|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:52-59 The flesh and blood of the Son of man, denote the Redeemer in the nature of man; Christ and him crucified, and the redemption wrought out by him, with all the precious benefits of redemption; pardon of sin, acceptance with God, the way to the throne of grace, the promises of the covenant, and eternal life. These are called the flesh and blood of Christ, because they are purchased by the breaking his body, and the shedding of his blood. Also, because they are meat and drink to our souls. Eating this flesh and drinking this blood mean believing in Christ. We partake of Christ and his benefits by faith. The soul that rightly knows its state and wants, finds whatever can calm the conscience, and promote true holiness, in the redeemer, God manifest in the flesh. Meditating upon the cross of Christ gives life to our repentance, love, and gratitude. We live by him, as our bodies live by our food. We live by him, as the members by the head, the branches by the root: because he lives we shall live also.
Verses 52-59. -
(d) The conflict among the Jews leads Christ to insist further on separate participation of his flesh and blood as the condition of life. Verse 52. - The Jews therefore strove one with another (ἐμάχοντο represents more vigorous demonstration of their difficulties than the ἐγόγγυζον of ver. 41). They were not unanimous in their judgment. Some said one thing, and others said another. The "Jews" had not yet come to a unanimous opinion that this wonderful Being was talking sheer heresy or incomprehensible mystery. They knew his habit of metaphoric speech, and that underneath common imagery he was in the habit of conveying doctrines the full purport of which was not at once apparent. Some denounced him as uttering an intolerable riddle. Some saw, in a measure, through it, and hated the doctrine that was thereby conveyed. How could he be so essential to the life of the world? and how, said the pure materialist, "how can he give us his flesh to eat?" A question of great interest arises. He has already identified, in ver. 35, "coming to him," "reaching him" under the drawing of the Father, with the transcendent blessing of life eternal, of victory, over death, and resurrection. In ver. 40 "beholding" and "believing" are cognate or equivalent conditions of life and resurrection. In ver. 47, again, "believing," per se, is the essential and all-comprehensive condition. Now, has Christ added, in this verse, anything fresh to the fundamental ideas? Let it be pondered that he has already equated "believing" with eating a bread that endureth to everlasting life (vers. 27-29). He has declared himself to be the "Bread of life," and to be appropriated by "coming" and "believing." He has spoken of himself as "living Bread," which, coming for the life of the world from heaven itself, is offered as food. Now, what more than this has he said when he declared that he will offer his "flesh" as heavenly food? The Jews undoubtedly show, by their mutual contest, that he had put some part of the previous oracle in a still more enigmatical, if not offensive, form. So far the imagery was not altogether beyond them. Here it takes on a form which excites angry controversy. If they understood him to mean "doctrine," "truth," "cause," even "office," as Head of a spiritual school - as one providing by his gracious will ample nutriment for all who would eat of the rich banquet of his words - they would, to some extent, follow him. The eating of the tree of life was a well known figure in Hebrew Scripture (Proverbs 4:17; Proverbs 9:5); cf. the language of Isaiah (Isaiah 55:2), the action of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:1-3), and the imagery of Hosea (Hosea 10:13). In the "Midrash on Ecclesiastes 2:24; Ecclesiastes 3:12; Ecclesiastes 8:15," "eating and drinking" is said always to refer to the Law (Edersheim and Wunsche). But when he spoke of giving his "flesh" for the life of the world, he passed beyond the limits of their interpreting power. They did not see through his imagery; nor did Jesus exactly answer the angry query which they were putting one to another.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The Jews therefore strove among themselves,.... Fell to cavilling and disputing one among another; some understanding Christ, and others not; some being for him, and vindicated what he said; and others being against him, and who were the majority, objected,
saying how can this man give us his flesh to eat? which is to be understood, not physically, but as morally impossible and unlawful; since, with the Jews, it was not lawful to eat the flesh of any creature alive, and much less the flesh of man; for the Jews understood Christ of a corporeal eating of his flesh, being strangers to a figurative or spiritual eating of it by faith, in which sense he meant it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
52. Jews strove among themselves—arguing the point together.
How can, &c.—that is, Give us His flesh to eat? Absurd.
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