In discussing the Eucharist, my friend says that he takes John 6:35 figuratively and therefore, Jesus intended the rest of the chapter to be taken figuratively. He agrees that the language of John 6:44-54 is very strong, but it doesn’t matter because Jesus meant the whole chapter to be figurative. I have tried all the common arguments spelled out in the catholic.com tract. How can I debunk the idea that John 6:35 makes the entire chapter figurative?
If Jesus had only been speaking figuratively, the crowd would not have reacted so strongly unless they had misunderstood Him. In that case, He would have clarified the fact that He was only speaking figuratively. But He didn’t do this. He let the words stand—despite His listeners’ hostility and rejection.
I know that this is one of our arguments in the tract that you have quoted to your friend. If he is not willing to see this, there is no way that you are going to convince him. As a Protestant he is free to interpret the passage any way he wants—which is why there are so many separate Protestant denominations.
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.