I understand the appeal of simplifying faith into a single statement of “Just say you believe and your salvation is secure!” But anyone who has read the Bible to any extent at all must realize that to do so lacks a maturity of faith. Certainly Jesus and the apostles said, “Repent and believe!” But that is not all they said. Jesus took his mission in steps because he would never have been taken seriously if he had stepped out and said, “I am the Son of God. I came here to get crucified so y’all can get to heaven, and then I expect you to gnaw my flesh and drink my blood.” Nope. That would be like telling a kid in kindergarten to do algebra. Instead, He started with the basics, warmed them up with miracles, but even then forbade the apostles to say who he was until he felt the people were ready.
(Note: all Bible passages are pulled from drbo.org which is the online copy of Douay-Rheims translation—the first English translation from the Latin Vulgate.)
After the miracles of the loaves and fish, the crowd remained ignorant about the truth of his identity. They came back seeking another free meal. Jesus knew this:
John 26: Jesus answered them, and said: Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not because you have seen miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Jesus decided it was time to lay it all out for them to fully understand not only that he was God’s Son, but what they must truly do to gain heaven. He tells them they don’t just need bread, they need the everlasting bread that only he can provide:
John 6:27: Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you. For him hath God, the Father, sealed.
So the crowd gets it. They figure he means that he’s going to symbolically “feed” them the secret to getting into heaven. They say:
John 6:28: They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered, and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.
“Certainly!” responds my fundamentalist friends. “Believe, and you shall have eternal life.”
The crowds still weren’t quite ready to believe that Jesus was the anointed one, though:
John 6:30: They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou shew, that we may see, and may believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
Okay, so they were still hungry and hoping that as long as he was going to do a miracle to prove who he was, it ought to include food. Jesus didn’t give in:
John 6:32: Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen (Amen means Believe, and the more times a word is repeated, the stronger the emphasis/meaning.) I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.
I know, I know, you’re thinking He’s talking about providing them with the Word of God, right? Well, the crowds are still thinking about dinner. Read on…
John 6:34 They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread.
So now he starts to expand what he means, slowly so that they will fully grasp it, telling them that they first have to admit they believe in Him. He is NOT saying that belief is all that is required. He is saying that the Bread of Life will do them no good if they don’t believe. He emphasizes it by saying, “Look you guys, you are here with me right now, in front of me, seeing these miracles, and yet you bozos still don’t realize I am God’s son!”:
John 6:35 And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.  But I said unto you, that you also have seen me, and you believe not.
He continues, saying that if they believe, they won’t be cast out of heaven:
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth to me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will not cast out.
And he summarizes the ground rules:
John 6:38: Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.  Now this is the will of the Father who sent me: that of all that he hath given me, I should lose nothing; but should raise it up again in the last day.  And this is the will of my Father that sent me: that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise him up in the last day.
Okay, so he’s told them they have to believe. Is that all they have to do? Obviously not because he tells parable after parable about repenting, about taking care of one another (Good Samaritan), about losing faith and being trampled upon (You are the salt, but if the salt goes flat…), about being cut away (you have been grafted in, but if the Father rejected the original branches, how much more will he reject you…) First he wants them to see they have to believe He is Lord, and then he will divulge the rest.
Nevertheless, the Jews weren’t ready to admit He was Lord. No one wants to believe someone they know could actually be famous, let alone be God’s son:
 The Jews therefore murmured at him, because he had said: I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  And they said: Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then saith he, I came down from heaven?
So he repeats himself:
 Jesus therefore answered, and said to them: Murmur not among yourselves.  No man can come to me, except the Father, who hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up in the last day.  It is written in the prophets: And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me.
(Draw him– definition according to drbo.org: Not by compulsion, nor by laying the free will under any necessity, but by the strong and sweet motions of his heavenly grace. )
 Not that any man hath seen the Father; but he who is of God, he hath seen the Father.  Amen, amen I say unto you: He that believeth in me, hath everlasting life.
Yes! Believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and you shall have everlasting life… but He didn’t STOP there…
 I am the bread of life.  Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead.  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.
That’s where some Christians will say He’s just speaking symbolically; Jesus doesn’t really mean what he’s saying. Jesus begs to differ. He’s said it once. Next, He repeats himself. (Remember, if something is repeated three times, it means Huge Emphasis on what is being said, as is the case with Holy Holy Holy.)
 I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world.
Of course those people stood there with their jaws dropping and their tongues wagging—who did this guy think he was? He couldn’t really mean what he was saying:
 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
If Jesus didn’t really mean it literally, he would have corrected them at this point, like he corrected the apostles in Mat 16:5-12 and John 4:31-35. But he didn’t stop their murmuring by saying they were misinterpreting him. Quite the opposite. He repeats his announcement a third time:
 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.
And then repeats it:
 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.
And then more explicitly:
 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.
And then says it again!
 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.
 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.
 This is the bread that came down from heaven…
…Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.
So if THREE times means “this is really important,” what do you suppose three times three indicates?
Well, it was just too much for those people. They left. The disciples left and didn’t return because they just couldn’t accept it. And even the apostles sat looking at him like he was nuts:
 Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away?
Simon Peter speaks (because, of course, he was the head apostle, given the keys, and proclaimed by Jesus to be the head of the Church on earth):
 And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.
I’m betting even Peter was saying that with a bit of wide-eyed glassiness, like What have I gotten myself into?
Now let’s back up to clarify something.
 But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you?  If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?  It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life.  But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him.
Here Jesus explains that they aren’t going to strip his flesh from his body in some grotesque manner, but rather it would be through an act of heaven that a piece of ordinary bread would become his flesh and blood through transubstantiation, which he showed them later at the Last Supper and again in the upper room when he rose from the dead. He is saying flesh by itself is worth nothing; it is the spirit that gives it life, and it is that spirit we must receive during Communion. The important point here is that it is not ordinary bread passed around symbolically a couple times a year or once a month. It is bread and wine that is consecrated as He taught them to consecrate it that brings about transubstantiation so that it is his body and blood. Give us this day our daily bread ain’t talking about our breakfast toast.
So where are you now? Would Jesus lie? Could Jesus lie? Did Jesus lie? I mean, really, if you don’t believe what Jesus says, are you a Christian?! Do you remain like the multitude? Unbelieving, unaccepting of what he said? Are you calling Jesus a liar? They couldn’t accept what they had to do. They turned away from him, all of the people, and all his disciples. They said it was too hard a thing to believe.
We at the Catholic Church, as handed down by the apostles through the laying on of hands to every pope, bishop and priest in the history of the Church, celebrate the Eucharist—the true Body of Christ—every single day of the year. Through the miracle of words He taught to His apostles, we have the Eucharist. Come join us.