Faithlife Sermons

Eating And Drinking Of Faith

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

JOHN 6:51-58  

Jesus and the ‘bread of life’ discourse: “I am the bread of life…” [6:35].

§         Background of the miracle of the five thousand.

§         Background of the exodus and the associated imagery: “passover…” [6:4]; “he gave them bread from heaven…” [6:31].

§         Jesus’ confidence in the “gift” [6:37] of the Father and in the “drawing” [6:44] of the Father.

§         Our “coming to” [6:37] Jesus and our understanding [6:45-46] of who Jesus is the result of the direct operation of God in our lives.

The “murmuring” [6:41] of the Jews and the questions that they pose: “how is it then…” [6:42].

§         The question being posed in this section: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat” [6:52].

The actions of the sinner in “coming” [6:37] and in “believing” [6:47] in Jesus are further proclaimed in a graphic, symbolic way.


1.        The Promise

The implicit invitation to believe: “Verily, verily, I say unto you…” [6:47].

§         πιστεύων - “he that believes” [6:47], present active participle, ‘to know, assent, trust’;

§         ἔχει - “has” [6:47], present indicative active, ‘to own, possess’;

§         ζωὴν αἰώνιον - “everlasting life” [6:47], basically means ‘pertaining to an age’; “everlasting life” means life proper to the age to come; the important thing about “everlasting life” is not its quantity but its quality;

2.        The Personal Description

a.        The Reiteration

The reiteration: “I am that bread of life” [6:48].

§         The manna had its limitations: “your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead” [6:49].

§         The true bread: “a man may eat thereof and not die” [6:50].

b.        The Bread of Life

i.        The Manna

The manna could not bestow eternal life: “your fathers did eat manna…” [6:49].

§         The end result: “they are dead” [6:49].

ii.      The Incarnation

The incarnation of the Son of God: “I am the living bread which came down...” [6:51],

§         ζῶν - “living” [6:51], present active participle, ‘physical vitality’; ‘able to communicate life’;

§         καταβάς - “came down” [6:51], aorist active participle, ‘to descend from a high level’;


3.        The Participation in Life

a.        The Promise

The promise: “if any man eats of this bread…” [6:51].

§         φάγῃ - “eat” [6:51], aorist active subjunctive, ‘consumption of food’; ‘to devour’; ‘to take nourishment’;

§         ζήσει - “live” [6:51], future indicative active, ‘physical vitality’;

§         εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα - “forever” [6:51], ‘into the future age’;

b.        The Explanation

The explanation: “the bread that I will give is my flesh…” [6:51].

§         καὶ ἄρτος δὲ ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω

§         ἄρτος - “bread” [6:51], ‘loaf of bread’; ‘food, nourishment’;

i.        The Flesh >>> The Whole Person

The bread that Jesus speaks of is “my flesh…” [6:51].

§         σάρξ μού - “my flesh” [6:51], ‘human nature in its totality regarded from its earthly side’; ‘puts a marked emphasis on the physical side of life’;

§         The use of “flesh” is to be understood in the light of the incarnation statement: “The Word became flesh…” [1:14].

§         It is as the incarnate Logos that Jesus is able to give his “flesh for the life of the world” [6:51].

§         Jesus is referring to his whole self as the gift: “for their sakes I sanctify myself” [17:19].

ii.      The Gift  

Jesus will give his flesh as a gift: “I will give for the life of the world” [6:51].

§         δώσω - “give” [6:51], ‘to put something in another place’; from the same root as dw'ron, ‘gift, present’.

§         The future active indicative points forward to Calvary????????


iii.    The Variety of Gifts

John speaks of so many gifts in relation to our salvation:

§         The incarnate Son is the gift of God: “if you knew the gift of God…” [4:10].

§         The Father gives life to the Son: “so has he given the Son to have life in himself” [5:26].

§         The Father gives the church to his Son: “all that the Father gives me…” [6:37].

§         Jesus gives eternal life to those who believe: “but for that meat which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you…” [6:27].

iv.      The Nature of the Gift

The nature of the gift: “I will give for the life of the world” [6:51].

§         ὑπὲρ - “for” [6:51], ‘on behalf of’; ‘for the sake of’;

§         The preposition is used repeatedly in a substitutionary and sacrificial sense: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep” [10:11]; “it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people…” [11:50]; “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” [15:13]; “for their sakes I sanctify myself” [17:19].

§         τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς - “life of the world” [6:51], the “world” in its qualitative sense as that which is alienated from God and in “darkness” [1:5]. 



1.        The Struggle

a.        The Action

The reaction to the message: “they strove among themselves…” [6:52].

§         Ἐμάχοντο - “strove” [6:52], imperfect middle or passive indicative, ‘to quarrel, dispute’;

b.        The Question

The question raised by the Jews: “How can this man give us…” [6:33].

§         πῶς - “how” [6:53], ‘interrogative ‘determining how something happens’;

§         δύναται - “can” [6:53], present middle or passive indicative, ‘to have power’; ‘to have the ability to perform an act’;

§         οὗτος - “this man” [6:53],

§         δοῦναι - “give” [6:53], aorist infinitive active, ‘put something in another place’; ‘deposit’;

§         σάρκα - “his flesh” [6:53], ‘corporeal mass of human or animal’;

§         φαγεῖν - “to eat” [6:53], aorist indicative active, ‘to consume food’; ‘to devour’;


No-one should suppose Jesus was seriously advocating cannibalism and offering himself as the first meal.


2.        The Gift Defined

The “flesh” is presented in its twofold aspect as “flesh” and “blood,” and by this separation of its parts the idea of a violent death is presupposed.

a.        The Flesh

The participation in Jesus’ flesh: “eat of his flesh…” [6:53].

§         σάρκα - “flesh” [6:53], ‘corporeal mass of human or animal’; ‘human nature in its totality regarded from the earthly side’;

§         τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου - “Son of man” [6:53],

b.        The Blood

The participation in Jesus’ blood: “drink of his blood…” [6:53].

§         αἷμα - “blood” [6:53], ‘red life-fluid in humans or animals’;

i.        The Old Testament

The mention of “blood” is to be understood in its Old Testament sense.

§         The first main use in the Old Testament is with regard to ‘death with violence’ (203 times).

§         The second main use in the Old Testament is with regard to ‘sacrificial death’ (103 times).

§         The primary symbolic reference of blood in the Old Testament is not to “life” but to violent death, i.e., to life violently and often sacrificially ended.

ii.      The Blood of the Sacrifice

The “blood” is life given up in death: “the life of the flesh is in the blood…” [Lev.17:11].

§         The “blood” is the life given in sacrifice: “I have given it to you upon the altar…” [Lev.17:11].

§         The “blood” makes atonement for sin: “to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul” [Lev.17:11].

c.        The Passover

The exodus background to the discourse is clear from the reference to the Passover: “the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh” [6:4].

§         Jesus has already been identified as the Passover Lamb of God: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” [1:29].

i.        The Blood of the Passover

The blood of the Passover lamb was to be spilt: “they shall kill the lamb on the fourteenth day in the evening…” [Exo.12:6].

§         The application of the blood: “They shall take off the blood and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post…” [Exo.12:7].

§         The judgement of God: “I will pass through the land of Egypt this night and I will smite all the first-born…and execute judgement” [Exo.12:12].

§         The significance of the blood: “The blood shall be for you a token upon the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague will not be upon you to destroy you” [Exo.12:13].

§         A picture of life sustained and emerging from the scene of death and judgement.


The life of the world in the highest sense springs from the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ. By His Incarnation and Resurrection the ruin and death which sin brought in are overcome. The thought here is of support and growth, and not of atonement (I lay down my life for … 10:11, 10:15, note).

§         He who is the “Living Bread” is to die as the “Lamb of God” for the sins of the world.

§         The emphasis in the passage falls not on Christ’s death “for” sin but on his death for “life”.

§         They knew what it was to “eat” of the Passover; they knew what it was to “eat” of the manna.

§         To “drink” blood was something totally new to them; the “blood” was towards God for the purpose of atonement.


The object of faith is Christ in his sacrificial offering of body and blood for the life of the world.

1.        The Faith Participation

a.        The Healthy Diet

There are six nutrients which are required by your body for best working of your body and to stay healthy.

§         Water; Carbohydrates; Proteins; Fats; Vitamins; Minerals.

§          A balanced diet refers to intake of appropriate types and adequate amounts of foods and drinks to supply nutrition and energy for the maintenance of body cells, tissues, and organs, and to support normal growth and development.

§         Food supplements or daily diets are concentrated sources of nutrients or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect. People take them to supplement the nutrients they get from their normal diet.

b.        The Diet of Faith

i.        The Food

The eating of the flesh: “except you eat the flesh of the Son…” [6:53].

§         ἐὰν μὴ - “except” [6:53], ‘a combination of the conditional eiv and the  particle a;n to denote uncertainty or indefiniteness’ with ‘negative particle’;

§         φάγητε - “eat” [6:53], aorist active, ‘to consume food’; ‘to devour’;

ii.      The Drink

The drinking of the blood: “except you drink of the blood…” [6:53].

§         ἐὰν μὴ - “except” [6:53], ‘a combination of the conditional eiv and the  particle a;n to denote uncertainty or indefiniteness’ with ‘negative particle’;

§         πίητε - “drink” [6:53], aorist active, ‘to consume liquid’;

iii.    The Once-For-All Action

Both the verbs for “eating” and “drinking” are aorist verbs denoting once-for-all actions.

§         The action of faith here is that once-for-all union which takes place at the moment of believing.

c.        The Genuine Bread

The unique diet: “for my flesh is meat indeed…” [6:55].

§         σάρξ μου - “my flesh” [6:55], ‘human nature in its totality regarded from the earthly side’;

§         βρῶσις - “meat” [6:55], ‘the action of eating’; ‘food in its strictest sense’;

§         ἀληθής - “indeed” [6:55], ‘true, genuine, real’;

§         τὸ αἷμά μου - “my blood” [6:55],

§         πόσις - “drink” [6:55], ‘a drinking’; ‘a drink’;

§         ἀληθής - “indeed” [6:55], ‘true, real, genuine’;


To “eat” and to “drink” is to take to oneself by a voluntary act that which is without and then to assimilate it and make it part of oneself.

§         Souls feed on his flesh and blood, in precisely the same manner that the body is sustained by eating and drinking.

§        It is, as it were, faith regarded in its converse action. Faith throws the believer upon and into its object; this spiritual eating and drinking brings the object of faith into the believer.

§        Appears to be a very graphic way of saying that people must take Christ into their innermost being.

§        Not the connection with v.40 and the fact that the “looking” and the “believing” is substituted by “eating” and “drinking”. The words of v.54 are the metaphorical way of describing the actions of v.40.

Separate out: what is communicating through the life of his person and through the blood of his sacrifice?  

2.        The Faith Life

a.        Life

Participation in the “flesh” and “blood” of Jesus gives life: “you have no life in you” [6:53].

§         ἔχετε - “have” [6:53], present indicative active, ‘to own or possess’;

§         ζωὴν - “life” [6:53], ‘the physical vitality of organic beings’;

§         ἐν ἑαυτοῖς - “in you” [6:53],

b.        Ongoing Participation

The ongoing activity of faith: “whoso eats my flesh, and drinks my blood…” [6:54].

§         τρώγων - “eats” [6:54], present active participle, ‘to gnaw,’ ‘to bite,’ ‘(audibly) to chew’; ‘to munch, crunch’;

§         The verb used here expresses not only the simple fact of eating but the process as that which is dwelt upon with pleasure: “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…” [Mat.24:38].  

§         μου τὴν σάρκα - “my flesh” [6:54], ‘the totality of his earthly human existence’; “for their sakes I sanctify myself…” [17:19].

§         πίνων - “drinks” [6:54], present active participle, ‘consume liquid’; ‘to absorb’;

§         μου τὸ αἷμα - “my blood” [6:54],

c.        Eternal Life

The certainty of life everlasting: “has eternal life and I will raise him up…” [6:54].

§         ἔχει - “has” [6:54], present indicative active, ‘to own, possess’;

§         ζωὴν αἰώνιον - “eternal life” [6:54], ‘life in its eternal qualities rather than longevity’;

§         ἀναστήσω - “raise” [6:54], future indicative active, ‘to raise to life’;

§         ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ - “last day” [6:54],


By the “flesh” in this narrower sense we must understand the virtue of Christ’s humanity as living for us; by the “blood” the virtue of His humanity as subject to death. The believer must be made partaker in both.

§         The Son of man lived for us and died for us, and communicates to us the effects of His life and death as perfect man. Without this communication of Christ men can have “no life in themselves.”

§         But Christ’s gift of His flesh and His blood to a man becomes in the recipient a spring of life within.


3.        The Faith Union

a.        The Ongoing Life of Faith

The personal relationship of faith: “he that eats my flesh…” [6:56].

§         τρώγων - “eats” [6:56], present active participle,

§         μου τὴν σάρκα - “my flesh” [6:56],

§         πίνων - “drinks” [6:56], present active participle,

§         μου τὸ αἷμα - “blood” [6:56],

b.        The Mutual Indwelling

The mutual indwelling or co-inherence: “dwells in me, and I in him” [6:56].

§         μένει - “dwells” [6:56], present indicative active, ‘to stay, abide’; ‘to remain in a place or state’;

§         ἐν ἐμοὶ - “in me” [6:56],

§         κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ - “in him” [6:56],

§         The tense is continuous; it denotes more than a fleeting contact; there is the closest possible, enduring relationship.

c.        The Life of God

i.        The Life of the Son

The life of the Son: “as the living Father has sent me…” [6:57].

§         ἀπέστειλέν - “sent” [6:57], aorist active,

§          ζῶ - “live” [6:57], present indicative active,

§         διὰ τὸν πατέρα - “by” [6:57], accusative, ‘through’, ‘because of’;

ii.      The Life of the Believer

The life of the believer: “so he that eats me…” [6:57].

§         τρώγων - “eats” [6:57],

§         ζήσει - “shall live” [6:57], future active,

§         διʼ ἐμέ - “by me” [6:57], accusative, ‘through’, ‘because of’;

§         Eternal life is always mediated through the Son. 


Complete devotion to the Father is the essence of the life of the Son; and so complete devotion to the Son is the life of the believer.

§         -

4.        The Spirit

To take the words of the preceding discourse literally, without penetrating their symbolic meaning, is useless.

a.        The Spirit of Life

The Spirit of life: “it is the Spirit that quickens…” [6:63].

§         ζῳοποιοῦν - “quickens” [6:63], present active participle, ‘to make alive’; ‘to give life to’; “born of water and of the Spirit…” [3:7].

§         σὰρξ - “flesh” [6:63], ‘human nature’; ‘physical being’; ‘the limitations of fleshly life in mind here’;

§         οὐκ ὠφελεῖ - “profits” [6:63], ‘help’; ‘provide assistance’; ‘accomplish anything’;

§         οὐδέν - “nothing” [6:63], ‘negating a referent’; ‘nobody, no one, none’;

§         When all the focus is on the “flesh” the real significance of Jesus is missed.

§         The same contrast is seen: “that which is born of the flesh is flesh…” [3:6].

b.        The Word of Life

The word of life: “the words that I speak unto you…” [6:63].

§         τὰ ῥήματα - “words” [6:63], ‘a single unit used in a discourse’;

§         λελάληκα - “speak” [6:63], perfect indicative active, ‘to talk’;

§         πνεῦμά - “spirit” [6:63], ‘they are the product of the life-giving Spirit’;

§         ζωή - “life” [6:63], ‘as the product of the life-giving Spirit they are life’;

§         The repetition of ἐστιν in the expression ὑμῖν πνεῦμά καὶ ζωή ἐστιν means that πνεῦμά and ζωή are not blurred; they are regarded as distinct.

§         We must not separate the words and deeds of Christ. The words of Jesus point us to the deed at Calvary whereby life is won for believers. Those words and that deed are one.


An allusion to Jeremiah: “thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart…” [Jer.15:16].


1.        The Lord’s Supper

The faith-participation of the Son is symbolised in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

§        The sacrament is a memorial: “this do in remembrance of me” [1Cor.11:24].

§        The faith-participation in Christ is symbolised by the eating of bread: “Take, eat: this is my body broken for you…” [1Cor.11:24].

§        The faith-participation in Christ is symbolised by the drinking of the cup: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood…” [1Cor.11:25].

2.        Sacramental Meaning

The sacrament can be seen to lie behind the bread of life discourse for the mature NT church.

§         Eucharistic allusions that exist prompt the thoughtful reader to look behind the Eucharist, to that which the Eucharist points to. In other words, Eucharistic allusions are set in the broader framework of Jesus’ saving work, in particular his cross work. 

Related Media
Related Sermons