Thursday, August 20, 2015

EAT HIS FLESH, DRINK HIS BLOOD (PART 1)

PART 1 of 3
 
Many of the disciples of Jesus, hearing what Jesus had just told them, responded, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”

It was not the twelve primary disciples who said this, but some others who had been following Jesus. By asking the question, “Who can listen to it?” they actually meant, “Who can accept it?” So offended were they by what Jesus said, that they left Jesus and no longer followed him in his teachings.

What was it that Jesus said that caused so much offense to his listeners? Let’s read his words and see if we also will be offended.

Jesus said this: “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” (John 6:53 NAS).

We must admit, this is an astonishing statement. It was almost as if Jesus was going for the shock effect. What was it that could have made him make such a statement? Besides that, what did he mean by it?

This is one of those instances where it is not good to just take this statement alone and create a teaching out of it. Jesus did not say these words without a previous context. We need to go back in the story to see what was happening.

Jesus Christ – Superstar

At this time in the ministry of Jesus, he was extremely popular. Wherever he went, large crowds followed him. This was also the case when he spoke these words. In the second verse of John 6, it says a “great multitude” was following Jesus.

As you might suspect, the level of commitment of the people in this crowd varied a great deal. Some of them were merely curious about what was going on, while others where more devoted to the teachings of Jesus. Some of these were even devoted enough to be called disciples of Jesus. Of course, Jesus had his twelve inner circle of disciples, but many others in this crowd were known as disciples as well.

On the day before Jesus spoke the words that offended many of these disciples, he was at the Sea of Galilee. We are told that the multitude was following him because they were seeing the signs that he was performing on those who were sick. In other words, Jesus had been healing the ill and the infirm. It is understandable why this would attract a great crowd.

John calls these healings “signs.” The reason for this was because Jesus did the healings not only because he loved the people and felt pity for them, but also so that the people would realize that he was the long awaited Messiah, the Savior who was to come. His actions were the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy that indicated this. In other places, they are called “attesting miracles,” testifying to the fact that he was the Christ.

However, even though the miracles of Jesus were signs, to many of the people, they were merely amazing feats – nothing more than that. Jesus healed them, and they were glad of that. They also liked seeing him heal others.

With this great multitude following, Jesus went up on a mountain that was beside the Sea of Galilee. There he sat down. As he turned around and looked over the scene below, he saw all of these people who had been following him.

He asked Philip, one of his twelve disciples, “Where are we going to buy bread that these may eat?”
Mosaic at possible site of the feeding of the 5000

I will not go into the details of this story, but this is the account of the feeding of the five thousand. In a manner never before seen, Jesus used the lunch of a small boy, multiplied his five barley loaves and two fish, and fed this great multitude. The people got not only a bit of food to stave off their hunger, but they were able to eat as much as they wanted.

Crossing the Sea of Galilee

That night, the twelve disciples got into their boat to cross the sea, which even though it is called a sea, is really just a large lake. This is also the same account where during the night, Jesus came walking to them on the water when they were about four miles from land.

The multitude, whom Jesus had fed, had not seen Jesus leave. The next morning (I suppose that it was about breakfast time), they went looking for him. They knew that Jesus had not left with the twelve disciples on the night before, but they did not know what happened to him. They at last decided that Jesus must have found a way to cross the lake, so they got into other boats to go and look for him. They found him in a town called Capernaum.

“Rabbi, when did you get here?” they asked him. They could not work out in their minds how he could have gotten to that side.

 Jesus was quite short with his answer to them. “You seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate bread and were filled.”

(To be continued in a couple of days)

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