By Robert Halsey Pine
“Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” (John 6:60-71 NRSV).
Jesus was having a hard time even with His disciples in getting them to understand His being the bread of life. The idea of eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Jesus was hard for the disciples to grasp. If they were having trouble, how could they teach this concept to others? Today, we still struggle with understanding this even though we partake of communion in our churches.
God created us and made us flesh and bones and blood. We understand these in a natural life sense but not in a spiritual sense. We push them to the limit in our young days, but as we get older, we come to better understand their vulnerability and mortality and their sinful nature. Christ accepted His Father’s sacrifice of His flesh and blood for the good of all mankind. Because He was and is of God, He could discern the Spirit, which is life.
While to us the suffering and pain of tortured flesh unto death is a frightening and horrible thing, for Christ Jesus it was a passage back to where He was from at the right hand of His Father. Our flesh is sinful and so Christ gave up His flesh in order that our sins are forgiven. His flesh then becomes a gift of bread to us. When we partake of His flesh and blood as bread and the cup, we are the beneficiaries of God’s forgiveness and we spiritually connect with Christ Jesus and His Father in the kingdom of heaven.
As Jesus said, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” We must rise above our own flesh and blood with Him as we live out our natural lives. Life is a spirit, not just so many molecules of flesh. We must not sell ourselves short to sin and uselessness. Through Him our spirit is engaged and we live this life in great anticipation of our further raising up by Him on the last day.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.