Undoubtedly there were more disciples than the Twelve who kept faith with Jesus even after others chose to walk away, but the Twelve were His closest ... Read more
Undoubtedly there were more disciples than the Twelve who kept faith with Jesus even after others chose to walk away, but the Twelve were His closest friends. It was natural, then, that Jesus should ask them where their hearts lay as they saw others turning away from Him, for some of those who chose to go back to their former lives had doubtless become friends. There is a very human feeling to Jesus' question; certainly He was concerned as to whether His chief followers were true, but as a man there was also a yearning to still have friends. The Incarnate God's path would ultimately lead Him to the utter loneliness of the Cross, where even the Father would turn His back, but until the time came when the normal human need for companionship had to be laid aside for the fulfillment of Jesus' work, He had the same emotional needs as any other man and enjoyed their lawful fulfillment.
In characteristic fashion, Peter answered for all the disciples. His reply was essentially that the disciples' initial faith in Jesus as their Messiah had been confirmed by both His actions and His teachings, and therefore if He taught something that seemed difficult, it still must somehow fit with the tenor of His other teachings and would be understood in due time. And in the meantime, there was simply nowhere else to turn. Peter's answer acknowledged Jesus to be unique in person, office, and teaching; there was no one else who could take His place. If He were not the Messiah, then no one was.
Jesus' reply appears to hold a tacit commendation of those whom He had chosen; yet joined with this is a jarring contrast in the warning that one even among His closest friends was to prove unalterably opposed to Him. Judas may well have understood more of what Jesus was driving at than those disciples who had walked away, but any intellectual understanding he possessed was not enough to change his heart. (Compare Matthew 10:1-4 and associated notes.) Read less
Many of those who followed Jesus were unable to grasp His meaning, either because they could not get past the culturally shocking metaphors of eating ... Read more
Many of those who followed Jesus were unable to grasp His meaning, either because they could not get past the culturally shocking metaphors of eating flesh and drinking blood (which John 6:63 makes plain were not to be taken literally) or because what they did grasp was that Jesus had another agenda than meeting their demand for His provision of their temporal needs and desires. Their failure to understand or accept what He had to say became their measuring rod for their decision as to whether to continue following Jesus. Instead of basing their trust in Jesus on what they had already seen of His character and His works, they put their faith in their own faulty judgment and made the decision to withdraw from Him. And as Jesus pointed out, those who were discontented with Him because of His failure to be a Messiah on their terms would not have ceased their discontent even had they seen absolutely unmistakable proof of His deity; ultimately, they wanted God to conform Himself to their desires and not the other way around. Read less
This passage led to early critics of Christianity (and some even today) charging that Christians were (are) cannibals. But a moment's consideration s... Read more
This passage led to early critics of Christianity (and some even today) charging that Christians were (are) cannibals. But a moment's consideration should be more than sufficient to show that Jesus was not referring to literal consumption of the flesh and blood of His physical body. Aside from the fact that such practices were anathema to the Jews – and, for that matter, to most Gentile cultures – a salvation dependent on literally eating His body and drinking His blood would have been available only to people alive at the time of His walk on earth and only to a finite number, since a single human body can supply only so much flesh and blood.
Again, context is critical. The whole thrust of Jesus' argument, beginning with John 6:26, was that the Jews were seeking Him to have their physical needs met when they should have been seeking Him to give them what they so desperately lacked in their spiritual lives: a living and vital relationship with the God they supposedly worshiped. And they could only have such a relationship by incorporating Him into their lives through faith in His word and through His work in His atoning sacrifice, which is what He was referring to when He presented the idea of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. That He should have used a metaphor of eating should not be surprising; not only was He using His audience's demand that He should replicate the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand on a larger scale as a springboard, but to this day we use metaphors related to eating to represent our assimilation of new ideas or life changes. We "chew on" an idea as we mull it over time and again; we "digest" unexpected news; we refer to an interesting or challenging new idea as "food for thought"; we "drink in" sensations or emotional content. The typical counterpart to Jesus' presentation of Himself in this passage is the peace offering, which symbolized fellowship between God and man based on the sacrifice of an innocent substitute and provided a sacred meal for the one who gave the offering. Read less
Jesus' citation from the scroll of the Prophets comes from Isaiah 54:13 and is from a larger passage describing the blessed state of Israel following ... Read more
Jesus' citation from the scroll of the Prophets comes from Isaiah 54:13 and is from a larger passage describing the blessed state of Israel following the nation's final redemption, which in turn follows Isaiah's Messianic prophecy of the Suffering Servant. All those who are in the kingdom to come will receive God's instruction. This leads to the mystery of God's calling and man's responsibility. No one can come to Jesus without being called by God, but each individual man remains responsible for answering that call: he must both hear and learn, the latter word implying an active willingness to receive what is heard and incorporate it into the life.
Jesus' statement regarding His having seen the Father must be considered in the context of what came before it. In this, He distinguishes Himself from those who respond to the Father's call and are drawn to Him. Contrasting His knowledge with the learning from and of the Father which is given to ordinary believers, Jesus describes Himself as One who has "seen" the Father; that is, One who already has perfect comprehension and understanding of Him. Only the Son of God among men could make that claim. Read less
The Jews understood Jesus to be making a claim to be God-sent, but they could not reconcile this with His seeming ordinariness. While most of them di... Read more
The Jews understood Jesus to be making a claim to be God-sent, but they could not reconcile this with His seeming ordinariness. While most of them did not personally know Joseph and Mary, they knew of them as ordinary Jews, enrolled in the genealogies of their people. As far as they were concerned, that told them everything about Jesus: His origin, His social class, His connections, and His occupation were all bound up with His supposed parentage. Their reaction was similar to that of the people of Nazareth when Jesus preached in their synagogue (see Matthew 13:53-58, Mark 6:2-6, and associated notes). Read less
Compare Matthew 5:6 and associated notes. Jesus' audience apparently still took Jesus to be referring to literal bread; His response made it plain th... Read more
Compare Matthew 5:6 and associated notes. Jesus' audience apparently still took Jesus to be referring to literal bread; His response made it plain that He was referring to Himself. Those who come to Him, placing their full reliance on Him, will find their every desire fulfilled in Him; His work will be proven complete in their resurrection. This work of salvation from both sin and the power of death was what Jesus been sent to accomplish by the Father, and Jesus openly proclaimed that it would be completed in everyone who came to Him. Read less
Jesus' argument here is twofold. First, it was not Moses who had given the Israelites manna, but God Himself, as the Jews should have known from thei... Read more
Jesus' argument here is twofold. First, it was not Moses who had given the Israelites manna, but God Himself, as the Jews should have known from their own citation of Psalm 78:24. Second, the manna was a type of Jesus Himself (see Exodus 16:8-15 and associated notes). As the Father had sent the manna to satisfy the physical hunger of His people, He had now sent the Son to satisfy their spiritual need. Read less
Given that many of those gathered at Capernaum had been witnesses to the miracle that Jesus had just done in feeding the five thousand, the audacity o... Read more
Given that many of those gathered at Capernaum had been witnesses to the miracle that Jesus had just done in feeding the five thousand, the audacity of this question is stunning. The demand appears to have been not just for another miracle, but for one on the scope of God's provision of manna to the entire nation of Israel for forty years. Their implication appears to have been that Moses derived his authority over their forefathers from his provision of manna for them and that Jesus needed to do something similar if they were to give Him their allegiance. Read less
No more straightforward answer could have been given to His audience's question. If any human being is to do works that are pleasing to God, the prer... Read more
No more straightforward answer could have been given to His audience's question. If any human being is to do works that are pleasing to God, the prerequisite is a complete reliance on Jesus as Savior and Redeemer. Jesus had already made His claim to be the Messiah, one that the audience acknowledged, but they still needed to give Him their unquestioning allegiance rather than continually trying to make Him fit their own preconceptions. Read less
Although the crowds sought Jesus, they did so for the wrong reasons and with wrong motives. While they acknowledged His miraculous power as having co... Read more
Although the crowds sought Jesus, they did so for the wrong reasons and with wrong motives. While they acknowledged His miraculous power as having come from God, they were fixated on that power as the solution to their temporal problems. They were not seeking the Messiah to feed the hunger of their souls for God; they were seeking Him so that He would give them what they wanted here and now.
Jesus left their question about His arrival unanswered, perhaps because they did not even ask the right question. Had they asked how He had come to Capernaum ahead of them, they would have learned of another testimony to His power and, perhaps, seen the futility of trying to force Him to their will. Instead, He cut straight to the heart of the problem, which was their insensitivity to their own spiritual need. Taking their desire for food as a basis, He presented that desire as a metaphor for the hunger in the spirit which He had been sent to satisfy, a theme which He would continue throughout the exchange that followed. Read less