For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:40
In Sunday’s Gospel (3-year series), Jesus repeats several themes. Let us begin by concentrating on the resurrection theme repeated by Jesus in this pericope. In verse 39 Jesus, speaks of all that the Father has given Him, promising, I will raise it [all] up on the last day. Then, from a slightly different angle, in verse 40 Jesus says that each person who looks on the Son and believes in Him, He will raise him up on the last day. A third time Jesus promises that an individual drawn to Him by the Father, He will raise him upon the last day [v 44].
Christianity, the proper continuation of Judaism, believes in and proclaims the resurrection of the body. The ultimate sign of God’s curse upon this creation was and is physical death. The ultimate sign of the New Adam’s victory is His resurrection from the dead. To demonstrate and prove His actual physical resurrection Christ showed the Apostles His death wounds, He then had the Apostles touch Him and He ate in their presence.
Even as Christ called forth from death Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter and the youth and Nain, so He will at the end of days call forth all who have died. Jesus spoke of this in John 5: Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out [28,29a]. Of this resurrection Saint Paul was inspired to write: As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive… For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality [1 Cor 15:22, 52-53]. So whether our bodies are consumed in fire, consumed by vicious beasts, dismembered, buried at sea, or—like most—buried in the ground, all the dead will hear the voice of Christ and rise. This miracle is not only a miracle of re-creation, but it is a miracle of redemption.
Holy Scripture is emphatic that all the dead (believers and unbelievers) will physically rise. Unbelievers will get what they have wanted—no God. They will live, physically, in the horrible realm of Satan, without the presence of any of God’s mercy. It is true that in our current era people live in Satan’s realm, for he is the “ruler of this world”. However the current world has many good things, and of greatest significance is the fact that it has the redemption created by Christ’s death and resurrection. Because of God’s merciful presence, this world still sees some good and pleasant things, but the next realm of Satan will have none of God’s goodness. Into this realm the resurrected unbelievers will be cast.
So why then will Christ raise believers to an unimaginable eternal bliss? It has nothing to do with our merit. It is because Christ is the bread that came down from heaven [vv 33, 38, 41, 42, 50]. The eternal Son of God took into Himself humanity, that He might feed humanity with the bread of life. And eternal life is given because He is the bread of life, the bread that gives life eternal [e.g. vv 33, 35, 40, 50].
In order to “bake” this bread for mankind, the Son of God had to die and rise from the grave. He had to establish the “dough” of this bread by giving His flesh and blood at the cross, and coming out of the “oven” of the tomb, the bread was ready to be consumed. Observe Christ’s discussion about this flesh and blood in vv 53-58.
How then does one eat of this Wonder-Bread? It is consumed by faith, and that faith is wrought in the hearts of people by the power of God [vv 29, 37, 39, 44, 45]. Jesus says succinctly: No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life… I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever [vv 47-48, 44, 51].
And since it is our bodies that will rise on the last day, God has established a literal food of life to be consumed by our bodies. Luther and several other theologians have remarked that to eat of the Lord’s body and blood in the Eucharist, is to eat of that which raises the very body which consumed it. Already around the year 105 AD, Ignatius declared that the Lord’s Supper is the “medicine of immortality.” Of course the Lord’s Supper is only eaten to one’s eternal health if it is eaten in faith. So by faith eat of the Bread of Life, and He will raise you up, eternally!