The words of Jesus in this reading have become a divider of Christians, something opposite of Jesus’ intention. Jesus said to them, “Unless you do eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you are not really living at all. Phillips He is describing cannibalism, something abhorrent to nearly all peoples of the world. For Jews, eating blood from animals was forbidden; that is why the animals had to be killed by slitting their throats to let the heart pump out the blood first. And in Deuteronomy 28 eating human flesh clearly results in complete loss of one’s humanity. These words caused many of his disciples to desert him.
So what did Jesus mean? This is another paradox like the lion and the lamb (and Jesus is both). Jesus made a bold statement, and a long one, about the Bread of Life. It runs from verse 25 to 71 of chapter 6. More than that, it must be understood in terms of the feeding of the 5,000.
Perhaps the earliest commentary on this text is from Ignatius who was born about the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection and as the Bishop of Antioch probably knew several of the first Apostles. Come together in common one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ…and break one bread, which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ.
Nearly a century later, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, wrote that we must become accustomed to eat and drink the Word of God. Most Protestants take this sense when reading Jesus’ words.
Look back at John 6:26-29. Jesus told the people, You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you. MSG Here I think is an essential point, Jesus says that it is all about God, not the bread. If I eat the Word of God but never take the bread and wine of the Eucharist, I have done well. As Paul put it, Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Phillips
Eat the Word and drink the wine of the Christ-like life.
Be righteous and do good.