Feeding Upon Christ (John 6:53-54)

Feeding Upon Christ
(John 6:53-54)

John W. Bramhall

John W. Bramhall, a frequent contributor to Focus, makes his home in Charlotte, N.C. His article is a challenge to more fully feed on Christ in relation to all our Lord reveals Himself to be through His precious Word. As you read this helpful study, ask yourself to what extent you are feeding on Christ daily.

The historical background of John 6:53 & 54 is the miracle of our Lord feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two small fishes, one of the notable signs in John’s Gospel proving the Messiahship and deity of Jesus. After His miracle the Saviour presented Himself as “the Bread of Life,” the One Who alone can meet the spiritual need of the soul (see John 6:22-59). The character of the food for the soul He reveals in John 6:53 and 54: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink of His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    1. The Food Is Christ Himself. The words do not refer to the Lord’s Supper but to the Person of Christ Himself. Note John 6:35, 48 and 51, where the Lord definitely speaks of Himself as “the bread of life” and “the living bread.”

    2. How Do We Feed on Christ? The Lord uses the terms of “eating” and “drinking,” which speak symbolically of the soul appropriating and assimilating the Lord; it is not a physical partaking. The soul needs spiritual food and Christ is “the bread of life” for the soul to feed on. Feeding upon Him must be personal, for none other can do it for me! It must be voluntary; it is not compulsory, as it must be my heart’s desire! It should be continual; a constant delight to my spiritual appetite! Also, it must be complete, that is, my soul should feed on all that Christ reveals Himself to be through His precious Word!

    3. We Have Three Aspects of Christ to Feed upon. Our verses in John 6:53 and 54 reveal these to us, indicating three special characteristics of the Person of Christ as the food for the soul to enjoy. First, our food is:

An Incarnate Christ

“Except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of Man.” His incarnation as Man is indicated by these words. Is it possible for us to absorb the full glory of His incarnation into our souls and comprehend the greatness of God being on earth in the flesh? Well has the Apostle Paul written: “Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16). He also wrote: “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). And it was the Apostle John who wrote: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). These Scriptures tell us that all the divine attributes of God dwelt in the Man Christ Jesus when He walked on the earth in the days of His earthly pilgrimage!

Here is much to feed upon! His perfect humanity was perfectly blended with His perfect deity! While clothed with the white raiment of His spotless humanity, nevertheless, the fulness of the Godhead shines gloriously through His humanity! He was “the effulgence of God’s glory and the expression of His substance” (Hebrews 1:3), while in the body of flesh He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). The divine glory did not obscure the human; and the human in no way impaired the divine! This is a blessed mystery for our hearts to ponder constantly and feed upon!

What grace, O Lord, and beauty
Shone around Thy steps below!
What patient love was seen in all
Thy life and death of woe!

By His incarnation, the incomprehensible God is translated into terms of human understanding. By it He reveals what man should be to God. By it He took upon Himself a body to make atoning sacrifice for our sins. By it He now is a merciful and faithful High Priest for us in Heaven. In it He will sit on the Throne of David. Wonder of all wonders — He came to be Man forever! All this, and more, is food for the soul.

Second, our food is:

A Crucified Christ

We feed upon His death. “Except ye drink His blood” imparts the wonder of His crucifixion to us. That death of deaths! It was predetermined “before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20). It was foretold in type and shadow through the Old Testament; narrated historically in the four Gospels; repeatedly taught in the Epistles, and yet to be the eternal theme of Heaven’s redeemed saints as written in Revelation 5:8-10. From eternity past to eternity to come, the centrality of Christ’s death is clearly revealed.

O mystery of mysteries!
Of life and death the tree!
Center of two eternities
Which look with rapt, adoring eyes,
Onward and back to Thee!
O Cross of Christ, where all His pain
And death — is our eternal gain.

What food for sinner and saint! “The Lord’s death” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Truly, the soul that “eateth” and “drinketh” of Him “hath eternal life.”

Finally, our food is:

A Resurrected Christ

We feed upon a Christ exalted and glorified. That is why He said, “I will raise him up at the last day.” What a promise! Nay, what an assurance! Because He lives, we shall live also. We delight to sing of Him and His resurrection:

Low in the grave He lay—
Jesus, my Saviour!
Waiting the coming day—
Jesus, my Lord!

Death could not keep its prey—
Jesus, my Saviour!
He tore the bars away—
Jesus, my Lord!

We rejoice to sing that “Up from the grave He arose…” Yet, hallelujah, so shall we arise. Death and the grave can never hold us, for as we rise to meet the Lord in the air we shall at that moment triumphantly sing, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). He lives today as our Intercessor; our Great High Priest; our Advocate; the coming Saviour-King to claim His own; to enter into the glory of His kingdom; to ultimately consummate all His Father’s purposes and bring the redeemed into the eternal new creation. Our souls can feed upon the glorified, resurrected, soon-coming Person Who will raise all of His own “at the last day,” to be forever with Him. The future before us has more food for the soul to imbibe than there is capacity to contain. What a feast for the saints!

What exhaustless food we have for our souls to enjoy! We feed upon His life! We feed upon His death! And we feed upon His glory! Let us hear His voice saying to us today, “Eat, oh friends: drink, yea, drink abundantly, beloved ones” (Song of Solomon 5:1, J.N.D. translation).

Guide us, O Thou gracious Saviour,
Pilgrims through this barren land;
We are weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold us with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven!
Feed us now and evermore.