Originally delivered as a communion meditation in February 2003.
Eat My Body; or, There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
This is the trouble you get for giving out free meals. An itinerant preacher feels sorry for the people who have been hanging on his every word for so long that it’s now too late for them to go find food. His much more pragmatic staff encourage him to send them away so they can fend for themselves. He counters that they are responsible for feeding them, and he just won’t accept their five-loaves-and-a-couple-fish excuse.
With just what is at hand, he feeds the multitude before dispersing them, sending his staff on ahead to the next venue and slipping away for some quiet time before he too crosses the Sea of Galilee, mostly on foot. The next morning, the multitude, having been satisfied with one handout, cross the lake themselves in search of another free meal or two. And being found by them, Jesus says,
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27 TNIV)
But as the multitude persists, Jesus declares,
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35 TNIV)
When they grumble at this new teaching, Jesus ups the ante,
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51 TNIV)
Now, the multitude is really in a tizzy, and Jesus hammers in the last nail,
“Very truly I tell you, unless you 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 them 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 them. 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. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58 TNIV)
What Jesus is trying to tell them is that he is all they need; that he is greater than the sum of their earthly needs; that he is able beyond imagination to supply even what they do need in the body. If they will throw in completely with him, he is more than able to satisfy them, regenerate them, sustain them and renew them. In one of the most difficult to swallow teachings he will ever give, Jesus says, “What you need is what I am.”
So on the night he is betrayed, Jesus brings his disciples back to this earlier conversation and instructs them to remember. Jesus tells them to eat the bread and drink the wine “in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) He tells all his followers from that night forward to…
- Remember that I am the Bread of Life sent from the Father.
- Remember that I am the only bread and the only drink that can ever really satisfy you.
- Remember that unless you commit yourself completely to me you have no life at all.
- Remember that if you will commit your life completely to me, then the fullness of my life will dwell in you, sustain you, and renew you.
©2004 David A. Peck and G.L. Baldman Media, Ltd. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to print and share this writing with others with proper citation of authorship. Use in any publication requires written permission prior to use.