What Does it Mean to ‘Eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His Blood’?

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What Does it Mean to Eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His Blood?

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

There is wonder-working power in the blood

At the college where I work, they had a blood drive in the main foyer. Students stood in line to donate their blood through the Canadian Blood Services.

In the past, I donated blood as often as I could. I actually received a special pin when I made my 100th donation. However, because of health concerns in the last couple of years, I have not been able to donate anymore.

This makes me sad as I truly believe in the importance of donating blood. Not only does giving blood help those receiving it, but it also helps the donor!

Did you know that if you donate blood it helps to lower your risk of cancer, and helps reduce the risk of heart and liver ailments caused by the iron overload in the body?

In the Bible, God instructs the Israelites to not drink blood

“‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.” (Leviticus 17:13–14, NIV)

God wanted the Israelites to be different from the nations around them and set themselves apart by not doing the same things as them.

The Life Application Study Bible explains it this way

“Leviticus 17:14 Why was eating or drinking blood prohibited?

The prohibition against eating blood can be traced all the way back to Noah (Genesis 9;4).

God prohibited eating or drinking blood for several reasons:

  1. To discourage pagan practices. Israel was to be separate and distinct from the foreign nations around them. Eating blood was a common pagan practice. It was often done in hopes of gaining the characteristics of the slain animal (strength, speed, etc.).
  2. To preserve the symbolism of the sacrifice. Blood symbolized the life of the animal that was sacrificed in the sinner’s place. To drink it would change the symbolism of the sacrificial penalty and destroy the evidence of the sacrifice.
  3. To protect the people from infection  because many deadly diseases are transmitted through the blood.”

Personally, I have no issue with God’s command to not eat or drink blood. Truthfully I have absolutely no desire to do so!

This makes me wonder how I would have reacted to Jesus’ words in John 6:53–62 (NIV) when He said,

“Very truly I tell you, unless 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 them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

I, too, may have been one of those disciples who deserted Jesus after He said this

Besides the prohibition of not eating or drinking blood, it just seems extremely strange for Jesus to tell His followers to drink His blood.

However, in studying any scripture it’s important to read not only the verse itself but the ones leading up to it and after it.

It’s important to gain context.

In the book of John, Jesus is talking about believing in Him. Both in His dealings with Nicodemus and the woman at the well, Jesus is talking about coming to Him and receiving eternal life.

As the Israelites were aware of the pagan practice to eat blood to gain the characteristics of the dead animal, Jesus was telling them to rely on Him instead of ingesting blood for their strength.

Living in this day and age, we have the convenience of reading the whole Bible

We know that God made the ultimate sacrifice and gave His Son to be crucified and die on our behalf. He was sacrificed in the sinner’s place — He was sacrificed in our place.

Jesus is asking us to believe in Him as the last sacrifice needed.

By asking us to eat and drink His blood, He is asking us to accept His ultimate sacrifice, to take His life into us and be part of our lives.

To donate blood is a wonderful sacrifice for us as individuals to make. But Jesus gave His blood as the ultimate sacrifice — so that we may have life eternal.

There is wonder-working power in the precious blood!

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1 thought on “What Does it Mean to ‘Eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His Blood’?

  1. Pingback: What Does 'Repay You for the Years the Locusts Have Eaten’ Mean? - Kimberley J. PayneKimberley J. Payne

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