Jesus spoke some words which caused many of his followers to stop following him. They were that we should feed on his body, that his body was real food and his blood real drink. Obviously a bit of a puzzle at that stage of scripture, at that stage of his mission.
But he had said to the woman at the well that he could have given her water that was everlasting, meaning the Spirit. That to drink of this meant eternal life.
Here he is saying that we should eat his body. Somewhere else he said that he had bread that they knew not of, and that was to do the will of his Father. Here he says that his body was the bread of life.
The meaning is that there is sustenance to be had that will give life and begin new life, and to sustain that life. Jesus fed, gained strength from doing God’s will. He says we can feed and gain strength from doing God’s will as stated by “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one whom he has sent”. Therefore he gave us his body to be that from which we could gain the strength to do his will, by generating and increasing our faith in God. [this he did on the cross].
He meant that he gave his body in exchange for our own, that we could feed on his death, that his body was offered as a means of overcoming those degenerative processes that were at work in him through being human. His body was not just broken by the nails or the flogging or the spear thrust, it was broken inside because it was corrupted by the lie in Eden. [yes he was “without blemish” of his own volition, he had done nothing wrong, yet he inhabited a body that contained the same ability to explore its own nature that we have, and which gives rise to the “self” entity of ego, but which he kept at arm’s length until the time came for him to confront it.]
So his body was a “sacrifice” “to sin” and sin’s processes of corruption. Through healing and restoring his own human body, he was to potentially restore all humankind.
Feeding on his body means to accept that his death terminated the claim of death on us all. That the “legal” “rightful” claim of “justice” was to terminate US. But “mercy triumphs over judgement” and we are released from the power of death over us because his love is what deals with sin and forgives its action and its results because God loves his creation and “wants no man to perish” but that “all should come to a knowledge of the truth”.
Because his renewed and immortalised body has now become “a life giving Spirit”, we are able to leave behind that corrupted thing that we were and to place ourselves under his umbrella of love, who is Christ, having “come to a knowledge of the truth”, which is that his love as demonstrated in Jesus, IS the truth. The product of the lie, which is death, which was our lot, is taken by him so that we might leave it behind and serve him instead of our self, gaining life from and through him.
He who believes has eternal life..