Truly, truly, I say to you, He that believes on me has everlasting life.…
I. THE MEANING OF THE TEXT.
1. The Romanist holds that it refers to a participation of Christ's body in the sacrament. But it cannot mean that; for —
(1)The Lord's Supper had not been instituted, and as Christ refers to a present duty and privilege, He could not refer to something that did not then exist.
(2) Judas partook of the Lord's Supper; had he eternal life?
(3) The dying thief did not partake of the Lord's Supper, but he had eternal life.
2. The true meaning. Christ had said many things about bread, about Himself as the true bread, and about their eating Him as this bread; and in ver: 51 He declares that this bread and His flesh are one and the same thing. Let us, then, try to understand —
(1) What bread means. In ver. 35 belief, not literal participation, is the process by which we become partakers of everlasting life. But belief presupposes the existence of something to be believed. Then what is there in Christ that I am to believe? Why, that He is the bread of life. It follows that by "bread" we are to understand truth, and by eating reception of that truth. The bread of life, then, is the doctrine of life — the revelation made by Him who "hath abolished death," etc. This is confirmed by the fact —
(a) That the Old Testament speaks of doctrine as meat and drink: "Wisdom hath killed her beast and she crieth, Come and eat of my bread, and drink of the wine," etc.; and nothing was more common among the Jews than the representation of doctrine under this form. How natural, then, that the greatest Jewish teachers should have used this familiar figure to signify "I am the doctrine of life."
(b) In ver. 63 Christ fully meets the difficulty; and that He was correctly understood is seen by ver. 68.Note, then —
(a) That if bread means doctrine, then flesh means doctrine;
(b) that I am not confounding Christ's doctrines with Himself, but expounding them. It is one of the great doctrines of this book, and let those who deny Christ's Divinity look to it, that He is evermore the subject of His own discourse. You might as well take the light out of the sun, and call it the sun still, as take Christ out of His teaching and call it His teaching still. Christ and His doctrine are the same: "I am the truth."(2) What eating and drinking mean.
(a) A sense of need — appetite.
(b) Activity towards some appropriate object for the supply of that need.
(c) Enjoyment in the use of the object.
(d) Resultant strength. This is eating and drinking literally.Spiritually, meat and drink are before us in the form of doctrine.
(i.) There is hungering and thirsting after it.
(ii.) There is action toward Christ to get that need supplied: what He commands we obey; what He promises we expect; what He offers we accept.
(iii.) Then there is delight in Christ.
(iv.) Finally, spiritual strength: temptation is resisted, trial endured, work done for God and man; and the evidence of a man's living on Christ is his living for Christ.
II. Let me ENFORCE THE SENTIMENT OF THE TEXT.
1. There is a lesson of obligation. You have heard of Christ, His incarnation, death, resurrection, etc. What has come out of the hearing? Hunger and thirst? You feel uneasy often, and fear. I want that uneasiness and fear to develop into a sense of spiritual need. Let this stimulate action towards Christ; then joy in Christ; then doing what Christ enjoins and avoiding what Christ forbids.
2. A lesson of privilege.
(1) The believer dwells in Christ; hence his safety.
(2) Christ dwells in him; hence his honour.
(3) Hence the believer's satisfaction "shall never hunger or thirst."
(4) To crown it all, "eternal life." Life is the fullest capacity for enjoyment; then what must eternal life be?
(W. Brock, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.