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John 6:53

Posted 12/09/21, by Dan Vis

I've noticed in many of the passages we've looked at this week, Jesus seemed to highlight the cost of discipleship when His popularity was highest. When crowds were pressing in.

It's pretty clear, Jesus wasn't so much concerned about large numbers, but rather about the quality of commitment among those who followed Him. That's certainly true of today's key verse:

John 6:53
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

To set the context, Jesus had just fed a huge crowd from just a couple loaves and fishes. And as a result His popularity had soared: the crowds decided to "take him by force, to make him a king" (John 6:15When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.). But Jesus slipped away, eventually crossing the sea to another location. Only to have the crowds soon find him there, eager to follow Him still.

It is in this context that Jesus spelled out the most challenging requirement of discipleship anywhere in the Gospels. In fact, after spelling out what real discipleship took, "from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6:66From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.).

(Quite a reference there, isn't it: 666?)

What did Jesus say that was so objectionable, many turned their back on Him? Here it is:

John 6:53
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

The point is pretty clear, isn't it? Unless we partake of Christ, spiritually, we have no spiritual life. We're not real disciples. We're not authentic followers. This requirement is non-negotiable.

He goes on to promise those who do this (eat His flesh, drink His blood) will have power to live like Him (John 6:57As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.). Will be part of the resurrection (John 6:54Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.). And will be gifted with immortality (John 6:58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.). Once again, it is an all or nothing arrangement. We either have no life, or complete, unending, glorious life. Many found the conditions however, offensive (John 6:60-6160 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?).

It might be tempting to thing this has something to do with the communion service, but I don't believe that's the case. Rather, communion is but a symbol of the very thing Jesus is talking about here. Something to reflect on the next time we partake of that ordinance.

Rather, a careful reading of the passage suggests this life is actually found in the WORDS of Jesus. "The words that I speak unto you", Jesus said, "they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.). Or to quote Peter a couple verses later: "Lord to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life". And no one else.

In other words, if we want to be a disciple, the critical, foundational requirement is that we take in the word of God.

We can't have confused priorities, mixed goals, divided loyalties. Compromise or inconsistency. The determination to spend time with Jesus daily, though His Word must always come first. Because, if you think about it--Scripture is the primary way we keep Jesus first in our life. It's all about listening for His voice, and doing what He says.

We can try to water down the cost of discipleship, but the conditions remain unchanged. Unless we commit to daily time in the Word, to eating His flesh and drinking His blood, we cannot be His disciple...

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Posted by Dan Vis on 12/10/21
We humans are kind of funny sometimes. I guess it's just how sin warps our nature and makes us do the most irrational things... Very insightful post Everton!
Posted by Everton Guthrie on 12/09/21
Strange enough, sometimes we would rather to get involved in taxing and showy religious tasks rather than sit down with jesus and his word.
Help us Lord, something is wrong with us.

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