This happened after the Jews complained about him, because he said that he was the bread that came down from heaven (John 6:35-40)
John 6:41 - 58
NKJV - 41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven. 42 And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven' ?
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I believe Jesus here was pointing to Him as the Passover Lamb, who was to pay on the cross the penalty for humanity’s sins (John 1:29; Ex 12:3, 5,6). Just as Israel was to sacrifice a lamb and eat its flesh (Ex 12:11) the same way Jesus' followers were to partake of His flesh and blood in order to gain eternal life. Jesus was killed on a Friday afternoon (Matt 27:46), at the exact time and date as the Passover Lamb, He rested in the tomb on the Sabbath, and resurrected on the first day of the week (Luke 23:54-56). In Exodus 16:19-24 we read that Jesus was the bread (Manna) coming from heaven (John 6:51). The flesh of Jesus saw no corruption while He rested in the tomb on Sabbath, just as the Manna that did not spoil on the Sabbath (Ps 16:9,10; Ex 16:24-26). They were to rest in what Jesus had done for humanity (Acts 2:25-27; 2:31).
Jesus made this statement as part of His response to people who were following Him primarily for the material benefits (such as food) they thought that He could provide them, rather than the more urgent spiritual benefits (such as forgiveness of sins) and eternal life that they needed, and that only He could furnish. Jesus likened His body and His blood to food and drink in the sense of being able to satisfy that spiritual hunger and need by the forthcoming sacrifice of His body and shedding of His blood to make possible the forgiveness of sins on behalf of all humanity (which was also a prefiguring of the commemorative nature of the Eucharist that He would later formally institute at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20)).
What did Jesus mean when He said, "Unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you"? This happened after the Jews complained about him, because he said that he was the bread that came down from heaven. (John 6:35-40) The chapter does not end there. The Lord continued: 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. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” The interpretation of this passage was given by the Lord Himself. Please read: John 6: 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life... 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Please observe what the Lord said: It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.. The flesh profits nothing. Only the words of the Lord Jesus matters. Peter confirmed it: 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “.. You have the words of eternal life.” You have the words.... This is further confirmed in: John 5: 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. It has nothing to do with the last supper. The words our Lord spoke are spirit and life. The criminal on the cross went to Paradise. He never partook of the bread and the wine. In fact, he never did anything other than simply trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is evidence of being saved completely by the unmerited favour of God.
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