Christ’s preaching has a tendency to shock our sensibilities. One of His most vexing statements occurs in the gospel of John: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6:54).
All sorts of theories and theological mischief have been concocted around those words. They were simply too disturbing for most of Jesus’ disciples who subsequently abandoned Him (John 6:66). Early on in church history that statement was the cause of pagan rumors that Christians practiced cannibalism. And Roman Catholics now use John 6:54 as justification for their belief that the elements of the Lord’s Table—the bread and the wine—are literally Christ’s flesh and blood.
Like most troubling theological issues, biblical context is critical if we are to come to a right understanding of Christ’s words in John 6:54. And John MacArthur does just that in his sermon, “I Am the Bread of Life.” In it he walks us through John 6:32–59 to bring clarity concerning Jesus’ discourse on Himself as the true eternal food all men need.
Hunger is a natural part of the human experience. We were created by God with a built-in desire for sustenance when our body lacks what it needs. But spiritual hunger is far more elusive to those who are spiritually destitute.
John 6 signifies the high-water mark of Christ’s ministry by every external metric of human success. His popularity had peaked as crowds thronged around Him. Stories of His miracles were spreading far and wide. And His expertise in all matters threatened the influence of every other established religious leader.
But Jesus wasn’t swayed by the veneer of a growing kingdom. Miraculously feeding thousands of hungry people in the desert (John 6:1–14) only inflamed their desires for more temporal satisfaction. They wanted more, but their hunger didn’t extend beyond their empty bellies.
John MacArthur’s message, “I Am the Bread of Life” digs right into the discussion between Christ and His legions of followers. He explains what really transpired and why Christ continually referred to Himself as “the bread of life” in contrast to the perishable bread the crowds longed for. And he reveals how God is the author of spiritual hunger as well as physical hunger. Ultimately, Pastor John answers two fundamental questions: Where do we find the bread of life, and how do we eat the bread of life?
Those questions form the dividing line between those who are Christ’s true disciples and those who are false disciples destined for apostasy. Answering them explains how we are to eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood and inherit eternal life.