merely to listen with our physical ears, but it means to pay attention and to be attentive, and it can involve following or heeding what is said. To follow means to obey. No one will do this perfectly all the time, but the Lord’s sheep should be characterized as those who generally and consistently are ones who are actively listening for and to his voice, and who make it a practice of their lives to do what he says. This involves continuous action on the part of the ones listening and following. These are they who are not able to be snatched out of the Lord’s hands.

So, is this supported by other New Testament passages? Yes. Evidently John 3:16 uses the same Greek word translated as “believing” instead of “believes” to describe those who will not perish but will have everlasting life. There are actually many such scriptures in the New Testament, which some people ignore or try to explain away, which clearly state that true belief is continuous belief, which goes along with what scripture teaches concerning our salvation, i.e. that we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved when Christ returns. In other words, we can’t pray some prayer at an altar and get our “get-out-of-jail free card” and guarantee of heaven when we die if we don’t continue in that faith, and if we go back to living according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25).

The Bread of Life (vv. 41-44, 51)

So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day… I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Bread is something which we eat, and we eat to sustain life. To eat means to take in, chew (consider) and swallow (accept). It also means to partake, which means to participate in, join in and experience something along with others, i.e. to be involved. So, to eat of this Bread of Life from heaven, we must trust in Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior, we must continue in him, and we must participate in the life he now has for us. Jesus is also the living Word. We need him as our source of life, not only as our creator who gave us physical life, but as our Savior who has given us new (spiritual) life (new birth) via his death on the cross for our sins. The Word is also the written word, i.e. the scriptures, which are God-breathed. We need to be in the Word – Jesus and the written word – and have his word abiding in us, not just in listening to it (to him), but in doing what it (he) tells us to do.

Yet, we cannot do this of our own accord. The Father must first draw us to Jesus. We also cannot do this in our own flesh. We must have the Spirit of God dwelling within us via faith in Jesus Christ, and we must submit ourselves to the Spirit’s work of grace in our lives, so that we are empowered and strengthened by the Spirit of God to walk with him in obedience and to participate (be involved) in the life in the Spirit he now has for us.

A Hard Saying (vv. 52-65)

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on 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 whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

So, what did Jesus mean by all that he said here? Well, first of all, Jesus gave his flesh and his blood on the cross for our sins so that we could go free from the curse of sin, be set free of slavery to sin, be given eternal life with God, and be set free to now walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die, but so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). He died so we would no longer walk according to the flesh, but so we could now be empowered of the Spirit to walk according to the Spirit (See Ro. 6-8; 1 Pet. 2:24-25). He “gave himself up for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (See Tit. 2:11-14).

So if we eat his flesh and we drink his blood it means that we participate in his death by dying with him to our old lives of living according to sin and self, and by submitting ourselves to the cross of Christ and to the Holy Spirit’s work of grace in our lives, so that we are being transformed in heart and mind, and so we now daily walk in the Spirit in Christ’s righteousness and holiness (See Eph. 4:17-24).

Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny our self-life, die daily to sin and self and follow him in obedience. He said that if we hold on to our old lives of sin we will lose them for eternity, but if we die with Christ to sin we will gain eternal life (See Lu. 9:23-25). In Jn. 6:56 we again have verbs which reveal continuous action. It should read “He who is eating my flesh, and is drinking my blood, doth remain in me, and I in him” (Young’s). Every day we must die to sin and self. Every day we must feed on his Word and obey it. We must keep coming to him, and keep believing in him, and our obedience should reveal that true faith exists within us. Yet, it is Jesus who sustains us and it is his Spirit who empowers us to continue in Christ, so all glory to God!

Many Deserted Him (vv. 66-71)

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

Many people today who claim to know Christ, i.e. who call themselves Christians, have deserted Christ, too, because they find these words too hard, so they have adopted a false grace gospel, instead, which allows them to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, believing that they have their ticket into heaven and that no one can take it away. They choose to believe that God requires nothing of them, and that he is pleased with them no matter what they do. They believe a prayer prayed at an altar once guarantees them eternal life with God no matter how they live from that moment forward. Yet, belief in Jesus Christ is not a one-time event. It is a continuous course of action in our lives in submitting ourselves to the cross of Christ and of feeding on his Word, not just listening to what it says, but doing what it says. It is there that our souls will be fully satisfied.

Living Water / An Original Work / November 21, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

My people have forsaken Me,
Their Savior, who died on a tree;
Made idols, and they worshipped them;
So empty, they will ne’er fulfill.

Lord, You are the hope of Your chosen ones.
Those who turn away from You will be shamed;
The Spring of Living Water left behind.

Living Water satisfies.

The thirsty, let them come and drink;
Believe in Jesus as their King;
The gift of Jesus given them,
So they will never thirst again.

Indeed, the Living Water flows within.
It springs up like a fountain cleansing sin.
Eternal life in heaven promised them.

Living Water glorifies.

Oh people, won’t you come to Him?
Obey Him and repent of sin.
Let Jesus come and live within.
Surrender all your life to Him.

My people, won’t you turn your hearts to Me?
Forsake your idols and then you’ll be free.
Won’t you come now to Me on bended knee?

Living Water sanctifies.