|52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat
the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is
real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh
and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the
living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who
feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down
from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on
this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the
synagogue in Capernaum.
Well I don’t know about you but I enjoyed that time of worship. Why don’t you just praise Jesus, huh? Praise his name. It is just so good to worship the Lord and good to bless his Holy name.
I am so glad to be with you today and I feel like we could go five or more. I am not just saying that, I mean that with all my heart. Just as I prepare the message that God has for me today, I do want you to know something and I don’t know whether or not you have grasped this or not, but when you are doing what God has uniquely designed you to do, when you have heard his call and you are doing what he has called you to do, he imbues or fills or imparts to you power and ability that you would not otherwise have. He gives you strength to persist when others would have long since wilted, by way of his power. So I just give you that. I haven’t thought of a price for it yet, so take it now, quick. But it’s just true that when you receive God’s call on your life and you are doing what he has called you to do, there is seldom a sense of exhaustion. If you don’t know that, if you haven’t found that true in your life, I pray to God that you ask him to give it to you. He wants to, you know.
Well it is my thrill to be here for this third service and what an exciting day it has been as we have considered some things that God gave to me and now I am charged to give to you. Here we are at this so-called Christmas season, a season that is overrun with traditions, all kinds of things that we are typically doing. I would submit to you that many of those things that we are doing are just a matter of tradition and have nothing to do with Jesus whatsoever. But, along with this season comes a rather significant focus on food, wouldn’t you say? I mean food, food, food everywhere. And our culture particularly food is so plenteous, even the poorest of us can find ourselves rather corpulent. There is not a problem in it for us, you know what we got fast food and we have fine dining and you have specialty foods, exotic foods. I am one of those crazy people who love sushi. How many sushi lovers do I have here? All right, the numbers are growing and that’s great. Yet there are all kinds of specialty foods. I love chitlins too. How many people love chitlins? Aw, come on. You don’t know nothing about it. Don’t even try it. Don’t even try it. All I can say to that is, food glorious food. You know that wonderful line from Oliver. Food, food, food.
You know as a boy, I grew up in Philadelphia in a rather modest neighborhood, to say the least, and my grandparents were heads of households. My granddaddy, Alfred Hogard Dewright Deacon and my grandmother, Naomi, called Noni by her friends Hogard. They were heads of household and they loved Jesus. And in my home it was not unusual to hear songs lofting through our rooms to the glory of God. My grandparents could not read much at all. They read just the barest little and what reading they could do; they left to reading God’s word. One word at a time they would figure out. Jesus said, those are the kinds of things that I heard. Not like us, we can speed read. And read all kinds of stuff. I would dare say however that most of us are reading any and everything, but the word of God. We get our degrees and we pour ourselves into those books to get those degrees because that’s important. Haven’t got yours yet, huh? But we do give ourselves to that which we say is important. We dig in. We eat it up. We feed on certain things because we have bought into the idea that these things are important. And we give no time virtually to the word of God. We walk around anorexic, emaciated, things looking like near death spiritually in terms of our feeding on the word of God. Fat in everything else, but skinny with regard to the word of God.
And so as a boy, I grew up in Philadelphia and while my home was modest, it was rich I think in terms of the things of God. Dinnertime would come and at dinnertime the meal would be set. We would typically have meals together and my taste in those times were different than now. I have preferences today, which are different than then, but I certainly had my tastes then. There were certain things that I just did not want. One of the things that I remember clearly is spinach. I just could not take spinach. I feel differently about that today. One of the things that I buy more than any else is probably spinach, in terms of vegetables. I just love it today, but as a child I didn’t get it. I couldn’t understand it. I certainly wasn’t impressed by the notion that it was good for me. But the table would be set and I might have an issue with something that was on the table, but let me speak to the young people particularly about this, you see when I would sit down at the table and the meal was prepared, my grandparents didn’t give one hoot about my preferences. They are not like today in our affluent society, when we sit down at the dinner table and mom says, “Would you like some of this or I have some of this or I have this for you.” I mean, we have a virtual smorgasbord of possibilities at dinnertime. What’s up with that? You think that is good? You think that is a good thing? Well it is not. I want to tell you flat out. There were times that I would raise my voice about not wanting a certain thing that was on the table and you know what my grandparents would say and I told you they were not people of many words, they were rather terse in their response to me and they would say something, maybe as few as two words like, “Boy, eat.” I just want to give that to you parents. Hear me. “Boy, girl, eat.” And if you don’t eat, you’re just hungry. They won’t die, they will just be hungry.
I would go up the street because Reverend Jefferson lived up the street and Reverend Jefferson was a godly man and his bride, Mrs. Jefferson and they loved me. Most of the kids in the neighborhood couldn’t stand Reverend Jefferson because he was a stern sort. He really was rather a righteous man. That’s how I remember him. I don’t remember him doing anything except that he didn’t like kids doing things that they shouldn’t be doing around his property. And I was the only child in the neighborhood who ever had an opportunity to go and spend time with Reverend Jefferson on his enclosed porch. Now most of the kids thought I was doing penance of some sort. But actually it was a precious time and every now and again I would have dinner with Reverend and Mrs. Jefferson and guess what? I had those preferences again. I remember one day they were offering what was I think steamed chicken. Now I like chicken, but I prefer fried chicken. You know what I am saying. I like that crispiness and so that steam thing just couldn’t get it and I remember just so clearly sitting down and turning my nose up at what was in front of me and I think my grandmother and grandfather must have been in cahoots with Reverend and Mrs. Jefferson because all I could hear was, “Boy, eat.” Because they understood some things, they understood that food was not a given. It took work, hard work to put food on the table. Sometimes our kids today don’t understand that for many it’s a matter of blood to get food on the table. We think it has always been there. Its an easy thing, but they wanted to communicate to me that eating was not a given, and that I needed to learn thankfulness. Thankfulness in terms of receiving what was put before me, whether I preferred it or not. Well, another thing that they knew that I didn’t know was again, that certain things were good for me. They wanted me to grow up and be a healthy young man. My family had an idea about me. They thought that I might be something. They thought I might be a preacher. So many of the kids in our neighborhood were being killed, but they thought I was a special one set aside. They wanted me to grow up right around the word of God. They wanted me to eat the right things so I would be physically strong.
Well, the context of our passage and let me just read it for you. We are today speaking from John, Chapter 6, Verses 52 through 59. If you have your Bibles turn there so that you can follow along. Again, the context here in John, Chapter 6, not too long ago Jesus had endured the ire of the religious rulers because of his healing of the invalid man on the Sabbath. And then Jesus did an amazing thing. He told his disciples to have the people sit down who had followed him and he prepared to feed them. The Bible says there were 5,000 men. That means that Jesus fed, the Bible says, he fed 5,000 men. That means that he must have fed close to 20,000 people with two fish and five barley loaves of bread.
They had seen an amazing miracle, and now it was time for the Passover feast. The Passover feast was one of three major feasts. The Jewish men who live within 20 miles of Jerusalem were obliged to make their way to Jerusalem for Passover. And so Jesus was feeding these people within the context of the Passover. The Passover. The Passover, let me give you a little bit of that, as well. It spoke of a time when God had promised to bring his people out of Egypt, out of bondage and into the land that he had prepared for them, but he was going to do it in an amazing way. God told his people through Moses that he was going to set them free and the way he was going to do it was he told them each to secure a lamb, a little lamb, a little lamb and that lamb was to come to their home, a perfect little lamb to their home and stay with them for a couple of weeks, just long enough for them to fall in love with this beautiful little animal. Just long enough for a family to consider the lamb as a pet. Something to love. And just then they were to slaughter the lamb. Kill it and drain out its blood and the blood they were to paint on the doorpost of their houses. It was a bloody mess, a bloody, bloody mess, blood dripping from the doorpost of their houses. And inside the homes the people were to cook this lamb and eat it, this lamb that had been their little pet. Because God said you got to eat the lamb because you are going to be walking for quite some distance, and you have to have strength for the journey. You got to eat this flesh of the lamb to have strength for the journey. And that blood has to be over the doorpost of your house, so that when the angel of God comes to take the lives of those who did not believe and who did not obey, he would see the blood on the of the house and then he would pass over. And so this is the context. Jesus is demonstrating himself to be that ultimate Passover Lamb. “Pascal Lamb.”
So Jesus stands there in the temple at Capernaum with all that stuff going on in the background, thousands and thousands of people all around, there is a den in the air and people are talking about all kinds of things, all kinds of conversations going around and then in the midst of that Jesus says something like this. He says in Verse 52, backing up to Verse 52, “The Jews therefore began to argue with one another saying “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus therefore said to them, “truly, truly I say to you,” another aside, this is not a rabbit trail; this is very, very helpful to you. Whenever you see, “truly, truly,” in the KJV it’s “verily, verily,” what it means is “sure enough, sure enough.” It means, stop, look and listen, I have got something to say that is going to rock your world. I have got something to say that’s going to shift your paradigm. However you have been thinking about things before, it’s going to have to change now, sure enough. Sure enough. And so Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man,” that’s the title of Jesus, the Christ, “and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” Verse 55, “For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 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. 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. These things he said in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.”
I didn’t give it to you before, but the title of the message today is “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner of Champions.” And so those in the audience, the Jewish leaders, the multitudes, some disciples. By disciples we don’t mean the special 12 necessarily, but they were just a throng of people who were following after Jesus. Some were following him because they were hoping to get food. Some were following because they saw the miracles and they were stunned by that. People were following him for all kinds of reasons and when they heard him say something like this, that you have got to eat my flesh and drink my blood, well that causes no small concerns. We are Jews after all, we are not cannibals. What are you saying? They got very literal on him at this point. By the way, that literal interpretation that they applied here, really was bogus completely. They understood. They understood the metaphorical application. I mean, after all, this was the Passover. And they knew that the Messiah was referred to in the scriptures as the Pascal lamb and they also had heard just a little while ago in John, Chapter 1, about Verse 29, John the Baptist, the great harbinger of God, he said to the people, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” They had no excuse. No excuse, whatsoever.
I want to tell you right now that the truth of the matter is that those of us who have difficulties with the Lord Jesus and the truths that he sets before us, if you have a problem with what Jesus says, if not because the idea is difficult from a standpoint as being complicated. The reason why you have difficulty with what Jesus says is because you are evil in your thinking. Let me say it one more time, I don’t want you to miss this. When we have trouble with what the Lord Jesus says, its not because its complicated, but because our thinking is perverted, wicked and evil. We have a moral problem. When you have trouble with what Jesus declares, the trouble flows from your sin, not because of complication. And so that is what Jesus was facing. The Jewish rulers because they had so much to lose, they were sick and tired of this Jesus. So many people following after him. These miracles, they couldn’t do that kind of stuff. What’s going on here? Their power base was being eroded. And then the disciples, the people who followed after him for all kinds of reasons. There were those who followed him because they wanted their stomachs filled. Just like we do when we vote every so many years. Often times we vote because we are hoping somebody is going to fill our stomachs. Give us what we need. Rather than voting because of righteousness. Amen? You might as well say Amen, it’s the truth. Amen. And so, they were having difficulty, the disciples were having difficulty, even his apostles, those who were walking closest, they too were having difficulty with what Jesus said. The fact of the matter is that, they should not have had any difficulty at all.
Let me talk to you very, very briefly these final moments, what Jesus was referring to. When Jesus says, “You have to eat my flesh”, what is he saying? What is he saying? Jesus, let me eat your flesh. Well, what he is saying is that, when we look at his life, his flesh stands for the life, not like our flesh, our flesh is full of sin, but his flesh had no sin and as we look at his flesh, we see perfection, just the way God intended it from the beginning and so when we look at his life, when we study his life by way of the word of God, peering in to God’s word, digging in like my grandparents did, one word at a time, trying to figure out what God has to say to me, we can know that as we study Jesus, everything about him is all right. Everything about him is good. You see, in his flesh and his life, there is life. There is life, nowhere else. Mohammed has no life for you. Buddha has no life for you. Moses has no life for you. Only Jesus. Only Jesus and so he says, you better drink my blood. Now what does that mean that you got to drink your blood Jesus, tell me because that sounds like a horrible thing. But you know, there is a certain horror associated with it. There is a certain horror. When Jesus says you better drink his blood, what he is saying is that his blood refers to what he does on the cross.
You know, what’s about to happen not too far down in the Book of John. Jesus knows that he is about to be nailed to the cross, but before that he is going to be beat unmercifully, people were going to take their fists and walk up to the sinless Son of God and smash his face in and then they take their hands, those hands that he made, that he made and they are going to grab his beard and rip it out of his face and then they beat him with a scourge, ripping the flesh off his back down to the bone. This sinless Lamb of God and then they strip off all of his clothes seeking to tear away his dignity and they paraded him through the street naked. Jesus. And then they put him on the cross, piercing his side. Now when Jesus said you got to drink his blood, what he is saying is that when you see him on the cross, you have got to realize that what he did, he had to do because of your sin. Because your sin, put your name there. Put your name there. Your name. Because of your disobedience towards God, Jesus had to be slaughtered, because of the vile, evil nature of your sin. The blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus. He who knew no sin took your sin and my sin on to the cross so that we might have life. That is the blood of Jesus. And so as you drink his blood, that’s what you are taking in. You’re saying, “Jesus it’s a horrible thing that you went through, but I realize that its horrible because of who I am and what I have done. And I thank you for it. I take it. I take it as true and right for me.” That’s the blood of Jesus. That’s the wonderful blood of Jesus.
So, he says eat his flesh, all of it. Drink his blood, all of it. At this time, Jesus is not talking about the Last Supper, that is not what he is doing here. He is not trying to set up some Eucharistic principle here. That is not what he is doing. He is talking about taking everything that he is into your life to the exclusion of all others. We have spent so much of our lives feeding on so many other things. You know it’s true. What do you talk about most of the time? What’s on your mind most of the time? What fills up your heart most of the time? Well that’s the stuff you have been feeding on. That’s how you know.
By the way, quick little aside here. My bride who was here for the first two services, my bride Karen of 22 years, she loves me, so she says, and one of the things that she does not like about me is that I love onions. I love me some onions and garlic too. I am always cooking with that stuff and in big chunks, so you know what that does. She says to me, “Honey, don’t do that because when you do that you know I can smell it in your breath and when you lay down in bed at time it just comes through your skin. It’s everywhere.” Onions, well I am sorry honey, but I love me some onions. But you know something, when you feed on Jesus, when you spend time with him, when you spend time in his word, when you study his word, when you fall on your face and cry out to him and allow him to fill you with himself, you are going to smell like him. You are going to smell like him. He will just exude out of you.
Well it’s time to wrap it up. It’s time to go. Jesus is giving us the Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner of Champions and as it turns out for all those meals, it’s him. It’s him. This season, as you leave here you are going to be offered all kinds of stuff. This world has much to offer you. There is quite a long menu and many of us have chosen everything but Jesus. What will you chose? Jesus says that those who do not receive him have no life in them. Verse 54. You have no life in you. That means that not only do you die physically, but according to Revelation, Chapter 20, Verses 14 and 15, it also tells us that after we die physically that those who don’t have Jesus will also die and then be sent to the Lake of Fire that was designed for the devil and his angels, the demons. That place was not designed for you, but you will go there if you don’t have Jesus. So on one hand, he promises life. Eternal life if you feed on him, if you feed on his flesh and drink his blood. He promises that he will abide and that means that he will take up residence in you by way of the Holy Spirit if you take him. If you don’t, you will die in your sins and you will spend eternity in a devil’s hell. You are sweet, nice people, but I have got to tell you, hell is filled with sweet, nice people. You have got to have Jesus in you. You have to feed on him by faith. Moms and Dads, your sweet little children, God loves them, but he will allow them to go to hell. It is our challenge and our charge to feed them, that which is true food so that they might have life, which is only found in Jesus Christ, the Breakfast, Lunch and dinner of Champions. Will you feed on him by faith?
Let’s pray. Heavenly father, we praise you and thank you for your goodness today. Oh God, you have just been so wonderful to attend to our needs. You have met us, but now we ask that you would just fill us with Jesus, cause us Lord to chose him over all the other possibilities in our lives. In Jesus name that we pray. Amen.