This is one of the more powerful passages in scripture, but it is also a somewhat difficult one.
After Jesus fed the 5000, they wanted Jesus to become their king, and so he left. When they found him, Jesus admonished them,
I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. (26-27)
In other words, the only reason you’re seeking me is for physical reasons, not for spiritual ones. I gave you physical bread, but don’t make what’s temporary your priority in life. Instead, work for the food that gives eternal life.
The Jews then said, “What should we do to do the works of God?”
Perhaps, they expected him to say, “Well, memorize the scriptures. Keep the ten commandments, and make sure you keep all the other laws as well.” After all, that’s the kind of thing they heard all the time.
But Jesus told them something totally unexpected. He said,
The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent. (29)
In other words, “The only thing you can do to obtain eternal life is to put your trust in me. Eternal life doesn’t come from keeping God’s law. It comes from putting your faith in me.”
I’m sure this must have bothered the Jews to hear this, and so they asked for a miraculous sign to prove what he said, pointing out that Moses gave the Israelites manna in the desert as a sign to them that he was God’s servant.
But Jesus responded that it wasn’t Moses that gave the Israelites bread, but God. He then taught them that the manna was a mere symbol of the true bread that would come into the world and give people, not a life that was temporary, but eternal life. He then stunned them by saying,
I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (6:35)
This by the way is the whole key to the passage. Jesus isn’t talking literally. He isn’t literally a piece of bread. And just because you come to him and believe in him doesn’t mean you’ll never have to eat another meal. All of this is spiritual.
To “eat his flesh,” is to come to him. To “drink his blood,” is to believe in him. And if you come to him and believe in him, you will never be hungry or thirsty for God again.
You see this theme throughout this passage. He told them that their problem was they had seen him, the true bread and did not believe in him. But all the Father gave him would come to him. He said if you look to the Son and believe in him you’ll have eternal life (40). That everyone who listens to the Father comes to Jesus (45). That he who believes has eternal life (47). He then pointed out that if you eat physical bread, you’ll eventually die, but if you eat this spiritual bread, if you come to the one who gave his life for the world on the cross, you will live forever (51, 58).
He goes to say that if you do not come to him (eat his flesh) and believe in him (drink his blood), you do not have eternal life. But if you do, you will be raised bodily when Jesus returns and you’ll live forever (53-54). That if you come to him and believe in him, you will remain in him, and he in you (56).
And finally he concludes by saying that physical food in the end, counts for nothing because they can’t give eternal life, but his words impart eternal life if you’ll only believe them. (63)
What can we get from all this? If you want true satisfaction in life, it only comes in a relationship with God. And the only way you’re going to have a relationship with God is by coming to Jesus and putting your faith in him and his work on the cross.
Have you done so? It’s as easy as a prayer.
Lord, I’m tired of living for things that are temporal. I now come to you, and put my faith in you. Forgive me for turning my back on you. I believe you died for my sins. Please come into my life, and help me to live what really counts from now on. In Jesus name, amen.