The Berean Expositor
Volume 54 - Page 65 of 210
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not die. I am (ego eimi) the living Bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of
this Bread, he will live for ever. This Bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of
the world" (6: 48-51).
Christ is the life-giving Bread which delivers all who receive Him by faith from the
power of death. This the manna was unable to do. All the Israelites fed on the manna
during their wilderness journey, yet they all died, for although this was a heavenly
provision, it could not impart eternal life. But those who "eat" of Him, that is appropriate
Him by faith, are guarded from eternal death and receive everlasting life. The Lord
further explains that this Bread represents His flesh which He is to give for the life of the
world. "For" is the Greek huper, "in behalf of", which implies sacrifice. To give one's
flesh means death. The Baptist had pointed to Christ as the Lamb of God Who takes
away the sin of the world. This is by His death which is voluntary ("I will give") and
vicarious ("for the life of the world").
It is this Gospel that emphasizes the world-wide scope of the Lord's saving work. He
was sent "that the world should be saved through Him" (3: 17 R.V.). He is the "Saviour
of the world" (4: 42), not merely the Saviour of Israel, for unless this was true, His
earthly kingdom would never be realized in its fullness. There are dispensationalists
upon whom these verses make little or no impression. But one thing is certain, no one
can adequately expound this Gospel who has missed its world-wide teaching which of
course includes Israel, but is not confined to that nation.
"Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, `How can this man gives us
His flesh to eat?' Jesus said to them, `I tell you the truth, unless you can eat the flesh of
the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and
drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is
real food and My blood is real 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 live because of the
Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me'." (6: 52-57).
These words not only puzzled Christ's hearers, they sharply divided them and worked
up bitter enmity. They fought (emachonto) a war of words, if not muscularly. It may be
that a few sensed that He was speaking figuratively, but it is obvious that the majority did
not do so. They must have known that Christ was not seriously implying cannibalism,
yet they could not fathom His meaning. The law given through Moses imposed a ban on
any drinking of blood. The idea of drinking the blood of Christ was utterly abhorrent.
And to make matters worse, in verse 54 and following this, the normal word to eat,
phagein, is not used, but trġgein, which in earlier Greek meant "to munch" like animals
Today we sometimes use the figure of eating and digesting, to express understanding.
We talk about "digesting" a fact, and this is similar to the figurative language the Lord
was using. If we look back to verse 40, we find the Lord expressing the same truth
without figures:
"For My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall
have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."