Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, 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 them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
This passage is easily one of the most provocative and profound in the New Testament. The Jews, already upset with Jesus' claim of being the "living bread that had come down from heaven," are further incensed when he introduces the idea of eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:52). Their disbelief is palpable. Yet again, they are trapped by their perception, unable to fathom what Jesus was saying. Jesus doesn't retreat or soften his message. Instead, he doubles down: "Very truly I tell you," he says, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53).
This isn't just about belief now; it's about participation. The language Jesus uses is visceral. Eating and drinking are among the most basic human actions essential for life. By using this metaphor, Jesus is emphasizing the depth of the relationship he offers, one that gives life but in a more meaningful way than food or water can ever give.
However, the Jews would have found his language shocking. They had strict dietary laws and prohibitions against consuming blood, and they would have been horrified by what Jesus was saying. But Jesus wasn't advocating cannibalism. He was introducing a new spiritual reality: a mystical union. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them" (John 6:56). A union of God and us! Think about the level of intimacy this suggests.
While the Last Supper is not explicitly detailed in John's Gospel, this passage lays the groundwork for understanding the Eucharist. The bread and wine, representing Jesus' body and blood, become the means by which believers participate in the divine life. Every time we commemorate the Lord's Supper, we have the opportunity to celebrate this divine union, understanding that we are now people set apart from the world and made one with God.
If we can only understand this —an understanding God will provide if we ask him —our lives will change beyond belief.
God bless you.