John 6:1 After
these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the
Around one year has
passed from the events in our previous chapter assuming the feast of John 5:1
is referring to the Passover, because it is almost time for the next Passover.
Based on the other Gospel accounts, John the Baptist has been beheaded and
Jesus has sent His twelve apostles out on a limited commission in
They left that area to get a break
because the people were following them everywhere, and they did not even have
time to eat (Mk. 6:31). The only quiet time they had was while they were
traveling across the lake because Mark’s accounts says that the people ran to
where Jesus and His disciples were going and they beat them there. So, shortly
after they got off the boat, these people gathered around Jesus.
Our next verses record the miracle
of Jesus feeding the 5000 men not including the woman or children. This is the
only miracle, other than the resurrection, that is recorded in all four
Gospels. While each account offers additional information about the details of
this event, John’s account is more unique. As we examine this miracle, I will
put the events in the most logical order based on all the accounts.
John 6:5 Then
Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward
Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may
eat?" 6 But this He said
to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him, "Two
hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of
them may have a little."
I do not know with certainty if
the people that ran to meet Jesus gathered around Him as soon as He docked His
boat or if it was a little while afterwards, but at some point they made their
way to the mountain (Jn. 6:3). John’s account is recording what happened when
Jesus saw these multitudes of people coming toward Him. As they were
approaching Jesus, He asked Philip, "Where
shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"
Jesus did not ask this
question because He did not know the answer to it because He already knew what
He was going to do. He asked him this question to test him. Philip did not have
any idea how they could feed such a crowd. When Philip alludes to the sum of
200 denarii, this was most likely the amount of money they were carrying. One
denarii was the typical pay for a day’s worth of work, but 200 denarii would
not be enough to feed this crowd. Some commentators suggest that a danarii
would be about .17 cents today. However, according a software program called
“Manna Bible Maps” it says during Jesus’
time that 84 denarii was made from a pound of silver. Based on the current
market as of 9-05-07, silver is $12.15 per oz. This works out to be $194.40 per
pound, which means by silver content alone, one denarii would be worth around
The other three accounts
say that Jesus taught these people and healed them at this time as well (Mt.
14:14; Mk. 6; 34; Lk. 9:11). These events happened earlier in the day, but now
evening was approaching.
Mark 6:35 When
the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, "This is a
deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 "Send them away, that they
may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for
they have nothing to eat." 37
But He answered and said to them, "You give them something to eat."
And they said to Him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of
bread and give them something to eat?" 38 But He said to them, "How
many loaves do you have? Go and see." And when they found out they said,
"Five, and two fish." (See
also Mt. 14:15-17; Lk. 9:12-13)
Since the day was almost over,
Jesus’ disciples wanted Him to send these people away so they could go and buy
themselves something to eat. But Jesus tells His disciples to feed them. They
did not understand how Jesus expected them to feed this massive amount of
people. Once again, we learn that they had 200 denarii in their money bag, but
just as Philip had said earlier, this would not be enough money to feed all
these people. While Jesus’ disciples thought about their situation, Jesus wants
them to find out how many loaves they have. The first three Gospels say they
had five loaves and two fish. However, John’s account gives us more detail.
John 6:8 One of
His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, 9 "There is a lad here who
has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so
These five loaves and two
small fish came from this little boy. These loaves were not big loaves of bread
like we have today. Thayer’s Lexicons describes it this way: “ Food composed
of flour mixed with water and baked; the Israelites made it in the form of
an oblong or round cake, as thick as one's thumb, and as large as a plate or
platter …” The common people usually made their loaves from barley. The
disciples knew this was not enough food to feed all these people.
John 6:10 Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit
down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in
number about five thousand.
The KJV says that these people were in a desert place, which can be confusing because we understand a desert as being a place where there is little life, and there is nothing but dirt all around. The other versions translate the meaning of this Greek word better because the NKJV uses “deserted”, the NIV uses “remote place”, and the ESV uses “desolate place.” This place was a quiet uninhabited place and not only was there grass there, it was green (Mk. 6:39). Jesus had His disciples sit these people down in groups of 50 and 100 (Mk. 6:40).
John 6:11 And
Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to
the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the
fish, as much as they wanted.
Luke tells us that Jesus took the loaves and fishes and looked up to heaven and blessed them (Lk. 9:16). Today we usually bow our head, but Jesus was looking up when He prayed. There are many postures of prayer given in the Bible, but the posture is not important, it is the condition our heart (Mt. 6:5-8; Lk. 18:9-14). Even though Jesus was the one providing all this food by the miracle He performed, He still gave the Father thanks for it. We should learn from His example and give thanks to God for the food we eat (1 Tim. 4:4-5) and everything else in our lives (Eph. 5:18-20). Once Jesus prayed over the food, He gave it to His disciples and they gave it to the people.
John 6:12 So when
they were filled, He said to His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that
remain, so that nothing is lost." 13
Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the
fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had
Jesus was able to multiply these five loaves and two fish so there was enough for all these people to eat and be full with twelve baskets full of leftovers, which was more food than they started out with. Keep in mind there was 5000 men and an unnumbered amount of women and children (Mat. 14:21). It is possible there were as many as 10,000 people fed that day by Jesus’ miracle. We are not told the exact size of the baskets, but based on the original Greek word, this was a common wicker basket they used to carry food in and it varied in size. These baskets were smaller than the large ones used when Jesus fed the 4000 in Matthew 15:32-38.
This miracle shows that God can provide more for us than we could possible need. When Jesus made sure that all the fragments of bread were saved for later, it teaches us that we should not be wasteful with what God has blessed us with.
John 6:14 Then
those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is
truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."
Since Jesus worked this amazing miracle with the loaves and fish, they concluded that He was the prophet Moses spoke of (Deut. 18:15-19; Acts 3:22-26).
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by
force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
Within this crowd a mob
began to form. Since they knew Jesus was from God and that He was the prophet
Moses spoke of, they thought this would be their opportunity to fight against
When Jesus read these
Jews minds and what they were planning, He sent His disciples back across the
John 6:16 Now
when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into the boat, and went
over the sea toward
These events are also
recorded in Matthew and Mark, and they offer additional information to John’s
abbreviated account. Once again, I will put these events in the most logical
order that makes sense to me. Jesus has sent His disciples away and apparently
He told them He would meet them later. As they were on their way, a great wind
came across the lake that was making it difficult for them to make headway. At
that point, they were halfway across the lake somewhere around 3 ½ miles (Mt.
14:24; Mk. 6:47).
Mark’s account says Jesus
saw them straining at rowing because of the strong wind (Mk. 6:48). Since Jesus
was on the shore and His disciples were halfway across the lake, how did Jesus
see His disciples straining at rowing on a stormy night? One of the
difficulties in answering this question comes from examining the meaning of
“saw” from the Greek because it can mean to see something with the eyes and it
can mean to perceive by any of the senses (Strongs). For instance, when the
wise men did not come back to Herod to tell him where Jesus was, “He saw that
he was deceived by the wise men” (Mat. 2:16). In this instance, Herod did not
literally see these men deceive him, but he observed they did not come back and
perceived that they had deceived him. Another example comes from Jesus’ death
on the cross. “So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding
Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared
greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God” (Mt. 27:54)! When these
people observed the things that happened at Jesus’ death, it caused them to
perceive that Jesus was the Son of God. So, Jesus could have either literally
seen His disciples straining at rowing, or He could have perceived they were
straining at rowing by observation. Let take a look a few possibilities of how
Jesus could have perceived they were straining at rowing at this time.
Someone might say that Jesus saw their lamp on their boat and observed that it was not moving. On a calm night, a person can see a light from a great distance away, but this was a stormy night, which would make it more difficult to see the small amount of light the first century lamps were capable of producing. Even if He could see the light, it would be difficult to judge whether the boat was having trouble moving forward based on the movement of the light from that far away. Since they were rowing, it means they were traveling at a low speed, which adds to the difficulty of judging their progress from that distance. It is doubtful they would be able to keep their lamp lit during this hard wind they were fighting against. Another factor is the size of their boat.
The boats were probably of a size and
build similar to the few employed on the
This is backed up by archeology:
An ancient fishing boat, dating to the New Testament period, was found in the mud just north of Magdala in 1986. It was 26.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and 4.5 feet deep, and was made of cedar and oak (Nelsons New Illustrated Bible Manners & Customs p. 457).
Since these boats were not that deep, they would be splashed with water multiple times, which adds another difficulty in keeping the lamp lit. Based on this information it does not seem likely that Jesus used their lamp, if they even had one, to perceive they were straining at their rowing.
Since Jesus perceived His
disciples straining at rowing, I believe the most logical way He did this was
by observing the storm and the affect it was having on the water. Just about
anyone could perceive this especially if they had some experience of being on
the water when a storm came through. While this is a possibility based on the
word “saw”, I want to point out that the word “saw” is only used a couple of
times where someone perceives something from observation. Most of time it used
to describe someone literally seeing something. So, I personally would say that
Jesus literally saw them straining at rowing.
If our text is saying the Jesus literally saw them, I
believe He used the same ability He used to
see Nathanael from a long way off (Jn. 1:48). Jesus was not limited to what He
could see with His human eyes. Over and over again we see how He was able to
know what people were thinking before they said anything. He was able to know
about events that would soon take place before they happened. So, it should not
surprise us that He would be able to see His disciples in the middle of a
stormy night straining at their rowing.
Next, Jesus starts
walking on the water toward His disciples at the fourth watch, which is between
3 and 6 A.M. Mark’s account says that Jesus would have kept on walking past His
disciples, but they saw Him and were afraid. At first, they thought He was a
ghost (Mt. 14:26). If you were out in a small boat in a storm and saw someone
walking on the water you might think the same thing.
John 6:20 But He
said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."
Jesus calls out to them
to let them know it is Him. Matthew gives us more information of what happens
at this moment.
Matthew 14:27 But
immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do
not be afraid." 28
And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come
to You on the water." 29
So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he
walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30
But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and
beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" 31 And immediately Jesus stretched
out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little
faith, why did you doubt?" 32
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat
came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."
Here is where Peter’s
character shines through. He is seen many times in Scripture as acting quickly
with good intentions, but many times his faithfulness does not hold out (Mt.
26:35, 69-75; Acts 15:6-11; Gal. 2:11ff). At first, Peter’s faith is strong and
he is able to walk on the sea like Jesus, but he began to notice the wind and
he took his focus off Jesus. This caused him to start to sink, but Jesus was
there to lend him a helping hand as he cried out for the Lord to save him. This
can happen to us when we lose our focus on Jesus. When we allow the world to
distract us, it can cause us to lose our faith and we can sink deep in sin. But
just like Peter, Jesus is ready to lend us a helping hand so we do not become
overwhelmed by the world and our sin.
When Jesus gets into the
boat the storm stops, and His disciples are amazed. They worship Him saying,
“Truly You are the Son of God.” Mark’s account adds the following:
Mark 6:51 Then He
went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly
amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. 52 For they had not understood
about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.
Jesus’ disciples should
have understood that He could override nature when He produced all that bread
and fish from the small amount that was given to Him, but they did not. There
are many instances like these that show how slow Jesus’ disciples were at
perceiving the things He did.
John 6:21 Then
they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the
land where they were going.
When Jesus stepped in the
boat, immediately it was on the other side of the sea where they were going.
This is possibly another miracle since the boat was somewhere around the middle
of the sea (Jn. 6:19) and immediately they traveled around three miles from
where they were to the other side.
Matthew 14:34 When they had crossed over, they came to the
Both Matthew and Mark
teach that they went to Gennesaret, which is the same city identified as
Chinnereth in the Old Testament (Jos. 19:35). The term “
district was a plain extending two kilometers (one mile) from the Sea of
Galilee along a 5 kilometer (three mile) section of
When He arrived the
people recognized Him and spread the word that He was there. Everyone that was
capable came to Him just to touch the hem of His garment. Mark adds that this was
happening everywhere Jesus went. John’s account gives us more information than
John 6:22 On the
following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea
saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had
entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His
disciples had gone away alone -- 23
however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread
after the Lord had given thanks -- 24
when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they
also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
Jesus had managed to get
away from these Jews during the middle of the night. They saw Jesus’ disciples
leave in their boat, which was the only boat there, but they knew Jesus did not
go with them. The next day, they began to look for Jesus but they could not
find Him. That same day some boats came from Tiberias. James Coffman makes the
following observation about these boats: “John's mention of the boats
from Tiberius in this place is a reference to taxi boats which, after the storm
subsided, had gone to Bethsaida Julius in search of fares” (Commentary on John).
This idea is also backed up by the ISBE, “
John 6:25 And
when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him,
"Rabbi, when did You come here?"
Eventually they found Jesus in the Synagogue in
John 6:26 Jesus
answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not
because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were
filled. 27 "Do not labor
for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life,
which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on
These Jews had missed the spiritual message of Jesus’ miracle of the fish and loves. All they could understand was their physical needs had been met, and they were seeking after Jesus to continue to take care of their physical needs. If Jesus wanted to, He could have kept feeding people and increased His following, but He was not interested in huge crowds. He just wanted people who were willing to open their hearts to the truth and understand that He was primarily there to provide for their spiritual needs.
We see this attitude in the religious world and even sometimes in the church today. Some will only go to a place of worship as long as it fulfills their needs. If they do not like the singing or if the preacher steps on their toes one too many times, then they go and find another place to worship. Many today have forgotten that the purpose for worship is to worship God and to be pleasing to Him. If the truth is being taught from the Word of God and it steps on our toes, we should not run away from the message. Instead, we should take it to heart and make a change in our life. As Christians, we have to look at the spiritual benefits and not the physical ones.
When Jesus said “Do not labor for the food which perishes,” He is not saying that we should not work for our physical food because God commands us to (2 Thes. 3:10; Gen. 2:15; 3:17-19). In this statement, He is teaching these Jews that the most important thing in life is not food or material things. Instead, it is taking care of your spiritual needs that lead to everlasting life. Jesus is the one that provides that spiritual food through the Word of God (Mt. 4:4; Job 23:12). He taught His disciples about this kind of spiritual food earlier when He was at the well (Jn. 4:32-34).
When a king would seal a document it showed that the document was authorized by the king and no one could change what it said. It also proved that the document came from the king. In a similar way, the Father put His seal on Jesus because He came from the Father and everything He spoke was authorized by the Father. Nothing can change the truth that Jesus spoke, which is why He is the only way we have access to the Father (Jn. 14:6).
Jesus said that we must labor for that spiritual food that brings about eternal life, which teaches against the false doctrine that we are saved by faith alone (Jas. 2: 17, 22, 24). The works being spoken of in our verse is not talking about works where we earn or deserve something. No, it is talking about obedient works. God has provided us with His Word and His plan of salvation, and we must accept it by obeying what He has told us to do.
John 6:28 Then
they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of
God?" 29 Jesus answered
and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom
Now these Jews know that they must work for that food that brings about eternal salvation, which is why they want to know what they must do to obtain that salvation. Our text clearly shows the difference between the works of God and the works of man. We cannot be justified by the works of man, but the works of God are absolutely necessary.
Some in the religious world claim there is nothing we can do to be saved. These verses teach otherwise. Jesus clearly teaches that believing on Him is a work of God. If there are no works involved in our salvation, then we must conclude that it does not require belief to be saved. However, we know this is false because the Bible teaches over and over again that we must believe to be saved. Paul also refers to the work of our faith in 2 Thessalonians 1:2-3.
Usually the word “believe” or “faith” is used as a
synecdoche. This word means “A figure of speech in which a part is used for the
whole or the whole for a part…” (dictionary.com). In other words, belief and
faith includes everything involved for someone to be saved, which includes
repentance, confessing Jesus as Lord, and water baptism. James makes it clear
that belief alone will not save a person, “You
see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24).
Many in the religious
world who misunderstand the difference between works of merit and works of God
will say that baptism cannot be a part of our salvation because it is a work of
man. However, this is not true.
Colossians 2:11 In Him
you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting
off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in
which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God,
who raised Him from the dead.
When we submit ourselves to water baptism, we are simply obeying God’s command and doing what He said is necessary for our salvation. Paul teaches that when we go down into the watery grave of baptism, it is by our faith in the working of God that we are being buried with Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Col. 2:13; Acts 2:38; 22:16). So, what happens to us at baptism is a work of God and not a work of man or a work of merit. Just as faith is a work of God, so is baptism.
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
Moses as the one who 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 (Jn. 10:10). 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 that does the works of God. Similar
to the woman at the well in John 4, they say, "Lord, give us this bread
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. 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
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. As we have already discussed,
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 thirty 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 that 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.
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
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
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. 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. 46 "Not that anyone has seen
the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.
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 that will be saved and will not draw those
that are destined to be lost. However, this is not true because we have a free
will to choose whom we will serve (Jos. 24:15) and to accept God’s salvation
(Rev. 22:17). God does not force us to be a Christian, nor does He show
partiality by saving one and condemning another (Rom. 2:11).
The next verse 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 (2 Thes.
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."
Once again, 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 feed 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
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 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 think our verses in John 6 are referring to the Lord’s Supper. When
their priest bless the bread and the fruit of the vine, they teach that they literally
become the flesh and blood of Jesus.
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 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 Christian 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 it since Jesus is telling
us to keep His commandments.
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
Jesus did not waver on
what He taught or try to make it work so He did not offend anyone. He simple
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 saying and 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 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 Jesus. 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 that 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, I lean toward the idea that 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 bring about the preservation of the Jews (Gen. 50:20).