John 6:52–59 (ESV)
I Am the Bread of Life
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 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 you.
54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living
Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Today I make my stand on why John 6 is not about the Lord’s Supper... although it certainly sounds like it. And I think
it is fair to say that many of my colleagues do see it as communion. In today’s text Jesus says “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and dring his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Sounds like communion? Yes it does! I admit... but to dig a little deeper, I then say no, it’s not about communion. As in yesterday’s reading, the Greek word
“sarks” is used which means flesh. The communion text always uses the word “body”. In today’s text, it also says that communion is necessary for salvation... “unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink
his blood”. The Church has never held to the belief that communion is necessary for salvation. So here are my list of reasons.
Is This Talking
About the Lord's Supper?
Some have taken this and previous verses as references to the Lord’s Supper. All of the evidence, however, is to the contrary.
1. Neither Christ nor his Scripture writers employ the terms “flesh and blood” for the Lord’s Supper. It is always “body and blood”.
is very unlikely that the Savior would command the sacramental eating of his body and blood before he had instituted his Holy Supper. Here we would have to ask Luther’s question: “Why should Christ here have in mind that Sacrament when it was not
yet instituted?” (St. Louis XI: 1143).
3. Nowhere does Scripture “enjoin the sacramental eating and drinking of Jesus’ body and blood as an absolute requirement to gain the
life” (Ylvisaker, The Gospels, p. 342). Yet in several verses here it is required that we eat and drink his flesh and blood. Again, this flesh and blood cannot be the Lord’s Supper.
Christ here guarantees that “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” It is the same guarantee that he makes in such well-known passages as Mark 16:16, John 3:16, and John 11:25, 26. Yet Scripture does not issue such a
guarantee to everyone who partakes of his body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. A person may eat and drink the sacrament unworthily and thus drink judgment on himself (1 Co 11:29).
All who insist that
these are comments on the Lord’s Supper are missing the point. It is a spiritual eating and drinking to which Christ here is inviting us; he is encouraging a very intimate union between the sinner and the Savior, established through the Holy Spirit’s
gift of faith. To “eat and drink” his “flesh and blood” is to believe in Christ with all of one’s being. It is a union of the most intimate kind.
This discourse on saving faith, of course,
does not make Holy Communion unnecessary. On the contrary, the oral eating and drinking of Christ’s body and blood in the bread and wine of the sacrament all the more awakens and stimulates the spiritual eating and drinking. Partaking of the Lord’s
Supper strengthens the union already established by faith.
I pray: O Lord, help me to feed my faith that you have given me with your Word and Sacraments. Let me be renewed and to grow spiritually
and to share your love and mercy to all those around me. I pray that you use the seeds planted and cause them to grow, that is... the seeds of faith. Lord, I believe in you... I pray for others to come to believing in you too. Amen.