I have been asked what John’s message would have meant to the readers of his time (some soon after who perhaps thought the bread and wine literally turned into the body and blood of Christ). It is true we should be mindful of the audience and historical context in which an ancient work is created. Still, this does not mean we ought to let this be our entire interpretive grid. The only thing this information might tell us is the mindset of the time. The writer may very well be drawing upon something within his context for support, developing his own twist off of an existing concept, or- commenting on it so as to correct a misunderstanding. In the case of John, it seems he makes the reality of the matter evident without overstating it. After all, considering the context, outright attacking a misunderstanding of this kind might detour from John’s purpose.
What is John's purpose? Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I Am the bread of life.” Towards the end of the gospel, John tells us, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”