This is the final section of Jesus’ teaching after the multiplication of loaves and fishes. His words have been difficult to understand, and his hearers have been reacting to them. The decisive moment has come. Jesus’ talk of their eating his body is too much for some because they take it literally. For them, Jesus is making an impossible demand on them and so they decide to follow him no more.
The twelve, who also find his words difficult to understand, continue to trust in him and to follow him. Nobody hears the message of the kingdom as preached by Jesus can remain indifferent to it.
Jesus fed the people and spoke about a more important bread coming down from heaven. Now Jesus affirms clearly that the life-giving bread he has been speaking about is himself. He invites those who are listening to him to eat his flesh and drink his blood that they might live now and be raised up on the last day. This is the decisive moment in Jesus’ speech. His words are so shocking and challenging that the people have to decide whether to continue to follow him or to leave him altogether. Jesus insists forcefully on the need to eat his body and drink his blood. How will the people respond? How do we respond?
In his words after the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, Jesus proclaimed: “I am the bread of life.” He invited his listeners to come to him and believe in him so that they might have the kind of life that God always wanted for them. The people cannot believe that he has come down from heaven. They know his mother, Mary and foster father, Joseph. Knowing his human origin prevents them from believing in his divine origin. Jesus does not try to make his difficult message easier but repeats that he is the living bread come down from heaven. But to understand and accept who Jesus really is, a person must be drawn by the Father. Faith in Jesus is a gift from God.
When Jesus fed the people, they wanted to make him their king. But he escapes from the mountains. The people keep looking for him, when they find him the following day at Capernaum, they engage in a debate with him. The food Jesus gave him in the desert brings to their minds the manna of Moses. They expect Jesus to perform more miracles like this. Jesus explains to them that the real giver of the manna was not Moses, but God, his Father and that it is through him that God will continue to feed his people.