Participation in Christ's Sacrifice
William Nicholson, 1862
"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:54
In this chapter, the great Teacher, in his interaction with the Jews, states in most striking terms, the grand design of his coming into the world. He selects the most appropriate figures by which to represent his death as sacrificial, and faith as the means of participation in the same. Faith in him secures . . .
communion with God,
and the hope of endless life.
Unbelief debars the soul from these incalculable advantages.
These words point out to us:
I. An Important Act."Eating the flesh, and drinking the blood of Christ."
1. Flesh and blood mean the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross, where his body was wounded for our sins, bruised for our iniquities, and his blood shed — for "without shedding of blood there is no remission." Christ gives us this view of the subject in verse 51, "And the bread that I will give is my flesh, or life, which I will give for the life of the world."
This view of the passage is supported by the sacred writers who dwell upon the expiatory sacrifice of Christ. Papists absurdly take the literal sense. Socinians cavil, and infidels blaspheme — yet the Church shall proclaim this grand fact in her testimony, and Heaven shall celebrate it in her songs. Every saint on earth says, "He loved me and gave himself for me!" And all the ransomed spirits in glory sing, "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood — be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen!" Revelation 1:5-6
2. Eating Christ's flesh, and drinking his blood, imply the apprehension of this great truth. It is clearly seen and understood that Christ gave his life as a ransom for sinners. Christ's death is recognized:
As the stipulated medium of mercy; Zechariah 13:1.
As the substituted sacrifice for sin; 2 Corinthians 5:21.
As the foundation of reconciliation; Colossians 1:21, 22.
As the means of our acquittal and recovery; Job 32:24; Isaiah 53:5.
3. Reliance upon his sacrifice for the blessings of salvation. Actual participation, as the figures eating and drinking imply. Bread is nothing to us, however prepared, presented or possessed — unless it be eaten. It is only by admitting it into the physical system that it can become nourishment. Read verse 51, 53, 56. This means that a Savior unapplied, will profit nothing!
The believer feels his need of the Sacrifice and partakes of it.
He eats, drinks, etc.
He receives the blessings of his death by faith.
His blood cleanses him from all sin.
He is rescued by his sacrifice from condemnation — and springs into the liberty of the children of God.
4. Eating Christ's flesh and drinking his blood must be constant to give permanence to spiritual life, joy, and hope.
Should we cease to eat and drink — our bodies would die. Just so, if our faith were to be taken from the cross, spiritual life would soon become extinct. Sinai would flash and thunder against us again. Satan would triumph, and the gates of Hell would open for us again. Eternal wrath would be our prospect again.
We shall need this food while we live. It will be necessary to the last; as long as we contract fresh guilt; as long as we are called to bear new trials; and discharge new duties; and even when we come to die, we must eat the flesh, etc.
Then frequently visit his cross — his throne — his word — his house — his table, where he is set forth. Go to his banqueting house, where his banner over you will be love. He invites you; "Eat, O friends, drink abundantly, O beloved!"
II. A Distinguished Privilege."Has eternal life."
1. In its principle. The principle is spiritual life, which is the commencement — the incipient enjoyment of eternal life. So Christ said, John 4:14. "Christ died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." He died that our dead souls might be quickened by his spirit, that those principles might be formed within us so necessary to fellowship with God.
In fellowship with the Savior so delightful;
in the faith which sees him who is invisible;
in the love which elevates the heart to God;
in the hope that enters within the veil; and
in the rejoicing with joy unspeakable,
we see Heaven — eternal life begun!
2. In its pledge — the pledge of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 1:22. Believers have the first-fruits of the Spirit, Romans 8:23, and are sealed by the Spirit. Ephesians 1:13. Such phrases signify the assurance given by the Spirit of adoption, to believers of their inheritance in Heaven. For as the first-fruits were pledges to the Jews of the ensuing crop; and as he who receives the pledge is sure to have the full bargain made good — so the privileges, joys, hopes, etc., of believers here, are the pledges of eternal life.
3. In its title and connection. Jesus paid the penalty of the sinner's transgression, he makes him fit for the inheritance which he has purchased by his blood; he has entered it as his forerunner; of that inheritance, grace has appointed him to be a "joint-heir with Christ." See Romans 8:17; Colossians 1:12; 3:4. The believer is said to be now connected with Heaven, or eternal life. He is a citizen of Heaven. "For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!" Philippians 3:20. He is a citizen of Heaven, "a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." See Hebrews 12:22.
4. In its glorious consummation. He shall come to the end of his warfare---his race — his journey — his voyage, and . . .
enter his Father's palace,
partake of all its enjoyments,
behold all its glories, and
there reign in purity and ecstatic bliss forever and ever!
III. A Glorious Promise."I will raise him up at the last day."
1. The time of its fulfillment. "The last day." The great day of the whole world's judgment. The day . . .
when we must see the great Infinite One,
when must be judged,
when we shall have done with time,
when our connection with eternity shall commence!
The day . . .
of grandeur — or degradation,
of rapturous joy — or dreadful woe,
of infinite honor — of infinite disgrace.
2. The first great act of the Redeemer at "the last day" will be to raise the dead, and especially the bodies of his people who have eaten his flesh, etc. He will raise it up from the grave — change it from vileness to purity and glory — raise it from infirmity, imperfection, and liability to death. "Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body!" Philippians 3:21. See 1 Corinthians 15:42, etc.
On the mount of transfiguration, the face of Christ "shone like the sun, and his clothing was white as the light." In this glory he appeared to Saul; he shone "above the brightness of the sun," and struck him blind. When John saw him, "his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength." Revelation 1:13, etc. Look at this glory of the Redeemer, and remember that to it, the raised body of the believer is to be conformed, and united to the glorified soul.
3. Introduction to the enjoyment of eternal life in Heaven. "Come, you who are blessed by my Father — inherit the kingdom!" See John 17:24; Revelation 21. What a description of the everlasting abode of the righteous! See that city:
a city of pure gold like unto clear glass,
its gates of pearl,
guarded and kept by twelve angels,
its golden streets, like transparent glass,
having no night there,
needing no light of the sun or the moon,
that city where God "will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4
1. Salvation must be all of grace. Blessings so vast could never be purchased or earned by sinful man.
2. There is a plenitude of salvation in Christ. Let the penitent believe.
3. If there is no participation in Christ here on earth — then there can be none in Heaven.