Monday, July 16, 2012

Why did they leave?

This post is for all the non-Catholic Christians (if there are any that actually read my blog).

I have one question that I am truly curious to find an answer (or two or three!), and the question is this:

Why did they leave?

I am, of course, talking about in John 6 after the Bread of Life Discourse:
As a result of this, many his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (John 6:66)
As I learned more about my Catholic faith a few years ago, I constantly meditated on this passage, until it clicked with me why they left - and since then, I've never been able to waver from (even when I've thought I wanted to!) the beautiful teaching on the Real Presence.
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:52-58)
So I am truly curious. I really do want to know how non-Catholic Christians read this passage of Scripture and interpret this situation where many of Christ's disciples completely abandoned him. Why did they choose to leave right then?

Catholics can feel free to chime in with your thoughts - especially if you didn't always believe in the Real Presence - but I'd love to hear a lot of insight from non-Catholics too.

I am looking for an open, honest, and respectful discussion, so please be kind to each other. :)


  1. I guess I'll go first?

    My best guess is that Jesus' claims were too incredible for them (those who deserted Him in v.66) to believe? I honestly don't think his followers really understood any of it until after He was crucified, died, and was resurrected. A lot of what Jesus says in the Gospel seems like hyperbole until you read it with the lens of knowing that He was the Son of God.

  2. The best I can do is very similar to Jen's: they had an expectation of what the Messiah would be like and this was just too far out of the scope of their expectations. Great discussion catalyst! I hope people chime in!

  3. Sometimes I think people leave due to a sales pitch/evangelization...not sure it's true but some of them are such good salespeople!!

  4. Thanks for your thoughts! I definitely agree with both of these ideas. I don't think I worded my question specifically enough though (my bad!) - I really want to know how non-Catholic Christians explain why so many followers left RIGHT THEN. I mean, Jesus was never what they expected, so why leave after the Bread of Life Discourse? As Catholics, we have an idea of why they left but I'm curious to know how non-Catholic Christians especially interpret why the followers left at that specific moment. Sorry, I didn't make my question specific enough, that's what happens when I write something when I should be going to bed!

  5. I am a new convert to Catholicism (having been raised Protestant) and I can say that the Real Presence of Jesus is what really lead me to the Church and is what I wrestled with and kept me from giving up even when it's been a struggle. As a Protestant, I always had a feeling something was missing with Communion. I knew the Lord's Supper - as we called it - was something important and precious, but didn't really understand why. Then during a time of spiritual searching, I learned of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. To be honest, at first, though I loved the idea of it, it sounded too good to be true! But with further study, prayer, and conversations with faithful Catholics, I came to see that it really was true. And what joy that has been to me!

    As far as what I believed about John 6 during my Protestant past- truthfully I had read it, didn't understand, and so didn't really think about it to be honest. But that very passage it what finally convinced me that the Catholic Church is where I am supposed to be.

  6. Hmm I would be really curious to see how it is interpreted by Protestants as well!

  7. I'm Protestant and the way I look at it is pretty much what I said in my comment above. I think that those who left were just kind of like "Yeah... a little strange, much?"

    I also have the postgraduate training in Church History to know that there were a lot of different people who had bands of people following them and it seemed like Jesus was just another one of those people.

  8. @Jen - Thanks for jumping in! I applaud your bravery! I think, though, that what Liesl was getting at here was closer to this idea:

    Why did these followers leave THEN, when he told them to eat his body and drink his blood? They could've left after any of the miracles, any of the difficult or weird teachings, but they left THEN.

    Additionally, this brings us to today: in our Catholic faith, tradition, and scripture, we believe that the bread and wine becomes Jesus' Body and Blood on the altar, just as Jesus told us.

    So I'm curious what a Protestant thinks when they read the story in the Bible about the people leaving when Jesus tells them to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Do they think they were right to leave? If they were wrong to leave, what does that mean about what you believe about the Real Presence?

    Thanks for engaging!


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