“Jesus said to them, ‘I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Human One 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 them up at the last day. My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me lives because of me’” (John 6:53-57, CEB).
I’m not so certain that in these verses Jesus is just talking about taking communion. Certainly, communion celebrates the flesh and blood sacrifice of Jesus through the imagery of the bread and the wine. I suppose these verses might even be used to support the notion that the bread and wine of the Eucharist is somehow changed into the body and blood of Christ.
But I don’t think that’s at all what Jesus had in mind here.
And, I don’t think He’s just talking believing in Him either. Because, in the previous chapter Jesus already explained how to have saving faith: “I assure you that whoever hears my word and believes in the One who sent me has eternal life and won’t come under judgment but has passed from death into life” (vs. 5:24).
The imagery in these verses is more brutal than a mere explanation of the meaning of communion. The rhetoric is more fierce than a provocation to believe Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus said that He is offering Himself as a human sacrifice and that His adherents participate in that sacrifice by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of His sacrifice. It’s like following Jesus is spiritual cannibalism!
Following Jesus is a matter of consuming Jesus…and then being consumed by Jesus!
Jesus wants us to be so much in Him and Him in us that we become like Him. We think like He thinks, feel how He feels, do what He does!
So, Jesus presents us with an all-or-none proposition! You’re either all in or you’re not in!
Following Jesus requires all-consuming faith. You become so consumed with Jesus that He consumes you.
It’s savage, dude, savage faith!
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, CEB)