Scripture Note.

p. 250.


John 6:53-56.

It is impossible in the limits of a "Scripture note" to give anything like an exposition of this significant scripture. The utmost that can be done, is to indicate a few points to help the reader to study it for himself. The first thing of importance to note, is the character of the death of Christ here, and in the gospel generally. He is not seen here as dying for our sins, although every aspect is included in His one act of death, but rather as bearing the judgment due to what we were as men in the flesh. In one word, it is the brazen serpent aspect (John 3); that is, the condemnation of sin in the flesh; and hence it is the judicial end of the first man, inasmuch as God passed judgment in the cross upon all that man was. Secondly, as corresponding with this character of the cross, man is not seen in this gospel as alive in his sins, as for example in the epistle to the Romans, but as dead, without one movement of life towards God, as morally dead, as in 2 Cor. 5:14, Eph. 2 and Col. 2:13. This is distinctly taught in John 5:24-25. Thirdly, "the flesh of the Son of man," and "His blood" can only refer to His death; for the two things could not exist in separation excepting in death. The contention - sacramentarian contention - that the Lord's Supper is referred to, ignores the plainest teaching of the chapter. That the Lord's Supper looks back to, and is the commemoration of, His death is true; and that the flesh and blood of the Son of man speak of His death is also true; but the two things must not be confounded. The meaning of eating, it may be noted in the next place, is identification with, appropriation of, and so assimilation. It is "to acknowledge, realize, feed upon His death - to identify ourselves with it before God, participating in it by faith." The last point to be mentioned is, that verse 53 should run, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye shall have eaten the flesh of the Son of man, and drunk His blood, ye have no life in you." Thereafter "eat," as rendered, is in the present tense. That is, verse 53 refers to the first appropriation of the death of Christ, as the way of life for dead souls, and the following verses speak of the continuous feeding upon that death in their several connections. A few words may be added upon the blessings specified. On the first, that of receiving life, we call attention to the following language: "In receiving by faith Christ's death as the absolute condemnation of that which I am, I have part in the efficacy of that which He has done. Sin has been before God, and has disappeared before His eyes in the death of Christ, who, however, had not known it. I say to myself, That is I. I eat it; I place myself there by the operation of the Spirit of God, not that I believe that it is for me personally, but I recognize what His death signified, and I place myself in it by faith in Him. There, where I was, in death spiritually, by sin and disobedience, Christ entered in grace and by obedience, for the glory of His Father, in order that God might be glorified. I recognise my state in His death, but according to the perfect grace of God, according to which He took my place there; for it is in this that we know, love, that He laid down His life for us. Now, if one died for all, then were all. dead. By faith and repentance I recognise myself there, and I have eternal life."*

*Collective Writings of J. N. D., vol. 33 pp. 292-3.

Hence it is the Lord proceeds to say that he that eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life; having eternal life the soul feeds upon His death constantly, for only thus can it maintain its new condition morally in having passed out of death into life, and be in the enjoyment of the assurance of resurrection at the last day. Already living in the new scene to which eternal life belongs, it awaits its perfected condition in resurrection. Further, the one who thus eats dwells in Christ in abiding communion, and Christ in him as the source of his power while still down here. And finally; "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by [by reason of] the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by [by reason of] me." It is not now eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ, but eating, feeding upon, Christ Himself, and upon Christ Himself in the place where He is, in His glorified state. Down here, as sent of the living Father, He lived "by reason of what the Father was and His living," and now he that feeds upon Christ lives by reason of what Christ is, for He is our life, and because He lives, we shall live also. "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." We live, therefore, in Him before the Father, and by reason of what He is, and hence it is as we feed upon Him that we really enjoy the life which is inseparable from Himself.