Jesus shocked everyone by saying: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:53-54).
Eating or drinking blood is expressly forbidden in the Law of Moses. God says: “I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people.” (Leviticus 17:10). As a result, John reports that: “From that time many of (Jesus’) disciples went back and walked with him no more.” (John 6:66).
Jesus tried in vain to explain that he was not speaking about drinking the blood that flows in his natural body. He was talking of the “blood” that flows in his spiritual body. He said: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63).
If, indeed, the flesh profits nothing, then the blood from Jesus’ natural body cannot provide atonement for sins. If that is the blood we are required to drink, it would have run out a long time ago. In any case, God is spirit: he has no physical blood. The “blood” Jesus was referring to is his spiritual blood. That spiritual blood is the Holy Spirit.
Today, we don’t have access to Jesus’ physical blood. In any case, physical blood cannot touch the soul. However, Jesus’ spiritual blood is not limited by time and space. We can still access today the same spiritual blood available in the time of Jesus.
Life of the Spirit
The life of a man is in his blood. When the blood stops flowing, he dies. The life of God is the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, there can be no spiritual life. Jesus says: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). This means the spiritual man cannot be quickened by natural blood. He can only be quickened by the Holy Spirit; the equivalent in God of the natural blood in man. Therefore, in the scriptures, it is the Holy Spirit that is “the blood of Christ.” (Hebrews 9:14).
Without the Holy Spirit, man cannot have eternal life. When Jesus maintained we must drink his blood in order to obtain eternal life, he was not harking back to pagan mystery religions. He was asking us to “drink” the Holy Spirit. He said: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38). That living water is the Holy Spirit.
Jesus provided us with a symbol of the coming of the Holy Spirit by drinking wine from the same cup with his disciples at the Last Supper. He then declared to them: “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28). However, this blood was only “shed” symbolically at his crucifixion on the cross of Calvary. Jesus’ real sin-remitting blood was “shed” on the Day of Pentecost.
At Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples drank his blood, which is the Holy Spirit. Onlookers thought they were drunk with wine. However, Peter pointed out that they were drunk with the Holy Spirit. He told them Christ “has shed forth” his Spirit, which they now see and hear. (Acts 2:33).
Jesus hinted at this new departure when he said at the Last Supper: “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it NEW with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29). The new way of drinking “wine” in the kingdom of God is by receiving the Holy Spirit.
Communion of the Spirit
We are told in Acts that: “(God) has made from ONE BLOOD every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26). That “one blood” is the Holy Spirit. Blood determines lineage. People of the same family are called be blood relatives. The “blood” that unites all believers in one family as members of the family of God is the Holy Spirit.
This makes Christian “communion services” today empty rituals. The true communion is “the communion of the Holy Spirit.” Now that the Holy Spirit has come to concretise our communion with God the Father, there is no longer any need for symbols and rituals like those of the so-called Holy Communion. Indeed, the way of Christ is not a way of symbols, rituals and ceremony. When a man is born again, he automatically receives new life. That new life is the very life of God, and it comes from the Holy Spirit.
Jesus says: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56). He then prayed specifically for this. He asked God that believers may be in the Father and that the Father may also be in us. (John 17:20-22). This prayer is answered through the process whereby the Holy Spirit of God comes down to in-dwell every true believer.
By this answered prayer, Jesus became “the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24). Again, the blood that is sprinkled on believers and the blood that speaks is none other than the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit speaks in our hearts the love and mercy of God. Therefore, we are counseled: “See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks.” (Hebrews 12:25).
The Holy Spirit is the true blood of Christ which still is flowing and cleansing souls from sin. (Revelation 1:5). He is: “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death.” (Hebrews 9:14). Anything washed in natural blood turns red. However, John talks of those who “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14). This white blood-washing is the work of the Holy Spirit.
John says furthermore: “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (John 1:7). The Holy Spirit embarks on a life-long laundry process, whereby he purifies our hearts by feeding us with the true bread of life. On a daily systematic basis, he brings to our remembrance the words of Jesus.
So doing, he teaches us the righteousness of God. He also fulfils God’s promise of the new covenant: “I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (Ezekiel 36:25-26). “I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.” (Jeremiah 31:33).
The Holy Spirit cleanses us of sin by writing God’s commandments with an indelible pen in our hearts and minds.