Jesus told his disciples, I am the Bread of Life; whoever eats of my flesh and drinks of my blood will have eternal life. This startling disclosure came shortly after the miraculous feeding of five thousand with five loaves of barley bread and two small fish. The crowd of people gathered there called him a prophet and wanted to make him king.
Jesus withdrew from the crowd, walking on rough waters to join his Twelve disciples in boat crossing the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. At the synagogue Capernaum the crowd caught up with him.
Jesus told them, “Don’t work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, food that the Son of Man will give you.”
They responded, “What should we do to perform God’s works?”
Jesus answered, “To believe in the one He has sent.”
So they asked, “What sign will you give so that we can believe you? After all, our ancestors ate manna during their wilderness wanderings, as it is written ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus clarified, “It isn’t Moses who gives bread from heaven, but my Father who now offers you the true bread from heaven, giving life to the world.”
They said, “Always give us this bread.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger or thirst. Though you’ve seen me in action, you still don’t believe. Everyone the Father gives me will come to me and I will never drive them away, for I have come to do His will. This is the will of the one who sent me; that I shall lose none that he has given me but raise them up at the last day. My Father’s will is that everyone who looks at the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life and I will raise them up at the last day.
Jesus’ followers, devoted though they were, found this claim hard to swallow.
Jesus reiterated his promise of eternal life four more times and the people continued to grumble. He then spelled out the promise which is a core tenant of Christian faith. He told them, “Eat my flesh, drink my blood – the true food and drink, the true bread that came down from heaven, the source of eternal life.”
Many of his disciples turned away in response to this difficult message. He asked the Twelve, “Don’t you want to leave also?”
Simon Peter responded, “Where would we go? You offer the words of eternal life. We have come to know you are the Holy One of God.”
As a disciple of Jesus Christ we are called not just to follow him but to not turn away from him when we face the challenges put before us. Lent is a time of discipline and quiet introspection. Don’t turn away from the challenges of life, but embrace those challenges. Remain steadfast. God is calling you to eternal life.