“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him.” John 6:56 NASB
Eat/ Drink – Pagan religions of the ancient world believed that eating the flesh of an enemy or drinking the blood of an enemy transported the power of the enemy to the one eating or drinking. This practice continues even today in some parts of the world. If I want the power of a bull, I drink the bull’s blood. If I want to be a superhero of the comic book variety, I take a special pill or potion. The mythology of paganism continues.
But this is an abomination to any Jew schooled in Torah. The Torah specifically prohibits drinking blood or eating the flesh of another human being. Such actions would immediately signify that the person doing so was a pagan, an apostate or worse. Such a person would be under God’s curse. So when Yeshua speaks like this, it is little wonder that the majority of His followers turned away. They had to. No one who wished to be true to YHWH could possibly practice such things. If there were any remark that identified Yeshua as a false prophet, this was it. In spite of all His miraculous works, in spite of His compassion and care, to follow a man who suggested cannibalism or pagan blood rituals was just too much. If you were there when He spoke these words, you would have had the same dilemma. Twenty centuries later any Jew would still feel the same. No man who says things like this can be from God.
What, then, do we do with this statement? How can we reconcile this with the expressed Torah prohibitions? First, we must note that in spite of the popular idea that these verses are about the eucharist (the sacrament of communion), there is nothing in the Greek text that requires such an implication. Scholars such as Leon Morris flatly say that these words cannot be about the sacrament. Morris points out that eating and drinking in Jewish thought are always connected to positive and blessed acts. Furthermore, the Greek verbs (trogo and pino) are aorist verbs indicating that this action is one time completed in the past. That hardly characterizes the sacrament or the idea of ordinary eating and drinking. Yeshua must have something else in mind.
This riddle (for that is what it is) is part of the teaching method of Yeshua. Learning from Him requires careful and deliberate thought. His words do not lie on the surface. They are invitations into parables, summons to searches, provocations to plumb the depths. The crowd with ears that did not hear only received the words carried lightly on the breeze. Those who wanted to know the truth had to dig deeper. What they found is a metaphor of personal application. Eternal life, the reward of eating and drinking once of the flesh and blood of Yeshua HaMashiach, comes from absorbing into my very person the substance of who He is. The faith demanded of our Savior is a faith that must be voluntarily consumed until it spread throughout the body. Once eaten, once drunk, once fully absorbed, then the participant abides, a verb form for continual action. The Jews who heard only the words forgot the rabbinic method. Those who remained discovered the truth. Under the words was a picture – a picture of full engagement, of feasting on the work and wonder of Yeshua. Faith is no casual occurrence. It does not come by sitting at the table. It comes by feasting on God’s glory found in the person of His Son.
Topical Index: eat, drink, trogo, pino, feasting, John 6:56
 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (NICNT), p. 376ff.