- “Jesus said to the crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
- Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51-58)
Throughout John 6 Jesus is repeatedly beating our ears about food; bread in particular. He seems to set up His own encore on this subject by treating five thousand men to the Miracle of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes, which, on the following day, prompted this same crowd to go looking for more of what Jesus had to offer, but rather than get more free food and healings, they are challenged to work for more than food that fills the belly. Many of those gathered found this new teaching to be hard to accept; to which Jesus attempted to resolve by pointing to Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 31:33-34 to demonstrate that they were receiving this new teaching from God Himself, just as Moses had received the commandments from the hand of God.
But why? Why is Jesus the living bread that came down from Heaven? Why is He giving us His flesh to Eat and Blood to drink? Why is it necessary to eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood so that we might have eternal life? Why is this teaching so central to His ministry that it is recorded in every Gospel and at the conclusion of John 6, the puts His entire ministry on the line?
The best way to answer these questions is to couch Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Eucharist in what it is; that is, a Passover Meal, but not just any Passover Meal; rather, a Passover Meal that is necessarily and intimately connected to the original Passover Meal in Exodus 12. The night before YHWH struck down every firstborn in Egypt He gave the Israelites a command through which they would save themselves from death, but not just any command; rather, a perpetual command that would NEVER END. On the tenth month of every year, they were commanded to follow a prescribed ritual of procuring and preparing to eat a specific type of lamb, and they were to take some of the blood from that lamb and apply it to the doorpost and lintel of their homes. To this very day, Jews still follow this same Seder Ritual in their Passover Meal to commemorate YHWH delivering them from bondage in Egypt. They have never forsaken this perpetual command because they understand that it is central to the Covenant that God made with them through Moses. They believe that God will continue to keep His end of promises He made to them if they continue to do their part.
Therefore, being that Exodus 12:24 is a Permanent Law – a Perpetual Command, if Jesus doesn’t fulfill it – if it is not part of His body of work according to this His statement in Matthew 5:17, that He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, then He not the Messiah or Lord; rather, He is a liar, a lunatic, and a sadist.
In this regard, Jesus’ institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is not just a good and merciful offering to us, rather, it is a necessary teaching of the New Covenant. There is no New Covenant if there isn’t a fulfillment of the Six Covenants YHWH that made with/through Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, but most especially the Passover Law established in the Mosaic Covenant, because just as the central event of the Old Testament was the Israelites’ delivery from Egypt, the central event of the New Testament is the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. Of all the similarities between these two events, the most foundational is that before they both happened God ordered that a Passover Meal, with lamb, bread, and wine as the central entrée, be established perpetually to commemorate them.
Why this way? Is God obsessed with bloodshed, food, and wine? Why not a different command to commemorate these events?
I think God understands the human memory very well, and these are events connected to His plan for our Salvation that He desires us always keep close to our memory.
If you’d think just briefly think about it, it seems that we are more apt to remember events in our life that are connected to bloodshed, a great meal, or a great glass of wine. In regards to bloodshed, I’m not just talking about that cut on your body that you remember how it happened, I’m also talking about every event, from child-birth to tragic death, or war memorials – we celebrate and commemorate every event connected with bloodshed, most especially, as Christians, the birth and death of Christ Jesus. In regards to a great meal and a glass of wine, who doesn’t remember the best meal they ever had or their favorite wine? I can’t remember what I ate yesterday, but I do remember the best dishes I ever had and where I had them. My favorite wines are engraved in my memory like a bad tattoo. These are the things humans remember.
By instituting these Passover Meals, God not only wants us to remember what He’s done for us but through them, He is calling us to cooperate in the work of sanctifying ourselves for the life to come. The New Covenant Passover Meal is significantly greater than the one established through Moses. The Jews are still just eating lamb, bread, and wine and filling their belly, but those of us who partake of the Holy Eucharist are partaking in the Divine Nature of God Himself. This is more than a meal, we are sanctifying ourselves with Heavenly food and, thereby, becoming the very thing we eat. Therefore, if God is obsessed with food, it is only because He is obsessed with our Salvation through the eating of the food, which is Himself.
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Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.