Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him.
Some college professors, after the first class of the semester, can tell what grade each student will get. Some of the students are interested. They listen intently and ask intelligent questions; they follow the presentation and take careful notes. They will be rewarded with As and Bs. Others are texting, killing time, distracted; they show little interest in the subject matter or the teacher. They’ll scrape by with Cs and Ds or worse.
Perhaps Jesus’ perspicuity was not so astonishing as he watched the crowd respond to his teaching. Many came looking for a handout of food; some were curious about his teaching; not everyone wanted to know him or to be attached to him. Even fewer would readily, eagerly eat his flesh and drink his blood. Those few were clearly inspired by his Father; their zeal was supernatural, a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Some theologians have made much of passages like this one which seem to indicate the doctrine of predestination, that some are born saved and others are born damned. The “elect” were chosen to follow the Lord; the non-elect will inevitably perish. Some people believe you can tell who are favored because they live comfortably even in this world. The non-elect are inevitably miserable in this world and the next. There are strong bible-based arguments for this doctrine, which only proves to me the fallibility of argumentation.
As I read this passage those who eagerly eat his flesh and drink his blood are the ones who are disposed to hear and receive the Lord. Despite whatever traumas, disappointments and trials they have suffered they have remained – and preferred to remain – open to new experience.
Some people just quit. They say, “I’ve had enough; I’ve seen enough; I quit.” They say, “Once burned, shame on you; twice burned, shame on me.”
Others still expect. They allow themselves to hope. They remain disposed to grace, allowing time and prayer and comfort to heal them. The cynical mock them as followers, because they follow the lamb wherever he goes. Indeed they are lambs; they are sometimes shorn and sometimes led to slaughter.
Even in their disappointment they would not have it any other way. They realize that discipleship is not easy and is not supposed to be easy. They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. They are indeed the blessed.