The plain and simple fact is, he certainly didn't mean it to be literal - yet,many are rejecting Messiah Yeshua and flocking to traditional Judaism because of this passage! Let's check it out:
John 6:53. And Y’shua said to them, Amen, amen I say to you, that unless you eat the body of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in Qnoma. 54. And he who eats from my body and drinks from my blood has life that is everlasting, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55. For truly my body is food and truly my blood is drink.
 Qnoma, usually translated here as “you”, “self”, or “yourselves”, but literally means “Underlying substance.”. The body/blood imagery is metaphoric. Y’shua, of course, knows very well that it is an abomination to drink any kind of blood, let alone human blood (Leviticus 17:11).
Consuming human flesh is also an abomination that is strictly prohibited. Rabbis even suggest that part of the reason swine’s flesh is forbidden is because it resembles human skin.
There are two underlying parts:
Part 1 recalls the imagery of Ezekiel 3:1-15 where the prophet actually ate a Torah scroll; the imagery symbolizing the prophet being sustained by and proclaiming Torah, which is the essence of what Y’shua is teaching.
Y’shua’s example and teaching are to be part of our innermost being, literally taken in and ingested into our hearts. This imagery is also seen in Mark 7:19 which distinguishes between physical food and spiritual (heart) “food”, and Jeremiah 31:33 which speaks of writing Torah upon the heart.
Part 2 is the life which Y’shua refers to; it is not physicality, as “self”, but the core essence of being, literally of the neshama, (spirit of man).
Moving on to the next part of that particular passage, which Jewish counter-missionaries and their followers love to tout as a reason to "reject Jesus.":
John 6:56. He who eats my body and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him. 57. As the Living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father, and whoever eats of me he also will live because of me. 58. This is the Bread that has descended from Heaven. It is not as manna your forefathers ate and died. He who eats this Bread will live forever!  (AENT)
 Clear evidence that opposes the “communion” model of mainstream Christian institutions. Nothing is being eaten while Y’shua is making this statement; he had just levied a rebuke for their desire of physical rather than spiritual “bread.”
It is Faith in Y’shua as Mashiyach which causes a person to “eat the flesh and drink the blood.” The “wafer” (transubstitution) is a Pagan adulteration against Y’shua’s teaching.
Y’shua observed Torah to perfection; his perfect atoning sacrifice would be remembered specifically on the Moedim (YHWH’s feasts) as the Word of YHWH instructs.
The wine and wafer custom used in communion is "pagan" because it represents Yeshua's blood and body - a thing that is considered cannibalism in Scripture, which is a terrible evil. God commands His people NOT drink blood or eat human flesh:
Genesis 9:4 only flesh with its life, which is its blood, you are not to eat. 5 I will certainly demand an accounting for the blood of your lives: I will demand it from every animal and from every human being. I will demand from every human being an accounting for the life of his fellow human being. 6 Whoever sheds human blood, by a human being will his own blood be shed; for God made human beings in his image. (CJB)
The bottom line is that Yeshua was simply using a metaphor! And in case you’re wondering about the verse in the NT that says the Messiah is the Torah made flesh, there is a great explanation about this passage in the Aramaic English New Testament.
Let's check it out:
John 1:1. In the beginning was the Miltha. And that Miltha was with Elohim. And Elohim was that Miltha. 2. This was with Elohim in the beginning.
John 1: 14. And the Miltha became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw his glory, the glory as the Only-Begotten who is from the Father who is full of grace and truth. (AENT)
 The phrase B’resheet aytohi hwa miltha breaks a most basic rule of Aramaic grammar by combining a feminine noun (miltha) with two masculine verbs for “to be” (aytohi, hwa). This is unheard of in Aramaic literature other than right here in this passage and in 1 John.
This shows YHWH has male and female “images/spirits” even though YHWH remains a He. It may also be a midrash on Isaiah 11:1-2, which describes the Spirit of YHWH descending on Mashiyach using both masculine and feminine suffixes. This is not something easily translated, let alone when it occurs within the first four words.
 Miltha has no direct English equivalent. It can mean ‘Word’, ‘Manifestation’, ‘Instance’ or ‘Substance’ among other things. In this context, it may best be left untranslated.
 Fulfilling Messianic prophecy: Mashiyach (ruler of Israel) to have origins of the ancient past Micah 5:2; Isaiah 48:16. Bear in mind that Micah is referring to the spiritual “Israel of Elohim,” those of the Kingdom of Heaven according to the circumcision of heart.
 Miltha refers to the “Manifestation” of the Ruach haKodesh within Mashiyach. The physical body of Mashiyach is not the Word of YHWH, but his words and actions demonstrate the Will and Word of YHWH, which upholds observance of Torah.
However, Christo-Pagans like Marcion and Constantine taught that Y’shua’s body and spirit manifest a different “word” that did away with Torah. The Word of YHWH was substituted with dispensational and replacement “theologies,” which are very popular among Christians.
 Isaiah 42:8; 48:11
 Ekhadaya is a beautiful term used among Eastern theologians and poets; it literally means “THE ONE”
It is a real shame that many people – including some learned Jewish Rabbis! – cannot see the Hebraic context in the passages of the New Testament!