By Paul K. Williams
Brethren, when you read John 6:35-58, or portions of it, at the serving of the Lord’s supper, you are misapplying the passage. Jesus is not talking about the Lord’s supper. He is talking about believing his word.
Jesus had fed 5000 men, plus women and children, with five loaves and two fish. The multitude followed him across the Sea of Galilee. When they found him, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (John 6:26-27). At once that should tell us that Jesus was not talking about food which we can eat with our mouths. He was talking about his word.
The multitude didn’t want to understand. They said, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘he gave them bread out of heaven to eat’” (v. 31). They were quite willing to follow Jesus if he would feed them more bread and fish. Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world” (vv. 32-33). He then explained, “I am the bread of life” (v. 35).
How can we eat the flesh and blood of Jesus? He said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (v. 54). Don’t apply that to the Lord’s supper, please! If you do, you will have Jesus saying that those who eat the Lord’s supper have eternal life. That is simply not true. There are many who eat the Lord’s supper who do not have eternal life.
The parallel verse in this passage is verse 40: “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” That is exactly parallel to verse 54. The one explains the other. When Jesus said that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood he was saying that we must behold him as the Son and believe in him.
The food we must eat is spiritual food. It is the word which comes from Jesus Christ. If we eat this food, taking it into our minds and letting it change our lives, we will have eternal life and he will raise us up on the last day. This is what Jesus was teaching in John 6.