“Open your mouth and close your eyes and I’ll give you something to make you wise.” Ever hear that as a kid? Did you do it? If so, what did they put in your mouth? It could have been anything from a chocolate chip cookie to a worm. Unless this was your first time out at this game, you’d only open your mouth and close your eyes if you really trusted the person who gave you the challenge. I can remember the names and faces of lots of childhood chums with whom I would never play that game.
That kids’ game illustrates the answer to a puzzling question. Look at these two quotes from Jesus, taken from the same passage:
Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. (John 6:47)
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51a)
The first question most people ask is “What does Jesus mean by eats this bread, especially since He identified Himself as that Living Bread?” He wasn’t suggesting an act of cannibalism. But what? The first and second quote are talking about the same thing: what it takes to gain eternal life. The second one says you have to “eat this bread;” the first says you have to “believe.” Apparently, Jesus was using eating as a metaphor for believing.
But does such an analogy work? It actually is perfect. Eating is an act of believing, an act of faith. When you eat, you take something external to yourself and ingest it, making it a part of who you are (Remember: You are what you eat?). You only chew and swallow because you believe eating that thing will make you better in some way. If you don’t believe, you don’t eat, right? This is why most kids won’t eat Lima beans. To believe in Jesus is to willingly receive Him into your innermost being, allowing Him to become the Source of your new life. To believe in Him is to “swallow Him, hook, line and sinker.”
Jesus comes to each of us and presents an invitation: He says, “Open your mouth and close your eyes and I’ll give you something to make you truly alive.”
It’s no game. What’s your response?