John Chapter 6:35-46
Jesus said to them, I am the Bread of life; the one coming to Me will not at all hunger, and the one believing into Me will not thirst, never! (36) But I said to you that you also have seen Me and did not believe. (37) All that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me, and the one coming to Me I will in no way cast out. (38) For I have come down out of Heaven, not that I should do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. (39) And this is the will of the Father sending Me, that of all that He has given Me, I shall not lose any of it, but shall raise it up in the last day. (40) And this is the will of the One sending Me, that everyone seeing the Son and believing into Him should have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (41) Then the Jews murmured about Him, because He said, I am the Bread coming down out of Heaven. (42) And they said, Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph, of whom we know the father and the mother? How does this One now say, I have come down out of Heaven? (43) Then Jesus answered and said to them, Do not murmur with one another. (44) No one is able to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. (45) It has been written in the Prophets, They “shall” all “be taught of God.” So then everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Me; Isa. 54:13 (46) not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One being from God, He has seen the Father.
True Christian Religion (Chadwick) 6.
The reason why the whole of the Sacred Scripture teaches the existence of God is that its inmost meaning is concerned with nothing but God, that is, the Divine proceeding from God. For Scripture was dictated by God, and nothing can proceed from God except what He Himself is, and this we call the Divine. This resides in the inmost meaning of Scripture. However, in its lower forms which are derived from the Divine, the Holy Scripture is adapted to the grasp of angels and men. In these forms it is likewise Divine, but in a different guise; in this case the Divine is called Celestial, Spiritual and Natural. These are merely the veils of God, since God Himself, as He exists in the inmost meaning of the Word, cannot be looked on by any created being. For when Moses begged to see the glory of Jehovah, God told him that no one can see God and live. It is the same with the inmost meaning of the Word, in which God is in His Being and Essence.
 Still the Divine, which is inmostly contained in it and is protected by such veils as adapt it to the grasp of angels and men, shines out like light passing through crystalline structures, but the light appears to differ according to the state of mind which a person has acquired from God or from himself. For everyone who has acquired his state of mind from God, the Sacred Scripture is like a mirror, in which he sees God, everyone in his own fashion. This mirror is composed of the truths which he learns from the Word and absorbs by living his life in accordance with them. A first conclusion from this is that the Sacred Scripture is the fulness of God.
Spiritual Christianity offers a very interesting perspective on the interrelationship or connectedness of all things in the universe to the Word. The Word is the alpha and the omega or the beginning and end of all things. Nothing that exists does so without having a continuous connection to the Word itself as its origin and source. All people live because the Word of life gives its life freely to all. No one lives from themselves; all people are recipients of life from the Lord this is why it is said of the Word that He is the bread of heaven that gives life to the cosmos. But not everyone experiences the same quality of life or sense of the Lord’s presence in their life. Some people have no interest in giving time to consider the spiritual dimension of life; others seek to have a form of spirituality that leaves out a personal sense of the Divine, for others their spirituality is so mixed up with natural desires and aspirations that they are unable to separate these from what is truly spiritual. But whatever a person’s state of life is in regard to spiritual things the life the have is ultimately from the Lord who is the source of all life.
When Jesus says, “I am the bread of life” He is saying that true spiritual sustenance for the human spirit is found in Him as the Word. All human desires and aspirations can be fulfilled by the Word, which is why it says that the one coming to the Word, which is the true I AM, will never hunger or thirst. This is a difficult thing for us to grasp in our natural state of life. But it is true and it is the central message of John’s gospel. So what do we mean by the Word. This is an important question and one we need to have answered if we are to be able to take stock and reorientate our lives around it. But before we begin to explore this question we need to be aware that our natural man is not willing to believe truths of this kind and is likely to scoff at them by calling them abstract or vague or of little practical value. But be assured that there is nothing more valuable than a right understanding of spiritual matters, for in these are the very issues of life. What a person believes concerning the Word has a major impact on how they experience their life.
We can see illustrated from the stories in the Scriptures themselves in the resistance the natural level of mind offers to what the Lord has to say in the responses of those who didn’t believe Him. The response of those called the Jews, to the Lord’s words, are illustrative of the thoughts that arise up out of the proprium of every person when confronted with the truths being expounded here. Jesus has just said that He is the bread of life. In the very next verse He now begins to point out that if we come to the Word from our natural mind we will not believe it. It says “I am the bread of life”, that the Word alone can fulfil our deepest most pressing desires, and then He says, “You have seen Me and did not believe”.
The Word says this to warn us of the natural tendency of the proprium to demand more proof and to reason that if it has this then it will act, but as we have seen, regardless of the amount of proof furnished by the Lord the proprium will never respond in a positive way to what the Word teaches. In this Chapter the Lord continues to teach how it is that He is the bread that has come down from heaven, and He meets resistance every step of the way. This teaching followed on from a physical demonstration of this truth in the feeding of the 5000. But it wasn’t enough for those who had no real interest in applying truths to life. We can see this in our own experience. There is a side to us all that is affirming of the Word being the Lord’s presence with us and there is another side that is full of doubt and unbelief.
The side of us that believes the Word and is open to the Lord has been fed with the bread of heaven, has experienced the power of truths from Word to transform various aspects of our life. We have seen how new beliefs can change our view of difficult situations and lift us out of negative emotional states. We may have even been witness to remarkable transformations in the states of others as a result of willingness to walk with the Word through life’s difficulties. All these events, experiences, and transformations are irrefutable signs of the power of the Word to sustain and nurture what is spiritual in the lives of people, and when we are in a positive affirming state of life toward spiritual things then, when we reflect a little, we see the presence of the Lord as the living bread being distributed throughout the whole of humanity meeting the infinite needs in the vast variety of states found within and amongst all peoples. To have this higher vision, to see things in a more universal spiritual context with the Divine as the source of all life, is where we are able to appreciate the reality of the Lord feeding the multitude.
But in those times when we find ourselves in the midst of life’s struggles and our level of consciousness falls and centres in on ourselves the power of the signs we were witness to those higher states of life no longer seem as real. This is because our choice to keep states of negative emotion alive keeps us from the reality of spiritual consciousness. Spiritual things become distant when natural concerns enter into the centre of our focus. We loose sight of the miracles the Lord delivers in every moment of life and we become disconnected from the power of truths to lift us out of ourselves. The proprium in these states gains the upper hand and demands that the Lord give us proof of His power to deliver us.
When our sense of self is in our proprium we tend to disregard or dismiss our experience of the Lord’s goodness in those times when our sense of self was more centred on the Word. We need to know this so that when we do find ourselves in negative states of life we have some understanding in ourselves of spiritual principles that can be awakened in times of doubt or struggle that can help draw us back into more healthy spiritual states of life found in having a conscious connection with the Lord.
This connection with the Divine in the context of Spiritual Christianity is centred on the Sacred Scriptures understood in the light of the Heavenly Doctrines, these being the Word. In the work True Christian Religion (6) it plainly states, and I quote “…the Sacred Scriptures are the fullness of God.” The Sacred Scriptures are the bread which has come down from Heaven and it is to these understood in the light of Heavenly Doctrines that constitute the goodness that the Lord gives for the life of the inner world or cosmos of man. When the Scriptures speak of the world, the inner world of the mind is meant for this is the world into which the Lord is able to be received as the Word or the Sacred Scriptures. He dwells in us as the Scriptures and by means of these our minds are being recreated into a more complete human being. To think and act from the truths found in the Sacred Scriptures is to think and act from the Lord, this is what it is to have eternal life. Therefore Jesus says…
Joh 6:51 I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever. And indeed the bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
If we think of this in terms of material flesh we will fail to grasp what it is the Word is saying. We see this in the responses of the Jews, who being naturally minded couldn’t see beyond the literal meaning of the words…
Joh 6:52-58 Then the Jews argued with one another, saying, How can this One give us his flesh to eat? (53) Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. (54) The one partaking of My flesh and drinking of My blood has everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (55) For My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. (56) The one partaking of My flesh and drinking of My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (57) Even as the living Father sent Me, and I live through the Father; also the one partaking Me, even that one will live through Me. (58) This is the Bread which came down out of Heaven, not as your fathers ate the manna and died; the one partaking of this Bread will live forever.
The flesh and blood being spoken of here is spiritual not material, and by spiritual is meant what belongs to the Divine love and wisdom. To eat the flesh of the Son of Man is to take spiritual nourishment from the Sacred Scriptures through living from them. When we talk about fleshing out an idea we mean seeing it go from something conceptual to something concrete and applicable to life. Similarly the flesh of the Son of man refers to the good activities and actions that flow from our understanding of the Word for in these is embodied the love and wisdom that the Lord is in a form that can bring others into contact with Him. Actions that look to the good of the neighbour are how the Lord’s love is made real and tangible for people. It is love and wisdom becoming incarnate, being fleshed out. It is the Word becoming flesh in our midst. A similar meaning is found in the idea of drinking his blood; the Lord is the Word and the blood of the Word is the truth that flows from it into our minds. As blood is to the material body, so truth is to the spiritual body, being our mind.
In the body the blood cleanses and nourishes every cell, so in the realm of the mind truth has the function of cleansing and nourishing the spiritual man. Truths give us new ways of seeing and thinking that can expose false ideas that clog up our thought processes and prevent the free flow of love and compassion in our lives towards others. When we look to truths we can have our motives purified by the Lord and this occurs as we begin to make changes in our life in response to the Word in the practise of repentance.
So to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man is to live from the Word in conscious acknowledgement that this is our God and very life. How can it be anything else, how else is eating and drinking the flesh and blood of the Lord be understood than spiritually. The Word itself makes this clear when the Lord says…
Joh 6:63 It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh does not profit, nothing! The Words which I speak to you are spirit and are life.
The Word is spirit and life. By spirit is to be understood truth, and by life is to be understood the good that comes from that truth, for goodness or love is the life that truth leads to. This is another way of saying that the Word of the Lord is His blood and flesh. The spiritual man sees the truth of this, but because the natural man can’t see what is spiritual but can only hear and understand literally it is incomprehensible. Spiritually understood the terms blood and spirit are used in the Word when referring to its truths or what belongs to faith, whereas flesh and life are terms that are used when referring to the love or goodness found in the life of genuine charity.
For the New Church that Word we are to eat and drink of is nothing other than the Sacred Scriptures found in the Bible for these are, as was said before, the fullness of God. This single idea has the power to change people’s lives because, once accepted, it cannot but change how people relate to the Word forever. To be in the Lord and to have the Lord in us as He is in the Father and the Father is in Him is to have the Word of life active and living in our minds.
The livingness of the Word becomes more real as we live from it. The faith of Spiritual Christianity has a wonderful body of teaching in the Heavenly Doctrines which are able to relate the Scriptures to the life of our spirits and so provide us with all we need to bring our into consciousness the presence of the Lord as the bread of life. If we want to have life in ourselves, as the Word declares is needed, if we are to be raised up on the last day, then the provision made by the Divine is the Sacred Scriptures – we all have them before us; we all have access to them let us be sure that we are faithful to that which we have been given.