I teacher and friend of mine says that we should interpret the Bible literally until it makes no sense to do it that way...then interpret it figuratively.
Obviously it makes no sense that we are all to actually eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood. So what is the figurative interpretation? I'm no Bible scholar (you've probably already figured that out), so I can only share what this means to me. You may have your own ideas.
I'll get to those thoughts in a moment. First I want to talk briefly about the miracles we see at the beginning of the chapter. I believe that miracles are used by God to bring glory to Him (period). They are not rewards to those that pray or favors that are bestowed on His children. I believe that miracles have no other possible explanation than supernatural intervention. If one can say that it is possible that medicine was responsible for a cured person (no matter how unlikely)...not a miracle. While I believe that life is a product of Divine intervention, babies being born is a part of our natural world and therefore...not a miracle. Even in the expanding universe (the cosmos) much of what we know is explained in natural science. Almost all of it can be explained in science...but that's fodder for another post.
In this case, clearly the miracles are to reveal that Jesus is from heaven. He is the Messiah. He is One with the Father. He is our source (bread) of Life. When there is no natural explanation we can (as many atheists have done) say that it couldn't have happened that way or we can chose to believe that it is possible that a force outside of the natural world (supernatural) is responsible. The followers of Jesus were eye witnesses to the miracles. They couldn't say that it didn't happen that way...they saw it happen that way and knew that only God could have brought this about.
Jesus uses these miracles to show the power and glory of God; as a testimony of who He is. The people see the miracles and then ask for a sign! Even Jesus finds this incredible. He basically says, "You're not here because of God. You're following me around because you think that you're going to get a free meal!" He tells that that even though they've seen with their eyes they still don't believe in their hearts.
Let's get to the three study questions.
Something important I've learned:
It's my life's job to do the will of God; to believe in Jesus.
Verses 28 and 29 say: Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
The verse I liked best:
Verse 35: Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."
Jesus satisfies all of our needs.
A question to consider:
Have we come looking for God's supernatural handouts? Or do we come because we just want to see God?
To go back briefly to the thoughts that I said I'd get to in a moment...
I believe that Jesus is the source of life. I believe that He is the source of our physical life and the source of our spiritual life. To the Jew of the day, bread was the staple food. It was the food of life. When Jesus said I am the bread of life, He was saying that you need me to live. It is still true today. Jesus doesn't expect you to eat flesh or drink blood. He expects us to believe in the One sent from heaven; to embrace His life (eat this bread); to accept His sacrifice (drink this blood); and to follow His teachings.