An Unavoidable Offense
Holy Spirit, You were there at creation, bringing order out of chaos. Bring order into my broken world.
Read John 6:41-59
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“This ‘eating’ (51), in the Greek, refers to a singular event, a decision to believe and appropriate the gift of eternal life” (Gary M. Burge). Think back to when this happened to you.
Jesus developed his claim to be the bread of life and spoke of his origin in heaven, but the crowd found this hard to accept. This was a local man, teaching in his local synagogue (59), yet making extraordinary claims about his origin: How can a man whose name and address they know be God? The scene has many parallels to Luke’s account in the synagogue in Nazareth: Luke describes the events in the synagogue where Jesus had been brought up (Luke 4:16-30), while John described the events in the synagogue where Jesus was living. Both communities use local knowledge to reject Jesus’ claims. But the central truth of the Christian faith is that God the Son, through whom all things were made, not only became flesh and blood, but flesh and blood with a local address.
Jesus’ words seemed increasingly shocking. Because he, the Word made flesh, was the bread of life, becoming his disciple involved eating that bread: “eating his flesh.” Worse still, it involved “drinking his blood.” This, in particular, caused real offense to his hearers, because the Law required abstinence from animal blood (Lev. 17:10-16). His hearers made the wrong connection, however. Jesus was not speaking literally, to contradict Leviticus, but metaphorically, about the very purpose of the sacrificial system in Leviticus: “It is the blood that makes atonement” (Lev. 17:11). It would be on the cross that he would give his flesh “for the life of the world” (51). By his blood, he meant his blood that was shed for them as a sacrifice for their sins. Unless they would allow themselves to be nourished by this atoning self-giving, they would have no life with God at all, and no hope of sharing in the resurrection. Only through his death would they have eternal life.
There is something shocking about the cross. Paul called it a “stumbling block” (1 Cor. 1:23). Have you become so accustomed to it that it no longer challenges your pride?
Lord Jesus, I praise You for Your body broken that I might be made whole, Your blood shed that I might be cleansed from my sins.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.