Selected from the Book Of Gems

May 1, 1997 Issue
by Benjamin Franklin

John 6:48, we find the words of the Lord, "I am the bread of life." The Lord adds the remark to the Jews, "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead." It had no power to perpetuate life only for a short time; but he continues, John 6:50, ‘This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die." It will be noticed that his flesh did not come down from heaven, and that bread which came down from heaven is that of which if a man shall eat he shall not die. Then he follows with the remark, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread" (which came down from heaven) "he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Here he uses the flesh, as that which they saw and dealt with in crucifying him metonymically, or a part of the whole. The Jews, however, understood him to mean his flesh literally, and so does the Romish church, and the Jews inquired, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" The Lord did not explain the matter to them, but added, verse 56, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you."

They were looking at it in the literal sense, and did not see how they could eat his flesh, or how the eating of it could give life. The doctrine of transubstantiation had not yet been born, and the idea of the bread and wine being changed, in the ceremony of consecration, into the real flesh and blood, so that they could eat the flesh and drink his blood in the communion, had not yet entered into the minds of men. Nor did our Lord mean any such thing, but he himself, who came down from heaven, is that bread of life which if a man shall eat he shall never die. But the eating is not literal, any more than the bread is literal or the flesh. We partake of that bread, or of him who came down from heaven by hearing of him, believing on him, and being united with him. In becoming his disciples, learning of him and following him in all things, we eat or partake of that bread, or of him who is the way, and the truth and the life.

He proceeds, "He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." See John 6:54. He who believes on him, receives him, follows him, loves him and obeys him, in the sense he intended, eats his flesh and drinks his blood; but not in the communion any more than in the other parts of his teaching, or other appointments. In coming to Christ, and be-coming his disciples, we are made partakers of him, of "the divine nature," and our salvation is in him. "My flesh is food indeed," says he, "and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him." Following him a little further on, John 6:57, he says, "As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead; he who eats this bread shall live forever." See verse John 6:58. The eating is partaking of Christ, the bread that came down from heaven; this is done by faith, in receiving, following and obeying him; doing his commandments, that we may enter by the gates into the city, and have a right to the tree of life.

Selected from the
Book Of Gems.

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