Three men had walked in, but they weren't supposed to have walked out. As he stood in slack-jawed amazement at what his eyes beheld, he began to think that his senses were simply failing him. Not only was there not now a scent of death in the air, but just a few moments earlier he had thought he could make out a fourth person among them. Three men had walked in — knowing they were going to their death — yet then there were four, and now those same three men walked out unharmed and unsinged.
Jesus' words in the chapter have reached their pinnacle as he proclaimed not only that he was the Bread of Life, but that this Bread "is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world" [v.51]. And it's this heart of Jesus' discourse that was also the heart of the sharp argument: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" [v.52]. The crowds made the natural connection between bread—this substance that I eat to sustain my life—and what Jesus said about how this bread is also his flesh. Therefore, by applying their wisdom they determined that they were being asked to eat Jesus' flesh.
I can't count the number of times I've watched a movie and the extras are all dressed in black while the pastor/priest reads "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." [Psalm 23:4, KJV]. So there tends to be a tendency to think of Psalm 23 as the "death psalm." But because of that we tend to miss a lot of tending here for every stage and circumstance of life. Even with words that you may know by heart, there's plenty to be gleaned and learned. So we'll see that at all times and in every way God is our Good Shepherd.