The Gospel of John, Jesus' fourth sign, part 6
Nov 23, 2019
Jesus compared the manna in the wilderness with His own flesh, telling the people in John 6:51 that the new manna was His flesh. This was definitely not the type of manna that the people were expecting of the coming Messiah, and they were horrified. John 6:52 says,
52 The Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
The fact that there was an argument tells us that there were differences of opinion. Nonetheless, the prevailing view was the one that did not believe what Jesus said, for that is what is given in the verse above. John 6:53-55 then says,
53 Jesus therefore said to them, “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 yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
Apparently, many of the people did not understand what He was saying, due to their carnal way of thinking. Jesus never intended for anyone to literally eat His flesh and drink His blood. He was using the Hebrew word basar, with its double meaning, to set forth the truth that the people were to hear, accept, and assimilate His word.
His Flesh is Good News
Basar is usually translated “flesh” throughout the Old Testament. The first time it is used is in Genesis 2:21-24, when Eve was taken out of Adam.
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh [basar] at that place… 23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh [basar] of my flesh [basar]; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man. 24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh [basar].
But basar also means “good tidings, good news, gospel,” as we see in 1 Chronicles 16:23, 24, where a psalm of David says,
23 Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim good tidings [basar] of His salvation [yeshuah] from day to day. 24 Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
Here David shows that the “good tidings” are about “wonderful deeds” of Yeshua (Jesus). Again, we read in Isaiah 52:7,
7 How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who announces peace and brings good news [basar] of happiness, who announces salvation [yeshua], and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
The prophet goes on to tell us in Isaiah 61:1,
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news [basar] to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners.
Jesus quoted this about Himself in Nazareth, His hometown, at the beginning of His ministry (Luke 4:18), saying in verse 21, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” It was the logical climax of the message that the angel gave to the shepherds when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Luke 2:10, 11 says,
10 And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Although these verses come to us in Greek, we ought to retain a Hebrew mindset and see that this “good news” was prophesied many years earlier using the Hebrew word basar. It was “good news” that the word was made flesh (basar) at His incarnation. As the living word, Jesus then offered them His flesh to “eat,” which was comparable to the manna coming down out of heaven to feed the Israelites in the wilderness.
To “eat” His flesh, then, was to believe His message, absorb it, and make it a part of their own flesh. In this way, they could become sons of God and members of the body of Christ. In doing so, the Last Adam was like the first, whose wife was taken out of him. Adam said that his wife was “flesh of my flesh,” and this could also be read with a double meaning: “good news of my flesh.”
In other words, the bride of Christ is in unity and agreement with Christ, having the same word and message, proclaiming the same good news, not out of compulsion but out of her nature.
This is what Jesus was offering the people in the fourth sign in John’s gospel which manifested the glory of God in the earth. Yet most of the people could not comprehend or apprehend this good news, because they did not enjoy genuine unity and agreement with God. Being under the Old Covenant, they still had to strive to keep the law in order to fulfill their fathers’ vow at Mount Horeb. Their unwilling flesh was still living in bondage under compulsion, hoping to achieve the salvation of God by the power of their own will and flesh.
New Covenant Life
With an Old Covenant mindset, men could live with the Life-giver but could never truly become one flesh with Him. The master-servant relationship is insufficient. An upgrade is necessary, and this was promised from the beginning through the New Covenant, where God Himself made promises, vows, and oaths to ensure the success of the divine plan. Therefore, to eat His flesh and drink His blood is possible only under the New Covenant, for Jesus is its Mediator.
Jesus concludes His manna teaching in John 6:56-58, saying,
56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever.
To “eat” His flesh is to hear His words. To “drink” His blood is to see God. John 1:18 says,
18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
The only way to see God is to see Him through God’s Agent, Jesus Christ. We will be given more revelation about this later in John 14:8-11, where Philip asked Jesus to “Show us the Father.” Jesus told him that “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Apparently, up to that point, Philip did not understand the meaning of drinking the blood of Christ.
Yet this question came up during The Last Supper on the eve of His crucifixion, where Jesus instituted the “Communion” in remembrance of the work that He was about to do. Paul spoke of this fellowship meal later in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25,
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me. 25 In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of Me.”
We see here that the blood of Jesus, which He instructed us to “drink,” is the New Covenant. Hence, it is only through the New Covenant that we can truly “see” God. Those who retain an Old Covenant mindset—even if they claim to be under the New Covenant—are not really drinking the blood of Jesus, nor are they assimilating the good tidings that He brings.
The “good news” is the word of truth that “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) that He was willing to die for His enemies (Romans 5:7-10). Those who understand that message and are in agreement with it have been called as ambassadors of the Kingdom to convey the message “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Those who disagree with this, those who are horrified at the thought of eating this basar, can only give a bad news message, telling the world that they are all going to hell unless they stop fighting God. “Turn or burn!” they say, not realizing that such a message is based upon a lack of understanding, combined with an Old Covenant mindset.
The basar of Jesus is His flesh, and to eat His flesh is to assimilate the good news of the God of Love. When this good news becomes part of us, we too become the word made flesh, and when the world sees us, they see Christ, because we too manifest the glory of God in the earth.
John 6:59 concludes,
59 These things He said in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.
The synagogue in Capernaum was friendly to Jesus, and He often was asked to teach there. However, many there could not comprehend the truth that He taught, and so Jesus remained a controversial figure even in Capernaum itself. It appears that Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum, continued in fellowship with Jesus, because Jesus had raised his only daughter from the dead (Mark 5:22, 23, 41, 42; Luke 8:41, 42).
Jairus never forgot this act of divine love. Though he must have come under some pressure to cast out or excommunicate Jesus for His controversial teachings, he refused to do so. So in a way, the synagogue in Capernaum was Jesus “home church.”
This is part 6 of a series titled "Jesus' Fourth Sign" To view all parts, click the link below.