52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying,
Things never seem to change. The Jews in the exodus fought with Moses and now they were fighting about Christ. They violently argued among themselves about what Jesus had just said. They were still thinking in terms of the physical body of Christ.
“How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
The Jews remained dull about the sayings of Jesus. Their understanding stayed at the physical level about what Jesus said. Unbelief never understands eternal things. Jesus’ presentation of Himself as the payment for sins by His death was too much for them to swallow.
Then Jesus said to them,
Jesus’ response to the Jews was to give them another word of assurance. He would give a metaphorical or figurative picture of a spiritual truth.
“Most assuredly, I say to you,
For the fourth time in this discourse Jesus said solemnly, “Most assuredly” (vv. 26, 32, 47). This time Jesus repeated His claims in even stronger terms than in the previous passages.
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man
Those who believe in sacramentalism believe that Jesus was speaking of the Eucharist. They hold that the sacraments are inherently efficacious. It is not the sacraments that are efficacious but the shed blood of Jesus for our sins. As I mentioned earlier, the Lord did not introduce the Lord’s Supper until a year later in the upper room, so He did not refer to it here.
“Flesh” metaphorically means the violent death of Jesus on the cross. “Blood” in the next phrase confirms that by His flesh He meant His body including His person dying on the cross.
and drink His blood,
Drinking the blood of Christ is a bold metaphor for believing that the shed blood of Christ paid for the sins of the world. This phrase must have been enigmatic to the Jews.
Both “eat” and “drink” are in a Greek tense that indicates that in this verse the eating and drinking is done only once (aorist tense). We appropriate Christ once by initial faith in Him.
you have no life in you.
The “life” here is spiritual and eternal life (zoe).
The body and blood of Christ are metaphorical, not literal.
This passage does not substantiate the doctrine of transubstantiation—the teaching that the body and blood of Jesus are literally present in the bread and wine, making Christ present in the Eucharist. The Lord’s Table was not to be introduced for another year past the time of John 6. Neither would this subject be meaningful to Jesus’ hearers at this stage of development. Why would Jesus present the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper to a group of unbelievers?
Neither does eating and drinking in our passage refer to what we call communion or the Lord’s Supper.
To “eat” or believe means to accept fully the reality of Christ’s death for our sins. Faith throws the believer upon its object.
Both eating and drinking are necessary to sustain our physical life. Belief in Christ’s sacrificial death to forgive our sins is necessary for eternal life. Eating and drinking are symbols for accepting Christ’s work on the cross for our sins.