John 6: Controversy Ahead
John 6 is a controversial one. I am not an expert on debating things such as transubstantiation and the presence of Christ in the elements of communion. However, I was reading through this passage a few more times again to give the topic some additional thought, and these verses stood out to me. I didn’t want to skip over this topic simply because it is challenging or people might disagree.
Joh 6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
Joh 6:53 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.
Joh 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Joh 6:55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
Joh 6:56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
Joh 6:57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
Joh 6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
I read this, and I thought back to John 3:16.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Now, we have two things that bring eternal life. If you eat the flesh and drink the blood, then you have eternal life. If you believe in Jesus Christ, you have eternal life. Therefore, that seems to beg a question. Is eating the flesh and drinking the blood the same thing as believing in Jesus Christ? Are they two separate ways to salvation? It does not seem that there can be two ways since Jesus Christ said He was the Way, so somehow these have to be reconciled it seems.
From a symbolic perspective, it is easier to reconcile my previous questions.
Communion is a ceremony ordained by Christ that we do in remembrance of His sacrifice for us. It is not something to be taken lightly whatsoever, and I do not mean to diminish that.
However, John 6 would then be talking about something different rather than communion. If believing in Christ is the same thing as eating and drinking His body, then it could refer to something like Jesus Christ being our sustenance. If we are not living with Jesus Christ as our centerpiece, but then we are not saved. If we do not believe in Him for that type of a life essential, we are not Christians. If we are not drawing our life force from Jesus Christ, then we are not followers of His. John 6 would not necessarily then speak about the physical taking of elements, but it would rather referred to the position that Jesus Christ has in our lives.
This symbolic language of getting our life form Christ especially when compared to the people of Israel who received life of a different sort from God while in the wilderness seems to make a lot of sense to me.
Again, I am not an expert, and I am particularly not an expert on how this works out for people who believe in the necessity of taking communion for salvation, so feel free to comment no matter what side of the debate you fall on. However, it does make sense to me that understanding this symbolically is consistent. I don’t know that it is right to apply John 6 directly to the communion.