What Does It Mean to Eat Christ’s Flesh and To Drink His Blood?
Jun 5, 2017 3023
I’ve come across a militant atheist now and then who profess to find Christianity offensive. But those people who find Christianity offensive are missing the mark. The things that they point to are not the things that are truly offensive about Christianity.
Jesus said some things that were offensive within his own religion and culture. Here’s just one example:
I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me (John 6:53–57, NLT).
In almost every culture on earth, cannibalism has been taboo. It sends a shudder of horror down the spine of every civilized person. It was no different for the Jews. Imagine how the people would have reacted with horror when Jesus spoke these words!
The drinking of blood was strictly prohibited by the law of Moses (Lev 17:10–14). Although it is true that cannibalism is not specifically prohibited in the Moses law, it had already in effect been prohibited in the commandment that God had earlier given to Noah (9:1–6), and every time that cannibalism is mentioned in the writings of Moses it is always considered to be a terrible curse (See Lev 26:29 and Deut 28:53–57).
In fact, during its first decades, Christianity was condemned within the Roman Empire as a dangerous new cult. One of the horrific accusations that has come down to us by the pagan opponents of Christianity was that the followers of this new religion, practiced cannibalism in their meetings, eating the body and drinking the blood of someone they called Christ. Of course, they were probably referring to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, and they had misunderstood what it was all about.
You don’t receive eternal life by understanding concepts or by believing the right things. It’s got to be personal.
So, what did Jesus mean when he spoke about eating his flesh and drinking his blood? He certainly wasn’t talking about cannibalism!
He was talking about true religion. What Jesus meant is that it’s got to be personal. Jesus was saying that you don’t receive eternal life by understand concepts or by believing the right things, but instead by a personal and intimate relationship with him. Jesus must be to us more important than our very food and drink, and closer to us than the nourishment that courses through our body that helps us to live.
This requirement for salvation offends our deepest need to consider ourselves to be the masters of our own destiny, because it means surrendering all that we are and hope to be, and everything we think and all that we have, to the Carpenter of Nazareth. For those who refuse to do this, it really is offensive. But for those who embrace it, means eternal life.
– Eliezer Gonzalez