56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65 And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father." 66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
Our look at what it means to be purified continues with this passage and our reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In this passage from John’s gospel we read Jesus’ words as he continues talking about the Communion experience at the Last Supper and about eating of his flesh and drinking his blood of the new covenant. Notice how Jesus is aware that many are struggling with his words. It is difficult for many of us to consider accepting Christ into our lives and surrendering our very personhood to God, yet that is what is asked. However, we don’t grasp that we are being offered something even better than what we have already. This is one of the reasons the gospel message appeals to impoverished people and is harder to proclaim in prosperous lands. People who think they have it made already often don’t feel they need a god to set them right, while people who lack material wealth are hopeful of the promises this passage makes.
Notice also that some followers (verse 66 uses the word disciple, but this should not be confused with the twelve) left Jesus because they did not believe earnestly that Jesus was offering eternal life through his flesh and blood. Peter’s reply to Jesus’ question should be our reply too: If we were to leave Jesus, whom would we follow? Perhaps, if we look closely at our lives and consider that we might be following the path to prosperity or some other earthly goal, then we are not following God. This does not mean that we should abandon prosperity, but we should be working so that we are able to help others more as well as ourselves. That’s what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. Along with helping others is the proclamation of God’s word. Again, Jesus is proclaiming the Kingdom of God through his flesh and blood as well as his teaching and healing. We are made holy by God of Heaven for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel message, which might be different in different contexts. Each person needs to know that God is for them in every situation.
Purification is justification – being made right by God and restored to the image of God in our spirit so we reflect God’s Spirit in our words and actions. God equips us with tools, knowledge, and words to proclaim the simple message that the eternal kingdom is open for us through Jesus Christ. People can experience that taste of Heaven through us if we just let God work through us, and that means surrendering to God’s purifying touch.