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It is really hard to identify any one verse in the Bible as being my favorite, but without any doubt, one of my favorite verses would have to be John 6:57:

“As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of Him, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.”

Most Christians interpret this verse as referring to the traditional celebration of Communion, from those who believe the bread and wine of Communion is transfigured into the literal Body and Blood of Jesus to those who accept that the verse is symbolic and practice the eating of the bread and wine, sometimes called the Lord’s Supper, as a remembrance of the death of Jesus on cross in the accomplishment of our redemption. I have no intention in this article to debate the validity of either of these interpretations. I do however want to say that if your only understanding of eating Jesus is to participate in Communion, then you are missing out on a significant and rich portion of the Christian experience.

The Bible is replete with images and exhortations regarding eating the Lord, from Genesis where the man created in God’s image was placed before the tree of life and told to eat its fruit (Genesis 2:16) to Revelation where overcomers are promised the right to eat of the tree of life for eternity (Revelation 2:7, 12:24). The entirety of John 6 is concerned with eating, from the Lord’s feeding of the 5,000 (vs 1-15) to His declaring that He is the bread of life (vs 22-51) to His exhortation to eat His flesh and drink His blood (vs 52-59).

What then does it mean to eat Jesus?

Eating is as normal as breathing. Everyone has to do it, every day, preferably at least three times per day. In principle, eating is the process of taking something outside of us into us and assimilating it so that it becomes our life supply. So how does that apply to eating the flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus? The disciples themselves had this question. Most of them interpreted this according to their natural understanding. “How can this man give us His flesh to eat? (v. 52b)” Others said “This word is hard; who can hear it? (v. 60)”

The Lord Jesus helped them to understand. “The flesh profits nothing. The words I have spoken to you, they are spirit and they are life! (v. 63)” Still many were stumbled and no longer followed Him (v. 66). Even His closest disciples, including Peter, were confused. The Lord asked Peter, “Do you also want to go away? (v. 67)” to which Peter replied, “To whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. (v. 68)” Even in his confusion, Peter had just spoken the answer to the question about what it means to eat Jesus. “ … You have the Words of eternal life”

Clearly, the natural understanding of somehow eating the physical flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus, the understanding that stumbled so many of the Lord’s disciples and continues to do so, is erroneous. “We must realize that to eat Jesus is a figure of speech. It indicates that we need Jesus as our life supply; we must receive Him into us as our life supply just as we eat food. The Lord used bread to illustrate that He is the life supply by saying that He is the bread of life (v. 48). We eat bread by receiving it into our organic body, by digesting it into our blood, fibers, and tissue. Therefore, to eat Jesus is to receive Him into our being. He is the Spirit, and the Spirit is in the word, so we have to take His word by exercising our spirit. Then we receive the Spirit in the word. This is Jesus becoming our inner life supply. Here we could see the way to eat Jesus.[1]

Eating Jesus is the teaching of the Bible, but not for doctrinal knowledge. It must be our experience. Jeremiah 15:16 does not say, “Thy words were found, and I did study them.” Rather its says “… I did eat them.” Do not misunderstand. We have to study the Bible. We must spend adequate time to study and understand the Bible. But that is not the pervasive message of the Bible. As new believers, we desire the “pure milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2)”. As we grow in Christ, we should eat solid food, spiritual meat (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12). We eat Him and we live because of Him (John 6:57).

Let us come to the Word each day to eat Him. It will become the joy and rejoicing of our heart (Jeremiah 15:16).

 

[1] Elders' Training, Book 03: The Way to Carry Out the Vision, Chapter 3, Witness Lee, Living Stream Ministry, 1985.

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