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. 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." 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
Questions to Consider:
Jesus clearly understood and was talking about His atoning work early on in His time of public ministry. He is saying approximately the same things that He will later restate in the "Last Supper." What this tells us is that Jesus was completely aware of how His time on earth would come to an end.
Although the Jews were experts when it came to the law, they were unable to connect Jesus to the atoning work of the Messiah. (And Jesus rightly pointed out, that even if the Father sent another they would still miss the connection. John 5:43) Jesus was the fulfillment of Psalms 118:22. The stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.
Jesus speaks of Himself as the atonement directly v.54. "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life." We think of the broken body and the spilled blood of Christ in retrospect. We take communion remembering His sacrifice.
Neither the Jews, nor the disciples had this perspective. They did not understand what Jesus was trying to communicate until after His death and resurrection. Viewing the Messiah as "The" sacrificial lamb did not faintly enter into their understanding.
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