Have you ever thought about what a non-believer thinks about Communion?
Perhaps they decide to visit a church on the very day we are taking the bread and cup.
What do they see? What do they hear?
Truth be told, there are some aspects of communion that might cause someone to have some really questions.
The word communion, as far as our dictionaries are concerned, can be defined as: a close relationship with someone or something; intimate fellowship or rapport; the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
Some words we can extract out of these definitions include
It’s interesting to think that the particular action that broke the sweet, close fellowship that man had with God before sin entered the world was the act of EATING!
Eve was deceived by Satan, who then coaxed Adam to eat from the one tree God had instructed them not to eat.
One bite did them in.
The result? The opposite of communion.
Closeness turned into distance
Intimacy was replaced by shame and fear
Fellowship was broken.
Where Adam and Eve had once walked through the Garden and asked God for wisdom and guidance, they were now independent. Instead of talking to their heavenly Father, they instead talked among themselves saying “We know what’s good. We know what’s evil. We know how to handle this or accomplish that!”
All because of a bite.
That’s what makes the teaching of Jesus from John 6 so intriguing to me, because in the context of His lesson, Jesus invites his listeners to dare to take another bite…
47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Eating from the tree of knowledge brought about sure death.
But here Jesus says to those listening to Him that to “eat” of Him will find life, in fact life that is forever!
Verse 52 indicates that Jesus words weren't exactly clarifying, but were in fact confusing:
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Obviously, Jesus was seeking to make a spiritual illustration, but many who were listening took His words literally, and began to wonder if Jesus was trying to promote some sort of cannibalistic cult!
To which, we might think that Jesus would at that point take a minute, slow done, and say something like, “Whoa, hold on guys, you’re getting the wrong idea!”
But Jesus does just the opposite.
If fact, to use a modern expression, He appears to double down!
Here’s what he says starting in verse 53:
53 So Jesus 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 you. 54 Whoever feeds on 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. 56 Whoever feeds on 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 whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Once again, if Jesus isn't taking about the actual consuming of human flesh, just what IS He trying to say to his listeners?
Here’s a few of the ways I process Jesus' teaching:
- When it comes to the cross work of Jesus, we must go beyond admiration to engagement.
- We cannot stop at appreciating Christ’s work, we must go all the way to embracing it.
- The call of Jesus is a call for our all.
- We aren't called to wade, we are called to swim.
One of the things that consumes our lives is the pursuit of food and drink.
Why? Because without these two, our life very quickly comes to an end!
Here in this passage, Jesus is telling us that, spiritually speaking, we need to consume of Him.
The essence of Christianity is wrapped up in the fact that if we don’t fully grab hold of Jesus as our Lord and our Savior, we spiritually end up dying of hunger and thirst.
He is our sustenance.
He is our nourishment.
He is our life!
And he invites us to take all He has to offer that we might be filled.
Through communion we become involved in multiple activities, such as remembering the reason for his death that saves us from sin, inviting Jesus to rule over our lives presently, and looking forward to the time we join him in heaven for all eternity.
And the amazing thing is that Jesus invites us to his table, and all that the table communicate, just as we are, simply acknowledging our desperate need for everything He offers.
Communion, therefore is not some cursory church activity that we put on the church calendar to fulfill some religious obligation.
It is instead a God-given opportunity to draw close to the One who has done everything to make us right and holy and free.