Category Archives: THE PERSON OF CHRIST: His miracles Part 2

THE PERSON OF CHRIST: His miracles Part 2

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 6, VERSES 1 TO 21

6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

6:2 And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased.

6:3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

6:4 And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

6:5 When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

6:6 And this He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would do.

6:7 Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

6:8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto Him,

6:9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

6:10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

6:12 When they were filled, He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

6:13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

6:14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

6:15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.

6:16 And when even was now come, His disciples went down unto the sea,

6:17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.

6:18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.

6:19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

6:20 But He saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.

6:21 Then they willingly received Him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

John groups his account of the life and ministry of Christ around three Passovers. The one mentioned in chapter 2, the one in this chapter, and the one at which He was crucified.

There are three important matters to notice in connection with the institution of the Passover. First, that at the initial Passover the children of Israel were united together as a nation, so that in Exodus 12:3 we have the first mention of the congregation of Israel, and in verse 9 the nation is simply described as Israel. Second, that it was a time when that newly formed nation participated together in a common meal. Third, that it was the start of a pilgrim journey to the promised land, for they ate the Passover meal with shoes on their feet, staff in their hand, and loins girded. So as People, as Participants, and as Pilgrims they celebrated the Passover.

Now these three things are seen in the Passover mentions in John’s gospel. Immediately after the mention of the first, in John 2:13-25, there is the account of the Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus, with its emphasis on the need for the new birth. Significantly, when the Passover was instituted in Exodus 12, then their seventh month was to become their “beginning of months”, Exodus 12:2. They were to have a new beginning on the basis of the shedding of the blood of the lamb. And as already mentioned, we also find in that chapter the first mention of their beginning as a nation, in the phrase “the congregation of Israel”.

Then the second Passover occurs in our chapter 6, and here the emphasis is participating in a new supply of food. Not only had there been a meal of roast lamb on the original Passover night, there had also been a feast of unleavened bread immediately following, and then when Israel reached the desert, there was the manna which fell from heaven for them. New people need new food. Just as Israel marched out of Egypt into the wilderness to be fed by God, so in John 6 the people are in the wilderness, and not only are the loaves multiplied for their bodily needs, but, most importantly, the Bread of God is made available to them.

At the third Passover two things occurred. The true Passover Lamb was slain, ensuring the redemption of those who believe in Him. The blood of Christ made them His new possession. Not only so, but previous to His death, the Lord Jesus prepared His own for His departure from this world, and their needs as those left in this world, but on their way to where He is gone, John 13:1;14:4-6. They had a new prospect in view; instead of an earthly kingdom, it was a heavenly one they were heading for. They were pilgrims walking “The Way” that Christ had marked out for them so that they could reach the Father. Those with new prospects need food to give them energy to press on to what lies before.

Some indication of the importance of the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 is gained by noticing four things at the outset:

First, it is the only miracle that is found in all four gospels. Each of the gospel writers has his own agenda, and presents to us a fresh aspect of the person of Christ, but all four unite in telling of this miracle. This tells us of the supreme importance of the truths expressed through it.

Second, it is the only miracle John records that is found in the other three gospels. John’s gospel was probably the last of the four to be written, so he knew the others had all given the record of it; nevertheless he still included it, no doubt because he alone of the evangelists records the discourse of the Lord Jesus based on the miracle.

Third, as just stated, it is the only miracle whose significance is expounded by the Lord Jesus.

Fourth, it is the miracle that deals with that most basic of needs, bread itself, the staff of life. The main lesson to come out of the miracle is that we should never underestimate the importance of the word of God, for just as bread is food for the body, the word of God is food for the soul and spirit. When God made man, He made him in His own image. This means that man has rationality, and is able to think and reason. Man also has morality, and is therefore able to distinguish between good and evil. Man has spirituality, for he is not just a body, but has a non-corporeal dimension, enabling him to appreciate God. Fourthly, man was made with personality, with the ability to express and represent God. All these abilities, however, depended for their maintenance on obedience to the word of God. If man distances himself from God by not listening to His word, then he is no longer a complete person, nor can he fulfil the purpose for which God made him. So it was that continued communion with God depended on response to His word in obedience, reverence and love. When Adam and his wife were in the garden, God tested them in the matter of food, and the matter of His word. He instructed them not to eat of a certain tree; that was His word to them. But sadly, when Satan tempted the man and his wife, (and he did this by questioning God’s word with the words, “Hath God said?”, Genesis 3:1), they united in preferring the lie of Satan to the truth of God’s word. Hence it was the voice of the Lord God that walked in the garden to confront the guilty pair, Genesis 3:8.

Centuries later, God took His people into the wilderness and allowed them to know hunger for a short period, and then gave them bread from heaven in the form of the manna. His purpose for doing this was stated by Moses in Deuteronomy 8:3, “And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live”.

When the Lord Jesus was in a wilderness to be tested, He refused to make a stone out of bread because no word from His Father had come to Him to allow that. He based His refusal on the very words of Deuteronomy 8:3. He gloriously triumphed where Adam and Israel had disastrously failed. In John 6 some of the people are in a desert again, and they are given opportunity to triumph. Sadly, the majority murmured, just as their forebears had done in the desert long before, see verse 41.

STRUCTURE OF JOHN CHAPTER SIX

Section 1

Verses 1-15

The feeding of the five thousand.

Section 2

Verses 16-21

The storm on the lake.

Section 3

Verses 22-33

Seeking the True Bread.

Section 4

Verses 34-46

Seeing the Son.

Section 5

Verses 47-59

Eating the flesh of the Son of Man.

Section 6

Verses 60-71

Going back or standing firm.

SECTION 1 Verses 1-15

THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND

THE SETTING OF THE MIRACLE

6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.

John begins the chapter as he begins both chapters 5 and 7. Several weeks or months may separate the chapters, but he wants us to know that there is a connection between the incidents he records. In chapter 5, the emphasis was on the Sabbath day, so John does not tell us what feast was being celebrated at that time. In chapter 7 it is the time of the feast of Tabernacles, but in this chapter it is Passover time. At such a season the feelings of the nation would be highly charged, as they remembered the dramatic way in which God had delivered them in a past day. Yet John deliberately tells us that the sea that the Lord Jesus crossed immediately prior to the miracle, was not only called the sea of Galilee, but was also called the sea of Tiberias. In this way he reminds us that the nation was under the domination of Rome, for the lake that was normally called Galilee, was also called Tiberias, after one of the Roman Emperors. As we shall see, the Lord walked on the waters of this lake during the night, thus showing that He was superior to the power of the world.

6:2 And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased.

Luke in his account assures us that these miracles were healing miracles, reminding us that immediately after leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea, the children of Israel were assured that their God was Jehovah Ropheka, “Jehovah thine Healer”. The promise was given to them in Exodus 15:26,27, that if they kept God’s commandments, He would not put any of the diseases of Egypt upon them. In John 6, however, the healing was done without any such condition, emphasising that Christ had come in grace.

6:3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

Soon after coming out of Egypt, the children of Israel had assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai, to hear God speaking to them. Already in His ministry on another mountain, as found in Matthew chapters 5-7, the Lord Jesus has shown that He had not come to destroy the law given at Sinai, but rather had come to fill out its meaning, and to point out that motives as well as actions were important. Here, on another mountain, He instructs both the people, as Mark’s account makes clear, and His disciples, as Luke records.

6:4 And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

We notice again that John calls this feast a feast of the Jews, whereas in the Leviticus 23 the festivals were called the feasts of Jehovah. The nation had displaced God from His central place in their hearts and lives. Christianity has no religious festivals, but there is the injunction for believers to do everything as unto the Lord, and to His glory, 1 Corinthians 10:31. The Corinthians had made the same mistake as Israel, for they had turned the Lord’s Supper into their own supper, 1 Corinthians 11:20,21. By both His miracle and His teaching in this chapter, the Lord Jesus will restore God to His rightful place in the hearts of those who respond to His word. Peter shows that He has this rightful place in his heart when he makes his confession in verse 69.

At this point, we could contrast and compare the situation with Israel subsequent to the first Passover, and the situation in this chapter.

Passover time, Exodus 12.

Passover time, John 6.

Great multitude leave Egypt.

Great multitude.

Start a journey across the desert.

In a desert place.

God revealed as Jehovah their Healer.

Christ healed the people.

No disease if obedient to Law.

Diseased healed without conditions.

Assemble at Mount Sinai.

On a mountain with His disciples.

People hunger in the wilderness

People hunger.

People murmur because they lack bread.

People murmur when offered spiritual bread.

6:5,6 When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this He said to prove him: for He Himself knew what He would do.

Just as a great multitude of Israelites had been brought into a wilderness by Moses, so now, another multitude is found in the wilderness, but this time, with Christ. Of old, the people had asked the question, “Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” Psalm 78:19, and God had responded by raining bread from heaven for them, Exodus 16:4. The situation is the same in principle here, but with the difference that it is the disciples who express doubt, as the records in Matthew and Mark show.

In John’s account, however, it is Philip that is the focus of attention, and the Lord asks him a question to prove him, as the next verse says. But why Philip? And why are Andrew and Simon Peter mentioned in verse 8? We know that by this time the twelve apostles had been chosen, so why are these three singled out? On other occasions it was Peter, James and John who were specially favoured, as in Matthew 26:37; Luke 8:51; 9:28.

The answer may lie in the fact that these three were amongst the first to follow the Lord, and therefore were with Christ at the marriage in Cana. Because of this, they knew that He was able to turn water into wine. They had seen His glory and believed in Him, John 2:11. They should have appreciated that if He was competent in the matter of wine, He would be competent also in the matter of bread.

Alas, Philip, when proved, did not pass the test, but fell into the mistake of limiting God, and thinking in terms of human resources, as the next verse indicates. Not only Philip, but ten of his fellow-apostles are being prepared for the great task of feeding the souls of men with the word of God, as they went into all the world after Pentecost. They would be fortified by the thought that, although they were not sufficient for the task, as the apostle Paul confessed, 2 Corinthians 3:4,5, yet Christ was fully able to meet the need..

6:7 Philip answered Him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Instead of drawing on his experience at Cana, and also his knowledge of God’s dealings with Israel in the wilderness, Philip can only think in terms of man’s currency, pennies, and man’s products, baker’s loaves. Once again, the lesson is going to be taught that God is not outwitted by any circumstance, and He is fully able to meet the need of the moment. A penny was a day’s wages for a labourer in those times, Matthew 20:3, and so is equivalent to about £50 today. 200 pennyworth would therefore equate to £10,000, and therefore was a considerable sum, indicating the vast crowd of people that were gathered.

Clearly, Philip is thinking of the fact that the need was far greater than they could supply. And even if they had such resources, only a little bread could be made available, certainly not enough to fill the hungry people and have a surplus.

6:8,9 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto Him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

Andrew also manifests a lack of faith in the Lord’s abilities, and shows he is overawed by the great need that confronts them. Notice that the loaves are barley loaves, the food of the poor, and the fishes are small. How appropriate that the one who “became poor”, 2 Corinthians 8:9, and who “humbled Himself”, Philippians 2:7 should use these things, not only to feed the multitude, but also to show that He had come from heaven in grace and humility to nourish the souls of men. We note the willingness of the lad to give up his lunch, in order that the work of God may be furthered. We ought to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to give anything up for God’s cause? In a very real sense, the lad did what Philip did not, even “give them to eat”. No matter how young in the faith we may be, we may do what the Lord calls us to do. Who knows what far-reaching consequences there might be? The lad did not lose out by giving up his meal, for he had the great privilege of eating a meal miraculously supplied.

6:10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

The particular spot where this miracle took place was noted for its relatively fertile soil. Despite being classed as a desert, there would be grass here, for the people’s comfort. As to the location, we are told in Luke 9:10 that it was “a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida”. There are two possibilities here. We know from previous incidents in the gospel records that the journey was taken from the Capernaum side of the lake, and the return journey was to that area too, for the discourse on the bread was given, in part at least, in the synagogue in Capernaum. So either the Bethsaida Luke mentions is Bethsaida Julias, a town on the north west shore of Galilee, or the emphasis is on the expression “a desert place belonging to”, which would indicate land on the east side of the lake which was allotted to Bethsaida on the west side, where fishermen, if stranded by storms, could shelter if need be. All this serves to highlight the fact that the Lord deliberately arranged for the miracle to be performed where normal supplies were unavailable, thus casting them on divine resources, as Israel were cast in old time. After He had performed the miracle, He immediately returned to the other side of the lake.

Mark tells us that the men were made to sit down in “ranks, by hundreds and by fifties”, Mark 6:40. This may simply mean that there were two sizes of company, those of 50 people and those of 100. This raises the question why this should be. Alternatively, Mark is telling us that the companies were all of 50, and there were one hundred of them, amounting to the number 5000 mentioned in the narrative. Luke definitely tells us in his account that the command to the disciples was to make the men sit down by fifties in a company, Luke 9:14. This suggests a further link with the first Passover, for when Israel came out of Egypt, they marched “harnessed”, or, as this may be translated, “by fifties”. As they sat waiting for the bread to be distributed to them, many may have made this connection, just as when Joseph’s brothers were sitting down to eat with him, they realised that they were sitting round the table in the order of their birth, Genesis 43:33. Whatever the precise meaning, the thought is that the meal was conducted in an orderly way, for God is the God of order, not confusion, 1 Corinthians 14:33, and God manifest in flesh is showing that.

6:11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when He had given thanks, He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

Note that the disciples have no part in the miracle, but are simply handed a seemingly endless stream of fragments of loaves and fishes. The practice of giving thanks for food is here endorsed by the Son of God, who, as a dependant man, is thankful for His Father’s provision for the need. See 1 Timothy 4:5, where food is said to be sanctified by the word of God and prayer, the word of God in question being that found in Genesis 1:29. The disciples are learning to serve on one level, so that eventually they will be fitted to serve by feeding the souls of men, and thus fulfil the original command to the disciples, “Give ye them to eat”, Matthew 14:16. See Acts 6:1-4, with its two ways of serving, either material needs, or spiritual. The word for serve is the same for both, meaning deacon service.

6:12 When they were filled, He said unto His disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

Philip had only thought of every one taking a little, verse 7. God is the one who “left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness”, Acts 14:17. Christ is demonstrating once again that He, God manifest in flesh, is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. We should not think of the fragments remaining as being crumbs dropped on the ground. These would be fragments that the Lord had broken off, which were over and above what was needed to satisfy the multitude. There was an abundant supply, with “bread enough and to spare”, Luke 15:17. The people are being tested by this provision of literal bread, to see whether they will seek for the spiritual bread. Sadly, as becomes evident later in verse 26, they did not.

6:13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

The Lord knew the need of His disciples, not only because they had waited upon thousands of people, but also because they were about to try to row across the lake. They would each have a basketful of bread to reward them for their efforts, and energise them for the task ahead. The Lord always sustains His servants if they are doing what He has commanded them to do. The apostle Paul testified that he was able to do all things, because Christ strengthened him, Philippians 4:13.

6:14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

Just as the manna had been given to prove the children of Israel, to see whether they would respond to God, so here. Unhappily, the response of the people is one of mere political fervour, seeing in Christ only a person who can meet their desire for deliverance from Roman occupation, and meet their daily needs. They are still looking on Him simply as a wonder-worker, and are not prepared to own Him as the Son of God, despite the miracle just performed to prove it. Their reference to the prophet is in line with Deuteronomy 18:18, but it is not clear that they equated this prophet with the Messiah, as they should have done. The Samaritan woman had called the Lord a prophet, (and according to her understanding as a Samaritan there was only one prophet after Moses), and then described Him as the Christ, or Messiah, John 4:19,29.

6:15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.

He shows that He is not subject to the whims of the people, for He will only accept the throne of Israel from His Father. “The Lord God will give unto Him the throne of His Father David”, Luke 1:32. He had been offered the kingdoms of the world by the Devil, but had rejected such an offer with the contempt it deserved, Luke 4:5-8. It is worth remembering that the title King of Israel is a Divine title, Isaiah 44:6.

SECTION 2 Verses 16-21 THE STORM ON THE LAKE

6:16,17 And when even was now come, His disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.

Obeying the Lord’s command, Matthew 14:22, the disciples begin their journey across the lake., After having sent the multitudes away, indicating to them that he had no more to say to them that day, Lord had remained in the mountain to pray.

6:18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.

We should not confuse this incident with the storm on the lake, with the Lord present in the boat. Here the disciples are being taught that even though He was not in the vessel, He was still in control. The wind was contrary, according to Matthew 14:24, and it is evident that the disciples had been forced to row, rather than sail. It is to their credit that they do not turn back.. Their Lord had instructed them to go before Him to the other side, Matthew 14:22, and they were resolved to obey.

6:19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

To walk on the sea is to show total control over that which man cannot control. The Egyptian hieroglyphic for the word “impossible” was a picture of two feet over wavy lines representing the sea. With God all things are possible, and God manifest in flesh is demonstrating this fact. Not only is the Lord walking on the sea, but Mark tells us that He drew nigh to the ship, so He was walking faster than they were rowing. Even though He had started out later than they had, He had now reached them, and was about to pass by them, thus overtaking them, Mark 6:48. Clearly the contrary winds and the rising sea present no problem to Him. It is said of God that His way is in the sea, Psalm 77:19, the reference there being to the passage made for the Israelites to cross the sea. Now He is showing that He does not need a passage made for Him to walk through, for He walks on the sea as if it is dry land, and He leaves no impress on the sea bottom, so “His footsteps are not known”, as the psalm said. John is careful to make us aware that they are far from the shore. The “walking on the water” was not walking on sand banks in shallow water, as some infidels suggest. Galilee is approximately 11 kilometres wide. This means that 25-30 furlongs is in the middle of the lake, so they have no easy route to escape the storm. Christ comes to the rescue when we have come to an end of ourselves.

6:20 But He saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.

The “but” is in answer to the unspoken fear of the disciples The disciples now learn that they need fear no situation, for He is in control of all things. It is possible that Judas would have deduced from such an incident that the Lord was able to escape from any difficult situation, and that even if he betrayed Him He would be able to escape.

6:21 Then they willingly received Him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

They had been reluctant before, since they knew not what it was that came across the water to them, but now, His word of calm makes them willing to welcome Him into the ship.

The disciples have been prepared for the sort of situation that will confront them as they are sent forth after Christ’s ascension into the world to “give them to eat”, in other words, to preach Christ to hungry souls. The apostle Paul reminded the Ephesian believers that unless they were taught by those whom Christ had sent unto them, they would be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, and they would be blown off course, Ephesians 4:11-14. Paul himself learned that in his most difficult experiences, he could count on the Lord being with him. When no man stood with him to plead his cause before Nero, he was conscious that the Lord stood by him, 2 Timothy 4:16-18. He could remind Timothy that the Lord is at hand, or at our elbow, Philippians 4:5. No matter how dark the hour, or how contrary the opposing forces, our Lord and Saviour is superior to all, for He is Lord of all, Acts 10:36. This truth would be a great encouragement to Peter as the whole Gentile world, (represented by Cornelius), opened out before him.

SECTION 3   Verses 22-33   SEEKING THE TRUE BREAD

We now come to the discourse given by the Lord Jesus when the people come to Him on the other side of the lake the day after they were miraculously fed. We shall notice as we proceed that just as there were three main actions on the part of the people when the manna was given, so there are these same three actions expected in this chapter. In Exodus 16:4 we read, “The people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day”. Then they were told, “And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord”, Exodus 16:7. Then in verse 18 “They gathered every man according to his eating”. So the three main actions expected were seeking, seeing, and eating. And this is how we may divide John 6:22-59.

The section may be divided as follows:-

(i)     Verses 22-24     The energy of the flesh.

(ii)    Verses 25-26     The exposure of failure.

(iii)    Verses 27-29    The energy of faith.

(iv)    Verses 30-32    The explanation of the Father’s gift.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 6, VERSES 22 TO 32

6:22 The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples were gone away alone;

6:23 (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)

6:24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

6:25 And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed.

6:28 Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.

6:30 They said therefore unto Him, What sign shewest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee? what dost Thou work?

6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

6:32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

6:33 For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

(i) The energy of the flesh

6:22-24 The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto His disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:). When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

John gives elaborate details as to the way in which the people at last discovered the Lord on the other side of the sea. But it was all carnal energy, as is revealed by the exposure of the thoughts of their hearts by the Lord Jesus. These details highlight the different ways in which different persons reached the shores of the lake:

The Lord Jesus and the twelve apostles journeyed by ship to the eastern shores of Lake Galilee.

The people reached the eastern shore by running and walking, so that they arrived at the spot before the boat did, Mark 6:33.

After the feeding of the 5000, the crowds presumably went into the nearby villages to lodge for the night, see Luke 9:12.

After retiring to the mountain to pray, the Lord walked on the water to overtake the apostles as they rowed across the lake in a storm.

They arrived at the western shore safely.

The people had seen the previous evening that the apostles had got into the boat and started out to cross the lake without the Lord. The next day they found that the Lord was nowhere to be seen, and assumed He had walked round during the night.

The people take advantage of the ships that had come during the night, (perhaps sheltering from the storm), and cross the lake in these.

(ii) The exposure of failure

6:25 And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?

They know nothing of His walk across the water, and the Lord does not tell them. They are only thinking of timing, and have no inkling that He can walk on water. If they had suspected this, they would have said, How? They do not really appreciate a miracle they saw with their own eyes in daylight, so how would they believe something which took place in the dark? The Lord never satisfies idle curiosity, yet is ever ready to reveal Himself to an earnest seeker. They call Him Rabbi, but will they progress to a confession like Peter’s in verse 69?

6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

There are three levels on which the miracles of the Lord Jesus may be thought of. The first and lowest level is simply the realisation that a miracle has been performed. Then there may be wonder at the effect the miracle had. Then there was the third level, and the one on which the miracle should ideally be appreciated, namely, the understanding of the truth expressed by the miracle. The Lord shows by His word that the people in general are only on the first level, recognising that He was a miracle worker. Note the double affirmative, “Verily, verily”, meaning “Truly, truly”. This is found only in John’s gospel, and asserts four things. First, that there is a new development in the teaching of Christ, and fresh truth is about to be spoken. Second, that the truth about to be expressed is definite. Third, that the word expressed may be difficult to take in, yet nonetheless is true. And fourthly, that even though men may doubt or deny it, it is indeed true, being doubly sure.

(iii) The energy of faith

6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: For Him hath God the Father sealed.

Note the important truth that even miraculously provided bread perished. So with the manna; if left it bred worms and stank, Exodus 16:20. The bread which perisheth is all the people saw in the loaves He had fed them with, and they had now expended much energy on acquiring a further supply. This the Lord rebukes.  The word meat is used here in the sense of food. The pot of manna which was laid up in the Tabernacle to commemorate the giving of the manna did not perish, giving a hint of meat that did not perish, Exodus 16:32-34. This the Lord exhorts them to strive for.  As Son of Man He is available to men, having come down to where we are, just as the manna fell round about the camp of Israel. He is also available to all, not just Israel. The title Son of David limits Him to Israel. Remarkably, it is the Son of Man in relation to the Father here, showing that He has lost nothing of His eternal relationship with the Father by coming to earth. He is sent, sealed, and special. Bakers put their own mark on the loaves they wish to be identified with. So the Father bore witness to His Son at His baptism. He was also marked out by the miracles He performed, “A man approved of God by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him…” Acts 2:22. If they would have this Divinely-approved food, then they must go to Christ for it, for He is not only the one God approves of as to His person, but He is the one approved of as provider of spiritual food. When men lacked bread in Egypt, the word was “Go to Joseph”, Genesis 41:55.

6:28 Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?

He had said “Labour”, and “God the Father”, so they appear keen to do what He said, but are not prepared for His answer. They wanted to do works, and clearly were thinking of legal works by which they also might be sealed, or approved by God. It is significant that the sabbath, instituted by God in creation week, was not mentioned in the scriptures for 2600 years until the manna was given, Exodus 16:23. Sadly, some of the people transgressed over the matter of the sabbath when they went out to collect manna on the seventh day. They failed to realise that God was teaching them that true rest would be known by those who, having the word of God in their hearts, obeyed it. The Lord Jesus connected “learning of Him”, with finding “rest for your souls”, Matthew 11:29. Both Israel and Adam collected food when they were forbidden to do so, and reaped the consequences.

6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.

There is one action, from which all others proceed, and that is faith. Believing is not a work in the sense that it gains merit, but it is an action, and as such may be described as a work. Moreover, it is the work of God. Clearly this does not mean it is a work God does, but rather is a work He expects. Some think this phrase refers to the work of God in a person, so that they are brought to faith. In the context however, it is something a man does, as suggested by the use of the word “labour” in verse 27, meaning “be diligent”. Paradoxical as it may seem, the work of God is to rest in who Christ is.

(iv) Explanation of the Father’s gift

6:30 They said therefore unto Him, What sign showest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee? What dost Thou work?

 The Jews require a sign, 1 Corinthians 1:22, and refuse to believe unless one is given. But they had seen a sign relevant to the subject in hand, and yet seem not to have believed- why would they believe another sign if they believed not the first? They almost seem to be taunting the Lord by their use of the word work. As if to say, why expect us to work, and you do not?

6:31 Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

The implication of their words, to which they give an appearance of spirituality by alluding to scripture, is that Moses did a far greater thing than feed a small crowd with one meal. The manna had lasted for 40 years, and had fed millions of people for all that time. They ask for a second sign in order to be convinced that He is superior to Moses, whom they revered, and whom they here credit with giving the manna.

6:32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

The Lord is asserting His authority here as the One sealed by the Father. They have misinterpreted the Psalm they quoted, for they had combined two phrases from Psalm 78:24,25, and made a false conclusion from them. The Lord corrects their error by declaring that it was God that the psalmist referred to as “He”, and not Moses. Moreover He goes on to state that the same God who sent the manna was His Father, and He, as the Son, shares every attribute of God, being equal in nature. This means He has insight into Divine things, and can speak with authority about the giving of the manna and its meaning. Not that the manna was false, but that the bread from heaven being offered to them by the Father was the reality of which the manna was an illustration and an indication. The manna had come from the skies, whereas the true bread came from the very presence of the Father in heaven.

6:33 For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world.

The expression “bread of God” indicates at least four things:

  • It is used of the sacrifices offered on Israel’s altar, Leviticus 21:6,8,17,21, so the Lord is preparing His hearers for the idea that He can only become available to them through His sacrificial death.
  • It signifies that Christ was entirely satisfying to God.
  • It indicates that He was approved of God, for “Him hath God the Father sealed”,6:27.
  • In the context of the verse, it shows that He is the one who is able to give life from God. He is the bread that God uses to supply the needs of the hungry soul.

We may compare and contrast the manna and Christ as follows:

MANNA

COMPARISON WITH CHRIST

From heaven, the sky.

From heaven, the presence of His Father.

Small in size.

Refused to be made king.

Round in shape, symbolic of eternity.

Eternal in His Being, 6:62.

Fell round about the camp of Israel.

As Son of Man, was available to all.

Freely given.

Given by the Father, verse 32.

Test of obedience, Exodus 16:4.

Test of loyalty, verse 67.

Abundant supply.

Life for the world.

 

 

MANNA

CONTRAST TO CHRIST

Only bread.

Living bread.

Like bread.

Is spiritual bread.

Israelites ate, but still died.

Eat and live for ever, verse 51.

Bred worms and stank.

Meat that endureth.

Supplied for 40 years, then ceased.

Once eaten, there is no more hunger.

Given only to Israel.

For the whole world.

Supported natural life.

Gives and supports spiritual life.

SECTION 4    Verses 34-46    SEEING THE SON

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 6, VERSES 34 TO 46

6:34 Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.

6:36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen Me, and believe not.

6:37 All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.

6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.

6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

6:40 And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

6:41 The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

6:42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that He saith, I came down from heaven?

6:43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

6:44 No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.

6:46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father.

The passage may be divided as follows:

(i)

Verses 34-36

Seeing and not believing.

(ii)

Verses 37-40

Seeing and believing.

(iii)

Verses 41-42

Seeing naturally.

(iv)

Verses 43-46

Seeing the Father through the Son.

(i)   Verses 34- 36   Seeing and not believing.

6:34 Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

They reason that just as the manna only supplied the need of a day, and had to be given again the next day, so Christ needs to give and give again. They plead with Him to continue for ever giving them this bread. They seem not to have captured the significance of “The bread of God is He…” The bread is not external to Himself, hence the “I am” expressions that follow, verses 35,41,48,51.

6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on  Me shall never thirst.

 He Himself is the bread. The “I” is emphatic- “I, and no other, not even Moses”. Only those who come to Him in the right way, that is, by faith and not in the energy of the flesh, have everlasting life. Everlasting life is not only life that goes on for ever, but life which lasts, or retains its force, for ever, too. They will not need to come in initial faith again if they have come once, for they will not hunger again. Neither will they thirst if they come to Him and drink. Perhaps the Lord is gently reminding them of the murmuring of their ancestors with regard to the lack of water in the desert. They should beware lest they murmur too. Alas they did, in verse 41. Sometimes what we eat makes us thirsty, but they never thirst who come to Him who is the bread from heaven. The mention of drink anticipates the truth of John 7:37-39.

6:36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen Me, and believe not.

The word ‘but’ indicates that they had not really come in faith. They had made a physical journey to Him, travelling many miles across the lake and were now able to physically see Him again. But just as the Israelites physically saw the manna and said, “What is it”, so these did not have spiritual insight into who He really was. They had seen the sign, and therefore had seen Him as a miracle-worker; they had not seen Him as the Son of God, the bread from heaven.

(ii) Verses 37-40    Seeing and believing.

6:37 All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.

Despite the fact that thousands of people had seen Him, had eaten of the miraculously-provided loaves, and yet did not believe, God’s purpose was not frustrated. He would sovereignly work to ensure that many did come. The present tense, “giveth”, shows it to be a present work, not a matter of predestination in eternity. The way in which they came, and thus were given by the Father to the Son, is detailed in verses 39-41. Note that it is “all that”, and not “all whom”. In other words, the Lord is referring to a company, considered as one whole thing, and of which no individual would ever be lost, verse 39. So much for the side of Divine Sovereignty. Now the human responsibility Him that cometh means no restriction. In no wise means no reason. Not cast out means no refusal. All that the Father gives to Christ shall come, and all that come will be received. The reason for this is given in the next verses. In verses 35 the coming is not physical; in verse 36 it is not natural; in verse 37 it is not accidental; and in verse 37 again it is not impersonal.

6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.

This is one of the reasons why He does not cast out those that come, for He is on a mission from heaven, and is governed only by His Father’s will. That will is explained by the next verse.

6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Since He is committed to the will of Him that sent Him, having subjected His will to His Father’s, then it is certain that He will safeguard all who come to Him, for that is His Father’s will. This safe keeping involves both the soul and the body, for He not only preserves His people now, but will also raise their bodies from the graves at the last day. The Jews divided time into “The age before the Messiah”, and “The age of the Messiah”. The present age is a matter of revelation, not being revealed in Old Testament times, see Ephesians 3:1-12. The last day refers to the last day of 24 hours of the particular age in question. As far as Old Testament saints are concerned, the last day, when they shall be raised, is the last day of the “Age before the Messiah”, at the moment when Christ comes to earth to reign, see Revelation 11:18. This was the expectation of Martha with regard to her brother, John 11:24. She learns, however, that since Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, He could intervene before that last day if He chose to do so. He intervened immediately in the case of Lazarus, and will intervene at the end of this present age of grace as far as church believers are concerned. Christ instructed the disciples that not a tiny fragment of the loaves should be lost, verse 12, but He will also personally ensure that the bodies of His people are not lost.

6:40 And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

In the previous verse, the idea was of all believers considered as one whole thing, hence the expressions like “all which…nothing…raise it”. Here, however, the emphasis is on individual responsibility, and so it is more personal-“every one…raise him”. The mention of everlasting life in connection with the resurrection would remind us that the bodies of believers are going to be transformed, so that the full effects of having eternal life may be appreciated and expressed for all eternity. So verse 39 has to do with resurrection as the consummation of the Father’s will, and verse 40 links resurrection with coming to Christ, for those that are in the grave shall come forth in response to His word, just as they responded to His word in salvation. See John 5:24,25. The fact that Christ will raise at the last day implies that He will already have risen from the dead. Note that a stronger word is used here for seeing. It signifies to contemplate, giving the idea of an interested look, rather than a look that may be casual.

(iii) Seeing naturally.

6:41 The Jews then murmured at Him, because He said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

In John’s gospel it is the rulers who are called the Jews. These are different, then, to those in the crowd that spoke in verse 34. There is a great multitude present, and John is giving us different reactions to Christ’s teaching. This group is still occupied with what He said in verse 33. They were like the Israelites who, when confronted with the manna, said, “It is manna”, for “they wist not what it was”, Exodus 16:15. The Hebrew word “man” or “min” is very common, and simply means “what?”.

6:42 And they said, is not this Jesus, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He saith He came down from heaven?

It is usually thought that Joseph had died by the time the Lord began His public ministry. The literal order of the words is “Of whom we know the father and mother”. In other words, they could know who his father was without actually personally knowing him. In any event, they deny His relation with God as His Father, and this is the cause of all their other difficulties. Once a person has accepted the truth of the Deity of Christ, everything else falls into place. In 8:19 the Lord tells them that they neither know Him nor His Father. If they had known Him, it would mean they knew the Father also. Both the “we” and the “He” are emphatic, “We know”…”He saith”. They are setting their knowledge against His.

(iv) Seeing the Father through the Son

6:43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves,

They would have done far better if they had enquired humbly of Him, rather than assert themselves as knowledgeable on this matter. The Israelites had been marked by murmuring in the wilderness, Numbers 14:26,27.

6:44 No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The only way for them to see that their opinions about Him were wrong, and to gain right thoughts about His person, was to be drawn by the Father. None who earnestly seek the truth shall be left without light. Note the united interest on the part of Father and Son in the souls of men; the Father draws to the Son, then the Son raises and takes to the Father in heaven. How the Father draws is explained in the next verse.

6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.

They claimed to know, but had missed the teaching of the prophets on this matter as found in Isaiah 54:13. In that chapter Isaiah speaks of the coming kingdom, which the Lord’s references to the last day should have reminded them of. Those who are in the good of the New Covenant, which involves knowing God, (see Jeremiah 31:34), will only know Him because they have been taught of God. Thus the Lord establishes from the Old Testament prophets the principle He is setting out to them. The specific quotation is just the words “taught of God”, and “they shall all be” is the Lord’s adaptation of the previous words. He has authority to quote in this way. The people had mishandled the psalmist’s words in verse 31, and by so doing only showed their ignorance. Those who have heard the truth about the person of Christ, and respond by learning it, taking it in for themselves, are sure to come in faith to Christ. And since the words of the Lord Jesus were words given Him by His Father to speak, then they have available this teaching- they have no excuse. Sadly, many of them had closed their ears to the truth he brought, and closed their eyes to the significance of the miracles He wrought, see Matthew 13:10-17.

6:46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father.

Only the Son has eternal and infinite insight into the nature of the Father. All others must rely on the revelation He gives of Himself through the One who is most fitted to give it, even the Son. Here the Lord claims exclusive rights to the truth concerning Himself and the Father. The “He” is emphatic, “He, and He only”. See also John 1:18, with its connection between seeing and declaring.

As we come to the end of this important section, we may summarise the truth of it as follows:

What they must do if they are to see Christ in the right way:

1. Realise that He can assess their motives, verse 26.

2 Realise that He provided bread in the same way as Jehovah did in the desert. They spoke as if He only copied Moses, and misquoted scripture to support that idea.

3 Realise that the Father has sealed Him, and thereby marked Him out as approved.

  1. Realise that He came down from heaven from the Father, and does not owe His manhood to Joseph.

What the Father and the Son do so that they may see in the right way:

1 Shew that the Son knows that they murmur in unbelief.

  1. Make clear that the Father does draw to Christ.
  2. Stand by the promises under the New Covenant.

What the response of the Father and the Son is to those who come to Him:

  1. The Father gives the whole company of believers to Christ as they come to Him one by one in faith.
  2. The Son promises not to reject any who come.
  3. The Son promises them resurrection, because this is His Father’s will.
  4. The Son promises eternal life to all who come.

SECTION 5 Verses 47-59 EATING THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER 6, VERSES 47-59

6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.

6:48 I am that bread of life.

6:49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

6:50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat?

6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.

6:54 Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

6:55 For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.

6:56 He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.

6:57 As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.

6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

6:59 These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.

The passage may be divided as follows:

(i)

Verses 47-50

Eating and living.

(ii)

Verses 51-55

Eating and assimilating.

(iii)

Verse 56

Eating and abiding.

(iv)

Verses 57-58

Eating and depending.

(i)   6:47-50   Eating and living

6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.

Having established His unique ability to impart the knowledge of God, He invites faith in Himself, which will result in everlasting life being granted. And everlasting life enables a person to know God, see John 17:3.

The following verses tell us the following things about the life Christ gives:

Verse 47      Given life, not earned.

Verse 48      Sustained life, for Christ is the “bread” of the life He gives.

Verse 50      Superior life, unaffected by the death of the body.

Verse 51      Personal life, expressed in Christ when He was down here on earth.

Verse 53      Indispensable life, apart from Him there is no life.

Verse 54      Eternal life, the life of God Himself, which fits for His presence.

Verse 55      Real life, for His flesh is bread truly, genuinely.

Verse 56      Secure life, for the one possessing it is in Christ, and He in him.

Verse 57      Supported life, sustained by faith.

6:48 I am that bread of life.

A repeat of the statement of verse 35, but now in connection with those who have come to Him in faith. He is not only the bread which satisfies hunger, but He is the bread which sustains the everlasting life He gives. Those who have everlasting life long to know God and His Son better, and Christ is the sustainer of that process, for He is equal with God.

6:49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

Whilst the manna sustained physical life, it did not deliver from death. Neither did it sustain for more than a day. These are major reasons why Christ the bread of life is superior to the manna.

6:50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

Because He is eternal life personified, (see 1 John 1:2), then to “eat” Him, that is, to take into the mind the truth of His person, is to have a life within which can no more be successfully overwhelmed by death than His life can. It is not simply that a man is sustained until he dies. Such is the over-riding superiority of the life which is eternal, that death is as nothing in its presence. “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death”, John 8:51; “He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die”, John 11:26. He came down from heaven, the place where death cannot come, in order that He might take believers to that deathless place.

(ii)  6:51-55   Eating and assimilating 

6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: If any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever: And the bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

He did not begin to live at His birth, but is “that eternal life, which was with the Father”, 1 John 1:2.  In verses 50-53, and verse 58, the word for eat is the initial act of putting into the mouth, whereas in verses 54-57 the word used has more the idea of chewing. Also, in verses 50-53, the tense of the word eat suggests a deliberate action complete in itself, whereas in verses 54-57 the idea is that the one eating has the character of an eater, it is something he does habitually. Here the Lord makes life for ever available, but not in a state of sin, which is why He goes on to speak of giving His flesh for the life of the world. Compare the words of Genesis 3:22, “Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live for ever…” In the mercy of God, (for in wrath He remembers mercy”, Habakkuk 3:2), Adam and his wife were prevented from eating of the tree of life, and so be preserved in sin for ever. Having introduced the subject by the use of the expression “Bread of God”, the way in which the bread becomes available to the world is now set out. Belief in His person involves belief in what He did at Calvary. There He gave all that He was as one who had lived on the earth well-pleasing to His Father, and He did this “in view of” the life of the world. Note that it is a question of what is made available by His death; potentially the whole world could have life if every individual came to Christ in faith, such is the magnitude of the provision.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON TRANSUBSTANTIATION

This is the name given to the process the Roman Catholic church teaches the bread and wine of the Mass go through, so that they are changed into the real body and blood of Christ. The language of Pope Pius the 10this as follows:

“The sacrifice of the mass is substantially that of the cross, in as far as the same Jesus Christ who offered Himself on the cross is He who offers Himself by the hands of the priests His ministers on our altars”.

This is wicked blasphemy.

We should remember that the Lord Jesus held the loaf that He described as His body in His hands as He spoke the words “This is my body”, Matthew 26:26. We should also remember that He described the cup of wine as the fruit of the vine after He had said that it was the new covenant in His blood, Matthew 26:27,28. If, on the night of the institution of the Supper, and with the Lord Jesus officiating, the bread and wine did not change, why should it be thought they change when mere mortals officiate?

There is a grammar rule in the Greek language to indicate when a statement is to be taken literally or figuratively. The rule is as follows: “When a pronoun is used instead of one of the nouns, and the two nouns are of different genders, (Greek words are either masculine, feminine, or neuter), the pronoun is always made to agree with that noun to which it is carried, and not to the noun from which it is carried, and to which it properly belongs”.

The nouns in this instance are ‘bread’ and ‘body’, and ‘this’ replaces the noun ‘bread’. The pronoun ‘this’ is neuter. The noun ‘bread’ is masculine. The noun ‘body’ is neuter. If the statement were literal, then the pronoun would be masculine. As the pronoun is neuter, and agrees with the word body, which is neuter, then the statement is figurative and not literal.

There are further reasons which may be given to show that eating the flesh of the Son of Man is not the physical eating of a piece of literal bread, or, as in the case of the Catholic Mass, a piece of wafer.

Verse 63 “The words I speak that unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”. In other words, they should be understood on a spiritual level, not on the level of sense and feeling.

Verse 57 “And I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me”. The way the Lord Jesus lived of, or by means of His Father, was not by eating literal bread, but by nourishing His soul on what the Father was, as expressed in what He said in His word. See Matthew 4:4.

Verse 27 “Labour not for the meat that perisheth”. A reference to the loaves He had miraculously multiplied the day before. Even they did not endure, nor did they give eternal life to those who ate them, since at the end of the chapter the majority walked away, showing they were not believers. No literal bread, even if miraculously provided by God, can give eternal life.

Verses 27-29 “Labour not…but labour for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life…this is the work of God, that ye believe…” It is not a religious ritual, but living faith in Christ which gives eternal life.

6:52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

The fact that it was Passover time should have reminded them that they ate the flesh of the lamb. Had they forgotten that John the Baptist had announced Christ to be the Lamb of God? For all their religion, they failed to think of things in spiritual terms, interpreting the Lord’s words on a purely natural, physical level. He will emphasise the fact that His words are spirit and truth. They are not to be taken in a physical, but a spiritual sense.

6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.

Far from going back on His words, the Lord makes them even harder to understand by speaking of the drinking of blood. This should have shown them that He was speaking metaphorically, for the drinking of literal blood was forbidden by God, Leviticus 3:17; 7:26,27. That this command is not revoked is seen from Acts 15:29. We are forced to the conclusion that these words must not be understood in a physical sense. The Jews were perplexed about eating flesh, but now they are told that unless they do, they will not possess eternal life. To a Jew, eternal life was the “life of the age”, that is, it fitted to share in the Kingdom age under the Messiah. Here the Lord indicates that the means of becoming fit to enter the kingdom in any of its forms, is to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Note how these men misunderstood the Lord’s words at every stage, but He does not seek to modify or dilute His teaching- they must accept what He says by faith, even if they do not understand perfectly.

To eat the flesh of the Son of Man means to take in to the soul those doctrines that relate to Him as a man living on the earth, including the fact that He is God manifest in flesh. To drink His blood means to take in the truths relative to His sacrificial death. By means of His person and work, Christ makes Himself available to faith. Note that it is not body and blood, but flesh and blood. This extends the meaning to include all that the Lord Jesus was as one living on the earth; His whole person, not just the physical part of His person.

6:54 Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

The tense now changes from an event complete in itself, as verse 53, to an ongoing habit, that of constantly eating. So also the word for eat is now the one that emphasises the chewing of food, the means of gaining the most benefit from it. This sort of eating is the customary occupation of those who have eternal life, and is one of their distinguishing features. Eternal life is the present possession of those who thus eat, for the one they feed their souls upon is eternal life personified, and is the bread of life. Note again the promise to raise up at the last day, the sure sign that the eternal life will be enjoyed the other side of death. There is a double promise; to give eternal life and to give a part in resurrection.

6:55 For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is blood indeed.

Indeed means truly, corresponding to the ideal. This means that the flesh of the Son of man constitutes real and genuine food, and his blood genuine drink- they will not be superseded by other things, as the manna had been. This also indicates that His flesh and blood give true and lasting satisfaction to the soul.

(iii) 6:56 Eating and abiding

6:56 He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in Him.

Now we have some of the consequences of this eating and drinking. The one who shows himself to be a genuine believer by having a desire for genuine spiritual food, can be said to dwell in Christ. This shows that to dwell or abide in Christ is not a further advance on believing in Him, but is rather the outcome of believing in Him. The true believer has a settled place in Christ, for believing in Him has dealt with those sinful things that render a person unfit for this position. But there is more, for Christ dwells within the believer too. This is further explained in John 14, where the Lord Jesus sets out the truth regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit. In verse 17 of that chapter the promise is “He shall be in you”, then in verse 20 “At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you”. “That day” means the present period now that the Spirit of God has come on the Day of Pentecost. By the illumination of the indwelling Spirit, believers know that the Son is in them, on the basis of the teaching of Scripture. In Romans 8:9,10 the apostle strongly implies that to have the Spirit within is to have Christ within- “If so be the Spirit of God dwell in you…and if Christ be in you.

(iv) 6:57, 58 Eating and depending

6:57 As the living Father hath sent Me-And I live by the Father: So he that eateth Me shall live by Me.

 The Son has been given to have life in Himself, John 5:26, in order that He might be the readily available source of eternal life for those who desire it. And the living Father, who shares His life with men when they believe on His Son, has sent that Son into the world on just that mission- “I am come that they might have life”, John 10:10.  As a dependant man here upon the earth, the Son of God lived by the Father, He did not live an independent life. This is seen in the wilderness temptation, when the Devil tempted Him to make stones into bread to satisfy His hunger. He refused, with the words, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”, Matthew 4:4. And this was characteristic of His whole life.  As those who are in Christ, associated with Him and sharing His nature, and as those who possess the same Spirit as moved Him, believers, too, live by the same principle. They live by means of Him who is the food for their souls. In this way His life of dependence and faith is reproduced in His people.

6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

These words are a summary of the discourse, and serve to re-affirm the teaching given. “Bread which came down from heaven” re-affirms verses 32-46. “Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead” re-affirms 47-52. “He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” re-affirms verses 53-57. These sections all begin with “Verily, verily”. The remainder of the chapter re-opens the question as to whether the people will seek the true bread by faith, or whether they will say as their fathers did, “Our soul loatheth this light bread”, Numbers 21:5. This had been the theme of the first section, verses 26-31, again with its “Verily, verily”. The ideal response to the Lord’s teaching in this discourse is that of Peter, who said, when asked by the Lord if he was going away, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God”.

SECTION 6 Verses 60-71 Going back or standing firm.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN CHAPTER SIX, VERSES 60-71

6:60 Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

6:61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?

6:62 What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?

6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.

6:65 And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.

6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.

6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

6:68 Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

6:69 And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

6:71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve.

SUMMARY OF THE SECTION

The last verses of the chapter show us the various responses which it is possible to make to the words of Christ, either expressions and actions which indicate unbelief, in verses 60-66, or those which speak of true faith in Him, verses 67-71.

STRUCTURE OF THE SECTION

Marks of unbelief

 

Verses 59,60

Unbelief blames the message.

Verses 61,62

Unbelief only believes what it can see.

Verse 63

Unbelief is result of man’s inability to see spiritual things.

Verse 64

Unbelief is known to Christ.

Verses 65,66

Unbelief prefers its own opinions to being taught of God.

Marks of faith

 

Verses 67,68

Faith knows there is no alternative to Christ.

Verse 69

Faith rests on the Person and Work of Christ.

Verses 70,71

Faith is resolute amidst unbelief.

Verses 59,60 Unbelief blames the message.

6:59 These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.

It is not clear at what point the synagogue was reached. A synagogue has been excavated on the ancient site of Capernaum, and the lintel of the doorway had a carving of a bunch of grapes and a pot of manna over it.

6:60 Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

The word ‘this’ is in italics, and has been supplied. What they heard was the whole discourse, not just the last few sentences. The word saying is ‘logos’, meaning in this context theme, or topic. In effect they were saying “What is it?” again, being unable to understand because they were resisting the teaching from God that Christ was giving them. Note it is disciples who are saying this, for a disciple is simply one who is learning, and does not always mean that the one learning comes to a full knowledge of the truth and believes it.

Verses 61,62 Unbelief only believes when it can see.

6:61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?

The unbelief of men deeply affected the sensitive heart of Christ. They were offended, or stumbled, because the pathway they were treading was interrupted by His teaching, for they were on the wrong road. It was in their best spiritual interests that the word of Christ rebuked them, for if they responded they could begin to walk the right path. They were on a pathway which led to the Messiah being a glorious king, whereas Christ had come to die first, and then enter His kingdom, Luke 24:26.

6:62 What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?

If when He was visible to them, they did not believe in Him, how would it be when He was absent? They had been offended by His refusal to allow them to make Him king the day before, what would they say if He went back to heaven without ascending the throne of Israel? This is the second time the Lord has referred to His ascension. John does not record the actual event, but he does give, in the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, the implications of that event. In John 3:13 the emphasis is on the fact that the Lord is in touch with heaven, even whilst upon the earth. He is in heaven, knowing His Father’s thoughts. To ascend back to heaven is simply the logical outcome of this, and when He has ascended, He will introduce His people to the things of heaven. In John 20:17 the idea is of Him going back to heaven to maintain the relationship His people have with His Father. Here, however, the point is that He is returning to heaven without starting His reign, and this they are concerned about, even to the point of thinking that He is not the Messiah after all. But all that the Lord had said about His person is confirmed by the fact that He was in heaven before He came. This can be said of no other man, and establishes His uniqueness as the Son of God. The wonder is, that He will return to heaven as Son of Man. By doing this, He becomes the counterpart of the hidden manna, the pot of manna laid up in the tabernacle to be a memorial of the provision God made for His people as they passed through the wilderness. The pot contained an ephah of manna, a person’s portion for one day, and Christ is in heaven, the portion of His Father for the Day of God, the endless eternity to come. The hidden manna was held out to the overcomer as a reward, in Revelation 2:17. What a privilege to delight in the same one that the Father delights in! What a reward that will be!

Verse 63 Unbelief is as a result of the natural man’s inability to receive the things of the Spirit

6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

The reason why this discourse offended them was that they were not able to rise to the level necessary to understand it. Only as they left their thoughts and prejudices behind would they be responsive to the Spirit as He made Christ’s words live to them. The flesh, the self that is governed by sin, can never bring us to the position where we understand the thoughts of God. The words He spoke were on the level the Spirit operates at, and when He applies the truth in the sayings, and men believe them, they result in life. Hopeless confusion results if we take the words of Christ, (especially His words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood), on a natural level.

Verse 64 Unbelief is known by Christ

6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.

Being content with carnal expectations, they refused to receive His word. As one who knows what is in the hearts of men, He knew from the start of His ministry that some were gathering around Him who were not genuine believers. He knew what was in man, and did not need someone to testify to Him about them so that He found out, for He knew all along. See John 2:24,25. He also knew where that unbelief would lead Judas. He represents all that is worst about the nation, so that Stephen accused the nation of becoming the betrayers of Christ, Acts 7:52.

Verses 65,66 Unbelief prefers its own opinions as opposed to being taught of God

6:65 And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.

Only as men respond to the teaching of the Father will they be given to the Son. Man is unable of His own ability to understand, but must submit himself to the word of God, if he is to know eternal life through Christ. It is a great privilege to believe in God’s Son, and this is granted by God to those who accept His word, Philippians 1:29.

6:66 From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.

When the Lord Jesus refused to compromise, or dilute His teaching to accommodate the opinions of men, then there were those who parted company from Him. They showed by this that they preferred their own opinions, and were still in the state of mind expressed in verse 42, where what they knew was set against what He said. To go back means to go to the things behind. The manna had been given to see if the people would walk In God’s ways or not, Exodus 16:4. Many did not thus walk in that day, and it is the same with many in John 6. They went back to the things behind, these being their old thoughts about what sort of Messiah was coming. When Adam refused the word of God, and rebelled against it, the scripture says he heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden, Genesis 3:8. He was immediately rebuked, for he was no longer walking in line with the word of God, and his conscience made him hide. The people of this chapter distance themselves from Christ in like manner. It is solemn to think that at the end of His ministry, Christ hid Himself from them, for that is what they wanted. See John 12:36; Isaiah 53:3.

Verses 67,68 Faith knows there is no alternative to Christ

6:67,68 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.

The full name Simon Peter denotes one who, though born and named Simon, is now Peter, a follower of Christ. The question is, will his initial faith stand this test? Simon means ‘hearing’, and Peter means ‘rock’. Will he remain steadfast, rock-like, and still believe what he has heard from Christ’s lips, or will he turn away? His answer, literally rendered is, “We have believed and still believe, and have come to know and still know experientially”, (Wuest). Peter answers for the twelve, and is the first individual in John’s gospel to call Jesus Lord when addressing Him, but the Lord knows that one of them is not true to Him, and does not recognise Him as Lord. Judas never called Jesus Lord, just as the Devil would not use the title Lord of God in Genesis 3. Later on, Peter will be given the gift of discerning of spirits, to enable him to assess the hearts of men, Acts 8:23.

Verse 69 Faith rests on who Christ is, and what He has done

6:69 And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

Peter wrote two epistles, and deals in the first with those who genuinely believe, and then in the second with those who are not genuine. There were those who had appeared to believe, but they were not sure, or convinced, that Christ was the true Messiah, and the Son of God. Peter distances himself from this spurious faith. Whilst some were doubting, as when the people of Israel said “What is it”, Peter is like those who saw that same manna and saw the glory of the Lord, Exodus 16:7. He say with John, “We beheld His glory”, John 1:14. As the Christ, the Lord Jesus stood in relation to Israel and the world, and as Son of God, He stood in relationship with heaven, and His Father.

Verses 70,71 Faith is resolute amidst unbelief

6:70,71 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve.

How remarkable that the true Messiah, whose judgement is perfect, Isaiah 11:1-3, and who, being the Son of God, knows the hearts of men, John 2:24,25; Jeremiah 17:9,10, should choose a man who being so held by Satan that he is indistinguishable from a devil, would betray Him. He made this choice after a night of prayer to God, Luke 6:12-16. so this is the Father’s will, and the Son goes along with it. It says much for the obedience of the Son to His Father’s will that He did so, for He knew where Judas’ betrayal would end, even a cross. Peter has spoken as if the twelve are in agreement, yet the Lord knew otherwise, and made it known, lest the faith of the eleven should be shaken when the betrayal took place. See also John 13:18,19.