Jesus said, “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. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. John 6:53,55
Jesus is not talking to the Pharisees about really eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The sacrament of communion had not even been instituted yet. Jesus was speaking about taking in His words in every way possible internally. He told the people in another sermon that He ‘was the living bread that had come down out of heaven.’ And in yet another scene, ‘man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’
I am drawn toward the mystical. If I can take communion, eat the bread and drink the wine, and really think that I am ingesting Christ somehow, I will choose to experience that rather than engage in the daily discipline and privilege of embracing His words, exploring what they mean, and and then applying them. This is the hard work of the Gospel. Paul said, “We are in the process of being saved” (I Cor.1:18). Though positionally secure as far as heaven is concerned, I must be about a daily salvation of my own flesh, submitting my thoughts and behaviors to the loving Spirit of God inside. He is passionate about continual sanctification; a permanent spiritual makeover.
I can also believe that communion is just a time to remember, an isolated event where I eat the bread, remember His death and say, “Thank you!” If that is all it is to me, if my life isn’t engaged with Him when the communion service is long over, the ritual has been to little avail. I am not more holy because I took it. I am not saved by it nor in better standing with God because I took it. The rite of communion is meant to be a part of my overall discipleship experience.
If Jesus were here in person this morning, if I were literally sitting at His feet like Mary and feasting on every Word He speaks to me, and if I then got up to live in the truth He shared with me, I would be ‘eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking His blood’. The Spirit would have been breathing over me as I took them in, savored them, and then infused me with the grace to apply them. I am never more alive than when I stand in His promises. I am never more in peril than when I hear, sift everything according to what I like and don’t like, and then cast the distasteful words aside because they threaten to cramp my lifestyle.
Next time I take communion, I will remember this. I will say to You, “I eat of You now, Lord. I remember Your death that brought me life. I will eat of You tomorrow too, for You are my daily bread.” Amen