Q. Please examine John 6:47-59 and explain to my why you do NOT believe that the literal body and blood of Christ is present at the Lord’s Supper.
In order to determine the meaning of any passage of the Bible the context of the passage must be carefully considered. In John chapter six we must consider the application of Jesus’ words:
47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
48 “I am the bread of life.
49 “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 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 yourselves.
54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
55 “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
One of the first questions one must ask about this passage is WHY DOES JESUS ADDRESS THE GATHERING CROWDS WITH THIS DISCOURSE? In the context of this passage it is obvious that the miracles Jesus was performing (Jn. 6:2) , especially the feeding of the multitudes (Jn. 6:4-14), seemed to increase the number of people who were coming out to see him. Jesus told them ““Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” (Jn. 6:24). In other words, the people coming to see Jesus were NOT coming out of a conviction that He was the Son of God, they were NOT coming to hear the Word of God, they were NOT coming to be obedient to God, they were coming out to receive the temporal benefits. Jesus knew that if they only considered getting something to eat they would miss the real purpose of his mission.
Jesus, therefore, took advantage of the occasion and basing his remarks upon the thing uppermost in their minds, he told them in John 6:27 – ” “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” He did not mean by this that they were not to work at all for bread, but, using a common Jewish mode of comparison, he meant for them to work rather for SPIRITUAL FOOD. What they needed was to make SPIRITUAL things their first priority. Man’s FIRST duty is to seek the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).
As Jesus had fed more than five thousand with perishable bread, he could feed the perishing millions with the living bread. His power to do the former was evidence of his ability to do the latter. Jesus reminds them that their fathers were fed the manna forty years in the wilderness. The manna came miraculously from heaven, yet, it was perishable bread and those who ate it died. It only temporarily sustained the body, and in that particular was no better than the bread that he had given them the day before. A bread to sustain the soul, man’s undying inward being, must be imperishable. To be imperishable, it must come from heaven. It must also be of a nature to feed the spirit, not the body.
The clear teaching of Jesus here is that HE IS THAT BREAD. Jesus said, ““I am the bread of life.” This clearly means that he was the one through whom they were to receive the SPIRITUAL BREAD necessary to sustain the soul. Moses had said that man should not live by bread alone, but by God’s Word (Deut. 8:3). Mores’ words mean that man does not live by eating perishable bread, which only sustains the body, but by his words, which are food for the soul. Jesus said that His Words are spirit and life (Jn. 6:63)
Therefore, the spiritual blessings that Christ brings to the world, which are the forgiveness of sins, joy, peace and eternal live, are represented under the figure of bread and food and drink. The receiving of these blessings is called “eating and drinking.” In the figure that Jesus gives here the “eating and drinking” means that we obey the Lord’s commands and thus receive these favors. He is the author of eternal salvation “for all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9).
Jesus also said that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in ourselves (Jn. 6:53). Obeying the Lord means to do all his commands to receive all the blessings promised. This would include all that Jesus demands for obedience, including belief and baptism (Mark 16:16). The verbs “eat” and “drink” are in the present tense and carry the idea of repeating or continuous action. This means that those who continue to eat his flesh and drink his blood have the promise of eternal life. The Jews were forbidden to drink blood because it contained the life (Lev. 17:11). For that very reason we are required to drink that which represents his blood, because it brings to us the life which it contains. Paul shows that the cup which we bless is “the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). Natural bread must be eaten continually to preserve life. Christ must be obeyed continually.