Living Bread – Part Three A
(A gleaning from St. John 6)
by Fred Pruitt
III. Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood
We’ll start with a review of what Jesus was teaching up to this point. I firmly want to stress the fact that Jesus was not putting these people down when He was telling them they were not seeing, and therefore not believing. It was exactly what they needed to hear. A charlatan would have milked the crowd, and certainly not purposely offended it, since a charlatan is always out for himself.
But Jesus always simply spoke the Truth and let the chips fall. Even though He knew most of them were not and could not “get it,” yet, He knew it was only a matter of time, after the finishing of His business in Jerusalem, that what they needed to “get it,” would be everlastingly provided when the Promise of the Father came. He was The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, The Spirit of Truth, proceeding from the Father, poured out on all flesh on the Day of Pentecost, and dwelling in union in and with all who believe.
So He spoke these things, knowing that most of them could not really hear because they had yet to find their hearing ears and saw only flesh. But He spoke these things anyway because He knew another day would come, not too far off, that many of the seeds He cast would come up and grow to fruition – a number like the grains of sand in all the seas, or the uncountable stars in the panorama of the whole night sky! (I just saw a documentary that said that in the Milky Way alone [our galaxy], there are an estimated 100 BILLION stars, and that beyond our galaxy, there are BILLIONS more galaxies out there, each with 100 BILLIONS of stars in them, too! So the Lord God is talking about a LARGE NUMBER of folks! [So let’s get over thinking heaven might be a lonely place.])
Onto our task.
27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.
There is a very great sense that this is quite literal. Oh, it is figurative also, but where it is literal is that it hearkens all the way back to Adam. And what He is offering them is a reversal of what Adam and Eve faced and by which they fell in the Garden. Jesus has gone outside the Gates of Paradise, out where the people live. And when He finds His people, every one sent by The Father, by what He says and does, by His accomplishment according to the Father, Jesus is eternally called both Lord and Christ. In being eternally titled “Lord and Christ,” His Word to the Apostles is fulfilled, that He Himself IS the Way, IS the Truth and IS the Life. And therefore, from that time, in each successive generation, the Word of Promise goes out to all who will hear and receive, “I am the door. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)
To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in. (Fanny Crosby)
Adam and Eve started in the Paradise of God but did not yet know their surrounds. They fell, as we all know, when they ate the fruit of death. Or, using Jesus’ metaphor, when they ate the bread of death. They willingly disobeyed (having been fooled by the trickster), but they had no concept of its consequences or how far-reaching they would be, because what they ate took them over, and took them into the darkness of self-will, suspicion and fear, and all their descendants after them.
But when Jesus comes, it is the opposite. They have fallen, the whole race, and now Jesus has come to bring them back in. The fullness of time came, and at the right moment He appeared in our world, in our human history, something which no “transcendent” God could do. (That which is “universal” cannot appear in any “one” place.) But here He has arrived in Galilee and Judea in the time of the Romans, during the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus. Right at that moment, recorded in the second chapter of Luke, “And there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus …,” man’s own records and memories put down and preserved over time – history; and the story of redemption, starting with Adam and continuing through Abraham and on and on – the unfolding of the “plan of God,” met.
So Jesus enters the world in a verifiable, well-recorded time in human history. That is significant. Regarding the pre-world of Adam, and the ancient world of the patriarchs even on down to King David, verifying history, in human terms, is “iffy.”
But Jesus comes on the scene IN our history. He is a verifiable character of human history, not a mythological legend of pre-history. We have the testimonies of some of the actual witnesses who saw Him, both before His death and after His resurrection, who gave their whole lives over to His cause, every one of them suffering great personal harm along with martyr’s deaths for many, solely because they testified of the miraculous Life they had seen and heard, and would not recant. By them the whole world has been made witness!
Now, some say, and it is true, that there are no “official” records or notations of any kind that have been found from that time, which verify Jesus’ actual existence. However, He is the subject of so many other “unofficial” documents and stories from those days, that it is plain to see THEY thought He actually existed. And I, one lone voice 2000 years after He walked in Galilee, testify that indeed He does live, that indeed He did die upon the Cross, and that indeed He was raised again the third day.
I can testify to the truth of all that, not because of the evidence of scholars or even the witness of the apostles, but because of what took place in me 42 years ago, and has continued taking place since that very moment. What took place was that I discovered – or rather I would say it was shown to me – that He is alive NOW, and what He said would happen if I opened the door and let Him in, that He would come in and eat supper with me, He HAS done! Therefore, CERTAINLY He exists, because I could have never been the manufacturer of the Life in which I have lived all these years. As the apostle John wrote: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” (1 Jn 5:10).
It’s kind of like when the press questioned Billy Graham in England once in the 1960s, just after the controversial book, God Is Dead, came out. A reporter asked Billy if he thought God was dead.
Billy replied, “No, I know He isn’t dead.”
“How do you know?” the reporter quizzed further.
Billy answered, “Because I just had a talk with Him this morning!”
“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.”
And as I said above, Jesus is doing exactly the opposite thing that the Tempter did in the Garden. The Tempter tempted Adam and Eve to partake of the flesh and live of it. That was what the Tree was all about. And when I say “of the flesh,” I don’t mean they were thinking that after they ate it, they were going to get into a whole bunch of debauchery. “Of the flesh,” simply means they bought the lie that eating the fruit would give them enlightenment regarding all things, and make them as wise as God, like little independent gods unto themselves.
The reason the “lights went out” in both Adam and Eve, is that their choice – the flesh (outer world) and their own individual selfhood (inner world), under the hidden control of a new harsh taskmaster – immediately took them into the opposite of that which had brought them forth. They had been created in the image of God, God Who is Love, and whose primary “symbol” of Himself is a “Lamb slain in the midst of the Throne” from the foundations of the earth. (Rev 5:6)
A lamb is one of the most helpless creatures on earth. It does not even have the power to protect or defend itself from a predator. Why is the the eternal symbol of the Living God a “helpless lamb,” rather than a “roaring lion,” a symbol of power and the ability to subdue?
Because the Lamb lives to give its life that others might live. Hints of the Lamb begin in the earliest days when they used animal sacrifices. The greatest precursor of “The Lamb” was the night of the Passover in Egypt. They were about to take that journey from Egypt, that would end 40 years later in the Land of Promise. They did two things with the Lamb that night. First, when they killed the Lamb – and it was there to be killed – they took some of its blood, and painted it on the sides and upper crossbeams of the door. That way the “Angel of Death” would “pass over” them, and death would not visit that house. Which is exactly what the blood of the Lamb does when it is smeared all over us.
But moreover, the Lamb was also their meal, along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread! The Lamb’s purpose was not only washing their sins off the outside. Consuming the Lamb meant they had made Him their inner sustenance, the “Lamb in them” for the strength for their journey. (Exodus 12)
But even as the Serpent tempted them downward toward the flesh, the Son of Man comes to draw them upward toward the Spirit. The Serpent enticed them with lies. Jesus told them the Truth, and stirred up in them the Seed of the Woman, the Seed of Abraham, the True Israel of God. The Serpent pointed to a Tree, a Tree which represented tasting the outer world, the delights and pleasures of self-knowledge, self-indulgence and self-deification. The Son of Man was Himself the Tree of Life, growing in midst of the Garden – the fruit of which Adam and Eve never had a bite, before the day of their departure from Paradise.
So Jesus has come, but it is a real uphill battle, since no one has any memory of Paradise, and for the most part would scoff at such a notion. Understand, while it is the eventual end, I am not talking about just “going to heaven when you die.” It’s about MUCH more than that! I am talking about being restored to Divine Life, heavenly life, the original image which was lost, but now in Christ is found! I am speaking of NOW – not hereafter! Entering the Life which Paul called, “our conversation in heaven.” (Phil 3:20)
It is sad that so great a majority of the church has made the faith to be primarily concerned with “going to heaven” when we die. It is actually what I would call a “disconnect,” with salvation something we have in our back-pocket to pull out when the time comes that we need it – at the “Pearly Gates!” Like your voter registration card. NO!!!!!
The “Salvation of the Lord” is a LIFE, not a result of a decision to ensure our “ticket to heaven,” or signing our name to a particular theology. One translation of Jesus, or Joshua or Y’eshua (all the same name), is “Salvation” or “Salvation of God.” Salvation is not something we “have,” or something we “get,” but His LIFE that we live on a daily, hourly basis! HE is Salvation, and we, too, ARE Salvation as well, for the life we live in Him is salvation revealed and walking around in the flesh of redeemed and reconciled man.
This is what Jesus is offering to them, not just a “ticket to heaven,” that we keep for later, while we go on living a flesh-only life, but a holy life lived in righteousness and love, in rest poured out of our innermost beings in flood-stage rivers of Living Water, flooding the whole countryside around us!
However, all anyone has ever known for all time is this mostly common understanding of ourselves and the rest of the people in the world, that we are all completely separate beings, each of us living in our own separated little protected self-existence. And likewise, from the days of Cain and Abel until now the world has been, “Take care of ol’ number one first,” “Dog-eat-dog,” “Get yours before those other guys do,” “back-stabbing,” murder, betrayal, etc. Sure, there are wonderful people in the world, God people, many not yet knowing it – actually some truly wonderful people here and there, but a great percentage of the world lives in the continual foment of, “I want mine, screw you!” That is the history of the human experience.
But their misunderstanding is not only the self stuff, though the other things are products of the self stuff. What I am speaking of here is inner consciousness, which in my usage means sort of an amalgamation of Spirit knowledge, Spirit understanding and Spirit wisdom, that resides in our inner selves, and by which we live, according to the understanding.
Hmmm – I think I need to explain what I mean.
Now, it is Father/Son/Holy Spirit Who operate us and by Whom we operate, and as we go through our lives, growing and learning Him, there is a certain amount we do by our “understanding,” and there is a certain amount we do in mystery, i.e., we do what we do but we do not necessarily know the reason, other than we trust the Father.
It is kind of like Paul’s word when He talks about prayer in Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 14. Sometimes he prays with “the understanding,” i.e., his conscious understanding of himself and God in Himself and perhaps “specific” prayers, prayers for things for which the Spirit has moved him to pray. And other times he says he has no understandings of what He prays or why, only that it is the Spirit by Him in groanings which cannot be uttered, or just “tongues” without understanding. I know some interpret the “groanings which cannot be uttered,” in Romans 8 to refer to “speaking in other tongues,” but I have known far too many people, who by their own testimony that they have never spoken in tongues, but nevertheless have this same spiritual reality Paul describes in their lives, too – “groanings which cannot be uttered.” I could not possibly say those people do not “have” the Spirit. After all, “tongues” are uttered! This is talking about something which cannot be spoken in words. (Btw – I do “speak in tongues,” and have for 40+ years.)
For myself, when those times have come, when I have prayed not “according to the understanding,” (with or without “tongues”), I am totally undone one more time and one more time He is all.
So just taking it down to its deepest simplicity – the people have been eating the false bread of the Fall, and because of that there is a famine of the word of God in the land. God didn’t send the famine. It’s just that the “natural” consequence of eating the false bread, bread with no real sustenance, no true nutrition, is obese flesh. The best you can say about it from a modern diet perspective, is that this flesh bread is like snack foods or fast food, and in the flesh it has the same effect such food has in the Spirit. It causes one to become obese. I am not speaking bodily here. Spiritually, the whole world is full of fat flesh people, no matter how skinny they might look on the outside. That’s why Jesus said it was impossible for a rich man to enter heaven, (qualifying it a little later by saying, “but what is impossible with men is possible with God.”)
But the analogy He gives is someone trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle, and they can’t get themselves down that small. But Jesus is not talking about the accumulation of human wealth. The “rich man” is the man rich in self, who has “many possessions” (self-possessions), too fat in the flesh, too fat in himself, and is just too big to squeeze through that tiny opening.
The only way to enter is to let all the other stuff go. But that’s tough! Just like the “rich young ruler” who went away sad, thinking he could not give up all his possessions, i.e., his daily “food of death.” We are all born addicts! It does not matter whether we are addicted to drugs or alcohol or other things people call addiction. The “world” is our alcohol or our drug that we cannot give up, and our greatest “possession,” is our own selfhood itself, which is the deepest seated and most hidden addiction behind all the other addictions, as well as the cause of all of them! The rich young ruler was addicted to his many possessions, and could find no means of escape. The world is full of these “rich young rulers,” because it has nothing to do, as I said above, with human wealth. Poor and rich alike are all rich young rulers addicted to their appearances and their independence, and cannot let them go – without divine intervention!
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
End III-A. (Part B is well underway, and it should not be too long before we’ll finish this up.)