There was a group of people very keen to get food from the Lord Jesus. He told them not to work for physical food but for heavenly bread (John 6:27). Over the course of their conversation, Jesus said:-
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh that I will give for the life of the world" – John 6:51
The "eats" is in the Greek aorist tense indicating a once and for all
action. So here we have a once-for-all meal that fetches us everlasting life. Jesus has made an IF [once] - THEN [future]
statement. The single meal is the instrument/cause
of eternal life.
But Jesus also said:-
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life" – John 6:54
The "eats" is in the Greek present participle, indicating a continuous
action. This is not
an IF (now) - THEN (future) statement. It is an indicative statement
. Jesus is mentioning a characteristic
of true Christians. They feed on him - continuously.
All this admittedly sounds cannibalistic. But observe what Jesus said in the same conversation:-
- "He who believes in me has everlasting life" – John 6:47
- "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread..." – John 6:51
- "It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits for nothing. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." – John 6:63
Look at the middle verse above (John 6:51). Jesus' literal flesh did not
come from heaven. It was made from the food he ate on earth. It was the Son of God who came down from heaven, not the literal flesh and blood that Jesus had. Therefore, the living bread is not Jesus' literal flesh, but Christ himself, the son of God. Eating is really believing and absorbing Jesus' words
, as John 6:47 and John 6:51 clarify. Thus, we receive continuously from God by earnestly reading the Bible and praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Thus, there are two modes
of receiving from Christ. A once and for all
eating that fetches
us eternal life, and a continuous
eating that is symptomatic
of the fact that we already have
eternal life. Note that continuous eating is a proof of physical life as well.
Note that there is:-
- A once-and-for-all feeding
- A continuous feeding
- But No regular feeding.
That is, the Sunday morning affair (the Lord's Supper), being regular, is not a feeding - it is an offering (tribute) by us to God.