The Feeding of the Five-Thousand: Jesus as Son of Man vs. the Manna
John 5 vs. John 6. in john 5 we had the glories of Christ as the son of God, and his divine power that quickens. but in John 6 we have the Son of man come in flesh, set forth as the object of faith, and thus the means of life for the world. In john 5 it was the son’s sovereign will to quicken, but in John 6 man required to lay hold of Him by faith. You have more of man’s responsibility brought in in John 6, although it never cantradicts God’s sovereignty (v.37).
- Feeding of the Five-Thousand: Demonstration of power (6:1-15)
- Walking on Water – his absence & reception by the remnant (6:16-21)
- Jesus as the Bread of Life – Only Source of Eternal Sustenance (6:22-59)
- The Greedy Curiosity of the Multitude (vv.22-25)
- The Lord Exposes their Motives (vv.26-27)
- Man’s Inability to Please God except in Believing on His Son (vv.28-29)
- The Jews Desire a Greater Sign, like the Manna (vv.30-31)
- Jesus as the True Bread out of heaven (vv.32-33)
- Bread Evermore vs. Bread of Life (vv.34-36)
- God’s Sovereignty & Man’s Responsibility Concerning Faith (vv.37-38)
- The Double Character of the Father’s Will (vv.39-40)
- Natural Circumstances a Stumbling Block for Unbelief (vv.41-42)
- Begging them to Hear the Voice of God through the Son (vv.43-48)
- Food to be Eaten for Life Intitially – 2 Aspects (vv.49-53)
- Food to be Eaten for to Sustain Our Life Ongoing – 2 Aspects (vv.54-58)
- The Disciples tested and sifted (6:60-71)
The Feeding of the five-thousand. this is the only miracle of our Lord that is recounted in all four gospels, so it evidently has a special importance. See Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-15. By contrast with the Synoptic gospels, John does not record the beheading of John Baptist, nor the Apostles’ return from their mission, nor their desire to send the multitiude away because they needed rest. In john it is Jesus Who takes the initiative, that the masses may be fed. ultimately, spiritual food is the primary thought in each account, but a different emphasis in each.
human belief vs. spiritual faith. Faith rests on the word of God concerning the person of Christ, not:
- signs of power (the Jews) or
- logical reasoning (the greeks).
“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, etc.” (1 Cor. 1:22-24)
A dispensation outline.
- vv.1-15 first coming. christ comes to israel in lowly grace while under roman captivity & makes himself known as the sustainter of life.
- vv.16-17 church period. a night of absence while Jesus is in heaven, carrying on a priestly work.
- vv.18-21 second coming. a time of great tribulation concluded by his coming to the faithful remnant.
a little boy. when the Lord is guiding us, it doesn’t take a great show of strength or provision. we don’t know his exact age, but perhaps his mother packed him this lunch. but when offered to the Lord it can be used for great blessing.
¶ After these things Jesus went away beyond the sea of Galilee, or of Tiberias, v.1 “the sea of Tiberias” – John the writer accepts the government of god in that the Land of Palestine was subject to gentile rule. The SEA OF galilee was renamed in honour of Emperor Tiberius in the late first century. John also uses roman time in his gospel. The Lord Jesus could not be charged – although they did charge him falsely – with being a revolutionary.
2 and a great crowd followed him, because they saw the signs which he wrought upon the sick. v.2 This is the key – see John 2:23-25 – these had human belief, but not spiritual faith (see note above). they followed “because they saw his miracles”.
3 And Jesus went up into the mountain, and there sat with his disciples: v.3 The mountain teaches us that grace comes from above. but because there was unbelief, the Lord separates himself – with his disciples – from the mass.
4 but the passover, the feast of the Jews, was near. v.4 The nearness of the Passover is noted repeatedly in john’s Gospel (one for each year of public ministry – John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55). the reason why it is mentioned here is that the blessings of grace (John 6) are the result of the sacrifice of Christ, and enjoyed only by communion with God in that sacrifice.
Man Looks to Money to Provide Sustenance (vv.5-7)
5a Jesus then, lifting up his eyes and seeing that a great crowd is coming to him, v.5a The Lord is filled with compassion… he is going to feed this multitude, to satisfy ther natural hunger first, then present them with what can satisfy them spiritually.
5b says to Philip, Whence shall we buy loaves that these may eat? v.5b Jesus first addresses Philip – the disciple who believed Moses’ writings (john 1:45) – but here he is tested (v.6) and fails.
6 But this he said trying him, for he knew what he was going to do. v.6 the spirit is careful to maintain the Lord’s glory, and lets us know that there was no uncertainty in His own mind, but in order to test Philip: He knew what He was going to do. It shows his divinity John 2:24, 25; John 13:3; John 18:4.
7 Philip answered him, Loaves for two hundred denarii are not sufficient for them, that each may have some little portion. v.7 Philip fails to look beyond the purchasing power of money. although we know the scriptures, we so often turn to human resources in an emergency. Especially hard because they were near philips hometown of bethsaida (compare Luke 9:10 with John 1:44; 12:21). the best that we can do is to look to God for direction. L.F. # 267 says; “A fullness resides in Jesus our Head; A fullness abides to answer all need: … We trust His protection; we’ll lean on His might; We’re sure His direction will guide us aright.”
Man looks to his Fellow Man to Provide Sustenance (vv.8-9)
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, says to him, v.8 the next lesson is; looking to our fellow man for sustenance will not avail. all it will do is make us dispair.
9 There is a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two small fishes; but this, what is it for so many? v.9 man’s need is so great, and our ability to take in the word of God is so limited by our weakness (small lunch)… the result is a cry of dispair. they were not seeing Jesus for who he was. A little boy and his lunch – a pitiful sight –becomes the object of their thoughts, instead of the person before them.
Only Christ can Provide Sustenance(vv.10-13)
10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place: the men therefore sat down, in number about five thousand. v.10 Five is the number of man in responsibility. a thousand speaks of millennial blessing. Jesus would bless the people, according to the promise of millennial blessing, given them in Psalm 132:15, for He was Jehovah on earth. to be made to “sit down” is to realize our own inability to help. Contrast “much grass” with “a desert place” (Luke 9:10)… Jesus made them comfortable.
11 And Jesus took the loaves, and having given thanks, distributed them to those that were set down; and in like manner of the small fishes as much as they would. v.11 Jesus loves to take the little we have, and multiply it, by his gracious power, to feed a multitude. the loaves and fishes could do no good in the little boy’s hands… but when Jesus took the food, the whole direction of things was changed. “gave thanks” – ever dependent upon the father. translational note: The involvement of the disciples is not in the original in John 6:11… the Lord alone is in view when the subject is sustenance.
- Five barley loaves (small rolls) speak of Christ as the bread of life in lowly humiliation and suffering. barley was the poor man’s food.
- Two small fishes remind us of His passing through the waters of judgment for our sake.
12 And when they had been filled, he says to his disciples, Gather together the fragments which are over and above, that nothing may be lost. v.12 The crowd was “filled” … there was no rationing of the food! In v.11 we read they ate “as much as they would”! They could receive as much as they desired. We may have as much of Christ as we want.
13 They gathered them therefore together, and filled twelve hand-baskets full of fragments of the five barley loaves, which were over and above to those that had eaten. v.13 The “twelve baskets” remaining are a hint of blessing still reserved for all twelve tribes of Israel in a future day when they finally see Christ as the bread of life. The Lord can do so much with one action: He has fed the Church for 2000 years, and He will feed the restored nation of Israel after that!
The Prophet, Priest and King in respect to Israel (vv.14-15)
14 The men therefore, having seen the sign which Jesus had done, said, This is truly the prophet which is coming into the world. v.14 Upon blessing the people, the Jews acknowledge Him to be “that Prophet” (v.14), and that millennial blessing hinged on Him being the Messiah. while these people were insensitive as to their deepest need (for spiritual sustenance) at least they recognized that the kingdom was going to be set up on earth… some Christians deny it.
15 Jesus therefore knowing that they were going to come and seize him, that they might make him king, departed again to the mountain himself alone. v.15 They desire to make Him their King (v.15) by force… THE FLESH was at work, and by the end of the chapter he makes it manifest that they wanted the kingdom without the king. but the Lord would not take the kingship in a carnal way. first, he must “go into a far country”, become “priest”, and then “to receive for Himself a kingdom and return” (Luke 19:12; Dan. 7:13-14). so he leaves them, and goes up by Himself into a mountain. during that time (in which we live) the kingdom is only perceived by those who have faith (see note).
the postponement of the kingdom as a test of faith. if the lord had not refused the kingdom, there would be no sifting of the people (see the end of John 6). the postponement of the kingdom really sifts out unbelief. faith alone can patiently wait upon the word of the Lord. Unbelief either:
- predates the kingdom (postmillennialism), and strives to set it up now by man’s efforts, or
- denies the kingdom (amillennialism), and abandons it for the delusion of human progress.
on the other hand, faith;
- waits for the kingdom (premillennialism), which will be established by Christ, the second Man, when the first man has been judged.
Typical significance of the following miracle. the disciples getting into the ship after jesus has departed speaks of the faithful remnant in the early chapters of acts. this is the place that we are in now, not as the church, but as a remnant of faith, while the lord is in heaven. but then the sea becomes agitated, and it gets dark… a picture of the tribulation period, and the disciples are the jewish remnant passing through it. the Lord rejoins them and calms their fears… a picture of the appearing of Christ and revelation to his brethren, to satisfy and give them rest.
application to Christians. the primary interpretation of the disciples in the boat is the jewish remnant; but then, we, as to our path on earth, are the continuation of that remnant, and Christ is a priest on high for us, while we are on the waves below. but The subsequent part of the chapter, (the bread of life) is properly christian teaching.
The Time of Christ’s Absence (vv.16-17)
16 But when evening was come, his disciples went down to the sea, v.16 the sea speaks of the unrest among the masses of the gentiles. The remnant in the time of our Lord embarked on a long and perilous journey, and they became the nucleus of the christian testimony.
17 and having gone on board ship, they went over the sea to Capernaum. And it had already become dark, and Jesus had not come to them, v.17 The darkness speaks of the moral darkness of man’s day, which has rolled on now for almost 2000 years, while “Jesus had not come unto them”.
A Time of Great Tribulation, and the Lord’s Coming (vv.18-21)
18 and the sea was agitated by a strong wind blowing. v.18 the agitation of the sea pictures how the world’s unrest will only increase in the dark hours of the tribulation period.
19 Having rowed then about twenty-five or thirty stadia, they see Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the ship; and they were frightened. v.19 they go 25-30 furlongs (about 3 ½ miles), and the sea of Galilee is just about 7 miles wide. they were in the very middle of the sea, the worst possible place. It is in the stormy waters of the tribulation that the Jewish remnant will see the lord coming to them. “they were afraid” – Their hearts are not at peace though, until he is with them. so it was be, that the full work of repentance will not be completed until the Lord reveals himself to them (v.20).
20 But he says to them, It is I: be not afraid. v.20 even when Jesus appears, the remnant will not be delivered from their fears, not until they hear His voice and know that He is indeed their Savior. “I am the good shepherd; and I know those that are mine, and am known of those that are mine” (John 10:14).
21 They were willing therefore to receive him into the ship; and immediately the ship was at the land to which they went. v.21 “Immediately” the ship is at the place they were going. when the Lord’s feet touch down on the mount of olives, their every wish fully and immediately satisfied — full blessing and rest — when He rejoins them.
The Greedy Curiosity of the Multitude (vv.22-25)
22 On the morrow the crowd which stood on the other side of the sea, having seen that there was no other little ship there except that into which his disciples had got, and that Jesus had not gone with his disciples into the ship, but that his disciples had gone away alone; v.22 The crowd was struck by the mysterious disappearance of the Lord. They KNEW THAT He had not accompanied the disciples in their ship, and THAT THERE was no other boat in which He could have crossed the lake at the time when He must have left the mountain.
23 (but other little ships out of Tiberias came near to the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks;) v.23 Other boats had come to the vicinity, but none others had gone in the other direction… and yet the Lord had disappeared.
24 when therefore the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, “they” got into the ships, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. v.24 prophetically, there will be those of israel to “arrive” at the other side without going though the storm. This would be the ten tribes who are briught home between the two attacks of the assyrian. However, a mixed multitude of Israelites will come up, and the Lord will bring them into the wilderness, at the borders of the land to sift them. The “rebels” will be purged out from among them. (Ezek. 20:35-38).
25 And having found him the other side of the sea, they said to him, Rabbi, when art thou arrived here? v.25 They were really looking to get more profit from the Lord as they had done already in the feeding of the five-thousand, but they cover it by putting forward their curiosity as to His mode of passage. He strips away their pretenses. they were really looking to have their bellies filled.
The Lord Exposes their Motives (vv.26-27)
26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say to you, Ye seek me not because ye have seen signs, but because ye have eaten of the loaves and been filled. v.26 they sought Him really because of natural advantage, “ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled”, the filling of their stomachs, not even because of the wonder of the miracles. but They had no heart for Him personally, so why should He satisfy their mere curiosity AND desire after present ease? self-sufficiency and faith in the son are mutually exclusive. they needed to be shown their own hearts.
27 Work not for the food which perishes, but for the food which abides unto life eternal, which the Son of man shall give to you; for him has the Father sealed, even God. v.27 The seeing of miracles is not enough, as we learned in John 2:23-25, to change man. he needs to be born again to really have faith. otherwise, their “seeking him” was really seeking after human gratification, “the meat which perishes”. what they really should be seeking was “food that endures to life eternal”… if they were, they would have come to Him in faith, the Son of Man, sealed by the Father, as the Giver of eternal life. God the Father had sealed him as “son of man”, his title as a humbled man, as much as if to say, “the human race cannot really live apart from this man, whom I have marked out.”
Jesus Sealed and Anointed, but not Baptized, with the Spirit. We read of Jesus “sealed with the Spirit” and believers “sealed” as well. We read the “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power” (Acts 10:38) and we also read of believers anointed with the Spirit. However, there is an important difference. We are sealed in view of the work of Christ, but He was sealed as a witness of His own perfection. It never says that Jesus was baptized with the Spirit, because the Baptism of the Spirit formed a new vessel of testimony here in this world; and it would be inconceivable to speak Christ being anything less than perfect before His water baptism.
Man’s Inability to Please God except in Believing on His Son (vv.28-29)
28 They said therefore to him, What should we do that we may work the works of God? v.28 because the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, they misapply the Lord’s exhortation, and focus on “work” instead of “food”.
29 Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom “he” has sent. v.29 Jesus is the object of faith. To believe on Him is the only “work” for a sinful man, and it is not even a meritorious work (Rom. 4:4), It is ultimately God’s work (Eph. 2:8). God will not allow men to mix up self with Jesus… it is all of one or the other. the only “work” that the father will own is faith in the son (John 3:18).
The Jews Desire a Greater Sign, like the Manna (vv.30-31)
30 They said therefore to him, What sign then doest thou that we may see and believe thee? what dost thou work? v.30 they knew that he was claiming to be the son, and the one on whom God insisted men should believe… so now they say “prove it”; “What dost Thou work?” The feeding of the five-thousand, and the crossing of the sea were not enough. unbelief is never satisfied.
31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, as it is written, “He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.” [Ex. 16:15] v.31 they anticipate that Jesus will point to the miracle He had just done. what they really are saying is that the feeding of the 5000 was insignificant compared with Moses’ work. they wanted him to Give them food from heaven, as Moses did, for not just one afternoon, but forty years… and “once you have done that, we will think about believing”.
Jesus as the True Bread out of heaven (vv.32-33)
32 Jesus therefore said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, It is not Moses that has given you the bread out of heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread out of heaven. v.32 Moses was a human instrument to bring physical bread down from the sky… but the “true bread out of Heaven” has been given by the father, in sending his son into this world as a man.
33 For the bread of God is he who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world. v.33 He was Himself the proof — the true manna. two great characteristics of the bread of heaven that separate him from all other men:
- He comes down out of heaven – a Divine Person, yet a man here below
- He gives life to the world – not merely to israel in the desert, but to the whole world.
Bread Evermore vs. Bread of Life (vv.34-36)
34 They said therefore to him, Lord, ever give to us this bread. v.34 This is thei jews last effort to get what they really desired; physical bread for this world, that wouldn’t run out. they had missed the point.
35 And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger, and he that believes on me shall never thirst at any time. v.35 they were looking for something “from him”, that is “apart from him”… but what god is offering is “life in christ“. this is what man really needs to satisfy him. Once we have him, we shall “never hunger” and “never thirst.” this brings us back to ch.1; “In Him” – that is, in his person – “was life” (John 1:4). in john 5 He is viewed as the Son of God, quickening whom He will… but in john 6 He is the Son of man – accessible to all – as the object of faith.
36 But I have said to you, that ye have also seen me and do not believe. v.36 man’s natural disposition… he won’t believe. “ye also have seen me” – their eyes had looked upon the very one in whom was life itself (the fulfillment of all of man’s need); but, faithless, they rejected him.
God’s sovereignty & man’s responsibility linked. this passage in John 6 is one of the greatest linking the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man in the salvation of lost souls. The Father’s drawing souls (v.44), the Father’s giving them to the Son (v.37a), them coming to the son (v.37b), and the son giving them eternal life (v.40) are interlocked together. If you say the father draws all (an Armenian doctrine), then the whole human race must have been given to the son, and the whole human race would be saved. If you say that not all given to the son come to him, than you deny the faithfulness of God. If god is not sovereignly drawing, etc., then my security is conditional, not eternal.
God’s Sovereignty & Man’s Responsibility Concerning Faith (vv.37-38)
37a All that the Father gives me shall come to me, v.37a the father gives some by sovereign grace. all the Father gives to Christ shall come unto Him; because the father is sovereign. This is a clear attestation to the sovereignty of God in the salvation of man. It deals a death blow to free-will doctrine. If you are saved, it is because the Father has given you to the Son! This truth of God’s sovereignty is accompanied by the parallel truth of man’s responsibility (v.37b).
37b and him that comes to me I will not at all cast out. v.37b-38 the son receives those who responsibly come to him in faith. this is an encouragement, given by the Lord, to the individual that comes unto Him. Man’s responsibility to come to the Son is not absolved by the fact of God’s sovereign election (see v.44). But all men are encouraged to come, and if they do, the Son will not cast them out!
38 For I am come down from heaven, not that I should do “my” will, but the will of him that has sent me. v.38 The son as a perfect servant was on earth to do His Father’s will, and whomsoever the Father brought Him He would receive – because that is the father’s will – that they might have life eternal (c.p. John 5:21). this dedication to his fathers will (which is spelled out in vv.39-40) led him to give up his claims as messiah and usher in a new dispensation (see note below).
The Double Character of the Father’s Will (vv.39-40)
39 And this is the will of him that has sent me, that of all that he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up in the last day. v.39 nothing would be lost of what the father has sovereignly gives to him. The Father’s will is that the totality of all that He has given to the Son would be kept… a fact which will be proven when christ raises them all from the dead in the last day. the cross is the price that must be paid so that nothing committed to the son would be lost. Christ is the restorer of all things!
40 For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on him, should have life eternal; and I will raise him up at the last day. v.40 that eternal life might be gained by the men that come responsibly to him. every believer in Him is given life eternal – a new, HEAVENLY sphere of cummunion with divine persons – to those who have faith… also a fact which will be proven to be sure when christ raises the believer from the dead.
vv.37-48 the great point of vv.37-48 is that while man’s condition is exposed (that he will not come to the son, vv.34-36) god’s soverignty has come in to save men in spite of their unbelief… for the purpose of accomplishing God’s will!
the present vs. the eternal. The Lord had taken the place of a servant to accomplish the father’s will. as a result, His glory as Messiah on the earth was given second place to His raising up the believer at the last day. that which was unseen and eternal is brought into prominence, because He sought the glory and the will of His Father. had He sought His own rights, His reign as Messiah would have been prominent (v.15), as the independence from rome was to the jews. this shows that a great dispensational change was being brought in, in which the kingdom would be postponned in lieu of something far greater. But this change is something that unbelief just cannot accept (vv.41-42).
Natural Circumstances a Stumbling Block for Unbelief (vv.41-42)
41 The Jews therefore murmured about him, because he said, I am the bread which has come down out of heaven. V.41 IF HE WAS THE BREAD WHICH CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, THEN HE MUST BE DIVINE… FOR NO MERE MAN COULD SAY THAT HE WAS FROM ABOVE. THIS WAS WHAT THEY CHOKED ON IN V.42.
42 And they said, Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we have known? how then does “he” say, I am come down out of heaven? V.42 THEY JUDGED HIM ACCORDING TO APPEARANCES, AND THUS MADE A MISTAKE OF MASSIVE PROPORTIONS. truly, HE WAS THE SON OF MARY, OR ELSE HE WOULD NOT BE A MAN, AND THUS COULD NOT GIVE LIFE TO THE WORLD. bUT HE WAS NOT BY BIRTH THE SON OF JOSEPH (HOWEVER WE WAS IN A LEGAL, MESSIANIC SENSE), because THAT WOULD MEAN HE WAS NOT THE Son of God, NOT A Divine Person… AND WITHOUT THAT, THE INCARNATION IS NOTHING, THE CROSS IS NOTHING, AND JESUS CAN DO NOTHING TO MEET THE NEEDS OF MEN ON THIS EARTH.
Begging them to Hear the Voice of God through the Son (vv.43-48)
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, Murmur not among yourselves. V.43 UNBELIEF HAD MADE THEM DEAF TO THE VOICE OF gOD. THIS IS an evidence, in itself, of His divine omniscience.
mURMURING IS THE PRODUCT OF UNBELIEF… THEY WOULD DO FAR BETTER TO LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF gOD SPEAKING THROUGH THE SON.
44 No one can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him, and I will raise him up in the last day. V.44 MAN DOES NOT HAVE A FREE WILL. No one can come to Christ by his supposed moral free will towards God. It requires the Father’s drawing him. Free-will advocates claim that the Father draws everyone, or Christ draws everyone and that “draw” is used in the sense of persuading. But, clearly, that is not so. Concerning those whom the Father draws, Christ said: “I will raise him up in the last day.” It is exactly and only the drawn ones that will be raised up.
Immoral argument for Free-will. Proponents of Arminianism use a so-called “moral” argument to support their free-will doctrine. The argument, they claim, is on the grounds of God’s morality. They say, man must have a free will because God would not be morally righteous to condemn a person who doesn’t have the power to choose God. In other words, if man was truly powerless then God couldn’t hold him responsible. This argument, I contend, is really immoral. Responsibility has nothing to do with power, and everything to do with created order. Man is responsible to obey God because he is created by God. God is not bound by man’s powerlessness… He is the Creator! If a man turns to God, the power of God will be there on his behalf (v.37). The problem is that man’s will is set against God. J.N. Darby once said:
Now as to responsibility; power is not the question at all. If my will were right, there would soon be power from God. Here is my child tied under the table by the leg, and I say to him, “Come with me”; and he says, “I won’t.” I say, “You must”; but he will not, and I go to flog him. But then he says, “I was tied by the leg to the table”; but I say, “that makes no difference, I have a knife to cut the cord, for you would not come. It is the will that is the difficulty. I have lent ten thousand pounds to a man; he comes and tells me he is not responsible to me for his debt, for he has not a penny left—all is squandered. He has no power to pay but that does not destroy my claim.
Man’s condition of deadness does not absolve him of his responsibility to receive the gospel. Let’s say a sinner ends up in eternal fire, and hypothetically he were to have a conversation with God. He cannot say, “I shouldn’t be here because I was powerless to choose salvation”. God will say, “You were responsible to come, and you refused”. This free-will argument is immoral because it contends that man’s sinful condition robs God of His moral claims. The truth is, nothing robs God of His moral claims because He is God!
45 It is written in the prophets, “And they shall be all taught of God.” [Isa. 54:13] Every one that has heard from the Father himself, and has learned of him, comes to me; v.45 To be blessed, you need to be taught by God. Isa. 54:13 refers to Israel in the future day when “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26), when they shall all be righteous (Isa. 60:21). And the reason for it is that they shall all have been taught of God. The Lord quoted it for the principle in it; namely, that those actually blessed are taught of God, and those taught of God are in fact blessed. So, the Christian believer has heard from the Father and has learned of Him, and therefore came to Christ. not talking about book learning, but rather a subjective knowledge of God that comes from new birth. Man does not have the intellectual faculty to bless himself. As a creature, he can only be blessed in dependence on God, through receiving God’s revelation.
46 not that any one has seen the Father, except he who is of God, he has seen the Father. v.46 The only way to see the Father (to be taught) is to know the Son. Not that the Father has been seen by man (John 1:18). He is known by men only “in the Son”. The Son alone has seen the Father.
47 Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believes on me has life eternal. v.47 It all comes down to what you do with God’s Son. To receive the testimony of God in this new dispensation, you must believe on His Son whom He has sent. As the Word made flesh, as a man in this world, now rejected by Israel under the title of “son of man” He announces that He is the giver of life eternal, far more than the Messiah of Israel, the world itself depends on him!
48 I am the bread of life. v.48 The Lord Himself is the bread of life. Life is found only in the Person of the Son, and cannot be possessed in separation from Him.
Food for Understanding vs. Food for Sustenance. The New Testament speaks about food for the Christian in two different ways; for our understanding of divine things, and for the “survival” of our spiritual life.
- Food for Our Understanding of Divine Things has to do with knowledge and perception of the purpose and ways of God. in 1 Cor. 3:1-4 Paul shows that, due to the poor state of the Corinthian assembly they were only able to be fed milk. This milk represents the very basic truths of Christianity. The meat (the deep truths of Christianity) was too much for them because they were spiritual babies. In this case what was limiting their growth in understanding of divine things was strife and divisions in the assembly. in Heb. 5:10-14 due to the poor state of the Hebrew believers they were only able to be fed milk. In this case, the mixing of Christianity with Judaism was limiting their growth in understanding of divine things.
- Food for Spiritual Life has more to do with life and energy than it does with knowledge and perception. Usually when we speak of “food for our souls” this is what we mean. There are times when we feel physically fatigued, lethargic, etc. and often it is related to our diet. Spiritually, we need the right food to give us energy for the path of faith.
The Christian’s Menu. there are three “entrees” on the christian’s menu… and you will notice that all three are Christ. We can take a lesson from that. These three entrees are connected with the three phases of Israel’s journey from Egypt to Canaan.
Food to be Eaten for Life Intitially – 2 Aspects (vv.49-53)
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and died. #1. Christ as a Man in His Incarnation (vv.49-51a) – the first aspect mentioned. Take note that whenever the aspect is Christ as a humble man on earth, it is compared with the manna that Jehovah gave the children of Israel in the wilderness.
50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. Vv.49-50 if the Lord was typified by the manna, He went incomparably beyond it. The israelites ate the manna in the wilderness; but prevent death. Christ is the Bread come down out of heaven that a man may eat thereof and not die.
51a I am the living bread which has come down out of heaven: if any one shall have eaten of this bread he shall live for ever; v.51a To “eat the living bread” come down from heaven is to receive and know Christ as the Son of God, come as a humble man, to bring eternal life to as many as believe on Him. It is a once-and-for-all thing; “shall have eaten”. to be saved we need to believe that the son of God became a man to bring us life. but there is more to the gospel than the incarnation.
51b but the bread withal which I shall give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. #2. Christ in His Atoning Death (vv.51b-53) – the word “but” signals a change. he now speaks of bread “which I shall give”… an action then future. without question, the flesh of the son of God was given for us at the cross. this is what we remember; “this is my body, which is given for you,” Luke 22:19.
52 The Jews therefore contended among themselves, saying, How can he give us this flesh to eat? v.52 blind unbelief wonders, “Is the Lord speaking about cannibalism?” No. Yet He is very clear that there is food and eating involved (v.55) So what is he saying? He is explaining that the very way you eat and digest food and drink is the same way you need to eat and digest the Lord Jesus Himself if you are to have eternal life. When we eat food, the proteins contained in the food become part of our body; literally, we are what we eat!
53 Jesus therefore said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless ye shall have eaten the flesh of the Son of man, and drunk his blood, ye have no life in yourselves. v.53 To “eat the flesh and drink the blood” of the Son of Man is to receive and know Christ as the one whose atoning death (flesh & blood separate) has brought you life, to take Him (as you take food and water), appropriate Him to yourself. Note: This is not the Lord’s Supper as the Catholics believe; i.e. you cannot be saved unless you take the Lord’s Supper. This is entirely false, one might be taking the Lord’s Supper but never have truly taken Christ for salvation. why? (1) john 6 was long before luke 22, and (2) here he is speaking to unbelievers. but this is what the supper is a symbol of: christ in death.
“has eaten” vs. “eats”. The verb “have eaten” in vV.49-53 is “phago” in Greek and it means to consume. It is in the aorist tense, which is once-for-all. The verb “eats” in v.54-58 is “trogo” in Greek which means to crunch or chew on food. It is in the present tense, which means it refers to an ongoing action. In these verses, the Lord goes on to explain that once we are saved we cannot go on living independently from Him; that we need to feed on Him continually throughout our pathway, to sustain our life. we cannot sever eternal life from its source The believer has eternal life, but it is in the Son, not apart from Him. a good comparison in v.53 (“shall have eaten”) and v.54 (“eats”).
Food to be Eaten for to Sustain Our Life Ongoing – 2 Aspects (vv.54-58)
54 He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up at the last day: #1. Christ in His Atoning Death (vv.54-56) – Those who receive the Incarnation (bread from heaven) in faith do also with the same faith receive His death (flesh and blood); and have eternal life. Both the incarnation and the death of Christ are tests of faith; but the more decisive of the two is His death.
55 for my flesh is truly food and my blood is truly drink. v.55 we may believe in the incarnation, but we haven’t really tasted that the Lord is gracious unitl we see that his love took him all the way to death… then our hunger perseveres, never tires, it feeds on Him again and again.
56 He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him. v.56 the idea of dwelling in Christ and christ in us is communion. not only do we need to feed on christ in death to have life (atonement) but for communion. for a christian to walk out of communion with the Son is to not really live… it is spiritual death to the believer.
57 As the living Father has sent me and I live on account of the Father, “he” also who eats me shall live also on account of me. #2. Christ as a Man in His Incarnation (vv.57-58) – As the Father’s will was ever before the Lord as an all consuming object here below, his “meat” (John 4:34) or sustenance, so christ has set Himself before the believer as an object, that we might find our sustenance in him. “To me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). this verse explains what the manna typifies… the Lord as a humble man on earth living for his father’s will; that is what we feed on!
58 This is the bread which has come down out of heaven. Not as the fathers ate and died: he that eats this bread shall live for ever. v.58 returning to the subject in vv.49-50, christ as the bread of heaven, but now in the ongoing sense of eating. the manna in the wilderness sustained only the natural, temporal life, which ended in death. the loaves and fishes couldn’t do any more. But one eating of the Bread which came down from heaven would not die – in a spiritual sense – receive sustenance that nourishes the eternal life that we possess.
59 These things he said in the synagogue, teaching in Capernaum. v.59 We are reminded that He spoke these things in Capernaum, in Galilee (not in Jerusalem), away from the center of religious formalism. Yet many had followed who could not pass this test, found it too hard to accept (v.60).
the danger of rejecting the truth. when a person rejects the truth it opens them up to being blinded by satan; “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Cor. 4:4) and ultimately to being hardened by God (Rom 9:18) so as to be used but god as a display of his righteous judgment against sin.
Jesus Rebukes the Unbelief among His Disciples (vv.60-65)
60 Many therefore of his disciples having heard it said, This word is hard; who can hear it? v.60 this was cuch a test that even his disciples were divided over it. it is a big mistake to reject what you can understand… if god said it, we need to believe it. faith believes what our minds cannot understand. they ask “who can hear it?”… the answer is “those who have faith”.
61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmur concerning this, said to them, Does this offend you? v.61 they were confused and offended, because they did not have faith or an ear to hear. In the parable of the sower (the greatest and key to all parables) the issue wasn’t with the seed (see v.63) but with the way it was received. “god become man” was repulsive to the jew, as was cummunion with his death.
62 If then ye see the Son of man ascending up where he was before? v.62 This is precisely the subject of Ch.7; the ascention of the son and sending of the holy spirit. If they were offended as to the truths of (1) the incarnation, and (2) the Atoning death of the son, how would they handle (3) the acsention and (4) glorification? the ascension was implied in Psa. 8; 80; 110, and Dan. 7: but the jews had their eyes glued on the earth, and wouldn’t look up.
63 It is the Spirit which quickens, the flesh profits nothing: the words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life. v.63 this is the key to the whole previous discourse… these things are spiritual, and they can only be understood by the Spirit of God. it is “the Spirit of god which quickens” or makes good the word of God to us. because these disciples did not have faith, and so the words spoken did not profit them. however, it isnt that there was a problem with the words that came from the Lord’s mouth; they were spiritual and had the potency to give 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 deliver him up. v.64 perhaps the saddest verse in the whole chapter… when the will is set against god, the very manifestation of God heart – the eternal word, become flesh – standing in their midst was not enough to make some of his own disciples believe. he “knew from the beginning” (onmiscience) two things:
- those who did not believe (see v.66 – phase 1)
- that one of his inner circle who would betray him (see v.70 – phase 2).
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no one can come to me unless it be given to him from the Father. v.65 these disciples (as well as Judas) were the living proof that man does not have a free will… “no one can come to me.” they had seen the miracles, and now heard the truth from the very lips of the son of God himself, and they refused to believe. a “will to believe” or a new nature needs to be “given to him from the Father”.
The first man and the second man. the disciples would be sifted according to the value they placed on the second man. those without faith valued the first man more.
The Sifting of the Lord’s Disciples, in Two Phases (vv.66-71)
66 From that time many of his disciples went away back and walked no more with him. 1st phase – the greater mass of the disciples depart. what a sad day this was… confronted with the depths to which the second man would Go to glorify the father, the “many” break company with the few, and dissappear from the pages of scripture. the twelve are silent (Gal. 6:1; II Tim. 4:22).
67 Jesus therefore said to the twelve, Will ye also go away? vv.67-69 sometimes we don’t want to speak the truth, as Jesus had done, because we are afraid that it will scare away some. that was not the Lord’s way. the warnings of the Lord (vv.61-65) precipitate the departure of unbelievers, but when the faithful are pressed (v.67) they are knit more closely to Himself, and bring out (vv.68-69) their sense of what He is to their souls.
68 Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast words of life eternal; v.68 certainly peter did not understand (and how little do we) of the truth in John 6. but he knew a little, and had knew that this one had words that could lift you out of this world (eternal life), and there was no one to rival him.
69 and we have believed and known that thou art the holy one of God. v.69 Peter, the spokesman, gives a fine confession of faith; that this man standing in their midst was none other than the holy son of god. “known” – ginosko – an objective knowledge. but his use of the word “we” was incorrect.
70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you the twelve? and of you one is a devil. 2nd phase – the betrayer among the twelve. peter did not know how deep the unbelief truly ran… that it had penetrated the ranks of their own close-knit group. he had chosen the twelve as a special priviledge, but “one is a devil,” or, one has the character of the devil. When Judas went out of the upper room (john 13) satan actually indwelt him.
71 Now he spoke of Judas the son of Simon, Iscariote, for he it was who should deliver him up, being one of the twelve. v.71 Why does it say “simon’s son”? perhaps a contrast between simon’s son and simon peter? while one confessed for all that He was the Holy One of God, one also would ultimately betray Him. we see in a remarkable way the hearts of all men being manifested; the multitude, the disciples, peter, and judas.