Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
WILL YOU EAT OF MY FLESH, AND DRINK OF MY BLOOD?
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
7 OCTOBER 1990
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
John 6:35, 52-56
Preparation Verse: (John 6:35)
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
The Lord our God has given us a free will.
We can choose to follow Him or reject Him; but as we choose, so are we responsible for our decision.
Listen to how Jesus expressed this choice to some of the religious leaders in John 6:52-56, and note that He is speaking spiritually and not physically.
52. The Jews therefore began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"
53. Jesus therefore said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.
54. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
55. "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
56. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
Jesus is asking each and every one of us, "Will you eat My flesh, and drink My blood?"
Is Jesus asking us to be cannibals?
Not at all, for as we said, He is speaking spiritually, but at the same time is trying to shock them into truly listening to what He is saying.
We have a chance to do what Jesus is telling us today, and every day for the rest of our lives, whether or not we serve Communion.
It doesn't matter whether or not we accepted His offer before. What counts is whether we choose to accept His offer today.
For the eating of the flesh of Jesus is taking into our entire body the living Word of God, and then living by that word.
And that ties in closely with the drinking of His blood, for we cannot do this without confessing our sins and receiving His forgiveness, for the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
This is acceptance as being righteous before God and our fellow human beings; and thus God saves us.
It's a matter of faith, and not of works, for none of us can be righteous all the time, for by faith we seek to be righteous, and turn away from the ways of the world.
Our faith is that we believe God's Word, and then act accordingly.
We consciously turn away from any act that is counter to God will.
Moses was called upon to set a truly righteous example before the Israelites. Once God gave him the commandments, he was never given the opportunity or freedom to sin and then be forgiven before the people.
This was to show the people that they never could live by the Law, but only by God's grace; but unfortunately most of the people rejected that offer, as they do today.
Moses sinned once after he received the commandments; and because of that, he was forbidden to enter the promised land, which was to be a type of heaven.
Listen to part of this account, as recorded in Numbers 27:12-23.
12. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go up to this mountain of Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the sons of Israel.
13. "And when you have seen it, you too shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was;
14. for in the wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to treat Me as holy before their eyes at the water." (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.)
Have you ever done something before others that would indicate that you were not reverencing the Lord as being holy?
And what if we were told that we could not go to heaven because of it?
See, that is what the Law says.
But by God's grace, we are given the opportunity to refresh and cleanse ourselves through our eating of the spiritual flesh and drinking of the spiritual blood of Jesus.
Remember that only Satan is empowered by physical flesh and blood, whether it be the flesh and blood of human beings, or the flesh and blood of other animals.
This is why the Law, and all it's animal sacrifices, could never save anyone, just as this example of Moses is telling us.
By not allowing Moses in, the Lord was showing the people that they couldn't live by the Law, for even righteous Moses failed.
Salvation is only through grace.
Moses knew this and responded appropriately. Listen...
15. Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying,
16. "May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation,
17. who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd."
Moses knew the way of the people, for he had to spend 40 years in the wilderness because of them.
And he knew that if they didn't have a strong leader, they would again go astray.
Could you pray as Moses did?
Note how the Lord responds:
18. So the Lord said to Moses, "Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;
19. and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation; and commission him in their sight.
20. "And you shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him.
21. "Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the Lord. At his command they shall go out and at his command they shall come in, both he and the sons of Israel with him, even all the congregation."
22. And Moses did just as the Lord commanded him; and he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation.
23. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.
Just suppose that the Lord told me last night that He was calling me home later today, and let's also suppose that I prayed as did Moses; and let's also say that He answered me as He did Moses, and told me to lay hands on some of you.
Would you accept the commission?
Would you accept it as part of your life, and not just as a title to wear around your neck?
Will you truly spiritually eat of Jesus' flesh and drink of His blood?
For this is what it takes to make just any ole congregation into a Church.
Joshua not only received his commission, but passed it on to others, as we know from Joshua 24:29-31.
29. And it came about after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred and ten years old.
30. And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of Mount Gaash.
31. And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the Lord which He had done for Israel.
But there was a limit to how Joshua passed on his commission. It was limited to the elders of the congregation.
It did not go to the youth.
And the remaining elders did not pass it on, either.
Thus, in a relatively short time the true servants of the Lord passed away, and there were no real leaders in the congregation.
The leadership no longer ate of the word of God, nor drank of the cup of repentance, and shortly neither did the congregation; and then no one could tell the false priests from the true ones.
The congregation of Israel became corrupted, as is the Church today, for both lost their holiness before God.
Turn in your Bibles to Philippians 3:12-21, and hear what Paul is telling us about our own personal holiness, and the consequences of not being holy.
12. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
What a wonderful attitude to have.
Don't worry about the past, for we cannot change it.
Look forward to what lies ahead, and strive for the perfection which God desires for each of us.
Sure, we have to recognize our shortcomings, just as Paul does, but we don't have to continue to live in them.
Listen to Paul's encouragement:
15. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
16. however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
17. Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
Paul is encouraging the congregation, and us, I pray, to eat of the spiritual flesh of Christ and drink of His blood, just as they can see in him and the other leaders, so that they, too, might become leaders.
But at the same time, Paul reminds the people that God is the ultimate Judge, and that our life must be an honest one.
Listen to the concluding verses:
18. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,
19. whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
20. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
21. who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Our transforming process begins with our truly desiring to spiritually eat of His flesh and drink of His blood.
Jesus Christ died for us that we might live, and live eternally in God's heavenly will.
This is God's grace! This is God's mercy! This is God's love!