What did HE say? (continued)
Bread of Life (Part 5)
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life“ (John 6:44-48).
We ended at the beginning of these sayings in the last post covering up to Jesus promise of everlasting life. We made note of the use of the phrase draw him as it expanded upon the already established giveth, both are saying that we come from the Father to the Son. The Father draw him then we can come to Christ; the Father giveth to Christ and then we shall come to Him. It is further expanded upon in Jesus telling us that who hath heard and hath learned of the Father also come to Christ. We then posited that these can all be seen in the same way and as the same event or sequence of events as hardly can one of these happen without the others. These are the definition, so to speak, of the beginning of the Path and the gate to the Kingdom. We can put them in any order. We hear and learn of God and of the spiritual life causing us to be drawn to it and then we give the lower self over to the higher. We sense the Light of the Soul and are drawn to it; we then begin to seek and to hear and learn and then we give the conscious personality over to the spiritual life. Or, we can, based on some outer circumstance such as baptism or prayer, give the conscious self over to God and then begin to hear and learn and be drawn closer. Here in Jesus words we can see how this all can work out in the life of man this world.
The Master continues, saying: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life“. The word translated as everlasting here is the same as is translated eternal in other places. It is sometimes difficult to understand why the translators chose different English words in different places and this is one. The Greek word here is aionios and its meanings, which we did cover in an earlier post, are without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be; without beginning, without end, never to cease, everlasting. Substituting our word follow for believeth on we can say of this passage that when one follows the Master and does His word he will realize his eternal life. Now I use here the word realize for lack of a better choice and to explain the reality. We are Spirit and God is Spirit and that Spirit is eternal. Flesh on the other hand is not eternal, it is temporal; the body dies and is burned or buried and disintegrates or it is destroyed in some other way and this body cannot become eternal. The obscure sayings by the Master and the Saints that lead many to believe that this body can become eternal is not based in scripture but is a somewhat perverse reading of scripture. It is all based on viewing this life in physical form and this personality as the reality of man; this is not the reality of man, man is Spirit and when we view things spiritually then eternal becomes a meaningful word. The point here is that when we are drawn to God by whatever means and we let the spiritual life overtake the carnal life and we live in the words of the Master, we then are able come to Christ and to understand and to see and in this we realize our eternal oneness with the Master and the Father. We should remember also the Jesus defines for us the meaning of eternal life: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3)
“I am that bread of life” are the next words from Jesus and here we are back in our original theme. Our previous comments regarding this saying brought out that this is one of the Master’s qualities. He tells us that He is the Bread of Life; He tells us also that His words are Life (“the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63)), The word translated as bread in these verses is just that, bread which, just like the word translated meat, is also used to designate food in general. We know that we need food to nourish the physical body or it dies and in Jesus saying here we learn that we must also nourish our conscious personality with spiritual food or it will die spiritually or, worse yet, never come alive spiritually. He is the Bread of Life and His words are also that Life and it is through the Christ Within (the Bread of Life) that we nourish our conscious selves with spiritual food and come to realize and understand our Spirit nature and our eternal selves. We eat food daily to keep this body alive and we should eat of the Bread of Life daily to keep our spiritual selves alive within this body. So how do we eat? By prayer, meditation, reading and doing the words of the Master; by focusing on the Spirit life and not the carnal; by doing all those things that enable us to be in His Presence, in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus continues His speaking to the people saying: “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 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 6:49-51). First the historic fact that their fathers died which, according to Vincent, is the proper rendering**** and so is said that way in the Revised Version. In both renderings they are dead but in saying that they died seems more in line with the Masters context as they ate manna and they died; it only nourished the body. The Master is showing now the contrast; that He is the Bread that comes from heaven and will feed us spiritually and we will not die. This is the same as we say above and that the people don’t understand. The spiritual bread that feeds the conscious personality would be, for those people, doing the words that the Master said. These are the words we find in this gospel as well as the others that were spoken to the people. Perhaps in this same dialogue, Jesus gave some of the teachings we find in Matthew and Mark and Luke about Love and the spirit versus the letter but unreported by John. The Master goes on to emphasize that the Bread is living repeating that He is the Bread and adding that it is alive; and so it is with the Word of God.
The more perplexing parts of His message in this Gospel of John come next. We will try to make sense of them in the context of our overall message and beliefs remembering that these sayings caused many of those that were considered His disciples to leave Him when He said them. They were not nearly understood then and are probably not much better understood by the average Christian today.
“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“. This verse as the beginning of this part is somewhat more reserved than the balance and in it Jesus makes three points. First, He adds that this Bread that He is is alive and not to be likened to the manna that came down to feed and nourish the bodies of those who partook in it. The manna was intended solely to feed them physically as there was no other sustenance to be found in the wilderness that they travelled. The idea that it came from God helped to keep them in awe of their God and to obey His laws though, according to history, it did not accomplish this goal in the long term. This Bread however is spiritual and if we partake of it, as men, we bring the spiritual Life into our everyday conscious lives and bring to us the realization of our eternal nature. We must know that He does not refer to the body when He says shall live for ever; we must understand this from a spiritual perspective. This is actually more readily understood spiritually as there is no basis for the physical body living for ever; even if we perceive this to apply to the resurrection, we must die first.
The second point is that the Bread that He will give is His flesh. This is the first reference to flesh in this dialogue and He is here equating the Bread of Life with His flesh. Flesh is another of the more misunderstood words from the New Testament and it has many meanings. The Greek word sarx which is rendered flesh is defined in the lexicon as: flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts; the body; the body of a man, used of natural or physical origin, generation or relationship, born of natural generation; the sensuous nature of man, “the animal nature”, without any suggestion of depravity, the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin, the physical nature of man as subject to suffering; a living creature (because possessed of a body of flesh) whether man or beast; the flesh, denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God**. In these definitions it is hard to find one that applies here except the actual flesh, the body. This is so because, as we go on, He does say we need to eat His flesh. Strong’s says of flesh: flesh, body, the soft tissue of a creature, often in contrast to bone, ligament or sinew; by extension human, humankind, with a focus on the fallen human nature which is frail and corrupt in contrast to the immaterial (spiritual) things***. Again, there is no definition that adequately fits into this saying by the Master.
So we are still uncertain as to what the Master is saying after referring to two biblical definitions of the word. Vincent tells us this which may help to put this all in a better perspective: The word flesh describes this new mode of being (this from the Word became flesh, retaining all the essential properties of the Word from John 1). It signifies human nature in and according to its corporeal manifestation…..The phrase became flesh, means more than He assumed a human body. He assumed human nature entire, identifying Himself with the race of man****. In parenthesis is my note on Vincent’s prior text. Vincent does say more here about the personality and the nature of Spirit but this is from the traditional Christian viewpoint and would muddy his words that we are using here. For our purposes we want only to understand that He, the Word, became flesh, and He is still the Word and in this we have some insight into the nature of the saying the bread that I will give is my flesh. Here, knowing that He will sacrifice the human nature that He took on for the Life of the world He makes that statement which is our third point. He took on and He gives up the flesh, the human nature; both are done for the Life of the world. He became flesh and remained the Word, ever with God the Father, and in this He tells us to partake of the Bread which is His Flesh, which is His nature but which is and never was separated from the Word or His real Spirit nature. As we go on tomorrow, we will see that the idea of flesh is not limited to His reason for sacrifice; this is the beginning part which starts as eat of this bread and the bread that I will give is my flesh.
Note on the Quote of the Day
This daily blog also has a Quote of the Day which may not be in any way related to the essay. Many of these will be from the Bible and some just prayers or meditations that may have an influence on you and are in line with the subject matter of this blog. As the quote will change daily and will not store with the post, it is repeated in this section with the book reference and comment.
I send out thoughts of love and peace and healing to the whole universe: to all trees and plants and growing things, to all beasts and birds and fishes, and to every man, woman and child on earth, without any distinction. If anyone has ever injured me or done me any kind of harm, I fully and freely forgive him now, and the thing is done forever. I loose him and let him go. I am free and he is free. (from The Presence by Emmet Fox; 1886 – 1951).
A prayer of universal Love for all of Gods Great Creation. A selfless prayer for all.
- **** Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D.
2nd edition, 1888