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.”
The first question to resolve with this statement of Christ is this, “Is Jesus here making reference to the Lord’s Supper when He speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood?” We must answer in the negative and say this does not refer to the Lord’s Supper per se. Therefore we need to ask a further question, then why would this text be used as a reference for a Lord’s Supper devotion? The answer to this is that although what Jesus is saying here in John 6 is not referring to the Lord’s Supper when He speaks of eating of his flesh and the drinking of His blood it is nevertheless very relevant. In fact the Lord’s Supper is referring to the truths spoken of here in John 6. In fact when we partake of the bread and the cup we do it in deep and wonderful remembrance of the truths in this passage in John 6.
So then, what is Jesus communicating when He speaks of this eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood? The Jews in the previous verse, verse 52, have understood Jesus’ language to be something similar to cannibalism; even the disciples were confused (John 6.60). The text says in verse 52 that the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat”? These men are oblivious to the spiritual nature of Christ’s statements just as Nicodemus in John 3 interpreted Christ to be saying that one must somehow find himself inside of his mother’s womb a second time in order to be born again. It is important to see, Christ is speaking of spiritual truth. God often uses pictures from the physical world to assist us in understanding spiritual truths which are important for our spiritual lives.
Jesus says that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life. What Jesus is communicating is that in order to have eternal life, one must be nourished spiritually by His flesh. The bread of Christ’s body is not for physical nourishment but for the nourishment of the soul. What is it about Christ’s flesh that makes it necessity for us to feast upon it? The Lord explained in verse 51, that His flesh would be given for the life of the world. This is the language of sacrifice a sacrifice not simply for the Jews, but a sacrifice great enough to cover the sins of Gentiles as well (cf. Rom. 3.29; Gal. 3.28; 1 John 2.2). For this all-sufficient sacrifice our God is to be praised.
Christ was a sufficient sacrifice and substitute on the cross for all who would come to Him by faith both from Jews and Gentiles— His blood was shed for all. So also in like manner, we who are to inherit eternal life are to be spiritually satisfied with the blood of Christ that was given on the cross.
We drink down the cup of Christ’s blood knowing that it is the only cup which streams life into our souls, eternal life. We perpetually drink of this cup to remind ourselves that His sacrifice will never run out, He will always satisfy us, the life that His blood imparts will never end. The death that it represents is the once for all substitution which perfects those who are being sanctified by it.
This giving of the flesh of the Son of God and the pouring out of His blood is not that which is taken once and then forgotten about. God has given us in His grace a very vivid and real reminder of the offering of His Son in the Lord’s Supper. With this Supper we see that the Christian must also continue to grow spiritually by the intake of Christ’s “flesh” which represents His broken body for sinners. The Christian is not then to eat of Christ and then go on searching for other forms of nourishment (cf. Heb. 13.9). Any other form of Spiritual sustenance, although it may look appetizing, and seem as if it will appease your sense of guilt and anxiety, will in the end lead to death. The human soul can only live off of a very specific and limited diet of grace. Only the sacrifice of Christ will do! When we come to the table we come and to remember, reflect and receive from this all sufficient gracious sacrifice where we find true life for the soul.
“For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.”