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“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, 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. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.” ~Jn6:51-55

The Old Testament Law contains strict regulations pertaining to food and they are classified as clean or unclean, edible or inedible. The Israelites of Jesus’ time, though they did not live according to the essence of the Law, yet concerning the external ceremonial rituals, they were careful to keep to the very letter. Therefore, the Lord often spoke of them as hypocrites and described them as having cleaned the outside of the cup and dish but not on the inside which were full of uncleanness.

Before the Lord said those words, He had previously fed this group of people through a miracle. Later, they came seeking for Him, not because they had seen the miracle and recognized Him as the Son of God, but wanted a lifelong supply of free food so that they would never go hungry again. Knowing this, the Lord reminded them not to labour for food that would perish but to seek for food that endured to eternal life. Jesus was referring to Himself as the bread of God who came down from heaven that endured to eternal life. He continued to say that those who ate of His flesh and drank of His blood would receive eternal life. Upon hearing these words, many among them were shocked. The Israelites had always been careful to keep all the laws concerning food regulations, they would not hesitate to judge as ceremonially unclean those who did not wash their hands before meal. Now that the Lord urged them to eat His flesh and drink His blood, this must have caused them to be deeply disturbed!

For Christians, we know that we do not have to literally eat the Lord’s flesh and drink His blood to receive eternal life. As the Lord had already ascended to Heaven, where could we find the blood and flesh of Jesus now? Furthermore, how could one man, Jesus, be enough to feed the millions of believers? Therefore, when the Lord said this, clearly He had something else in mind.