How can we eat flesh? (Jn 6:52-6:52)

“The Jews

Then disputed

Among themselves.

They said.

‘How can this man

Give us

His flesh

To eat?’”

Ἐμάχοντο οὖν πρὸς ἀλλήλους οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι λέγοντες Πῶς δύναται οὗτος ἡμῖν δοῦναι τὴν σάρκα φαγεῖν;

John uniquely indicated that the Jews (οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι) then disputed or argued (Ἐμάχοντο οὖν) among themselves (πρὸς ἀλλήλους), but not with others.  They said (λέγοντες) how can this man (Πῶς δύναται οὗτος) give us (ἡμῖν δοῦναι) his flesh (τὴν σάρκα) to eat (φαγεῖν)?  Once again, there was a confusion among the listeners of Jesus.  They seem to take him literally and materially, which would be an abhorrent cannibalism.  Thus, the relationship to the symbolic spiritual Eucharistic bread and the body or flesh of Jesus was implied here, but misunderstood by his audience.  Do you sometimes misunderstand that meaning of the Eucharistic communion?


The living bread from heaven (Jn 6:51-6:51)

“I am

The living bread

That came down

From heaven.

Whoever eats

Of this bread,

Will live forever.

The bread

That I will give

For the life

Of the world

Is my flesh.”

ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ζῶν ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς· ἐάν τις φάγῃ ἐκ τούτου τοῦ ἄρτου, ζήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα· καὶ ὁ ἄρτος δὲ ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω ἡ σάρξ μού ἐστιν ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς.

John indicated that Jesus got personal when he spoke of the living bread.  The connection with the eucharistic bread, eternal life, and Jesus was made more specific and concrete.  Jesus said that he was (ἐγώ εἰμι) the living bread or the bread of the living (ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ζῶν) that came down (καταβάς) from heaven (ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  He used the famous singular first person “I am” to indicate a divine oracle, since he came down from heaven.  Whoever ate (ἐάν τις φάγῃ) of this bread (ἐκ τούτου τοῦ ἄρτου) would live (ζήσει) forever or into the ages (αἰῶνα).  The bread (καὶ ὁ ἄρτος) that he was giving (δὲ ὃν ἐγὼ δώσω) was for the life of the world (ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς).  It was his own flesh (ἡ σάρξ μού ἐστιν).  Unlike the other synoptics, John did not have any Last Supper Eucharistic institution.  Rather here in this discourse on the bread of life, Jesus, via John, annunciated his eucharistic theology.  In summary, they would have to eat the heavenly bread, his flesh, to live forever, because he was going to give his life for the world.  Afterall, the Word had become flesh in chapter 1:14.  Do you see communion as eating the living bread of heavenly life?

The bread from heaven (Jn 6:50-6:50)

“This is the bread

That comes down

From heaven.

One may eat

Of it

And not die.”

οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβαίνων, ἵνα τις ἐξ αὐτοῦ φάγῃ καὶ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ

John uniquely indicated that Jesus said that this bread (οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἄρτος) comes down (καταβαίνων) from heaven (ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  Thus, anyone could eat it (ἵνα τις ἐξ αὐτοῦ φάγῃ) and not die (καὶ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ).  This was the promise of eternal life, if you ate this heavenly bread.  Do you eat the bread from heaven in the Eucharistic communion?

Their ancestors died after eating the manna (Jn 6:49-6:49)

“Your ancestors

Ate the manna

In the wilderness.

Yet they died.”

οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν ἔφαγον ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τὸ μάννα καὶ ἀπέθανον·

John uniquely indicated that Jesus took up this theme of their ancestors eating manna in the desert, as earlier in this presentation on the bread of life.  Jesus said that their ancestors or fathers (οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν) ate (ἔφαγον) the manna (τὸ μάννα) in the wilderness (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ), but they died (καὶ ἀπέθανον).  John indicated earlier in verses 31-32 that these people from the crowd said that their ancestors or fathers (οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν) ate the manna (τὸ μάννα ἔφαγον) in the wilderness (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ).  They cited a passage from Exodus, chapter 16:4, where it was written (καθώς ἐστιν γεγραμμένον) that God gave them (ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς) bread from heaven (Ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) to eat (φαγεῖν).  They emphasized that at the time of Moses, God provided food from heaven, the daily manna.  Jesus (ὁ Ἰησοῦς) told them (εἶπεν οὖν αὐτοῖς) with a solemn pronouncement (Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that it was not Moses (οὐ Μωϋσῆς) who gave them (δέδωκεν ὑμῖν) and their ancestors the bread (τὸν ἄρτον) from heaven (ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  But it was the Father (ἀλλ’ ὁ Πατήρ) of Jesus who gave and gives (δίδωσιν ὑμῖν) the true (τὸν ἀληθινόν) bread from heaven (τὸν ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ).  Thus, the idea of manna in the desert was clearly different from the living bread of Jesus, because their Israelite ancestors died.  On the other hand, the living bread of Jesus would bring eternal life without death.  Do you expect to have an eternal life with Jesus?

The bread of life (Jn 6:48-6:48)

“I am

The bread

Of life.”

ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος τῆς ζωῆς.

John uniquely indicated that Jesus repeated that he what he had said earlier in verse 35.  He was (ἐγώ εἰμι) the bread (ὁ ἄρτος) of life (τῆς ζωῆς).  Jesus told these Jewish representatives of the crowd in the first person singular (Ἐγώ εἰμι) that he was the bread (ὁ ἄρτος) of life (τῆς ζωῆς).  This bread of life speech used the classical phrase “I am (Ἐγώ εἰμι)” to imply that Jesus was God, just as Yahweh had spoken to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus, chapter 3:14, when he said that he is who is.  This bread of life speech is often seen as an invitation to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.  Jesus was the living bread.  If you came to Jesus and believed in him, then you would never again be hungry or thirsty.  The faith basis of this obvious Eucharistic meal was developed throughout this presentation.  Do you believe that Jesus is the bread of life?

Believe and have eternal life (Jn 6:47-6:47)


Very truly!

I say to you!

Whoever believes

Has eternal life.”

ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ πιστεύων ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

John uniquely indicated that Jesus said with a solemn pronouncement (ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that you had to believe (ὁ πιστεύων) to have eternal life (ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον).  This is precisely how John the Baptist ended his great discourse in chapter 3:36, when he said that whoever believed (ὁ πιστεύων) in the Son (εἰς τὸν Υἱὸν) would have eternal life (ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον).  Jesus had talked about the bread of eternal life in verse 27, when he said they should work for the food (ἀλλὰ τὴν βρῶσιν) that endures (τὴν μένουσαν) into eternal life (εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον).  Later in verse 35, he talked about never being hungry or thirsty.  Whoever came to him (ὁ ἐρχόμενος πρὸς ἐμὲ) would not be hungry (οὐ μὴ πεινάσῃ).  Whoever believed (καὶ ὁ πιστεύων) in him (εἰς ἐμὲ) would never be thirsty (οὐ μὴ διψήσει πώποτε).  Believing in Jesus was the pathway to eternal life.  Are you on the path to eternal life?

See the Father! (Jn 6:46-6:46)

“Not that anyone

Has seen

The Father

Except the one

Who is from God.

He has seen

The Father.”

οὐχ ὅτι τὸν Πατέρα ἑώρακέν τις, εἰ μὴ ὁ ὢν παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, οὗτος ἑώρακεν τὸν Πατέρα.

John uniquely indicated that Jesus said that no one has seen the Father (οὐχ ὅτι τὸν Πατέρα ἑώρακέν τις), except the one who is from God (εἰ μὴ ὁ ὢν παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ), himself.  Jesus has seen (οὗτος ἑώρακεν) the Father (τὸν Πατέρα).  Jesus clearly indicated that he, the one sent from God, the Father, had seen the Father, just like in chapter 1:18, where John uniquely said that no one has ever seen God (Θεὸν οὐδεὶς ἑώρακεν πώποτε).  Even Moses could not see the face of Yahweh.  However, the only unique son of God (μονογενὴς Θεὸς), who is in the arms of the Father (ὁ ὢν εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ Πατρὸς), has unfolded or made God known to us (ἐκεῖνος ἐξηγήσατο).  John called Jesus, the Word, the only Son of God, a profoundly strong theological statement.  In anthropological terms, God’s Son was and is in the arms of the God, the Father.  The role of the Son of the Father, the Word, the Son of God, Jesus, the Christ, was to make God known and understood by us humans.  The Word, Jesus, has a simple single purpose, and that is to reveal God, the Father to us humans.  Thus, revelation comes through Jesus the Christ.  The distinction of God the Father and the God the Son was apparent here in this evolving trinitarian theology.  Do you believe that the Father and the Son are God?