Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Scripture References

Scripture references on this site can be viewed by hovering your mouse cursor over the reference to see a pop-up window with the verse displayed. If you wish to use a different version of the Bible, you can make that selection below.

 

Bible Options

 

If you have Logos Bible Study Software installed, you can check Libronix to bring the scripture reference up in Logos.

John 6:26-58 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:58 mins 57 secs

Hebrews Lesson 133  August 21, 2008 

 

NKJ Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

 

It seems like this summer for one reason or another we've had several things that have interfered on Thursday night. Hopefully that won't continue much longer. But, the last couple of weeks we had the plumbing situation. Last Thursday night (the week before), I was away on vacation. So it was actually 3 weeks ago that we had our last lesson in Hebrews. 

 

We're in Hebrews 9, but actually we're doing background work on the Tabernacle so that when we get into the details of Hebrews 9 we can come to it just as a first century Jew would come to any information about the Tabernacle with a full understanding of what was going on from an Old Testament perspective. 

 

We've gone through the Tabernacle from the entryway into the courtyard. We looked at the first piece of furniture, the brazen altar, and the events that would take place there. So we looked at the 5 different types of sacrifices and the different things that would go on at the brazen altar - the ritual there, that it primarily depicted the substitutionary atonement. That is a picture of Christ as our substitute. This is such a fundamental doctrine to understand the work of Christ. 

 

It's amazing today to me to see how things that were at least within evangelicalism 40 or 50 years ago were not really debated. You had debates over the extent of the atonement. That's gone on for centuries. But debates over the nature of the atonement within Protestantism have not been really much of an issue. You've had various views that have come up within the Arminian camp. You had the Grodian or governmental view that came up. He was one of the Dutch Arminians in the early 17th century in the first real defining conflict between Calvinism on the one hand (high Calvinism) and Arminianism. The Grodian view was the idea that Christ isn't dying as a substitute or paying the penalty for sin; He is simply showing and bearing the wrath of God to show how much God hates sin and that sin has no place in the government or administration of God. That view got picked up by few different so-called evangelical groups down through the years but did not have a lot of play. 

 

Then two weeks ago (I guess it was) when I took a couple of days off for vacation, sort of a busman's holiday in some ways I guess because I went to Dallas and whenever you go to Dallas if you're a graduate of Dallas Seminary you have to go and genuflect at the Dallas Seminary Bookstore. You know your wallet genuflects as well as does the bank account. I was looking. I like to go there because you see all kinds of books that you don't even know exist – tremendous - some good; some not so good. I ran across a book that was titled Four Views of the Nature of the Atonement - not four views on the extent to the atonement but on the nature of the atonement - four different views within contemporary evangelicalism. I didn't even take the time or waste the time to pick it up and buy it. I don't want to get distracted reading something like that, but it just shows how what once was a fairly good bastion of conservative biblical - and I'm going to use the term a little bit loosely not in terms of a strict inspiration and inerrancy view but just within the camp of those that would be part of who what's called the Evangelical Theological Society - there was still an agreement of the basic nature of the atonement as being substitutionary. There might be one other competing view, but that was by far the dominant view. But that's breaking down. The more we get the church as a whole, the visible church, and the leadership in the visible church to get away from the text of Scripture especially with the influence of emergent theologies – with the emergent church. They go back to these aberrant views of the atonement. 

 

It amazed me this last year when we were on Monday night with the history of doctrine class. We went through the study of the atonement. I realized that it wasn't until the 10th century - a thousand years after or 900 years after Christ. It wasn't until then that you had a clear, concise articulation of substitutionary atonement with Anselm and his work Cur Deis Homo (Why the God-Man). People believed in substitutionary atonement until then; but it wasn't systematized and articulated clearly for almost a 1,000 years. 

 

One of the theses that Arnold Fruchtenbaum has set forth in his study on the Life of Christ from a Jewish Perspective is that once you had this clear break between Jewish believers and Gentile believes in the 2nd century, they lost the connection and understanding to the Old Testament. It you studied these Old Testament sacrifices you clearly understand the concept of substitution. That's what's depicted there. But that got lost and muddied and confused. But, that's the primary thing that you see at the brazen altar. Plus, you see fellowship, the peace offering, which is really a shared communal meal. That is very important there. 

 

Then there's the laver which depicts ongoing cleansing after salvation (the Old Testament version or ritual version of I John 1:9) and then the entry into the holy place pointing out that there were three different pieces of furniture inside of the holy place. Here we have an artist's depiction of what it looked like - what the Tabernacle looked like with the Shekinah glory with the cloud hovering over the inner Tabernacle, the holy place itself, the smoke ascending from the burnt offerings. Then we see the inner part of the holy place itself with the golden menorah (the golden lampstand) on the left, the altar of incense up against the veil and then the table of showbread on the right. This was our focal point in the last lesson and this one. 

 

What I've been trying to do in each of these lessons is point out the significance of the furniture itself in the Old Testament and within Jewish ritual and then tie it together historically up into the New Testament and how each of these elements depicts something related to the person or the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the lampstand depicted Jesus from John as the light of the world so the table of showbread (the unleavened bread) depicts Jesus Christ as the bread of life. 

 

So last time this was as far as we got. We went through the various names related to the table of showbread. Primarily it refers to the bread of the presence.  It is bread before the presence of God or bread before the face of God. Of course, God is dwelling on the Mercy Seat between the cherubs on the Ark of the Covenant. We looked at the description of the table in Leviticus 24:5-9. We looked at the physical design of the table itself - the fact that it was made with acacia wood, which was an impermeable wood that showed little signs of corruptibility, which depicted the impeccability of Christ. The gold depicts His deity. So the two together depict the union of His humanity and deity. The design of the table is given in Exodus 25:23f. 

 

Then we looked at the symbolism of the table – the impeccability in terms of the humanity of Christ, the undiminished deity of Christ and then how this depicted the hypostatic union. We had a definition for the hypostatic union to remind us of its significance.

 

That the term hypostatic union describes the person of the incarnate Christ as the union of two natures (two hupostases) divine and human in the one person of Jesus Christ. These two natures are inseparably united without loss or mixture of separate identities. 

 

In the incarnation He didn't lose any aspects of His deity. It doesn't diminish any aspects of His humanity. 

 

The union is without loss or transfer of property or attributes. 

 

There is no mixing of the attributes between the two. 

 

The union is both personal and eternal. 

 

A million years from now Jesus Christ will still be in hypostatic union. 

 

Jesus is undiminished deity and true humanity united in one person forever.  John 1:14, Hebrews 1:2-3, and I John 4:2. 

 

So we went through all of these different aspects of the doctrine. We looked at the Doctrine of the Showbread itself that the bread was unleavened indicating without sin. That depicts the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The bread is used symbolically in the Old Testament to depict the supply and provision of God for that which sustains life. God is the source of life and God is the one who gives us real life. This is emphasized in Deuteronomy 8:3 as quoted in Luke 4:4.

 

NKJ Luke 4:4 But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.' "

 

So bread represents spiritual nourishment. The baking of the bread depicts the judgment of sin imputed to Jesus Christ (His bearing our sin in His body on the cross). The frankincense that was sprinkled on the loaves depicted the value of Christ's life. The offering of the bread in the Tabernacle depicts grace-oriented, freewill giving. Then the eating of the bread depicts the importance of our fellowship with God. 

 

Whenever you have bread (any kind of food; you have food, eating or table - any of these elements) - of course this is a great background for understanding the Lord's Table), it depicts fellowship with God. It is a picture of people sitting down together eating and having fellowship around the table. So the idea of fellowship is always part of the imagery related to bread.

 

Then we looked at a couple of incidences in the Old Testament – one in particular in I Samuel 21:5-6 where David is on the run from Saul and he goes to the Tabernacle and Abimelech the High Priest gives him some of the bread from the table of showbread to eat indicating that his grace orientation and the provision for David. This is used by the Lord Jesus Christ when the Pharisees challenge Him as to why He allowed His disciples to go through the grain fields on the Sabbath and to pluck the heads of the grain and eat them. He uses this same incident from I Samuel.

 

NKJ Matthew 12:3 But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him:

 

NKJ Matthew 12:4 "how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?

 

So the picture here and the point that Jesus is making is that there is room for grace and utilization of different things within the law. It's not to be used as the Pharisees used it. 

 

Now that covered the Old Testament background for the table of showbread. This imagery of the bread is then picked up by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 6. So I want you to open your Bibles to John 6 and we will pick up and do a little background on this. Actually the key verses begin down around verse 22.  Verse 22 begins:

 

NKJ 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 --

 

Well, what happened on the preceding day sets the stage for what is going to be taught in the last half of the chapter. This is an extremely important chapter to understand a number of different aspects of Christ's ministry and so I want to spend a little time just setting the stage going back to the beginning of chapter 6. 

 

Chapter 6:1 begins:

 

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

 

Now I want to give you just a little bit of an overview here as to what this looks like. 

 

Here's a map of the Sea of Galilee. Actually it's not a sea. That's a bad English translation. It's not a sea. It's a lake. The Greek word that is translated "sea" can mean sea or lake. Sea is saltwater; lake is fresh water. It's the Lake of Galilee or the Lake of Kenneret. Here you see the Sea of Galilee itself.  Down here to the southeast shore you have the town of Tiberias. Then as you go up the shoreline several miles you come to the village of Magdela which is where Mary is from Mary from Magdela or the Mary the Magdalene.

 

Then you continue to come up around the northwest shore and you come to the village of Capernaum. Capernaum is where Peter lived. This is where Jesus had a home and many of His miracles and His teaching took place in and around Capernaum in this area – this northwest quadrant of the Sea of Galilee. So the scene that takes place here takes place down - some of the people that are coming out are coming out from Tiberias. It begins where Jesus feeds the 5,000 which I believe according to the evidence within this chapter was probably in or near Tiberias. Then that night or that evening or that afternoon Jesus gets away from the crowd. He goes up to be alone on one of the hills in that area – one of the ridges that you see just back from the Sea of Galilee. The disciples can't find Him. They take off in their boat. They are headed to Capernaum and they get out into the middle of the Sea of Galilee and a storm comes up in the evening. Then Jesus walks on the water and comes out to them. 

 

So that's the framework of events that take place here, the first part of chapter 6. We see a number of things that are important to note within the context. So let's begin with – put a slide up here so you can see something of what the Sea of Galilee looks like. This slide is looking from the north to the south. The buildings that you see on the distant horizon there, that's the modern city of Tiberias. That gives you an idea of the size of the Sea of Galilee. 

 

So if you start off with the chapter, Jesus goes over to the Sea of Galilee which is also called the Sea of Tiberias. 

 

NKJ John 6:2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.

 

So their motivation is that their curiosity is stimulated by the fact that He's healing people. So the crowds follow Him because of the signs He performed and not necessarily because they are interested in Him spiritually. Remember the major problem He faces in the first part of His ministry is that He's offering the kingdom and because of the pharisaical theology, the people are thinking of the kingdom in a literal manner: that He's going to come and establish a political kingdom and overthrow Rome. That's what they're looking for: a political leader, not a spiritual leader. 

 

So the crowd follows Him because their curiosity is stimulated by His healing. Jesus then goes up on a mountain. The word there is horos

 

NKJ John 6:3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

 

It doesn't mean mountain. If you have been up in the Rocky Mountains lately, you would not think that anything around the Sea of Galilee would ever be called a mountain. These are like hills, not quite as hilly even as some of the things you'll see around the hill country of Texas. So Jesus goes up on a hill.  The term there can just mean an area of relatively high elevation. 

 

John notes for us in verse 4 that the Passover was near. 

 

NKJ John 6:4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.

 

So this is prior to the Passover so it's roughly the end of February or early March which is still a fairly cool time. There's some rain. The early rains in Israel are in the spring and so we'll note that there's grass on the hill for people to sit down. You'll note from some of the pictures I have here – for example the next picture – there's not a whole lot of grass when you're there in June. It was a comfortable setting in the early part of the spring. 

 

He also notes with relation to Passover - we think of the different elements of the Passover meal – the lamb that depicts Jesus Christ as the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. We think of the unleavened bread which was a picture of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ which comes over to the Lord's Table as well as the wines. So Passover is the first day in the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is a one week long feast. So the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is Passover. So the context (the chronological context) is that bread is on the horizon. They are about to begin the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The unleavened bread is the focal point there. So Jesus is going to use this as a teaching opportunity to teach about His person and work. 

 

So Jesus looks up and He sees this great multitude coming toward Him and He asks Phillip:

 

NKJ 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?"

 

Jesus says this (according to verse 6) to test them - to get them to think logistically about how in the world are all these people are going to be sustained and what are you going to do about it?

 

In verse 7 Phillip says, "Well, we don't have enough money to buy all of this bread. What we have isn't sufficient. We couldn't feed them anyway."

 

NKJ John 6:7 Philip answered Him, "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little."

 

So the disciples are left with a quandary. Andrew comes up and finds a young boy who has 5 barley loaves and two small fish. So Jesus then says in verse 10:

 

NKJ 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.

 

John notes there was much grass. See how it fits the time and the place. The Bible is not some fantasy book, but it fits very clearly. The descriptions all work within the time and place as it's described. 

 

The people sat down. The men are sat down about 5,000 in number. So there were more than 5,000 there. The men are numbered at 5,000.

 

Jesus took the loaves. He gave thanks. He distributes them. We're familiar with the story that the miracle of the multiplication of the fishes and the loaves.  The traditional site for this is the site depicted here on the overhead. 

 

Now we go on to read:

 

NKJ John 6:13 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 eaten.

 

The point here is that is going to be made - the loaves (the bread) are going to be used to depict the provision of God primarily in the person of Jesus as the bread of life. The point here is that God's provision of the bread of life is more than sufficient. It's more than enough. He just doesn't give a little bit. He just doesn't give enough. It is more than sufficient. It could have taken care of many more than just the ones who showed up. 

 

NKJ 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."

 

So this is the event that takes place and sets the context of the chapter. 

 

So we go on then to John 6:15 when Jesus said:

 

NKJ John 6:15 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.

 

See they have this political agenda to make Him the king and to establish a political kingdom. Jesus is going to show that a political solution that is not preceded by a spiritual solution is no solution. That is an important principle for us to remember in this election year. There are so many people that get overly concerned. (I'm not saying we shouldn't be concerned. We should be very concerned, but people get overly concerned and caught up in everything that is going on in the political season.) The problems in this country are not going to be solved politically. The problems in this country are only going to be solved spiritually with a change in the nature of people. Without a spiritual solution, then all we're doing in the picturesque language of J Vernon McGee is we're just polishing the brass on a sinking ship. That's as far as it's going to get. So we don't get caught up in the political solution because without the spiritual change, political solutions are only superficial. But that's where the Jews were. It's a political solution. So Jesus departs from them to be in the mountains by Himself, alone.

 

If you ever want to do an interesting study, go through the gospels and see how many times Jesus goes off by Himself to be alone to pray. It happens again and again and again as in His humanity He's recharging His own spiritual batteries taking time to pray, constantly in fellowship with the Father.

 

NKJ John 6:16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,

 

So we're back to something like the first picture I had up here. It's getting dark. Dusk is coming.  Evening is coming. The disciples decided they'd waited long enough; they needed to leave. They actually waited too long because darkness will descend before they get across the Sea of Galilee. They get in the boat. They cross over towards Capernaum. Verse 17 says it was already dark. 

 

NKJ John 6:17 got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.

 

NKJ John 6:18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.

 

NKJ John 6:19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.

 

 They had gone about two-thirds of the way across the sea. They see Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat and they were afraid.

 

NKJ John 6:20 But He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."

 

NKJ John 6:21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

 

Notice another miracle. Immediately the boat is at the shore. As soon as He got on the boat, it was immediately transported over to the land where they were going at Capernaum.

 

NKJ 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 –

 

NKJ John 6:23 however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks --

 

So these folks are coming out from Tiberias. They noticed that the disciples had left. There is no other boat. Where did Jesus go? How did He get across?  Then they begin to look for Him and the disciples. 

 

NKJ John 6:24 when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

 

NKJ 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?"

 

So let's look at some of the pictures I have here to give you a little bit of an idea of Capernaum. This is a shot looking to the north and Capernaum is located just off – this is looking more to the northwest. Capernaum is located right up in this area just on the right hand part of the shore. Now as you enter into Capernaum, there are various signs introducing the place. 

 

Some of the more humorous along the way are found in Capernaum. 

 

Here's a nice bird's eye view of the archeological finds that are there. In the center here we have a 2nd century synagogue - remains of the 2nd century synagogue. It's built on top of the 1st century synagogue which is where Jesus would have taught.

 

Over here we have a Roman Catholic Church which is built over the site of what is believed to be the home of Peter. 

 

Now whenever you go over to Israel, there are all kinds of different things that people will say, "This is where this happened. That's were that happened."

 

Most of the guys that I know would classify things in terms of four categories. 

 

  1. Category #1 would indicate that we're pretty sure and certain from both written evidence and archeological evidence that a site and a location is what it is claimed to be. 
  2. The 2nd category would be things that are probable - pretty likely. There's either archeological or written evidence to substantiate a site.
  3. The third is that it's possible, but not likely. 
  4. The fourth is it's just made up out of thin air.

 

This site is probably a #1 or a #2. There is evidence in Scriptural evidence written like graffiti on the walls of this 1st century house indicating that this was a place where Christians came and venerated as early as the first part of the 2nd century. You don't find that anywhere else. So there's something unique and distinct about this particular house and there's evidence that a church was built there, over that house as early as the mid-part of the 2nd century. So as things go this is pretty strong evidence that - we know Peter lived in Capernaum. This is where Jesus healed his mother-in-law. So there is pretty solid evidence that this would be that particular location. 

 

Of course whenever you go to a lot of places in Israel because of the influence of these religious groups down through the years, they always want to protect these holy places. So you have lots of signs to make sure that you don't do anything that would deface or profane these holy places. So I like this particular sign. This always has a little resonance with anybody who is a Texan.

 

No dogs. No smoking. No guns. No short clothing. 

 

So they're very precise on that. They want to make everybody – even the men. If you have shorts on you have to wear a wrap around skirt. Ladies have to wear wrap around shirt, wrap around shawl. This sign was there last year, but it wasn't there this year.

 

Holy place. No shorts and no décolleté. 

 

If you don't know what that means you can look it up when you get home.

 

Here's another shot looking across the Sea of Galilee from the area of Capernaum and then here are the ruins at Capernaum. You can see the foundations and the lower parts of the walls in the houses in this fishing village which is what it was. This is where Peter and James and John and Andrew had their fishing business with their father. You can see from how the houses are laid out. You see the water in the background so it's right on the shore. It was lost. Nobody knew where the city was. It was even thought to have been made up until this was discovered by a mid 19th century explorer named Robinson. So that gives you just a little bit of an idea of what Capernaum looks like today and the ruins that we find there.

 

Now the whole background for this is emphasizing the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as the bread of heaven.  So verse 22 starts:

 

NKJ 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 –

 

So when they find Him:

 

NKJ John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs,

 

If they came because of the signs, that would indicate that they were looking, they were being stimulated to seek Him as Messiah. That's the point that John's making in the gospel. 

 

NKJ John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

 

The "these" refers to the previous verse where he writes that Jesus did many other signs.

 

So some people will say, "A faith based on signs is not a very strong faith." But, John is writing his gospel built around certain signs because signs give objective evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be. 

 

NKJ John 6:26  but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

 

This is the modus operandi of every politician almost down through the ages. (If you feed the masses, then they will follow you anywhere.) It's the old principle that if you feed people well, then whatever else happens on a trip or in the military then that covers a multitude of sins. The idea there is that because Jesus fed them, now they're following Him. They're totally focused on finite material sustenance. 

 

So he commands in verse 27:

 

NKJ John 6:27 "Do not labor for the food which perishes,

 

Don't put your focus on the details of life that perish that are here today and gone tomorrow. 

 

but labor

 

"Labor" is left out, but it's implied. 

 

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 Him."

 

That is "on Jesus Christ."

 

Now what's interesting in this particular passage is we often make a distinction for sound theological reasons that salvation is based on faith and not on works. What we mean when we use the term "works" in doing something is the idea that somebody can through ritual or through conduct, or through association with the right group, can do something that merits favor with God. We define it somewhat strictly. Now Jesus is going to use the words "working" and "doing" in this chapter in a broader sense in that anytime you believe something in a broad general sense you've done something - that you have worked. You have done something. That is not a conflict of meaning. We use the word that way many times. 

 

So he is saying here:

 

NKJ John 6:27 "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 Him."

 

He doesn't mean that you have to labor for salvation. But He's talking within the context and contrasting their focal point.  

 

So they responded to Him saying:

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

 

NKJ John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

 

So see He's defining "work" here not in the sense of meritorious work, but in terms of non-meritorious belief.

 

Now as we get into this particular chapter it's important to recognize that this verb "believe" is central to understanding this chapter. Nine times in this chapter Jesus is going to connect eternal life (salvation) with believing. The verb "believing" is used 98 times in the Gospel of John. It's used 9 times or a little less than 10% in this chapter. So you would understand from that that believing is a key idea in this chapter. The word "bread" is used in this chapter 21 times. So that again shows the emphasis in this chapter is on bread as a symbol for spiritual sustenance. So we continue to go through the chapter and he emphasizes that this is the work of God that you believe in Him who He sent. So this sets the framework for everything that He is going to say. The focal point is that you have to believe in Jesus Christ as the one God sent. 

 

NKJ 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?

 

Well, He's already performed numerous signs. He fed them the day before and yet they come back and they want more of a sign. They relate this to the Old Testament event of manna. 

 

They say:

 

NKJ John 6:31 "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert;

 

The manna was the food that God gave to the Jews. 

 

Now the background for understanding that is in Exodus 16. In Exodus 16 you have the Jews coming out of Egypt. You have the Jews coming out of Egypt and they're in the wilderness and there's no food and they're starving. So what do they do? They start to grumble; they start to complain. 

 

In Exodus 16:1-15 the verb for grumbling is used 7 times to emphasize that they're just complaining and griping about their circumstance and whining. 

 

"God doesn't take care of us. God doesn't provide for us. He brought us out in the desert to starve."

 

So it is the crowd that brings up this episode and says: 

 

as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' "

 

Now Jesus responds to them and says:

 

NKJ John 6:32 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.

 

So He is going make this analogy from the manna that God provided in the wilderness is physical bread for physical sustenance to the spiritual bread and spiritual sustenance and nourishment that God has provided through Him. 

 

but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.

 

NKJ John 6:33 "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

 

So according to the context what Jesus is saying here is that He is the one who is the bread of heaven. This is going to be reinforced when we get down into verse 35 and later on in the chapter he states very clearly:

 

NKJ 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.

 

So He identifies Himself as the bread of life.

 

Now verse 34:

 

NKJ John 6:34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."

 

NKJ 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.

 

Now I want you to notice the parallelism that occurs in those verses. Let me get the slide up here so you can see it. The parallelism is between "coming to Me" and "believing in Me." So in this context we see that Jesus sees "coming to Him" and "believing in Him" as synonymous terms. Coming to Jesus and believing in Him are two different ways of talking about the same thing. The key idea set up in the text is "believing in Him". That's what is important for salvation. But, He uses synonymous phrases to illustrate this point. 

 

He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

 

Now in John 7:17 He emphasizes again that the point is going to be on the will of the individual. Now I am making this point ahead of time because of a problem passage that we are going to run into in just a minute.

 

In John 17:17 in the next chapter Jesus says:

 

NKJ John 7:17 "If anyone wants to do His will,

 

What is the Father's will? The Father's will is to come to Jesus. The Father's will is to believe in Him. That's doing the work of the Father. 

 

So in John 17:17 He says:

 

he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority

 

So the issue is volition. 

 

Now verse 36 – Jesus said:

 

NKJ John 6:36 "But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.

 

Empirical evidence is not sufficient to lead people to Jesus Christ. There has been more than enough empirical evidence down through the ages. There was evidence of His resurrection and yet there were many Pharisees and Sadducees that didn't believe on Him. There were many in this crowd who didn't believe in Him. They'd just seen the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 the day before. They saw other miracles, but they didn't believe in Him because ultimately the issue boils down to whether or not you're willing to trust in the Word of God. 

 

This is why we had the event in Luke 16 when Lazarus and the rich man die and they go to paradise and torments respectively and the rich man says to father Abraham, "Please send Lazarus back. Let him come back from the dead so he can tell my brothers about what's going to happen to them so they'll be saved." 

 

And Abraham says that if they didn't believe Moses and the prophets they won't believe a miracle. They won't believe a man who has come back from the dead. The point is – when we're witnessing to people it's not an argument about who's right. It's not trying to present the tighter intellectual case or coming up with the best rational argument. There's nothing wrong with those things, but that's not what makes witnessing effective. It is a spiritual issue and you can have the best evidence, the best presentation of the gospel that you could ever present (that anyone could ever present) and still people will reject because they are not willing according to John 7:17.

 

NKJ John 7:17 "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.

 

He will know what? The teaching. In other words the priority comes from the teaching of the Word of God. 

 

So in verse 37 Jesus says:

 

NKJ John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

 

Now coming to Jesus means what contextually? Believing in Him. Okay! So we could paraphrase verse 37 – "All the Father gives Me will believe in Me.  And, the one who believes in Me I will not cast out."

 

The issue here isn't on that the Father is going to give them to Him. The issue in the whole text puts the priority on believing in Him. 

 

NKJ John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

 

NKJ John 6:39 "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.

 

That's eternal security. Those who the Father gives to Him are the ones who believe in Him. The one who believes in Him are the ones the Father gives Him and of the ones the Father gives Him He won't lose any. So that means that if you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins, you can't lose that salvation. Jesus is not going to let go and you'll be raised up in the rapture. 

 

Now this phrase "all that the Father gives Me" is used four other times in the Gospel of John. It's used here in 6:39 and it's used in 17:1-2 and in 17:6 and 17: 9. In those passages in chapter 17 that is what's known as the high priestly prayer of Jesus when He is praying for His disciples the night before He goes to the cross. In 17:20 He makes it clear that there's a distinction between them as the disciples, "those whom you have given Me", and those who believe through Him. 

 

Just hold your place here. I think we ought to take some time (take a minute) so you see this. This is important to understand what Jesus is talking about here. What I'm saying here is this phrase (those who the Father has given Him) is a phrase that describes Jewish believers and Old Testament Jewish believers that the Father has given to Jesus. Jesus is coming and as He announces the gospel the Old Testament believers are coming to Him. They are being drawn to Him because they're already believers and He's teaching the Word. So when you come to John 17:20 He says:

 

NKJ John 17:20 " I do not pray for these alone, but

 

That is these that you gave Me. 

 

also for those who will believe in Me through their word;

 

See the point He is making there this distinction that those "who believe in Me through their Word" are us. But we're not Old Testament Jewish saints who saw the Messiah. We're not those who are coming to salvation at the message of the Messiah. Now that's important to understand what He is getting ready to say. 

 

He says:

 

NKJ John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

 

That is these Jewish believers. These Old Testament saints, they're going to hear my message and respond. 

 

NKJ John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

 

NKJ John 6:39 "This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing,

 

These Old Testament saints and those who are believing in Me before the cross in the First Advent...

 

but should raise it up at the last day.

 

NKJ John 6:40 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son

 

It's not us. We don't see the Son. This is talking about that generation. 

 

and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

 

So what's the key to having everlasting life? Believing in Him. That's the key all the way through here. 

 

So verse 41:

 

NKJ John 6:41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven."

 

The Jews here is not talking about all the Jews. It's a term John uses to refer to the Jewish leaders: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They're complaining because He's identifying with Himself with manna. He's drawing this connection. 

 

So they say:

 

NKJ John 6:42 And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven'?"

 

Actually if they're rejecting Jesus, they really didn't know Mary or Joseph and they don't understand who Jesus is. 

 

But they are saying, "Well, He grew up just like any other kid in the neighborhood so there's nothing special about Him. So how can He say He's come down from heaven?" 

 

Jesus confronts them in verse 43. 

 

NKJ John 6:43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves.

 

Then verse 44, this is the problem passage.

 

NKJ John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

 

Now this is the third time He has said something about raising Him up on the last day. The first time He said this is in verse 39. 

 

NKJ John 6:39 "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.

 

What's the key to those who He has given to Me? "Those who the Father gives to Me will come to Me" and these are the ones who believe in Him.

 

NKJ 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."

 

But now He introduces a new concept. He introduces the concept of "the Father who sent Me draws and I will raise Him up on the last day." So the drawing of the believer has got to be related to believing in Him. Now what's important about this is this is a passage that is used many times in the argument between Calvinism and Arminianism to argue for the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace. The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace is built on the Calvinistic understanding – first point in TULIP. That's the acronym for the five points of Calvinism - total depravity (that man can't do anything to save himself). That really should mean "he can't do anything to merit salvation of his own." But the way they craft it within the five points of Calvinism is that man is so dead he can't even will. For them "will" is always meritorious. Here we see it's not meritorious. But, that's what they would say. So in order to overcome their resistance, irresistible grace means that the Holy Spirit only works on a few - those who are the elect. The Holy Spirit then will irresistibly draw them to the Father. 

 

There are various passages that are used within Calvinism in order to try to substantiate this particular meaning of the text.

 

NKJ John 18:10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.

 

Now this word for drawing is the same word helkuo that we have here for "unless the Father draws Him." They'll go to a passage like this and they'll say "drawing it" indicates the sword has no volition; but it's something that is being taken totally at the will of the one who draws it. 

 

Then they'll go to John 21:6 relating to the dragging of the net and see here once again it's totally at the control of the one who drags a net. 

 

Then they'll go to a passage like – oh let's just skip over to Acts 16:19 where Paul and Silas are dragged off to the marketplace, the bema seat where they're going to be judged and dragged off to jail. Their point is that this means that you are dragged against their will. But the word helkuo if you look it up in the dictionary can mean dragging against the will; but it can also mean to attract. It has a range of meaning. 

 

In John 12:32 Jesus says:

 

NKJ John 12:32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."

 

It is not a drawing that is exclusive to a set group of people, which the Calvinist will emphasize as the elect.

 

So when we get to our passage in John 6:44:

 

NKJ John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

 

It is talking about the Father is going to be attracting unbelievers to Christ. Now how is this done? That's the important thing. Is it done through an interior ministry through the Holy Spirit – that is, that counters the will or controls the will of certain unbelievers? No! You have to look at the context. 

 

The very next verse in verse 45 says:

 

NKJ 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.

 

Who comes to Jesus? Those who have heard and learned from the Father – not the Spirit (number one), that's your first observation. And number 2, the context is a quote out of Isaiah 54:13 which is dealing with a prophecy in the Millennial Kingdom but the context or the application that Jesus is using here in John 6:44 is that this drawing occurs through being taught the Word of God. 

 

NKJ Isaiah 54:13 All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children.

 

It's not that God is reaching inside of people and manipulating their volition so that they will be brought to Jesus and it only affects a few. It is that God draws or attracts all people through the proclamation and the teaching of God's Word. 

 

So Jesus goes on to say as the Pharisees grumble among themselves (the same word that's used of the grumbling of the Exodus generation in the Greek Septuagint) in verse 46:

 

NKJ John 6:46 "Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.

 

NKJ John 6:47 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

 

It doesn't say who is drawn irresistibility by the Holy Spirit has eternal life; it says:

 

he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

 

NKJ John 6:48 "I am the bread of life."

 

NKJ John 6:49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

 

That was just physical nourishment, but:

 

NKJ John 6:50 "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.

 

NKJ 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 a couple of things we need to note about this are very important for understanding the analogy. First of all, eating is something that anyone can do.  Eating is non-meritorious. Anybody can choose to eat or not eat. Once you eat though there are certain automatic, involuntary reflexes and muscles and systems that take over to digest the food, breakdown the food and make it useable. But the option of eating is up to each one of us. That's volition. That's what is comparable to faith. We trust Christ; then it is God the Holy Spirit who takes that faith and makes it useable, makes it effective for salvation. That's what Jesus is talking about. 

 

If anyone eats of this bread,

 

When you compare this with the other passages here in John 6, eating is comparable to coming to the Father and is comparable to believing in Him. 

 

NKJ John 6:47 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

 

KJ 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."

 

NKJ John 6:53 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.

 

NKJ John 6:54 "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

 

So drinking and eating are metaphorical expressions for believing in Jesus. They're comparable to coming to Jesus. He uses this as a metaphor. 

 

This is not talking about the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation (that the elements in the Lord's Table are turned into the literal body and blood of Christ and by eating them we become saved.) That's why in Roman Catholic theology they have to celebrate the mass week after week after week because you're never sure you're saved. But what John is saying here is you can be sure you are saved. 

 

Jesus is saying, "All you have to do is believe in Me." 

 

Believing in Him is being pictured through the imagery of eating, which is receiving something into yourself. Just as receiving bread into yourself provides physical life, eating or receiving Jesus into yourself provides spiritual life. That is the point of the entire metaphor. 

 

He says in verse 55:

 

NKJ John 6:55 "For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.

 

NKJ John 6:56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

 

NKJ John 6:57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

 

NKJ John 6:58 "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."

 

So that is His point. This whole imagery of the bread, the unleavened bread, comes out of the table of showbread (the Tabernacle) that Jesus is the bread of life.

 

So next time we'll come back and we'll look at the next piece of furniture in the holy place. That is the altar of incense. 

 

Let's bow our heads in closing prayer.

 

Illustrations