Are We Willing to be Trained?
Discipleship Lesson #03
August 5, 2018
“Our Father, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You for the power of Your Word, we thank You for the reality of Your Word, that it is the mind of Christ; it reflects the very thinking of the Godhead.
“It has been revealed, it has been breathed out by the Holy Spirit into the minds of the writers of Scripture that they wrote that which had eternal power and that which had absolute perfection and inerrancy and infallibility.
“That it is Your Word that instructs us, that encourages us, that rebukes us and corrects us, and sustains us.
“Father, we thank You for Your Word, and we pray that at this time as we reflect upon what You have taught in Your Word about being a disciple will be taken by God the Holy Spirit and will challenge us with our focus and our desires, and that we might be willing to be true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“We pray this in His name. Amen.”
We have been studying for the last two Sundays what Jesus taught about being a disciple. After all, at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told His disciples that as they were going, they were to make disciples. This is the summary of His commands to His disciples before His ascension.
They were to make disciples by baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and by teaching everything that He had taught, teaching to obey everything that He had taught.
How do you make disciples? By baptizing, which summarized all of that which was taught in terms of the gospel that culminated in belief in Jesus as Savior, and then teaching, giving instruction. That’s the focal point of the command.
We looked at that; we are looking at the main idea of discipleship because this verb is only used four times: Three times in Matthew—only two of the three really relate to being a disciple, the other talks about just being taught—and then in the Book of Acts.
The noun is primarily used of the Twelve, the disciples who are called by Jesus specifically to form His inner circle. But the word was also used of those who were the students or the pupils of John the Baptist, as well as those were the followers and the students of the Pharisees and a few times in just sort of a generic sense.
The word “disciple” has been taken by many in our generation, as a result of various ministries that occurred in the early-to-mid 20th century, as sort of the be-all end-all word that covers everything. Rarely is it explained, rarely is it understood, but it’s never used in the epistles, not once.
You don’t have the command there; you don’t have the noun used in the epistles at all. But the concept is there, because the primary word that is used is to teach, to instruct, to admonish through the instruction of the Word of God, and to train and to equip believers through the Word of God. That is the concept of discipleship.
We have looked at understanding the word; we have talked about what it meant and the different kinds of disciples:
- First, those who are called, but do not believe.
The word “disciple” is not a synonym for someone who is a Christian or a believer. It simply means someone who is a student. They were those who came along to listen to what Jesus said and were mostly curious, but they did not become believers.
- Second, some became believers, but they did not advance much beyond just simple faith in Christ or salvation.
You have those who are called but not do not believe, those who are called and do believe.
- Third, those who were called and they follow intermittently.
They are involved to some degree, but they are not really committed. They won’t go the distance.
- Fourth, those who are called, become believers, and become convinced of the truth, but after a while they just become comfortable.
This happens to numerous believers. They get to a stage where they think, “Oh, I have reached a level of maturity. Things are going pretty well,” and they began to coast. And usually this leads to some sort of disaster and divine discipline.
- Fifth, those who are committed and they produce various degrees of fruit.
We saw last time that the key phrase that Jesus uses has to do with an invitation to follow Him. He uses terms like “Come to Me.” John 7:37, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” This term refers in this passage to their coming to salvation, to trust in Him.
Here we see something interesting and important: Jesus uses different metaphors to illustrate what it means to believe on Him. In this one, it is the idea that He is the One who slakes our thirst, and we are to drink. Drinking from Jesus is equivalent in context to believing in Him, to trust in Him.
One of the greatest illustrations of what it means to believe is taken from an Old Testament event. The Israelites were in the wilderness, they’d been grumbling and complaining all the time (I know nobody here ever grumbles and complains about God). They were grumbling and complaining about God’s lack of provision, so God disciplined them.
They were in an area where suddenly they were infested with poisonous vipers and they were being bitten; it’s a burning bite, and they were dying left and right, as God was disciplining the nation.
Moses pleads with God to deliver them and God says, “Here’s what you do: make a bronze cast of the serpent, and put it up on a post like a cross. And if people just look at it, they will be healed.” They don’t have to be committed to it; they don’t have to continue to look at it. If they just glanced at it, that’s enough.
Faith in Christ is like a mustard seed. You just have to believe. Once you trust in Christ—and God knows if you’re trusting in Christ or something else. He knows what your mental attitude is, what you understand, and whether you trust Christ or trust something else.
But in that instant, in just a blink of an eye, as you look at Jesus for salvation, from that moment on you become a new creature in Christ, and you are saved. No matter what else you do, no matter how you fail, no matter what your sins are, that’s grace. It’s just a free gift. It’s not dependent upon anything that we do. And that is another illustration of what faith is.
The illustration of eating and drinking is also the idea of accepting something into yourself. It’s synonymous with the idea of receiving. John 1:12, “As many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God.”
You have these illustrations of looking, of eating, of drinking, you have the words “receiving” or “accepting,” and they are all used to describe what it means to simply trust in Christ for salvation.
Beyond that, there is the invitation to come to Jesus. John 5:40, “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” Some rejected Him. So coming to Him in some contexts relates to believing in Him.
In other contexts it relates to going beyond that and following Him, as Jesus said to His disciples, Mark 1:17, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
Prior to this episode in Mark 1, we’re introduced to John and Andrew and Peter and Nathanael in John 1, and they become believers in Jesus as Messiah.
But then there’s a second invitation when He calls them to follow Him when they’re fishing on the Sea of Galilee. “… they forsook all their boats—Luke 5:11 tells us—and they followed Him.”
In Mark 8:34, Jesus puts it this way, and this He is saying to those who are disciples, “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also …” They’re already believers. “… Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
He’s talking to those who are believers already and taking them to another level in terms of their spiritual growth. In Luke 9:23, He reiterates that same idea, “… If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
We will be talking about what that exactly means as we go forward.
I’m not going to go verse by verse through John 6; that would take us three or four Sundays at least. We’re looking at the episode here: to come to understand how that relates to becoming a disciple; to moving forward; to moving from that stage of simply being curious; to simply being interested; to being merely a believer; to moving to that sense of being convinced of Jesus as the Messiah on the way to being committed to following Him.
In John 6, this event takes place in the second part of Jesus’ life. Remember when we went through Matthew, I said in all of the Gospels there’s this initial introduction of Jesus as the Messiah. Then there is the initial stage that takes place when He, like John the Baptist, is announcing the Kingdom of God and He is saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”
Then it reaches a crisis point because of the conflict with the Pharisees and the Pharisees reject him as a false Christ. They reject Him as Messiah. He identifies that as the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and announces a judgment on their generation. That’s described in Matthew 12, but each of the Gospels has this turning point.
In the second half of His ministry or the second part of His ministry, He is primarily teaching and instructing the disciples to prepare them for their future roles and responsibilities as apostles. So much of what we see from Matthew 13–28 is designed to teach and challenge the disciples in their spiritual life and their spiritual walk.
We see in John 6 that they are being trained. Much of what went on during that period of Jesus’ ministry is related to the training of the disciples.
- Part of what we must come to grips with is, are we willing to be trained to be a disciple?
- Are we willing to submit to the authority of God and to be trained to be a disciple?
All of us have been given this mandate to make disciples.
Maybe you’re a mom or dad, and you can make disciples of your children. Maybe you’re a grandparent, same thing, you have your grandchildren that you can teach and influence. Maybe you have other spheres where you can have that kind of an impact on other people, and you can even do it secondarily as you invite and encourage people to come to church where they can learn what the Scripture says, which is the power for the spiritual life.
John 6:1-3, “After these things—described in the previous chapter—that Jesus went over to the Sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberius. Then a great multitude followed Him because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.”
It’s interesting about this crowd is that they’re not as interested in His teaching as they are in getting healed. They’re focusing on the fluff and not the content of His ministry. They’re focusing on getting these personal, superficial—of course, I don’t mean superficial in a sense it is not important to be healed—but they’re missing the main point. They just want to have their problem solved immediately without necessarily understanding who the Messiah is and what Jesus is truly offering.
This is an enormous crowd. We find the same kind of thing today in enormous mega-churches. You have a lot of people who are coming because they are simply curious, but they are not believers. Or, if they are believers, they’re really not convinced of the truth of Christianity and they’re not committed to being biblical disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is a huge crowd because we’re told when Jesus feeds them that He feeds 5,000 men. But this crowd wasn’t made up of just men. There were women and children there, so it’s very possible this crowd was as large as 20,000 or so.
He uses this occasion to test the disciples; He is training them. That’s what the Lord does in our life. He is teaching us and He trains us through the tests that He takes us through.
Each test is an opportunity for us to choose to respond to the circumstances on the basis of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, or to do it in our own power and our own effort.
Jesus is going to use this to teach them and as He does so, He’s going to run into some conflicts with the Pharisees.
What He is teaching here is the basic lesson that we need to, as disciples; trust in God to provide our needs. The background for this whole episode goes back to the Old Testament.
You have to understand the Old Testament to really appreciate and understand the New Testament. As Jesus goes through this episode He is talking about bread, which is important in several of His discourses.
It’s on the background of understanding the Passover and understanding the Exodus; as Israel was wandering in the wilderness God provided manna from heaven.
It was the same thing every morning, day in and day out: manna, manna, manna. It was great initially, but after you’ve had manna every morning for breakfast for six or eight months, it would start getting a bit tiring. So they grumbled and complained and that is the background here.
What God was teaching the Israelites in the wilderness is the same thing He’s teaching here, and that is that God is the One who supplies our needs. He will sustain us, and He will provide for us, and we need to learn to trust Him.
In our natural life we may have great physical assets, we may have wealth, we may have brains, we may have great education, and we may have great experience.
Too many of us think we can get through life and overcome challenges simply because of the talent or the treasure that God has truly given us, but we are ignoring the fact that God is the One who has given that to us.
Often we run into people who have great jobs, they have great careers, they have great incomes, nice homes, reliable cars, wonderful kids, and they think that they got that because of their talent, their education, or their effort.
The reality is first of all, our talent or our effort, even our training, all comes from God. Everything that we have comes from God: the jobs that we have, the cars we drive, the houses we have. Ultimately, even though we worked and earned the money for that, the ability to work and the job that we have is the result of God’s grace.
He is the one who supplies us with the air that we breathe and the food that we eat, the water that we drink, and the knowledge and the ability to do the jobs that we have that supply the finances that bring food to our table. Ultimately it is God!
Paul says in Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
The lesson that we’re going to learn here and that the disciples learned is if we want to be a disciple, then we must learn to walk in dependence upon God exclusively. This is the lesson Jesus continually teaches His disciples during this particular stage.
At this time in His ministry He fed the 4,000, then He fed the 5,000. We just have time to look at one in this chapter as the example. We’re reminded that bread often represents God’s ability to supply our needs, to spiritually nourish His people, and to physically provide for His people. Jesus is driving this point home.
In the Old Testament, Moses reminded the Exodus generation and their children as they were about to enter into enter into Canaan, the Promised Land. The Exodus generation actually had all died off with the exception of Caleb and Joshua.
As they were about to enter into the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of what transpired as they were growing up and they experienced this with their parents.
Deuteronomy 8:3, “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds in the mouth of the LORD.”
Spiritual sustenance must be more important to us than physical sustenance. So much so that Jesus quotes this in response to one of the temptations of Satan, Matthew 4:4, that “… Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
If we want to be a disciple, we must rearrange our priorities so that our spiritual sustenance, our spiritual nourishment, takes priority over our physical nourishment. That is part of what Jesus is teaching in the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000.
We see here that God’s grace is sufficient for us. It is so important to understand that in this miracle God not only feeds all of the 5,000, but there’s a lot of food left over. We talk about this term, the sufficiency of God’s grace, and often we think that means it’s barely enough. Sometimes it’s just enough, but it’s enough!
The manna was just enough. They got a certain amount of manna every morning and they weren’t to keep any for the next day. They lived day by day, and God gave them enough for the day and no more. But here, God gives them more than enough. And there are baskets of food that are left over. God is the One who can abundantly provide for our needs.
John 6:4, John inserts a time indicator here, “Now the Passover of the Jews was near.” Why in the world would he say that?
First of all, it’s a reminder of the Exodus. The Passover was a remembrance of what happened at the Exodus.
Secondly, the day of Passover is followed by the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and then there are seven days where you cannot eat leavened bread.
They observe this every year in Israel, and you can’t buy leavened bread anywhere but at an Arab grocery store, and you can’t get leavened bread anywhere except at an Arab restaurant. Especially for Jews that are not all that observant, they get really tired of eating unleavened bread, and they start looking for those Arab restaurants in Israel.
I’ve been there at that time and understand what that’s about because by the time you get to the fifth or sixth day, you start getting tired of the unleavened bread. But the focal point in everybody’s mind after about four or five days is bread. “I just want have some bread.”
Because you know what it’s like, as soon as you’re told you can’t have something, you want it! So they want that, so everybody’s thinking about bread. That’s the focus of this whole discourse here, this whole episode in John 6, is to focus upon the ultimate antitype or the focal point of the bread as a picture, and that is Jesus who is the Bread of Life.
Jesus is the One who reminds them that being a disciple is more than just being saved, it is seeking that rich full life that Jesus comes to offer.
In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The first statement “that they may have life,” that’s the gospel. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will have eternal life.”
The next issue for each person is: are you going to pursue the abundant life? Are you willing to be a disciple and to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Here Jesus is going to give them an object lesson, as He provides food for the masses, that God’s grace is more than sufficient.
John 6:5, “Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing this great multitude—15,000 to 20,000 people—and He said to Philip, ‘where shall we buy bread that these may eat?’ ” But it’s a trick question; He said this to test him.
The issue is, are we going to respond to these tests the way we should by focusing on God’s provision, or by trying to handle it from our own energy, our own efforts, our own education, our own background, our own strength?
Jesus is going to teach them to depend upon God’s resources.
In John 6:8-9, “One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him. ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are that among so many?’ ”
That’s not going to stretch, and what he’s describing is that these people have been here all day. They’re hungry, they’re getting grouchy and grumpy just like everybody does, and all we’ve got is five barley loaves—a barley loaf was pretty small—and two small fish. This is hopeless, Jesus!
That’s how we are many times. We hit some situations in life and we just think it’s absolutely hopeless. And it is in the flesh; it is hopeless in our power. We don’t have the education, the money or the resources to overcome it. We have to learn to trust in the Lord. In every situation, we should trust in the Lord and never trust in ourselves.
In the Gospel of Mark He says that they only had 200 denarii, which was basically the pay of common labor earned in a period of about eight months. It’s not a lot, and it’s not going to feed 15,000 to 20,000 people.
We see here the same lesson that God taught all the way through the Old Testament. He teaches all of the great heroes of the Old Testament the same thing, and that is that they have to learn to trust exclusively in God’s resources in order to be provided for.
He did that with Moses, He did with Gideon, and He did it with David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. God is the only true source. If we can’t learn that, we can’t get past first base on the path to being a disciple. We have to be willing to be trained.
The point of this story we learn is that God’s grace was more than sufficient. He can provide everything. It’s not a hopeless situation when we look at it from God’s perspective. When they were filled, when everybody had eaten to the point that they’re uncomfortable, Jesus tells the disciple to gather up all the fragments.
In John 6:13-14, “… they gathered up 12 baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 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.’ ”
Now they’re identifying Him as the Messiah.
In Deuteronomy 18:15, “A prophet will come after me who is greater than me.” It’s a Messianic prophecy, and they’re identifying Jesus with that Messianic prophet announced by Moses.
Many are becoming believers. Some disciples were there, but they’re not believers—the curious, but not believers. Others are curious and they became believers because of this sign of Jesus’ miracle.
Then Jesus began to teach the disciples something else and He teaches a few things to the crowd.
In John 6:26, we see that the crowd then, like many of the multitudes today, would rather be on some sort of socialistic welfare system and have everything given to them than to have to go through the process of responsibility and labor spiritually to grow and mature as believers.
Later, in John 6:26 they’ve been looking for Him, and He comes back the next day, and they’re all following after Him and Jesus says, “… 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.”
“You’re just following Me because I’m going to give you a hand out.” You’re just a good American because the American government is feeding you. This is one of the great passages against a welfare system.
In John 6:27, “Do not labor for the food which perishes—in other words, don’t put your focus on putting all of your energy in taking care of your material needs, pursuing the details of life in your own effort—but labor for the food which endures to eternal life.”
That’s the next issue that has to develop in the life of the disciple. You have to decide if you’re willing to be trained, and in the process of being trained we have to reorganize our priorities. We have to recognize that all of our efforts in this life impact eternity.
Now, are we putting forth all of our efforts to feed ourselves, enjoy this life and have a great time to the exclusion of our walk with the Lord and the eternal consequences through our spiritual development?
Or, are we willing to reorganize our time, reorganize our priorities so that our efforts, our labor today is focused on that which endures to everlasting life?
That’s the issue for a disciple:
- How do we spend our time?
- How do we manage our time?
- How do we spend our money?
- How do we manage our money?
- How do we handle the resources that God has given us?
The crowd doesn’t really like that option, John 6:28-29, “Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’ ”
This is essentially the gospel. He is still talking to the unbelievers in this crowd: that they need to believe. That’s the issue. All through John, 95 times the Apostle John states that we are to believe in Him. John 20:31, “These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.”
That’s the gospel. It’s not believe and change, because if you believe, later it is up to you as to whether or not you will grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and change. You can’t change yourself. Salvation is just believe. It’s not repent and believe, it’s just believe.
Most Christians think that if you’re going to have somebody, an unbeliever, read any of the Gospels, then the one they should read is the Gospel of John. 95 times John said the issue is believe. Not one time does he say the word “repent.”
It’s just believe, believe, believe, believe! Because that is the issue: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. John 6:29, Jesus tells them that the issue is, “… that you believe in Him Whom He sent.”
In John 6:30, they respond and they say to Him, “What sign will you perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?”
HELLO! You just saw Me feed 5,000 people—5,000 men plus all the others from a few loaves and fish. What are you going to do? Notice their response. They go back to the Exodus as well, John 6:31, “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread to eat.”
Jesus says, John 6:32, “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.”
The manna was bread from Heaven, but it was designed to look forward to that true bread from Heaven, which is Jesus, and He then says of Himself, John 6:33, “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven.”
That is Jesus. He descended from Heaven and gives life to the world. Bread is necessary for nourishment and for living.
In John 6:34, “Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ ” We want to be on the free welfare line for the rest of our lives.
They don’t understand who He is yet. These are the unbelievers speaking in the crowd. They just don’t get it. Jesus again states it very clearly this time, John 6:35, “I am the bread of life.”
This is one of the seven great “I Am” statements in the Gospel of John where Jesus is affirming that He is God. “I Am” is the name of God, Exodus 4:19. The name of God is “I Am,” Yahweh.
In John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
Notice He doesn’t say, “He who repents and believes in Me.” That was the message for the kingdom: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” but He’s talking now about salvation.
John 6:35-36, “… he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.”
A number of them have believed. They recognize He is a prophet, but now He’s speaking to those who have not believed.
John 6:40, “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.”
That’s the gospel. If you believe in Me, then you will be resurrected. For us in the Church Age at the Rapture, and those who are Old Testament saints at the end of the Tribulation.
John 6:47, He said, again echoing that same thought, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.”
He makes it very clear what He is claiming, that He is the Messiah. That is a reference to Him, that He is the One on whom they should believe.
He then goes on and describes this a little more. John 6:51, “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.”
Now He’s beginning to get into the symbolic representation of His flesh and He’s going to talk in this metaphorical way, which is going to be confusing to many people.
This is the same kind of thing Jesus did after the Pharisees rejected Him. Remember in Matthew 13 He began to teach in parables, so that they couldn’t understand what He’s really talking about. He was cloaking the truth, because they’d already rejected it, and He was teaching in parables, and then explaining that to His disciples.
It’s the same thing here. He’s using these metaphors and they don’t get it because they’re not positive to His message.
In John 6:51, “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.”
He’s talking about His substitutionary death on the Cross. That’s His body, His person. The unleavened bread in the Lord’s Table later illustrates this. Jesus took that unleavened bread, the matzah in the Passover meal, and He said, “This is My body which is given as a substitute for you.”
He’s talking about Himself, and to eat and to drink is the idea of receiving or accepting something into yourself. Anybody can eat, anybody can drink, anybody can believe. You just take it, receive it, and accept it into yourself.
This causes a problem for the Jews. John 6:52, “The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves …”
When he talks about the Jews, he’s talking about the Jewish religious leaders. John always refers to them as “the Jews.” John is Jewish. This isn’t an anti-Semitic thing where He’s singling out something about the Jews. He always uses that phrase to refer to the Jewish leaders.
In John 6:52, “The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us His flesh to eat?’ ”
They just didn’t understand. He was talking in terms of this metaphorical symbol.
In John 6:53, “Then Jesus says 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.’ ”
He is saying that unless you understand His role as the Son of Man, that He is the God-man. He uses the term “Son of man” which goes back to Daniel 7 where it emphasizes the One who would come to deliver Israel and set up His Kingdom.
He says unless you accept this and drink His blood, it’s the same thing: the blood stands for His death. It’s the understanding and believing in His substitutionary death on the Cross. Unless you believe, He’s saying, there’s no life in you.
John 6:54, “ ‘Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life ...’ ”
He is saying, in context, understanding the metaphor, “whoever believes in My substitutionary death on the Cross has eternal life.”
“ ‘… and I will raise him on the last day.’ ”
We can go back and compare this to what He said earlier, “Whoever believes Me, I will raise up on the last day.”
Believing in Him is equivalent to “eating My flesh and drinking My blood.”
In John 6:55-56, “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”
He is moving to another level here. He is moving beyond belief in Christ for eternal life. “Abiding in Him,” in Jesus’ terminology, is always related to fellowship and post-salvation, nourishment and growth.
Here He is talking about this continual feeding on Him through the Word: that that is necessary to grow. Later He will say, “If you abide in My Word, you are My disciples indeed.” That’s what He’s talking about here. Feeding on the Word to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ
John 6:61, “When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this …”
See, they’re all the same: we don’t understand this. Drinking your blood? Eating your flesh? They’re taking it literally when He’s speaking metaphorically, and everybody’s confused, and they’re saying this is really difficult.
“When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to then, ‘Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that speak to you are spirit, and they are life.’ ”
The point that He is making here, do you really want to pursue life? He states it again in John 10:10, “I came to give life and to give it abundantly.” Do you want abundant life? Do you want the rich, full life that I’m going to give you?
Not just simple life everlasting—that you won’t go to the Lake of Fire, you’ll go to Heaven forever and ever—but a rich, full life in this life that no matter how bad things are, no matter what challenges you face, you’re going to rise above it experiencing My joy, in stability and contentment, rejoicing because you’re fulfilling the mission that God has for you. That’s the point that He is making here.
John 6:63, “ ‘It is the spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.’ ”
Think about that. The words of Jesus: that is, the words of the Bible. That’s why we need to study the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is alive and powerful. It’s not the stories that people tell in churches; it’s the Word of God.
It’s the message of the truth of the Scripture: understanding what God has revealed to us in His Word, because that comes from the Holy Spirit and that is the source of life. If you don’t know the Word, you won’t have this kind of life. We have to know the Word of God.
In John 6:64, “ ‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ ” Who is He talking to? He is talking to the Twelve, and He’s singling one person out right here. This is a great verse to understand that Judas wasn’t saved.
“ ‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe—that’s a plural—who they were who did not believe—and then He says—and who would betray Him.”
That is a singular noun indicating a single person who would betray Him, and the context clearly means the one who betrayed Him didn’t believe in Him. Judas isn’t a believer; it’s very clear.
In John 6:66, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”
Were they believers? Some of them were, because a disciple and a believer aren’t the same thing. There are believers who understand that Jesus died on the Cross for them, but they’re not willing to be convinced of His Messiahship, to be convinced of His authority in their life, and they’re not going to walk with Him.
They’re glad they’re going to go to Heaven for eternity, but Jesus demands a little bit too much. I’m more concerned with living my life and experiencing all the good things that this life has, and I’m not going to get caught up in this kind of religious fanaticism and focus on learning the Bible and making that the important central point of my life. So there were many disciples that didn’t walk with him anymore.
The application from this is, the more a church teaches biblical truth, the fewer people will come to hear it. There have been exceptions historically, but the reality is the more a church teaches about discipleship and growing in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and teaching people and inculcating into people the Word of God so that they can be mature believers, the fewer people will come because they just want to make sure they don’t go to the bad place, and they do go to the good place and that’s it, and after that I’m just going to have a good time.
In John 6:67, Jesus then turns to the Twelve and He says, “Everybody else is gone. Why are you guys still here? You guys want to go away?” See, this is the question for you in terms of “do you want to be a disciple?”
In John 6:68, Peter focuses on the issue, “ ‘… Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ ”
Nobody else is going to teach us reality. Nobody else is going to teach us how to handle the issues of life because You have life. You have abundant life. You’re offering us “abundant” like no one else is doing it. There’s no place else to get it. Everything else is superficial. You are the only One that has the words of life. Where should we go?
In John 6:69. “ ‘Also we have come to believe and know that you are the Christ—the Messiah—the Son of the living God.’ ”
If you believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God, where else is there to go? What else is there to spend your life and time on than learning about Jesus and how to serve Him and serve the Lord in this life?
This is what Jesus promised back to John 10:10, “ ‘The thief does not come except to steal and kill and to destroy. I have come to give life …’ ”
Many of you have already accepted that free gift of eternal life, but the issue before us every single day—for me, for you, every one of us, when we wake up in the morning—
- Am I going to live today for me or am I going to live today for the Lord?
- What am I going to do?
- Am I going to live today for my sin nature?
- Am I going to live today to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, and to walk by the Holy Spirit?”
Because only when we live life God’s way, do we have abundant life. We learn in all of this what they learned in the lesson of the feeding of the 5,000 and the lesson of the feeding of the 4,000: that God’s grace is sufficient, no matter what it costs.
People think, “Well, if I do what you say, then I will lose my job. If I take time away from working 60, 70 hours a week, not spending any time on my spiritual life, then I will lose my job. I’m not going to be able to pay the bills; I’ll have all these other problems.”
But we have to understand that God’s grace is sufficient. That’s what He’s teaching the disciples. If we’re not willing to be trained and to learn that God’s grace is sufficient, then we’re never going to grow out of spiritual diapers.
This is what God taught Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul was trained, as we all are, through the tests, through the suffering that he went through, because it’s then that we learn about the grace of God and its sufficiency in our lives.
The question we have to ask ourselves every day, “Am I willing to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ?”
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study, to be challenged, to understand what the Lord was doing with His disciples in training them, and that He wants to do the same thing with us. That depends on our volition: are we willing to be trained? Are we willing to be challenged? Are we willing to reorganize our priorities, restructure our lives that You are at the center of it?
“That we can grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. That we can press forward in our walk by the Holy Spirit, that we cannot be satisfied and comfortable with where we are, that we want to go to the next level, constantly challenging ourselves to learn, to grow, to study Your Word, and to apply it consistently in our lives.
“Father, we pray that if there’s anyone who’s listening today, who’s here today, listening online, or at some other time that if they’re not sure of their eternal destiny, if they have recognized that they have depended on works, on their own effort to get into Heaven, that they would understand the gospel, that it’s a free gift, and all we have to do is accept it.
“We accept it by believing that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins as our substitute: He paid the penalty; that by believing in Him we may have life everlasting. Then by walking with Him afterward we may realize the abundant rich life that You have for us.
“Father, we pray that You would make the gospel clear to those who need to hear it. And for the rest of us, that we would clearly understand the challenge before us, as we need to be disciples, and to truly represent You in this life, and to serve You.
“We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.”