John 6:22-59 a great passage with layers upon layers of meaning. It is common for people who are excited about the Lord’s Supper or are studying it for the first time to make John 6 refer directly to communion. However, after studying it, I am sure that it does not. It does have application to the Lord’s Supper, but Jesus is not talking about eating bread and drinking wine in this passage. He is talking about believing in Him. Throughout the passage Christ is exhorting men to believe in Him (John 6:29). He uses several metaphors throughout the text to describe this act of believing. Here are some of them.
John 6:27-Labor for the food that does not perish.
John 6:35-He who comes to me/He who believes in me. (See also John 6:37).
John 6:40 Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him has everlasting life.
John 6:45 Hearing and learning from the Father means you come to Christ.
John 6:47 He who believes in me has everlasting life.
John 6:50-51 One may eats this bread and not die/If anyone eats this bread he will live forever.
John 6:54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.
John 6:56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.
John 6:58 He who eats the bread will live forever.
In the passage, Jesus is using coming, eating, and drinking as metaphors for believing in Him. Eating is not faith itself, but is the fruit of faith, believing in Jesus Christ. Our faith comes from God the Father giving us to Christ (John 6:37). We then come to Jesus, eat Jesus, believe in Jesus, are taught by God, etc. Jesus promises that those who are given him by the Father and who therefore come to him will never be lost (John 6:39). Being taught by God leads to us coming to Christ, but is not equivalent to us coming to Christ. It is the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit which is the fruit of our election.
The reason this passage cannot refer, at least directly, to the Lord’s Supper is that whoever does these things is raised up on the last day (John 6:39-40, 54). It works like this:
Anyone who eats Christ’s flesh has eternal life and will be resurrected to glory.
There are some who eat the Lord’s Supper and are damned.
Therefore eating His flesh is not the same thing as eating the bread and drinking the wine.
The passage has application to the Lord’s Supper, but we must be careful to not make the act of eating equivalent to the act of believing. If you believe you should celebrate the Lord’s Supper and want to eat the bread and wine. But eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper does not guarantee that belief is present. The act of eating the Lord’s Supper is not automatically an act of faith.