John 6:52-59 Vampires and Flesh Eaters

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 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 for ever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

Vampires and Flesh Eaters

Vampires are seemingly rooted in the Christian tradition.  In the Old Testament we are told the life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11).  Based on this passage and thinking like it, some people have decided to drink life by drinking blood.  However, Jewish people were not to eat meat with the blood still in it.  It was to be drained as part of ritual cleanliness.  Jesus’ statement that his followers should drink his blood would have sounded repulsive to those who heard it.  Eating Jesus’ flesh is also a repulsive idea if taken literally.

There are at least two ways to view this passage.  One is that we are to figuratively drink the blood and eat the flesh in the bread and wine at the Lord’s Table, Communion, or Eucharist.  We are to associate ourselves with Jesus and remember regularly what he has done for us with gratitude.  Alternatively, we must also live a life that looks to Jesus for daily sustenance and live the life he lived filled with the essence of his life.

Either interpretation above demands a really close association.  We are to be one with Jesus as his disciples.  Through regular participation in the ritual of Eucharist or through daily living dependent on Jesus we cultivate a relationship that looks to Jesus first.

Prayer

We all have our issues – hopes and fears – that lead us away from you.  Let our hope be in you and our fears to melt away.

Questions

  1. How do people receive Jesus’ talk about eating and drinking him?
  2. What does he mean?
  3. Where did Jesus teach?
  4. Are you in church and taking communion?
  5. How do you eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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26 Responses to John 6:52-59 Vampires and Flesh Eaters

  1. zacbodine says:

    Why do I not hear this verse for communion? It would be great! Jesus continues to baffle the crowd by saying things that are really offensive to them. I think he is being explicitly clear and wants them to get the point that he is God. He is not some sideshow gimmick.

    The people in the synagogue at Capernaum really had to understand, but also I think Jesus says it so offensively to weed people out. People were coming from far and wide because he fed them bread. People thought he was a magical vending machine. Jesus looks and them and says this to put them in the mindset of who he is. It is also prophetic of the Eucharist as well.

  2. Dominic shortridge says:

    1. People are obviously very confused about what Jesus says. As professor Worrall stated, the thought of eating someone’s flesh would have been repulsive to them.
    5. Our church takes communion every week and it is emphasized that we meditate on the sacrifice the sacrifice of Christ. As we partake the blood and the flesh our pastor a usually explain that the elements are representations of Christ blood and body, and that by eating and drinking them you are sharing in communion with him.

  3. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) They were confused, because it contradicted the Law. It also would have probably sounded disgusting to them if they took it literally.
    2) He means that in taking communion, we are to remember and reflect on His death on the cross.
    3) Jesus was teaching these things in the synagogue.
    4) In my home church, we take communion once a month.
    5) When I take communion, I take it in remembrance of what Christ did on the cross for me. It is a symbol of His flesh and blood that He sacrificed.

  4. Jenna says:

    1. Understandably, they are confused and freaked out, wondering how Jesus could even give them His blood to drink or His flesh to eat.
    2. I think that this passage could be talking about the Lord’s Supper, but He could also have just been making a comparison between the life that He can give and temporary, life-sustaining earthly bread. Compared to the bread that the 5,000 had eaten (this same crowd that he was talking to), the manna that came from heaven in the wilderness, and any sort of physical bread, The life that Jesus gives us through His death is infinitely more valuable and satisfying. Without believing in Him (eating His flesh and drinking His blood), we will not see life.
    3. Jesus was teaching at Capernaum at this point, having been followed there by the crowd from Tiberius (the 5000 crowd).
    4&5. Yes, I use communion on a time to reflect on what Jesus has done for me on the cross and to pray in thankfulness to Him.

  5. Nickie says:

    1) I always knew that when Jesus talked about eating his flesh and drinking his blood it sounded like cannibalism and like craziness to people. But for some reason I never realized that to the Jewish people it would be ludicrous because of their laws against blood.
    2) Generally people see this as talking about communion. As I was reading the passage I saw something new for myself. I saw how Jesus wasn’t just asking for a ritual, but a lifestyle of continually going to Him for life’s sustenance.
    3) In a synagogue, surrounded by Jewish people.
    4) No.
    5) When I participate in communion, I take that time to thank God for the life He brings to me and I pray for those who are not able to partake in communion.

  6. karas says:

    The actual language of blood and flesh does sound pretty graphic and weird. However, when you think of it figuratively, it really is a great illustration. He is the sustenance we need, the life-source. I take communion in church. Jesus is to be my source of strength, hope, and just about everything. However, sometimes I fail to go to that source, and then I starve/dehydrate.

  7. Kathleen says:

    Reading this passage made me immediately think of the early church and how some people outside the church thought that the Christians were cannibals. I can see how the passage can be viewed negatively. I take communion in church. When I take it, I reflect on Jesus’ death and resurrection and what that means for me now. I need to think of Jesus body and blood figuratively more often. He is the ultimate source of life.

  8. Amy McCashen says:

    1. They are very confused. They do not understand Jesus’ metaphor and they are trying to figure out why or how or what he is meaning by “eat me”.
    2. Jesus means that we need Him IN us. We need to be completely identified with Christ’s body and blood to have redemption.
    3. In the synagogue.
    4. Yes.
    5. I know that I am in Christ and that Christ is in me. (We are just talking about this right now in Systematic Theology II with Johnson!) Many people take communion to remember what Jesus did and what that means for them. Johnson proposes that its more, much more than that. It is a symbol of our personal, intimate union with Jesus Christ.

  9. Beth Coale says:

    1. It reminds me of how confused Nicodemus must have been with another metaphor (being born again). They don’t understand Him. They take what He is saying literally and are understandably disgusted.
    2. To abide in Him?
    3. Synagogues and public places
    4. yes
    5. by receiving the benefits His sacrifice

  10. tim pruiett says:

    the people are really confused and some are disgusted by the statement.
    2. He means He want to stay close with Him literally let Him be our lifesource
    3. Everywhere the people where.
    4. Yes
    5.Trying to get into His word every day and praying and spending time with Him

  11. Nick says:

    They took it bad and were disgusted, thinking Jesus was implying cannibalism. Communion is a time that I love, cause it allows me to reflect on Jesus’ saving work on the cross, which is something that sometimes I allow to slip my mind. Although it should be on my mind constantly, communion is the time that allows me to refocus on Jesus and what he has done for me.

  12. Chelsea says:

    They thought it was outrageous. Eat and Drink Jesus?! From the beginning of my taking communion, I have seen it as a sign; a time for remembrance. But now, I view it as something more than that. Professor Johnson refers to it as the edible gospel. I am eating and drinking of Jesus. I am consuming him and he is inside of me. He has unified himself to me.

  13. Rachel says:

    Jesus commands his followers to eat and drink his body and blood. He means that his body, his very being, is being given to us to be our sustenance. I take communion each week at church, although I struggle with the way my pastor presents it. Each Sunday as I take the elements, I ask the Lord for grace.

  14. Austin Brose says:

    The people were astonished that Jesus was asking them to eat of his flesh and drink his blood, they thought He was literally telling them to do this. Jesus really means that we are to daily come to him for nourishment through his teachings and spirit, and also partake in Him in a figurative way through communion. Jesus taught in the synagogues. I am in church and taking communion when they offer it. I eat of Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood through my daily life of living a life of grace found in Him.

  15. Mary says:

    LOVE the cartoon! You are what you eat! Ha! Then, in relation to the topic at hand—eat on! Which one of us wouldn’t want to be more like Christ?!

    I like your take, Professor Worrall, on looking at the Lord’s Supper in an alternative way, meaning that “we must also live a life that looks to Jesus for daily sustenance and live the life he lived filled with the essence of his life.” I have never heard anyone say that about the Lord’s Supper before, though maybe about Jesus being the bread of life. That is a great correlation. I think I will ponder about that throughout the day today. I also agree that we are to “associate ourselves with Jesus and remember regularly what he has done for us with gratitude.” This means not just when we take communion, although communion is like a visual reminder to do these think on these things.

    I am a checklist person, so to simplify it for myself and make it actionable…

    To do (communion is daily):
    1) Depend on Christ
    2) Live like Christ
    3) Remember/Give thanks for the person and works of Christ

  16. Dylan says:

    1. The Jews are confused, maybe disgusted by Jesus’ talk of eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
    2. Jesus means we are to look to him for strength and spiritual nourishment daily just as our bodies need food. It also points to the practice of communion which is a symbol of our commitment to this life style.
    3. Jesus taught all over but this passage is probably in the synagogue.
    4. Yes.
    5. One way is through communion but more frequently I must do this by shifting my focus back to God and off earthly things. This blog has been a great way for me to eat the flesh and drink the blood.

  17. Janice Lee says:

    1. People are probably confused by Jesus’ words because the law told them to stay away from unclean meat with blood still in it.
    2. Jesus means that people must commune with Him, believing in Him as the Son of God who gives us eternal life through His perfect life and blood shed on the cross.
    3. Jesus taught in a synagogue.
    4. Yes, I am in a church and taking communion.
    5. I eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood when I recognize my dependence on Him for nourishment and growth.

  18. Ashley says:

    1. People shy away from Jesus talking this way. It is so shocking and frankly, quite repulsive. We don’t know how to interpret it, so we shy away from it completely.
    2. I have learned a lot more about this in the past year (mostly through Dr. Johnson), but am filled with more questions than I ever thought capable concerning this topic. Jesus means what he says. Salvation is being joined to Jesus Christ. We are one with him, yet must continue to partake of him. His body and blood is life, and to be disjointed from him is to be void of life.
    3. Jesus says these things in a synagogue.
    4. Yes, I am in a church and taking communion.
    5. I eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood by being a part of his body, the church, his bride. This is a mystery to me, but it is also described as a mystery in the Bible. At the Lord’s Supper, we are called to remember Jesus and all that he has done, yet it seems that we have forgotten Jesus’ vivid words. He calls us to more than remembering his death. He calls us to eat and drink of his very substance and claims that we are one, just as he and the Father are one. This truth is AMAZING! Any intimacy we experience on Earth is a mere shadow and symbol of the truth of our oneness with Jesus Christ.

  19. nataliaria says:

    The verse cited above seem to indicate that the people are less than enthralled with Jesus’ teaching, and the next verse, vs. 60, shows the disciples themselves saying that this is a “hard teaching.”

    I read through the comments about and Chelsea’s recollection of Johnson’s “edible Gospel” comment make me smile, and nod in agreement. As we also discussed in Dr. J’s Sys Theo II, I have come to see communion as a way that believers are participate in Christ, and are therefore brought into the union that exists between Father, Son, and Spirit. Understanding communion in this way has helped me move from merely confessing making myself “clean enough” to go forward to take the elements, to instead approaching the Lord’s Supper with awe and unspeakable gratefulness that I might be allowed to commune with God Himself, through Jesus Christ.

  20. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    I hold onto dear life to the truth that we are unified with Christ, so much that we eat his flesh and drink his blood. It is only by that that I will have eternal life. I am amazed almost every time when I take communion, to realize once again, that Jesus truly has given himself to me. He has given me life. His blood is true life.

  21. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. sometimes things of God make no sense to mankind but he has a deeper meaning to it.
    2. He means take me in, read my word, speak to me and all your needs will be satisfied by me and i will sustain you.
    3. synagogue
    4. I am in church but i am in children’s church so they don’t take communion yet, but if i was at my church, i would be taking communion.

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