51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven.
52 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.
53 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
54 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.
55 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.
56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed.
57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.
[57 – eateth = trogon = chewing or gnawing]
If Jesus didn’t mean it or it was misunderstood, or it was a symbol he would have corrected the misunderstanding when they said “This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?”
Instead, he continues to further reiterate the “hard saying”:
58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."
59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caperna-um.
60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"
61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?
62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
64 But there are some of you that do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him.
65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."
66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.
At this point, people are so outraged that they are leaving. If Jesus just meant this as a symbol, why would he let them leave over a simple misunderstanding?
67 Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?"
68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;
69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him.
Jesus was willing to let everyone walk away, including the 12, over this one teaching because it is truth. Many could not accept it, but we as Christians are called to believe just as the the few who stayed with Him did, for He “has the words of eternal life.”