In John chapter 6 Jesus says at least 4 different times that you must believe in, cleave to and trust in and rely on Him and you will have eternal life. Later in the chapter He changes it to he who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life , John 6:54. Before the end of chapter 6 many of His disciples have left and no longer accompany Him. What does John 6:54 mean?
John 6:54 (NASB)
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Well obviously Jesus is referring to the New Testament practice of cannibalism. Ok, I’m joking, but Jesus did say some interesting things didn’t He? His disciples actually questioned Him on that too, “You say things hard to understand.” Jesus had purpose for saying things hard to understand, and sometimes still does.
Jesus had great purpose in being here, and it wasn’t what many think. Jesus didn’t come to live, but to die. Everything He did while He was here was pointing to that place. He certainly explained many truths to His followers but most of what He was doing could not be understood until after. I’m going to say something that might shock you but it wasn’t as important to follow Jesus while He was here as it was after He left. Surely those with Him were blessed. But being with Jesus in life didn’t make the difference, being with Him in death did. Let me explain.
Judas was with Jesus in life yet he left Him at death, as did Peter. Peter was restored, Judas however was not. Judas surely could have been. Some people will say but Judas betrayed Him. This is true, but the Bible tells us we all have. Romans 3:10-12 (NASB) says, “as it is written,
‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.’” Judas could have been restored had he desired to be.
What is happening in John 6:54? Jesus is pointing to what is called the last supper, which is the beginning of what we now practice called communion. In 1 Corinthians 11:26 (NASB) it says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” One cannot have faith in Christ apart from partaking of His body. To eat of His flesh and to drink if His blood is to believe in who He was and what He did. When we take communion we reflect on that and what we are doing in relation to it.
When we see people leave Jesus at the end of John 6, it’s because they didn’t understand. They, however, didn’t need to. Their redemption was not Christ here, but Christ in the Cross. This was also looking to the future. If people truly understood what He was doing, everyone would come to Him. There are many reasons why people reject Him, but ignorance is at the top. I am convinced there are those that left Him in that time that came back after His resurrection. Just as there are those today that will come to Him, that had never known the truth before.