THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, Jesus walked on water, and Peter tried to as well, but he began to sink. Jesus healed some more people. Some of the 5000 men who Jesus had fed earlier tracked Him down and found Him in the synagogue at Carpenum and they wanted to know when Jesus had made his way there because they could not figure out how He managed to leave without them seeing Him. Jesus begins to rebuke these men because the only reason they are seeking Him out is because He put food into their bellies. He wants them to understand that the physical is not the most important thing in life, eternal salvation is. He tells them how He has the authority from our Father in heaven to offer eternal salvation.
In the lesson, we pick back up with Jesus’ conversation with these men. As I said in the last lesson, what Jesus is about to say, is going to cause His popularity to decrease dramatically. So, let us begin in:
John 6:30 Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' " 32 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."
These Jews were not satisfied with the miracle of the fish and loaves. They wanted more proof that Jesus was the Messiah. They began to quote the Scripture found in Nehemiah 9:15 or Psalm 78:24 dealing with the manna that came out of heaven. Apparently, they wanted Jesus to do the same and then they would believe. However, Jesus is not going to grant their request even though He could. Instead, He corrects them on two different errors.
First, they were claiming that Moses provided them the manna, but Jesus tells them that it was the Father and not Moses. Second, He teaches them that the manna is not the true bread from heaven because it was only temporary and perishable (Ex. 16:20).
The true bread of heaven is Jesus Himself, and He was sent down from heaven to give eternal life to the world, which means to everyone. Jesus is the antitype of the manna. The manna was only for the Jews and it sustained their physical needs. However, Jesus was given for all, and He will sustain the spiritual needs of those who follow Him. The manna was perishable, but Jesus is everlasting, and He makes it possible for everyone to have eternal life who does the works of God. Similar to the woman at the well in John 4, they say, "Lord, give us this bread always."
John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
Here Jesus makes one of the seven great “I am” statements in the Gospel of John in which He claims “I am the bread of life.” Jesus is trying to teach them who He is and what He has to offer. He tells them they must come to Him, which means we must choose to follow Jesus, and He tells them they must believe. This is not just mere belief or faith only, it is an obedient faith. When He says this will cause a person to never be hungry or thirsty again, He is talking about the spiritual just like He did with the woman at the well in John 4. However, these Jews, like the woman at the well, have their minds on the physical and we will see that they do not understand what Jesus is talking about.
In verse 36, Jesus is referring back to verse 26. These Jews had seen the miracles Jesus had done including the feeding of the 5000. Even though they had seen these things with their eyes, they still had not understood that He was the Son of God. These miracles proved this (Acts 2:22; Jn. 11:40ff), but their senses were dull in perceiving it (Mt. 13:15).
Verse 37 is not teaching the false doctrine once saved always saved. When Jesus says He will not cast out those who come to Him, He is talking about those who have become His disciples and who choose to stay with Him. This idea is illustrated in Romans 11 where Paul teaches that the unbelieving Jew was cut off from the root, which is referring to Jesus, and the Gentile was allowed to be grafted into that root. However, Paul warns them not to boast about this and warns them that God can remove them from the root once they have been grafted in.
Paul says: “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Rom. 11:21-22).
Also, Jesus compares Himself to a vine in John 15 and specifically says, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (Jn. 15:6).
While we should take great comfort in knowing that Jesus will not cast us out or cut us off while we faithfully follow Him, we should not be fooled into believing the false doctrine once saved always saved.
John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
Verse 38 confirms once again that Jesus has come by the authority of the Father to carry out His will and not His own.
In verses 39 and 40, Jesus claims God as being His Father again, and He is reaffirming that all those who will come to Him believing and choose to remain faithful will have everlasting life because it is the Father’s will. These faithful followers will be raised up on the last day, which is the Day of Judgment.
John 6:41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." 42 And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
After Jesus made this bold claim, these Jews began to discuss what He said, and they did not like it. Some of the Jews were apparently from Nazareth because they knew that Jesus was the son of a lowly carpenter. In their minds, the coming Messiah was going to be someone great and majestic who would come in and reestablish a physical kingdom for the Jews, but Jesus did not fit their description. They could not see how a poor man like Jesus who was raised in a poor town could possibly be from God or be that bread which came down from heaven. They were not allowing Jesus’ miracles to serve as proof. Instead, they were allowing their prejudgment of Him to speak louder than His miracles.
There are many who are guilty of this today when it comes to rightly dividing the Word of God. Some people have their preconceived ideas on what they believe on certain topics, and they are not willing to look at all the Scriptures about that topic with an open mind. Instead, they want to believe what they have already been taught or what they believe is true, and they will not consider any Scriptures or logical thoughts that show their view to be wrong. As Christians, we must approach the Word of God with an open mind and be willing to reconsider any given topic and be willing to change our view if new evidence shows that we are wrong.
John 6:43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Jesus knows exactly what these men are murmuring about and He rebukes them. He lets them know that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws them. Those who teach Calvinism would say this is a proof text for irresistible grace and predestination because the Father will draw those who will be saved and will not draw those who are destined to be lost. However, this is not true because we have a free will to choose whom we will serve. As Joshua said in:
Joshua 24:15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Also notice what John wrote in:
Revelation 22:17 Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Notice, salvation is available to anyone who desires it, which means it is your choice. God does not force us to be a Christian, nor does He show partiality by saving one and condemning another (Rom. 2:11).
John 6:45 "It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.
Verse 45 shows exactly how God draws people to Himself. He draws them through hearing the Word of God and by them learning what it says, which is exactly what Isaiah 54:13 and Jeremiah 31:31-34 prophesied. The Word of God is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16). Without it, we cannot learn how to be saved or be drawn by God (Rom. 10:14). It is by the Word of God that we are called. As Paul said:
2 Thessalonians 2:14 to which He called you by our gospel
John 6:46 "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.
Once again, Jesus declares His Deity and close relationship with the Father because He came from the Father and has seen Him as He is. No one else on the earth has seen Him in His true form.
John 6:47 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 "I am the bread of life. 49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
This shows the necessity of belief in order to have everlasting life, and that Jesus is the bread of life. The manna the Jews ate in the wilderness sustained them physically, but all of them died. However, when we partake of Jesus, we will be sustained spiritually and we will live forever. Jesus stresses the point that He is that living bread which came down from heaven. He also predicts how He will give up His life for the world so that all will be able to have the choice to have eternal life.
John 6:52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?" 53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 "This is the bread which came down from heaven -- not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever." 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
The Jews were not happy with Jesus’ words because they understood them as being literal instead of spiritual. They thought Jesus was saying they would have to eat His flesh. As they quarreled among themselves, Jesus added more flame to the fire by saying not only do you have to eat of my flesh, you have to drink of my blood, and only then will you be able to abide in Me and be able to live. When we make this out to be literal, we can understand the reason these Jews were so upset by what Jesus was saying.
Of course, Jesus was saying all of this in a figurative way. We must recognize that Jesus’ death on the cross happened so we could benefit from it and be able to live our lives according to God’s Word. For instance, Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:56). However in John 15:7,10 Jesus said that we can abide in Him by letting His words abide in us and by keeping His commandments (See also: 1 Jn. 2:6; 3:24).
Jesus said, “This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die” (Jn. 6:50). Yet Jesus also said, “If anyone keeps My word he shall never see death” (Jn. 8:51).
When we compare these verses, we can surmise that eating of Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood means to believe on Him and the great sacrifice He made on the cross for us and how we are to keep His commandments. At the end of this chapter, Jesus makes it clear that eating His flesh and drinking His blood are equivalent to receiving His Word when He says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (Jn.6:63).
Those in the Catholic Church thinks our verses in John 6 are referring to the Lord’s Supper. When their priests bless the bread and the fruit of the vine, they teach that they literally become the flesh and blood of Jesus. Note the following:
In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, "the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained." ... It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament ... It has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council (the Council of Trent) now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation (Catechism of the Catholic Church (Liguori, Missouri: Liguori Publishing, 1994), p. 346-347).
This false doctrine is called transubstantiation. Even when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He called the bread His body and the fruit of the vine His blood, but He did not mean it was literally His flesh or blood. He meant it symbolically. Jesus used a lot of symbolisms. For example, Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep” (Jn.10:7).
Is He a literal door for literal sheep? Of course not! He was talking symbolically just like He was talking symbolically about the Lord’s Supper. Think about this, if we are literally eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood, then all Christians are cannibals. The false doctrine of "transubstantiation” is not supported by the Scriptures. I do not believe our text in John 6 is talking about the Lord’s Supper specifically, but it certainly would include the teaching about it since Jesus is telling us to keep His commandments.
John 6:60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?" 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? 62"What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
Many of those who followed Jesus and witnessed the miracles He did were stumped by what He said. They considered it a hard saying. Now this could mean two things, it was too hard to comprehend or it was too hard to accept. There are many saying that Jesus taught throughout His ministry that people today consider to be too hard to accept such as His teachings on divorce and remarriage, the exclusiveness of His one church, the roles of men and women, that baptism is essential for salvation, etc.
Jesus did not waver on what He taught or try to sugar coat it so He did not offend anyone. No, He simply preached the truth, which should be the same attitude all Christians should have as they teach those around them because there is no need to apologize for the truth or to compromise it. Likewise, preachers should not preach only on safe issues they know will not offend anyone. Instead, they must preach the whole counsel of God, and if they lose their job over preaching the truth, then so be it.
Jesus knew what these men were talking about. So, He asked them, "Does this offend you?” These Jews were looking for an earthly king like David and Jesus was not matching up to their expectations. If Jesus’ words offended them and made them stumble, then what is going to happen when they see Him die and then ascend back to His Father? Again, this would not fit with their idea of the Messiah.
In verse 63, He makes it clear that everything He has just said has to do with the spiritual and not the flesh because the flesh will profit nothing, but the spirit will give us life by us believing and obeying God’s Word.
Jesus knew the hearts of those who were following Him, and He knew that many of them did not believe. They were only following Him because of the signs and miracles He did. Since these people had not been drawn to Him by the truth, many of them turned away and stopped following Him. This hard saying separated the true believers from the fake ones, and God’s truth still does that today. There have been many who were interested in Jesus until His teachings conflicted with their lifestyle or an event that happened in their life, which has caused many to turn away from God and follow Him no more.
John 6:67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
I can imagine being one of the twelve apostles watching as these people got up and walked away from Jesus. Seeing that would be enough to cause some to be tempted to follow the crowd. Then Jesus asked them, “Do you also want to go away?” Since Jesus asked this question, it proves we have a choice to either follow Jesus or not to follow Him. There was no irresistible grace or overwhelming power that was keeping the apostles there. If they had walked away, others would have been chosen and God’s plan would have continued.
Answering for all of them, Peter said they had no one else they could go to that has the words of eternal life. They believed and knew that Jesus was the Son of the living God, which separated them from the others who walked away from Jesus that day.
John 6:70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
Even though Peter spoke for the twelve, Jesus knew that Judas would later betray Him for thirty silver pieces. At this point, the disciples had no idea of whom He was talking about. Now a person might wonder why Jesus picked Judas to be one of His apostles. While I cannot be dogmatic in my answer, but I believe He chose him because He knew Judas would betray Him and fulfill the prophecy. It is important to understand that Jesus did not make Judas do anything. He simply used him to carry out what was already in his heart just as God used Joseph’s brothers to keep the lineage of Christ alive and well (Gen. 50:20).
In conclusion, we have seen Jesus rebuke those who were following Him for the wrong reasons. His goal was not to be popular, but to speak the truth and He wanted those who followed after Him to seek Him because of the truth and not for what He could do for them physically through miracles.
How about you? Are you following Jesus right now simply because you like the idea of a Savior? If you had to make a major change in your lifestyle to be pleasing to God, would you do it or would be like many of these men who basically said Jesus’ teachings are too hard and then left? Living the Christian life has many blessings, but it can also be the hardest lifestyle to live because the Word of God wants us to make changes that might seem too hard to do at the time, but if we will have the attitude of Jesus’ apostles and realize that He has the words of life and that God knows what is best for us, then it will help us to remain faithful to God and to make those hard sacrifices we have to make at times to be pleasing to God. I hope every Christian will remember this because heaven is worth it all.