Why Does Jesus Tell Us To Eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood?
Jesus, Your teachings, Gross!
It’s the first thought that came to mind when I read John 6:53-59 and I’m a Jesus-follower! In fact, it was such a hard teaching that John 6:60-66 says that many of Jesus’ disciples abandoned Him after He said those words. Many non-Christians even today ask, “How can you claim to eat the body of Jesus and drink His blood?” Well, you’ve come to the right place!
Before we can understand why Jesus would make such a blasphemous claim, we need to first understand who Jesus is as the Messiah.
The first interaction we have between Jesus and John the Baptist shows the forerunner proclaim, “Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Paul makes it clear, “For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:6-8).
One of Jesus closest disciples says that Jesus redeemed us with His precious blood, “a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19).
What Is The Passover LamB?
Jesus fulfills the Passover by becoming the ultimate Passover Lamb. So what was originally done to the Passover lamb? It was killed, the blood drained into a basin, then that blood was placed over the door to their houses. Then, they were commanded to roast and eat the Passover lamb.
After the Temple was destroyed and sacrifices could no longer being made, we see the Jewish leaders begin commanding people to replace the Passover Lamb with the Afikoman, which is the last food eaten at Passover (Pesachim 119b). This Afikoman is a broken piece of matzah bread that’s wrapped in a linen napkin and hidden away for a short time. After the main Passover meal, the children go and find the Afikoman and ransom it back to the adults for a price (1 Cor. 6:20; Revelation 5:9). Everyone at the Seder must take a piece of this broken piece of matzah and eat it together.
As Jesus breaks the bread of the Passover meal, He gives it to His disciples and says, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Jesus is telling us that He is now the Passover Lamb. His death on the cross as Passover began resembled the slaying of the Passover Lamb. In view of John 6, it makes sense that Jesus would say something so dramatic! If we want God’s protection, redemption, and reconciliation, then we must partake of the ultimate Passover Lamb, Yeshua the Messiah!
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” -John 6:35, 47-51
But Drinking Jesus’ Blood? ReallY?
You may say, well that’s great! I can eat lamb and matzah bread! But drinking blood?! That’s a bit much. It sure is, unless you know about the four cups of the Passover Seder.
During the Seder we drink four cups of wine which each symbolize the four promises that God gave to the Israelites in Exodus 6:6-7 (Now you also understand why the disciples were having a hard time staying awake with Jesus in Gethsemane!).
1. I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
2. I will free you from being slaves to them.
3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
4. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.
Before we eat the Passover Lamb (Afikoman), we’ve already sipped down the first two cups. Immediately following the Afikoman we drink the third cup, the Cup of Redemption, which symbolizes that third promise. However, this third cup also symbolizes the blood of the Passover lamb that spared the homes of the Israelites during that final plague.
New Covenant In My Blood
We know that Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Isaiah 42:6 claim that God will make a new covenant with Israel, but it’s actually Zechariah 9:11 that says that God will establish this covenant with the Messiah in blood. Whose blood? The blood of the Messiah, the blood of the ultimate Passover Lamb.
Drinking the blood of the Messiah means drinking and remembering the Cup of Redemption, the new covenant, which spares us from God’s judgment. It’s a reminder that we are unable to save and redeem ourselves. Only Jesus, as fully God and fully human is able to eternally and perfectly reconcile us to God. By drinking this third cup, we are placing the blood of the Passover Lamb over our “doors,” which subsequently gives us access to becoming a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
The Passover Lamb made a new covenant with the people of Israel and because of the work of Jesus and the early disciples, the prophecy of Isaiah 42:6 is fulfilled, “I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles…” This new covenant was made with the flesh and blood of the Messiah – fully God and fully man. As God, the Passover Lamb has the authority to forgive, redeem, and reconcile. As human, Jesus is able to empathize with us and go before YHWH as our great High Priest and intercede for us.
We eat the flesh of the Passover Lamb and drink His blood as a way of constantly remembering the price that was paid for the new covenant we enjoy today: forgiveness, grace, mercy, redemption, and most importantly, reconciliation!
If you’d like to celebrate the Passover Seder this year from a Messianic perspective, I’ve produced this engaging video that walks you through each portion. Each purchase includes:
- 1 Hour Video of the Passover Seder.
- Digital Booklet.*
- Instructional Video for hosts.
- Instructional PDF Guide.
- 1-on-1 Hosting Session with Justin.
*Printed booklets available at an additional cost and upon request only.
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I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article! Please remember to be kind and respectful. If you didn’t like something, I always welcome constructive criticism. However, any form of hatred, bullying, or racism will not be tolerated.
About The Author
Justin Boothby is a lifelong student who loves to travel, film, write, design websites, and life coach. Most importantly he loves to Pastor in all different kinds of ministry settings. He’s also an avid pizza lover, metalcore listener, and shot glass collector.
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Leave A Comment
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this article! Please remember to be kind and respectful. If you didn't like something, I always welcome constructive criticism. However, any form of hatred, bullying, or racism will not be tolerated.
About The Author
Justin is a lifelong student who loves to speak, travel, film, write, and coach. He has a goal of empowering others to grow closer to Jesus in practical and unique ways. After acquiring two degrees in Practical Theology and then studying in Israel for two years, Justin has a passion to help people read the Bible with a deeper appreciation in its original, ancient context.
M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem
M.Div. Regent University
B.S. Southeastern University