Really? Really? Honestly, I know Jesus uses symbols and metaphors, but those words make Jesus sound like he's advocating cannibalism.
It's just that Jesus' symbols usually make more sense. In John 1, John describes Jesus as "the Word," and although this sounds a little vague at first, it makes sense after you think about. Later, John describes Jesus as the "light of the world," and Jesus uses those exact words. And no, Jesus isn't actually a candle or a light bulb, but his presence clarifies things. It's like someone turns the light on in your life.
He's a little less obvious when he tells Nicodemus that he has to be born again, Nicodemus interprets the words literally. As if he has to enter into his mother again and go through the birth process a second time. If you think about that in literal terms, it's just weird. And maybe a little gross.
And when Jesus offers the woman at the well "living water," he isn't actually going to pour a drink for her. He's offering her something to satisfy other thirsts in her life, like her longing for forgiveness, her longing to know God, her longing for peace. Even the "bread of life," isn't so bad--until Jesus starting talking about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
I don't really get it. Not totally. I mean, obviously, bread nourishes our bodies, providing strength and satisfying hunger. As we draw close him, Jesus nourishes our souls, providing spiritual strength and satisfying our longings.
Blood? It's life.
And at that point, my explanations just sort of break down. We're not literally eating Jesus. We consume him metaphorically. And I don't know how to explain that. Normally when I don't understand things, I can just move on, but like I said before, these words sound crazy.
I think sometimes we get so used to the symbols and the metaphors that we don't even think about the literal comparisons. And we don't recognize how confusing this use of language can be. We're so used to some of these words, that we don't realize how crazy they sound.
It's no wonder a bunch of his followers freaked out and said, "Yeah, Jesus. No thanks."
Sometimes Jesus says crazy things we don't understand. And sometimes he says crazy things we do understand. Like when he tells his disciples that he's going to die and come back to life. Or when he says that those who love their life in this world will lose it, but those who don't care about their lives in this world will find eternal life.
But back to John 6. When some of the people start complaining about what Jesus says, he makes it even harder. He says, "You think this is bad? What's going to happen when you see me go back up to heaven? And by the way, nothing you can do will earn you God's approval. Human effort accomplishes nothing. God's Spirit gives life. And my words offer spirit and they offer life."
And so the people start leaving.
Jesus turns to his disciples and asks, "What about you? Are you going to take off too?"
And Peter says what they're all thinking. "No matter how crazy things sound sometimes, where else would we go? You alone have the words of life. We don't always understand you, but we know you. You are life. You are One we've been waiting for."
And I think I understand. Once you've spent time with Jesus, once you get to know him, once you experience his love on a personal level, it's hard to walk away. There's nothing like him.
He's the exact representation of the invisible God. He radiates God's glory and expresses his character in every way. He's God.
And I say it all the time, but I want to say it again. We must pay much closer attention, therefore, to what Jesus says, even when we don't understand it and even when it sounds crazy/ We must pay attention and follow him. Or we will drift away.