John 6:48-59 “Eating the Flesh of Jesus”

Introduction: The words of Jesus in this text are confusing and mystical to those who are not saved.  God’s words are spiritually discerned.  The lost will not understand them.  Jesus tells this assembly exactly what they need to hear.  God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  These people have been following Jesus for the wrong reason.  Jesus must take drastic measures to get them to see their need for repentance.  He tells them that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood if they are to live.  What shocking words are these.  Lost friend listen carefully to the words of Jesus for they are spirit and they are life.


(John 6:48)  I am that bread of life (spiritual and Eternal).

            There are three kinds of life: physical life, spiritual life, and eternal life.  Physical life is when there is union between the body and the spirit (James 2:26).

Physical death then is the separation of the body and the spirit.

Spiritual life is when there is union between the spirit and God (John 6:56).

Spiritual death then is the separation of the spirit and God.

Eternal life is the union of the body and spirit with God (John 6:54).

Eternal death is the separation of the body and spirit from God (Rev. 20:13-15).

            The life which Jesus speaks of in this text is spiritual life.  Those who have spiritual life will also have Eternal life.  In verse 63 Jesus explains that the words which He speaks are spiritual.  He is not physically bread but rather spiritual bread.

            Bread is a necessity of life.  In this age of diet consciousness and a trend toward eliminating bread from the diet due to its carbohydrates, it would seem that bread is not needed to sustain life.  Bread is used to represent food which must be eaten for physical life to be maintained.  Jesus is the spiritual bread which gives and sustains spiritual life.  Physical food can not give life though a look into my refrigerator at bowls of forgotten leftovers would have you to believe otherwise.  Physical life begins with God and is maintained by proper diet.  Spiritual life begins with God and is maintained by Him alone.  Notice that the scripture states that “the just shall live by faith.”  Faith in Jesus Christ as the one who died for your sins according to the scriptures and was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures is how one eats the bread of heaven and gains spiritual life.     In this text Jesus will explain this process to those who would be His disciples.


(John 6:49)  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead (physically).

            Moses ate manna in the wilderness and is physically dead.  That bread from heaven was physical bread.  It was given to maintain physical life.  It could not keep Moses alive physically.   Many who ate manna died physically in the wilderness by such things as snake bite and plaque.  That bread, that manna, was deficient.  It was neither a giver nor a sustainer of life.


(John 6:50)  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die (spiritually).

            In contrast to the manna the spiritual bread which came down from heaven does give and sustain life.  One who eats this bread will not experience Eternal death.  He will die physically for as verse 63 teaches the flesh profits nothing.  Remember that Jesus said in verse 33 that the bread of God is HE which cometh down from heaven.  The bread Jesus is talking about is Himself.  To eat this spiritual bread is to believe in Jesus Christ as ones personal savior.  Remember what the scriptures say about Abraham that he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  The publican went down to his house JUSTIFIED when he sought the mercy and forgiveness of God for his sinful condition.  Jesus told Nicodemus that whosoever believes will not perish but have everlasting life.  When one believes in Jesus he is eating of that bread of heaven and thus receives spiritual life.


(John 6:51)  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man (should) eat of this bread, he shall live (spiritually) for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life (spiritual) of the world.

            Physical bread when mixed and baked is dead.  One eats this dead material which once was alive and their physical life is maintained.  In contrast to this Jesus is living bread.  He is alive and He gives life.  The life Jesus gives is spiritual life which never ends.  

            The bread that Jesus gives is His body.  The bread of the Lord’s Supper represents the broken body of Jesus Christ.  The since in which He gives His flesh is that of His sacrifice on the cross.  Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.  Jesus had to die for our sins that through His death we might have life.  When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins as being on our behalf and in our place and we seek His forgiveness we are eating of His flesh spiritually.  This is the only way the world can have spiritual life. 


(John 6:52)  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?

            An argument breaks out among the people assembled at the synagogue on that day.  Some believed the words of Jesus and voiced their approval of what He had said.  Others strongly disagreed with them and voiced their disapproval.  Those opposing Jesus asked of those who agreed “how can this man give us His flesh to eat?”  These men are thinking, as do all lost people, in the physical realm only.  They do not wait for the explanation of Jesus’ words.  They can only believe what they can see and touch.  They do not see their spiritual need.


(John 6:53)  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye (should) eat the flesh of the Son of man, and (should) drink his blood, ye have no life (spiritual) in you.

            Jesus affirms as absolutely true the words which He has spoken.  He tells them that they must eat and also drink if they are to have life.  These men are alive physically but they are dead spiritually.  These words of Jesus are, to the lost, mystical and cryptic.  He tells them a great truth and hides it from those who will not believe.  Those who are willing to believe will hear these words and will accept them. 

            It is time for us and these people to pause and consider what they have heard.  These words come from one who has healed the sick, calmed the storm, turned water into wine, raised the dead, walked on water, and fed the thousands.  Nicodemus considered these acts as evidence that Jesus was a man come from God.  With a few questions answered such as where was Jesus born and under what circumstances these men could have known that Jesus is the promised Messiah.  These men of the synagogue should have known the scriptures.  They should have been aware of Isaiah 53 which told of the suffering savior and His vicarious sacrifice for the sins of the people.  If they would just be reasonable and be willing to believe and trust the in the words of God they could understand exactly the meaning of the words Jesus was speaking.


(John 6:54)  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life (spiritual) ; and I will raise him up at the last day.

            Jesus here indicates the difference between the three kinds of life: physical, spiritual, and eternal life.  Those who believe in Jesus get spiritual life and in the future they will be raised physically from the dead and receive physical life again.   They will have eternal life which is the union of the body and spirit with God for all of eternity.


(John 6:55)  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

            These words of Jesus are stated, I believe, passionately.  People need to know that spiritual death is real, hell is real, the life Jesus offers is real.  These spiritual things are as real as anything physical.  We can not see them but they are very much real.  Jesus offers real life giving sustenance for the souls of men.  His sacrifice on the cross, His broken body and shed blood will give real spiritual life to men.  But these things are not seen with the physical eye so they must be seen through the eyes of faith.  They must be believed.

            Let me insert a point here that must be made.  Jesus was not talking about he Lord’s Supper here.  Partaking of the Lord’s Supper will not save your soul.  The elements of the Supper do not become the body and blood of Christ.  It is a memorial ordinance which pictures the death of our Lord.  It is observed for the purpose of remembrance and no more.  Its observance does not save.  


(John 6:56)  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

            Spiritual life is defined for us here.  It is the union of the spirit with Jesus.  When one believes in Jesus as his savior he is spiritually united with Jesus.  Jesus dwells in him and he dwells in Jesus.  This is spiritual life.


(John 6:57)  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by (because of) the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live (spiritually) by (because of) me.

            God the Father is a Spirit.  Jesus told the woman at the well the God is a Spirit.  He is alive.  The Father sent the Son to the earth to seek and to save that which was lost.  Jesus’ life is wrapped up in the Father as He has said: “I and My Father are one.”  Jesus says in this verse “I live by the Father.”   The word “by” as used here means “because of.”  Jesus lives because of the Father and those who trust in Jesus live because of Jesus.  Jesus came because the Father sent Him.  We will go to the Father because Jesus died for our sins.


(John 6:58)  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead (physically): he that eateth of this bread shall live (spiritually) for ever.

            Repetition is the mother of knowledge.  Jesus sums up and repeats what He as told them.  The bread He offers is spiritual.  It is far superior to the bread of Moses day for that bread did not sustain life.  The bread Jesus offers will give life that will never end.  Those who will eat of this bread shall live forever.


(John 6:59)  These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

            Jesus went to the synagogue to teach the people.  The synagogue was a place were spiritual lessons were to be learned.  We today should assemble together for the purpose of learning spiritual lessons.  These lessons have an eternal consequence.  Those who will believe will be saved and will never come into condemnation but are passed from death unto life.  They assembled together in those days to learn about God and His will for their lives.  We are admonished by the scriptures to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  We are pilgrims and strangers on this earth.  We will be here but a short time.  Death will come to all and after this the judgment.  It is real and certain that all will stand in judgment before God.  If you have eaten of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ by seeking His forgiveness and trusting in His sacrifice for you sins you have spiritual life and will have Eternal life.  If you have no idea what Jesus was talking about in this text you need to come to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ today.