"Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with (Jesus)."
John 6 begins with Jesus' miracle of feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread & 2 fish. While it satisfied the crowd, however, they must have misinterpreted the significance... for John tells us that Jesus had to leave because he realized they wanted to force him to be their king ("The Lunch King!"). But the people tracked him down the next day. Jesus decided to confront the issue. 'You're only here because you were fed yesterday,' he said. 'Forget that kind of food. Seek the food that leads to eternal life, instead!' (v.26-27).
What transpires is a lengthy discourse on Jesus as the Bread of Life, and how life comes to the world through his "flesh and blood." Of course, some interpret this to mean a kind of cannibalism... and get very offended. Jesus even tells them he knows who among they does and does not believe. After this, John writes that "many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him."
I wonder why those followers left? Was it because of theological reasons (didn't think Jesus was actually God)? Confusion over what he was saying (what's all this cannibalistic talk, anyway!)? Guilt that Jesus had figured out who didn't believe, but were just hanging around for free meals? Heck, maybe some left out of "vegetarian reasons" (okay, probably not). Or... did some get a sense that following Jesus was going to be a LOT MORE DIFFICULT than they had originally expected? "This teaching is difficult, who can accept it?" verse 60 asks. How true! Jesus' message was all about loving one's enemies... praying for those who've hurt you... reaching out to the poor, outcast & neglected... redistributing wealth & resources so all had enough... putting others first... dying to yourself... hard stuff, indeed! Following Jesus is not for wimps. The cost is great.
...But the result is eternal! Eternal life that starts right now. Not when we die. But here & now. A life with more vitality... more purpose... more fulfillment... than anything we could experience if we kept trying to do things our way. A life lived with the Savior. Now that's fulfilling! AMEN.