Bread From Heaven, Flesh And Blood: Consumed Whole

The passage I put below I have often read through and almost had brain-ache absorbing. The passage is so full of stuff that reading through John's sixth chapter is a struggle to retain it all. My problem is that after my mental tank is full, (which happens quickly here) I simply can not move on effectively. The largest difficulty is examining the continuous thread of the conversation. Sure, grabbing just a verse or two can give you some meaning and often is quite useful, but If I can't follow "why" Jesus said what he said from one apparent thread to the next, I always miss the point.

The passage follows on from Jesus' miracle of feeding bread to the multitude, the departure of his disciples in their boat and Jesus' interception of them by walking on the water.

For your reference;

-- Click To Expand/Collapse Bible Verses -- John ch6:v25-66
Joh 6:25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
Joh 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Joh 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
Joh 6:28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Joh 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Joh 6:30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
Joh 6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Joh 6:32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
Joh 6:33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
Joh 6:34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
Joh 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Joh 6:36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Joh 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Joh 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
Joh 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
Joh 6:42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
Joh 6:43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Joh 6:46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
Joh 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
Joh 6:48 I am that bread of life.
Joh 6:49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
Joh 6:50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
Joh 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Joh 6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Joh 6:53 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.
Joh 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
Joh 6:56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
Joh 6:57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
Joh 6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
Joh 6:59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
Joh 6:60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
Joh 6:61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
Joh 6:62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Joh 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
Joh 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
Joh 6:66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (KJV)

It would seem strange that Jesus would point out that the people followed him because of their stomachs rather than the miracles he did. Jesus points out that these people are pretty carnally minded. Rather than follow Jesus because he is Christ, they seem to be following him further because of the fact that he can sustain them whilst they follow him. Remember Jesus was filled with compassion upon the crowd because they would have fainted in the way? The people had not followed him because of his miracles, but because he fed them. Had he not, they would all have gone home long before.

Jesus points out that He is the bread from heaven that will give everlasting life. He is not just saying that If he had not fed them then those among them which were given to him by his Father would have followed anyway. The crowd having asked for a sign mentioned the manna God gave Israel to eat in the wilderness. The true bread from heaven, (Jesus Christ) was not given by Moses. Moses was the mediator of the old covenant, whereas the true bread is given by the Father in Jesus himself, not just as a gift by the mediator, but as mediation itself in the form and body of Jesus Christ. (cf v33-36)

To eat the bread from heaven (Christ) you must accept him and believe on him. Without these two, (v35) you may not eat of Jesus - because you don't happen to have 'it - the bread' (him). Though they asked him to always give them the bread, Jesus assured them that they had seen him and not believed. Likewise Jesus assures those that have believed that in no way shall they lose their place in the kingdom of heaven, that all who come to him and believe upon him have everlasting life. The Father brings to Jesus his own and Jesus will not lose them. If you eat the bread you will live - but there are those two conditions.

In v51 Jesus tells that his fleshly body is the bread that he will give. Asking how Jesus will gives his flesh to them to eat many of them found the explanation too hard for their ears. Jesus foretells his death as a sacrifice that must be consumed. Those following him found it too hard to understand because they were not to follow Jesus after Jesus' death except to approve of his death. Jesus words in their ears mirror "If you are my disciples you will kill me knowing me sinless and approve of it and be blessed by both God my Father and myself?" - no wonder they found it a hard saying.

Jesus question and answer to as to why they were offended, "If you don't believe me, would you believe me if you saw me on the throne of God?" Jesus ends as he had started, teaching on the difference between carnal and spiritual matters. His carnal body is not life to them, but his words and works were life. The spirit is that which lives, not the flesh. Chopping off a finger or two and eating would not make you live eternally, but Jesus' words on precisely why he should be followed are. The food that will give eternal life are the teachings to come to and believe on Christ. Christ has told them he is the mediation as well as the mediator. Jesus' reference to eating his body and drinking his blood is as much encouragement to strive beyond carnal restrictions as it is food that will go beyond the ultimate carnal restriction - death.

Jesus tells his disciples that only those who are given of the Father to come to Jesus would actually inherit this spiritual bread.

Joh 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
Joh 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
Joh 6:69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (KJV)

Jesus was not talking like a madman. All Jesus had to do to assure his disciples was reference his divinity and authority (v62). That before he had proved himself the Son of God was enough. Jesus has adequately shown his disciples he could not be a demoniac, liar or madman. Jesus had shown himself as God; Why could he not therefore say anything? The disciples had not understood that Jesus was to give his own life as a ransom for many as yet. They began to remember Jesus' sayings on this after his resurrection when they began to understand what he had meant.

This passage proves not just that Jesus was foretelling his own purpose in death, but that he is the Christ by describing the method by which people should inherit eternal life, not by works but being justified by faith. By believing on Christ we are saved. Though the crowd asked how they could also do miracles, Jesus reminds them that the only work of God for them was teaching them Jesus teachings and propitiatory sacrifice. The miracles Christ did are there to show to all that Jesus is God. I'm not saying that there have not been miracles after Christ's ascension for the same reason or that the crowd were interested in miracles for their own or 'carnal' sake, rather than through lifting up Christ. The first of all works are those that Jesus commanded. After that, maybe the other works of God will be done through the believer.

The transformation from the carnal self to the spiritual self through the whole "born again" process is recurrent in the bible. This passage shows how that which is carnal is not that which becomes spiritual; but the spiritual is "born and lives". the carnal self was never actually the 'self' in any Christian doctrine. By being "born again" The spiritual self is healed, though the pressures and stumbling blocks of the carnal self remain. The spiritual from carnality is a central theme of almost all occultist and even sectarian religious doctrines.

Paul himself wrestled with this whole problem, eventually begging;

Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (KJV)

In the same way, They did not believe on Jesus because they were fed, they simply were enabled to follow him physically. Jesus told them of that which they would need to be healed spiritually and live; many of them left, because the spirit to follow him was not there in the first place (v44) though their willingness on a full stomach was.

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