John 6:38, 51, 62, 63.
J. A. Trench.
Article 9 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
John 6:43-69. — There are three positions in which the blessed Lord is presented in the doctrinal portion of this chapter: first, as come down out of heaven to fulfil the will of the Father that sent Him; then, as giving His flesh for the life of the world; and lastly, as ascending up where He was before. In the first He is the bread of God. Not merely the bread He gives, but that which He feeds upon Himself. Now, for the first time, man's path was found opening out in Christ in all its perfection before the Father, whose eye and heart only could enter into it. What perfect dependence, obedience, devoted love to the Father were there! A life governed only by His Father's will in every detail of word and action, with the absolute refusal of every other object but His Father's glory. No wonder the heavens opened to Him and the Father's voice declared His perfect delight in Him. Thus He was the bread, or food, of God's own joy. But how wonderful to know that it was not to be for Himself alone: "My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven." In His infinite grace the Father would have others enter into His estimation of the Son whom He loved. He was the bread of life; and he that cometh to Him by faith should never hunger or thirst.
This leads us to the second position that the Lord took: that He who was the bread of God might be the bread of life to us.
The more perfection shone out in Him amongst men, the more the state of every other man came out in His presence. The light shone in darkness: we saw no beauty in Him that we should desire Him. "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" was the answer of the Jews (ver. 42) to the gracious revelation that it was the will of Him who sent Him that He should lose nothing of those given Him, and that every one who sees the Son and believes on Him should have eternal life, and be raised up into the proper sphere of that life when the end of the present age had come. This moral incompetency to enter into all that made Him the sealed One (ver. 27) of the Father's delight was the last and conclusive proof that there was nothing in us for God, and the absolute necessity of the early sentence of God upon man, "The end of all flesh is come before me." So that in order that any should eat of the bread come down out of heaven, and not die, but live for ever, we read, "The bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world" (ver. 51); and the essential condition of our having life in Him is that we eat His flesh and drink His blood. (Ver. 53)
Up to this in the Gospel there had been the objective presentation of the life in Him, but now it is the question of our subjective entering into it. This depends upon our having been brought to bow to the judgment of God, not only of our sins, but of all that we are according to the flesh, in His death. It is surely by faith, but having eaten His flesh and drunk His blood [the verbs in verse 53 are of one definitive act] expresses more than this. It is that we have solemnly identified ourselves with Him in the death He endured for us, and which ended before God and for faith all we were as children of Adam. We have, as in the type of the sin-offering, laid our hands upon the victim's head, and owned His death to be ours. It is a definite point to which we have to be brought in the soul's history, never to be gone back from: deliverance from the dominion of sin is found in it. But the eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood is not simply a thing of the past — that we have done with; for now begins the necessity of the habitual feeding upon the death of the Son of Man that we may possess eternal life in all its reality as a life of communion with the Father and the Son. As His death is thus before our souls, we are extricated and practically delivered from all that is of the flesh in us, and of man and his world, that the Lord Jesus had to carry down to death under the judgment of God. How could we, in the presence of the infinite sufferings of Gethsemane and the cross, tolerate anything in ourselves of what involved those sufferings for Him who, in such unfathomable love, gave Himself for us? With His death thus applied to our souls continually there will be nothing to hinder our enjoyment of that life of divine and heavenly relationship which is "eternal." (Ver. 54) So also is it with abiding in Him, so essential as we know it is to us every moment, from John 15. By the Holy Ghost indwelling we know that we are in Him, as He said we should be. (John 14:20) But dwelling or abiding in Him, as the continuous realisation of our being in Him, depends also upon our eating His flesh and drinking His blood, which is true meat and drink. And now verse 57 brings us into what verse 33 had presented to us: "he that eateth me." It is no longer simply His death, but He Himself personally known as the food and joy of our souls who is the Bread of God. We could only have part in that wonderful Bread by identification with Him in His death, but it is He Himself upon whom now we can feed. "As the living Father hath sent me and I live by, or on account of, the Father: so he that eateth ME shall live on account of ME." He lived for nothing else but the Father: the Father was the whole reason of His existence here, the absorbing object of His life. And so, as He rises before our souls in all His perfection, more and more entered into as we feed upon Him, He will become the absorbing object of our life: we shall live but for Him.
At the close the Lord intimates that He would ascend up where He was before. Of what immense moment for us! For it is thus that all the precious truth has become available for us. The light of the glory in which He is has been shed back on all He was in the lowly, perfect path of His humiliation, and upon the cross in which God has been infinitely glorified and man's history closed in judgment, so that nothing but Christ should remain before our souls in this blessed communion of divine joy and satisfaction.
May we each know increasingly what it is to eat His flesh and drink His blood, and feed upon Him personally who is the Bread of God.