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EATING THE FLESH AND DRINKING THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 8, 2009

“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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).


Jesus took five barley loaves and two fishes. He gave thanks and this small amount of food was multiplied. By a miracle five thousand men were fed with five loaves and two fishes that day. He crossed the Sea of Galilee and then came back. The people gathered together again and Jesus gave His sermon on the Bread of Life. At the end of it He said,

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:51-52).

The people began to argue with each other. Some had an understanding of what Jesus meant. Others completely misunderstood Him. Most of them were against Him. They cried out, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ Then Jesus said to 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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

It is interesting how this teaching of Jesus has often been twisted and perverted. The pagan Roman emperors accused the early Christians of being cannibals. “They meet secretly at night and eat the flesh of a man and drink his blood,” some said. “They eat the body of a dead Jew and drink his blood,” said others. Then, strangely, over time the Christians themselves began to say the same thing. I suppose that unconverted pagans came into the churches. Not understanding the spiritual side of these verses, they began to teach that the bread and wine were actually turned into the real body and blood of Jesus in the Mass. But these Bible verses do not speak of that.

“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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

Let us consider what Jesus did not mean, and then consider what He really meant.

I. First, what eating His flesh and drinking His Blood does not mean.

It does not mean that transubstantiation takes place in the Lord’s Supper. The Catholics interpret the words literally when Christ said, “This is my body” (Matthew 26:26), “This is my blood” (Matthew 26:28). Dr. Thiessen said,

This Church [the Catholic Church] holds that by the priest’s consecration the bread and wine are changed into the literal body and blood of Christ; that this consecration is a new offering of Christ’s sacrifice (Henry C. Thiessen, Ph.D., Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1949, pp. 427-428).

As Baptists, we do not hold this view.

Also, we disagree with the Lutherans and Anglicans, who say that consubstantiation takes place in the Lord’s Supper. Luther sought a middle course. He said that,

The communicant partakes of the true body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and wine. The elements themselves remain unchanged, but the mere partaking of them after the prayer of consecration communicates Christ to the participant along with the emblems. This is known as consubstantiation…the body and blood, in some mysterious way, are actually received by the communicant, whether he is a believer or not…[But] Jesus lays down this principle: “It is the spirit that [quickeneth] giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing”…, John 6:63 (Thiessen, ibid., pp. 428-429).

However, the Baptists and most of the Reformers held the view of Zwingli, that the

…bread and wine are mere memorials of the body of Christ absent in Heaven. His [Zwingli's] view at first prevailed in the Reformed churches…The Biblical view [represents] the Lord’s Supper as a memorial to the death of Christ (Thiessen, ibid., pp. 429, 431).

Jesus said, concerning the bread,

“This do in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:24).

And concerning the cup, Jesus also said,

“This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me”
      (I Corinthians 11:25).

Since the Lord’s Supper is a memorial, our text could not be speaking about it. The text has a deeper meaning than the Lord’s Supper.

“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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

Dr. MacArthur correctly said,

Jesus’ reference here to eating and drinking was not referring to the ordinance of communion [the Lord’s Supper] for two significant reasons: (1) Communion had not been instituted yet, and (2) if Jesus was referring to communion, then the passage would teach that everyone partaking of communion would receive eternal life (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Publishing, 1997, p. 1593; note on John 6:53-58).

II. Second, what eating His flesh and drinking His Blood does mean.

It means coming to Christ, as Jesus indicated in John 6:37,

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

It means that the convert leaves behind all other hopes of salvation, and actually comes to the risen Christ. Thus, the convert partakes of the flesh and blood of Christ. The convert is united to Christ by faith.

It means that whoever receives Christ has eternal life now. Look at verse 54.

“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life…” (John 6:54).

Now look at verse 47,

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47).

So, Jesus clearly tells us that “eating [His] flesh and [drinking His] blood” means believing on Him! It means more than believing things about Him. It means believing “on” him – trusting Him, coming to Him. The moment you come to Jesus and are united with Him, you have everlasting life!

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47).

In that moment, Christ’s Blood cleanses you from all sin. In that moment, His death on the Cross propitiates the wrath of God against your sin, and you have eternal life!

You have sin on your record. And there is no other way to get rid of your sin-record than through the death of Christ in your place – and cleansing from your sin by His holy Blood!

“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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

He used the figures of eating and drinking His blood to illustrate the surpassing intimacy of Christ and the believer. This spiritual union, by which Christ imparts new life and sustenance to the believer, is portrayed later as the union of the vine and branches (15:1-8). It is sometimes called a “mystical union,” because its nature transcends comprehension (Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 2003, p. 1713; note on John 6:51-58).

This is what the Apostle John meant when he said,

“As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).

Receiving Him means that you experience a "mystical union" with Christ Jesus. 

Dr. C. L. Cagan, in his book From Darwin to Design, told how he came to Christ.

I can remember, down to the exact couple of seconds, when I trusted Him…It seemed that I was immediately facing Him…I was definitely in the presence of Jesus Christ and He was definitely available to me…At that moment, in just a few seconds, I came to Jesus. I “crossed over” to Jesus Christ…I turned around and came directly and immediately to Jesus Christ. My journey was complete. Faith was real. It was the greatest proof of all (C. L. Cagan, Ph.D., From Darwin to Design, Whitaker House Publishers, 2006, p. 19).

Let us stand and sing hymn number seven on your song sheet.

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
   Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
   Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness into Thy health,
   Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
   Jesus, I come to Thee.
(“Jesus, I Come” by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 6:51-57.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“He Bought My Soul” (by Stuart Hamblen, 1908-1989).


THE OUTLINE OF

EATING THE FLESH AND DRINKING THE BLOOD OF CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

(John 6:51-52)

I.   First, what eating His flesh and drinking His Blood does not mean,
Matthew 26:26, 28; John 6:63; I Corinthians 11:24, 25.

II.  Second, what eating His flesh and drinking His Blood does mean,
John 6:37, 54, 47; 1:12.