Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man - Unless ye be made partakers of the blessings about to be purchased by my blood, passion, and violent death, ye cannot be saved. As a man must eat bread and flesh, in order to be nourished by them, so a man must receive the grace and Spirit of Christ, in order to his salvation. As food in a rich man's store does not nourish the poor man that needs it, unless it be given him, and he receive it into his stomach, so the whole fountain of mercy existing in the bosom of God, and uncommunicated, does not save a soul: he who is saved by it must be made a partaker of it. Our Lord's meaning appears to be, that, unless they were made partakers of the grace of that atonement which he was about to make by his death, they could not possibly be saved. Bishop Pearce justly observes that the ideas of eating and drinking are here borrowed to express partaking of, and sharing in. Thus spiritual happiness on earth, and even in heaven, is expressed by eating and drinking; instances of which may be seen, Matthew 8:11; Matthew 26:29; Luke 14:15; Luke 22:30; and Revelation 2:17. Those who were made partakers of the Holy Spirit are said by St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 12:13, to be made to drink into (or of) one Spirit. This, indeed, was a very common mode of expression among the Jews.
In these verses Jesus repeats what he had in substance said before.
Except ye eat the flesh - He did not mean that this should be understood literally, for it was never done, and it is absurd to suppose that it was intended to be so understood. Nothing can possibly be more absurd than to suppose that when he instituted the Supper, and gave the bread and wine to his disciples, they literally ate his flesh and drank his blood. Who can believe this? There he stood, a living man - his body yet alive, his blood flowing in his veins; and how can it be believed that this body was eaten and this blood drunk? Yet this absurdity must be held by those who hold that the bread and wine at the communion are “changed into the body, blood, and divinity of our Lord.” So it is taught in the decrees of the Council of Trent; and to such absurdities are men driven when they depart from the simple meaning of the Scriptures and from common sense. It may be added that if the bread and wine used in the Lord‘s Supper were not changed into his literal body and blood when it was first instituted, they have never been since.
The Lord Jesus would institute it just as he meant it should be observed, and there is nothing now in that ordinance which there was not when the Saviour first appointed it. His body was offered on the cross, and was raised up from the dead and received into heaven. Besides, there is no evidence that he had any reference in this passage to the Lord‘s Supper. That was not yet instituted, and in that there was no literal eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood. The plain meaning of the passage is, that by his bloody death - his body and his blood offered in sacrifice for sin - he would procure pardon and life for man; that they who partook of that, or had an interest in that, should obtain eternal life. He uses the figure of eating and drinking because that was the subject of discourse; because the Jews prided themselves much on the fact that their fathers had eaten manna; and because, as he had said that he was the bread of life, it was natural and easy, especially in the language which he used, to carry out the figure, and say that bread must be eaten in order to be of any avail in supporting and saving men. To eat and to drink, among the Jews, was also expressive of sharing in or partaking of the privileges of friendship. The happiness of heaven and all spiritual blessings are often represented under this image, Matthew 8:11; Matthew 26:29; Luke 14:15, etc.
Is meat indeed - Is truly food. My doctrine is truly that which will give life to the soul.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14. TDG 231.1
All that leading scientific minds may conjecture aside from Christ, the Light of the world, is as chaff compared to the wheat. Christ is grieved that so few understand the science of oneness with Himself. Minds that are not under the divine guidance cannot understand the science of redemption. The mystery of godliness is found only in the believing soul who is divested of self. He is greatest in the kingdom of heaven who will become teachable as a little child. TDG 231.2Read in context »
To those who obey, the Word of God is the tree of life. It is the word of salvation, received unto eternal life. Those who follow its teachings eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. On the effect which this word produces on us, depends our destiny for eternity. It possesses the elements necessary for the formation of a perfect character. The Christian is appointed to connect with God in such close relationship that his life is bound up with the life of Christ in the eternal life of God. TDG 120.2Read in context »
Gather the precious rays of light shining around you and focus them in one blaze upon the Word, and truths hidden from the casual reader will stand forth plainly and distinctly. All over the field of revelation are scattered grains of gold—the sayings of the wisdom of God. If you are wise you will gather up these precious grains of truth. Make the promises of God your own. Then when test and trial come, these promises will be to you glad springs of heavenly comfort. As you study the Word, it will become to you a wellspring of wisdom. Thus you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. TMK 202.3Read in context »