Archive for March, 2016

03 22nd, 2016

John 6:51-57

Messiah Yeshua spoke the following words to many people, including his twelve disciples as well as many other disciples:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Yeshua said unto them, Truly, truly, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me.” John 6:51-57.

Those words were so offensive to the hearers that many of his disciples turned away from him.

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Yeshua knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Does this offend you? . . . From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” John 6:60-61, 66.

However, his original twelve disciples did not fall away:

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Yeshua unto the twelve, Will you also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Master, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that you are that Messiah, the Son of the living Elohim.” John 6:67-69.

They had a more intimate knowledge of Yeshua than did the crowd listening to him. They knew he was the Messiah and would not leave him. They were probably as perplexed as everyone else, but deep in their hearts they believed him to be Messiah. Their faith was “sure”, having come to Yeshua as a result of the Father’s calling of them.

“But there are some of you that believe not. For Yeshua knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” John 6:64,65.

Those that walked away from him were never truly given to him by the Father as the twelve were. Yeshua said of the twelve:

“I have manifested your name unto the men which you gave me out of the world: yours they were, and you gave them me; and they have kept thy word. . . . I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me; for they are yours.” John 17:6, 9.

Even today, almost two thousand years later, his “disciples” walk away from him, having great difficulty harmonizing the words in John 6:51-57 with their understanding of what the Scriptures teach.

They say the Scriptures clearly teach that eating the flesh and drinking the blood of human beings, whether literally or figuratively / symbolically, is forbidden by Yahweh. Therefore, they choose their “understanding” of Scripture over their “understanding” of Messiah’s words and fall away from the faith.

Is it possible that Yeshua’s words were justified based on his incredible knowledge of Scripture? No man in the history of the world had a deeper knowledge and understanding of Scripture than Messiah Yeshua. He certainly had far more knowledge about Scripture than the modern day “disciples” that fall away because they cannot harmonize his words with Scripture. Yet, they exalt their own knowledge over Messiah’s, choosing to believe that they know better than him.

Let’s examine the Scriptures and see if Yeshua’s words have any basis in fact and whether or not they can be justified in light of Scripture.

One passage that is used to say Yeshua taught contrary to Torah is found in Lev 7:26-27:

“Moreover you shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings. Whatsoever soul it be that eats any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 7:26,27.

This passage certainly forbids literally eating blood. However, the words of Yeshua found in John 6:51-57 were not meant literally. This is evident by the fact that no remaining disciple ever literally ate his flesh or drank his blood. All remaining disciples partook of his flesh and blood symbolically through the symbols of the bread and fruit of the vine taken on the “Master’s Supper” (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:17-20; 1 Cor 11:20-29).

We also know Yeshua was not speaking literally because of what he said in John 6:51:

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51.

Here, Yeshua says “the world” will receive “life” through his flesh which he will give. His flesh was not given only to his disciples living in his day, but to his disciples that would come from all walks of life throughout the world and throughout time. Any person in the world today can receive that same “life” through “eating his flesh” symbolically by eating the bread representing his body during the Master’s Supper. However, no one living in “the world” today, or even back then outside of Jerusalem, has access to his flesh to be able to literally eat it. Nor could they literally drink his blood.

Yeshua also said, in verse 63;

“It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life.”

By saying, “the flesh profits nothing”, he is implying that literally eating his flesh will not profit a person. It is the Holy Spirit that gives life (Ro 8:9-11). Messiah’s words were given to him by the Father.

“For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” John 12:49.

The Father’s words are life giving words. He gave those words to His Son to speak. Therefore, those words are Spirit and can give life. It is not Yeshua’s literal flesh and blood that give life, but his words, his teachings, his doctrine because they are all of the Holy Spirit. We are to eat his life giving words just as Ezekiel was to eat the scroll.

“Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that you find; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.

So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll.

And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill your bowels with this roll that I give you. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.” Eze 3:1-3.

We can now dispense with the notion that Yeshua was breaking Torah by teaching his disciples to literally eat his flesh or drink his blood. The question remains, “Is it breaking Torah to tell someone to symbolically eat something forbidden by Torah?”

Fat Forbidden

Just prior to Torah telling us not to eat blood, it tells us not to eat fat either.

“And Yahweh spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, You shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat. And the fat of the beast that dies of itself, and the fat of that which is torn with beasts, may be used in any other use: but you shall in no wise eat of it. For whosoever eats the fat of the beast, of which men offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh, even the soul that eats it shall be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 7:22-25.

We also read in Lev 3:17:

“It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.”

It is quite clear that, not only is blood forbidden to be eaten, but fat as well. Yet, we read in De 32:14:

“For Yahweh’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her wings: So Yahweh alone did lead him, and there was no strange mighty one with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou did drink the pure blood of the grape.” Deuteronomy 32:14.

What?! Yahweh made Jacob to eat “the fat of lambs”? It seems that this statement was meant figuratively. If so, it is acceptable to figuratively eat fat even though fat was forbidden to be literally eaten. It would, then, also be acceptable to figuratively eat human flesh or drink blood even though they are forbidden to literally be eaten. The expressions “fat of lambs” and “fat of kidneys of wheat” are both figures of speech – meaning abundant. Yeshua’s words in John 6 are also figurative meaning to fully partake of his teachings and his life.

Another example along the same lines is found in Ne 8:9-10:

“And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto Yahweh your Elohim; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Master: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of Yahweh is your strength.”

Here, Nehemiah commands the people to “eat the fat”. This is obviously meant figuratively. To “eat the fat” is to “eat the best”. Yet, fat, something forbidden to be eaten was commanded to be eaten. So, too, can flesh and blood be commanded to be eaten figuratively. To “eat my flesh” and “drink my blood” figuratively means to eat the bread and drink the cup of the Master’s Supper. If Yeshua is still to be condemned for using such figurative speech, then Yahweh and Nehemiah must be as well.

Drink Blood

Just as fat was forbidden, but could figuratively be eaten, blood was forbidden, but could be figurative drink.

“Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.” Nu 23:24

These are the words that Yahweh commanded Balaam to speak to Balak. They refer to Israel drinking the blood of their enemies that were slain and eating their flesh. This would obviously not come to pass literally. Yet, Yahweh says that His people will figuratively “eat” the flesh and “drink” the blood of humans. Should we condemn these words as promoting cannabalism or are they acceptable because they are only figurative?

And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O [Yahweh] which art, and was, and shalt be, because you have judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. Rev 16:4-6

Whether this passage is to be understood literally or figuratively is irrelevant. What is important to note is that Yahweh gave them, at least figuratively, “blood” to drink which He clearly taught was forbidden in Torah. Similarly, Yeshua figuratively gave his disciples his flesh to eat and his blood to drink.

Eat Flesh

The next verse shows how Yahweh is above Torah (being the Creator of it) and can do things that Torah forbids.

Jer 19:9 – “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.”

Yahweh caused people to literally eat flesh. Yeshua merely causes people to symbolically eat flesh.

Nu 24:8 – “Elohim brought him forth out of Egypt; he has as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.

Here, Israel is said to “eat up the nations”. Will they literally eat the people of other nations? No, but they will figuratively eat those nations just as Yeshua’s disciples will figuratively eat Yeshua’s flesh and figuratively drink his blood.

Another figure of speech is found in Ps 14:4 and 53:4:

Ps 14:4 – “Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon Yahweh.”

Ps 53:4 – “Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon Elohim.”

The workers of iniquity eat up Yahweh’s people as though they were eating bread. Did they literally eat Israelite flesh? I don’t think so. It is meat and drink to the persecutors of Yahweh’s people to be doing evil. However, it is meat and drink to Yeshua’s disciples to feed upon his righteousness and life.

Similarly:

Ps 27:2 – “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.”

It is the desire of the wicked to persecute the righteous. It is food and drink for them. It sustains them. It is what they live for. Yeshua’s disciples, however, live to serve Yahweh through Yahweh’s appointed Messiah. They live by feeding upon the true bread from heaven. They eat his words, his body and his blood. None of these things are literally eaten. Each is figuratively eaten in some sense.

Consider the following words of David in Ps 34:8:

“Oh, taste and see that Yahweh is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”

Peter uses a similar metaphor in 1 Peter 2:3:

“If so be you have tasted that the Master is gracious.”

In both these passages ‘taste’ is a metaphor for faith/trust/belief. David is not suggesting we literally taste Yahweh by eating him, but by experiencing His goodness through drawing close to Him and trusting Him in a deep personal relationship. Peter is suggesting the believer in the Master Yeshua has already tasted how gracious he is through their intimate relationship with him.

Similarly, Yeshua wants us to enter into that kind of intimate relationship with him.

To “taste” implies a deep experience with the subject. Heb 2:9 reads:

“But we see Yeshua, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of Elohim should taste death for every man.”

To “taste death for every man”, does not mean Yeshua simply had a near death experience. Nor does it mean he literally ate death. It means he literally died. He became as intimately related to death as one can get. Eating the “flesh” and drinking the “blood” of Yeshua speaks of an intimate association with Him that equates with tasting death. In fact, Ro 6:3-8 teaches us that baptized believers have died with Messiah. We have “tasted death” in a figurative sense in that we have died to sin.

In John 6:56, Yeshua emphasizes this intimate association with him:

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

True faith in Messiah is not just believing the truth about who He is and what He has done, but it is also committing ourselves to those truths. Many know of Messiah and accept some of his words for various reasons, but few partake of His salvation because they still rely on their own self-righteousness rather than abandoning themselves to Messiah alone.

Conclusion

Yeshua knew the Scriptures. He knew it was acceptable to teach his disciples to figuratively eat something that was literally forbidden to be eaten. He was not only following his Father’s example, but the example of several other Biblical writers.

Just as David admonishes us to taste and see that Yahweh is good, I admonish you to taste and see that the Master Yeshua the Messiah is good.