John 6

PLUS

CHAPTER 6

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand (6:1-15)

(Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17)

1-15 See Mark 6:30-44 and comment.

Jesus Walks on the Water (6:16-24)

(Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56)

16-24 See Mark 6:45-56 and comment.

Jesus the Bread of life (6:25-59)

25 After miraculously feeding five thousand men (verses 1-15), Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee walking on the water (verses 16-24). The crowd who had been fed with the five loaves and two fish came by land the next day to look for Him.

26 But when the crowd found Jesus, He rebuked them. They were only seeking more bread, more healing. The miracles Jesus had performed had not led the people to believe in Him; they had only led to a desire for more miracles. In the people’s minds, Jesus’ miracles were not a sign that He was the Son of God; they were merely a means of obtaining bodily necessities—such as more food.

27 Jesus said to them, “Do not work for food that spoils.” Instead, they should work for spiritual “food,” which only Jesus can give. Such “food” lasts forever, and it gives life that lasts forever. To “work for spiritual food” means to pray, to study the Bible, and to obey Christ. Yet, even though one must work for it, it is always a gift. Christ, the Son of Man, gives this spiritual food to whom He pleases (John 5:21). Man can never earn it, nor can he by his own effort make himself worthy to receive it.

“Food that spoils” represents not only ordinary food for eating, but also all worldly things, such as wealth, honor, and pleasure (see Matthew 6:19-20 and comment).

The food that the Son of Man gives is true food indeed, because God has placed His seal on the Son. In New Testament times, important people placed their seal on their letters. The seal proved that the letter was indeed written by the owner of the seal and not by someone else. So God’s “seal” proves that Jesus has come from God. Jesus is not only the Son of Man (John 1:51); He is also the Son of God.

28-29 The people supposed that they must do some kind of good work in order to earn this spiritual food. But Jesus told them that only one “work” was necessary: to believe45 in the one he (God) has sent (verse 29).

In one way, to believe—to have faith—is a kind of “work.” In another way, faith is a gift of God (see John 6:44; Romans 12:3 and comments). Faith is first of all a gift; but having received the gift, we must then use it.

30 Again the Jews sought for a sign (see Mark 8:11; John 2:18 and comments). Jesus had just fed five thousand people, but they wanted a greater sign. They wanted to be continuously filled with bread.

31 Then they suggested a sign He could give them: Let Him send manna from heaven, as God did in Moses’ time. When the Jews had escaped from Egypt and were in the Sinai desert, God sent them a kind of “bread” from heaven each day for forty years to satisfy their hunger (Exodus 16:1-4,14-15,31; Psalm 78:24).

The Jews in New Testament times believed that the Messiah, when He came, would also send “manna” from heaven. They believed that that would be one of the signs of the Messiah. Therefore, if Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, let Him perform that sign. Then they would believe in Him.

Even today, people ask for signs. They say, “If you give me proof that Jesus is the Son of God, I will believe.” But such people are only testing God (Matthew 4:7). Their demand for sure proof is only an excuse for not believing. They will not believe no matter what “proof” they are given (see Luke 16:27-31 and comment).

32 Jesus told the people that Moses didn’t give the manna; God gave it. Furthermore, manna was not true bread from heaven. Manna was earthly bread that fell from the sky. The true bread46 from heaven is spiritual “bread,” the bread of God (verse 33).

33 This “bread of God” comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. The bread Jesus gives is spiritual bread, and it gives men spiritual life, eternal life.

34 Like the Samaritan woman (John 4:15), the people did not understand Jesus’ spiritual meaning.

35 Then Jesus said “I am that bread. I am the life-giving bread” (John 1:4; 3:36; 1 John 5:11-12). He who comes to Jesus and eats this bread will never go hungry (see John 4:14 and comment).

Then Jesus added, “He who believes in me will never go thirsty.” We must understand that the bread of life is the same as the living water mentioned in John 4:1011. We must also understand that to “eat” this bread and to “drink” this water means to believe in Jesus. It means to receive Jesus into our life. Just as we take food and drink into our stomachs, so we take Christ into our hearts through faith.

Jesus says here: “He who comes to me will never go hungry.” To come to Jesus is the same as to believe in Jesus.47 Jesus says to all men: “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28).

36 Even though the Jews saw Jesus and saw His miracles with their own eyes, they did not believe. At first they had asked for bread from heaven (verse 34). They thought that it would be tasty and pleasing. They came to Christ only to receive His blessing. But when they found out that the bread was Christ Himself, they despised the “bread,” and turned away from Christ.

37 Jesus said, “All (men) that the Father gives me will come to me.” Most of the Jews did not believe, because the Father had not “given them” to Christ. God had not given them the gift of faith. If God does not first “draw” a man, that man cannot come to Christ (verse 44). Men don’t first decide to believe; first God calls them (John 15:16).

A difficult question arises here: Why is it a sin not to believe? If faith is a gift of God, how can it be a sin not to receive it?

The answer is this. God gives faith only to those whose hearts are open and humble. Thus, if we have not received the gift of faith, it is because we have hardened our hearts against God. Yes, faith is a gift. But to receive it, we must first repent of our sin and turn toward God. Then God will give us faith (see Romans 9:14-21 and comment; General Article: Salvation—God’s Choice or Man’s Choice?).

Christ will never turn away those who come to Him in faith. No matter how unworthy we are, He will accept us. We do not have to be perfect and pure in order to come to Christ; He will receive us just as we are. But we must come to Him. That is our part.

On the one hand, we cannot come to Christ unless God draws us. But, on the other hand, God cannot draw us if we refuse to come.

38-39 Christ came to do God’s will (John 5:30). God’s will is that Christ lose none of all that he has given to Christ (verse 39)—that is, none of all the people that God has given to Christ, which means all true Christians (John 10:28-29). Christ fulfilled God’s will in this regard (and in all other regards) while He was here on earth (John 17:12).

It was God’s will not only that Christ lose no one, but also that Christ raise them (believers) up at the last day—that is, give them salvation, eternal life. The last day is the day of judgment at the end of the world, when all men shall either be raised to heaven or sent to hell (John 5:28-29).

40 Here Jesus repeats the thought of verse 39. Jesus gives new spiritual life to all who believe in Him. Surely those to whom He has given spiritual life on earth He will also raise to eternal life in heaven on the last day.

… everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life. We must look to the Son with the eye of faith. The Christian’s faith is not blind faith. We behold Jesus,48 and then we believe.

41-42 The Jews took of fense at Jesus’ sayings. They grumbled, “How can He say He came down from heaven, when He is only the son of Joseph and Mary? He is from earth, just as we are” (see Mark 6:2-3 and comment).

43-44 No one can come to me unless the Father … draws him. Here Jesus repeats the idea of verse 37. Let no one think he can come to Christ only by his own thought or desire. He must first be drawn by God (see verses 37,65 and comment).

45 Jesus here repeats the same truth in different words. God “draws” men by teaching them. Everyone who is taught by God and learns from Him comes to Christ. If our minds are not enlightened by God’s Spirit, we cannot come to Christ (see verse 65 and comment). Notice it is God who does the teaching; but it is we who must do the learning!

Jesus quotes from the Prophets, that is, that part of the Old Testament which contains the writings of the prophets. He quotes from Isaiah 54:13.

46 God teaches men. But He does not have to teach the Son, Jesus, because Jesus has seen God and has come from God (see John 1:18 and comment). Jesus has received the things of God; therefore, Jesus is fully able to teach those things to men. No man has ever seen God Himself; therefore, what we learn from God we learn mainly through Christ. We can be sure that whatever teaching we learn from Christ is a teaching that has come from God.

47 The only thing necessary to receive eternal life is to believe in Jesus (see John 3:15,36 and comment).

48-50 Here Jesus again says that He is the life-giving bread, which is much better than manna. In the Jews’ opinion, manna was the best of all foods. But the Old Testament Jews ate manna and eventually died. But those who eat the “bread of life,”—that is, those who believe in Jesus—will never die. That is, their souls49 will never die. They have eternal life.

51 Jesus is the living bread. Not only does Jesus Himself have God’s eternal life within Him (John 5:26), but whoever “eats” Jesus will also receive eternal life. “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” Even though a person’s body will die, his soul will not die.

Here Jesus gives a new teaching. He says: “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” That is, Jesus will give His flesh, His body, to save men and women. He will give His life as a sacrifice that we might live. Here Jesus is talking about His death on the cross (see Mark 10:45; John 3:14-16 and comments).

52 The Jews argued among themselves concerning Jesus’ statement. They couldn’t understand His meaning. “How are we to eat His flesh,” they wondered.

53 To answer them, Jesus repeated even more clearly that in order to obtain eternal life a man must eat His (Jesus’) flesh and drink His blood. That is, in order to be saved, a man must receive Christ into his heart by faith (see verse 35 and comment). Just as our bodies cannot live without food and drink, so our souls cannot live without Christ.50

To drink blood was an extremely of fensive thought to the Jews. According to the Old Testament, the Jews were forbidden to drink any kind of blood (Genesis 9:4).

54 Jesus here repeats the thought of verses 47 and 53.

55 The Jews worked for food that spoils (verse 27), but Jesus gives the food that endures to eternal life—that is, His flesh and blood. That is real food and real drink.

Let us remember here that it is not only Jews that work for food that spoils. All these sayings of Jesus are not just for the Jews; they are also for us.

56 When we have, in a spiritual way, eaten Christ’s flesh and drunk His blood, He remains in us spiritually.51 His life, His Holy Spirit, dwells within us. And we spiritually become part of Christ. We become part of His body (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus later said to His disciples: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. … If a man remain in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Whoever abides in Christ abides also in God (1 John 4:15).

Here we see a very important truth about the Christian life: Believers are united with Christ. We must remain in Christ. That is, we must remain in His love, in His strength, in His peace and joy. We must remain in obedience to Him. We must remain in His kingdom. And Christ, for His part, will remain in us. That is, His life, His “living water,” His “bread of life,” His Holy Spirit—all these will remain in us. And our entire life will be in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ.

58 See verses 49-50 and comment.

59 All these things Jesus taught in the synagogue at Capernaum (verses 17,24).

Many Disciples Desert Jesus (6:60-71)

60 Besides the twelve main disciples (Mark 3:13-19), Jesus had many other disciples also. These had to some extent believed Jesus’ words, but their faith was very weak and shallow. It was some of these disciples who began to say, “This is a hard teaching.” They meant: “This teaching about eating Jesus’ flesh is hard for us to accept.”

61 At first, it had been the Jews that grumbled about Jesus’ teaching (verse 41). Now Jesus’ own followers had begun to grumble. Jesus knew their thoughts. He knows the thoughts of each of us. We must be careful not only about what we say; we must also be careful about what we think!

The disciples were not grumbling because they couldn’t understand Jesus. They were grumbling because Jesus was demanding that they become united with Him. Jesus was demanding that they follow Him with their whole heart. They were not prepared to do that.

62 Jesus answered them, “What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!” Jesus’ meaning is this. If the disciples find it difficult to accept Jesus’ teachings now, it will be even more difficult for them when He ascends to where he was before, that is, heaven. Because, before He can ascend to heaven, He must first be killed. His disciples will be scattered. They will be persecuted by the Jews. And when Jesus ascends to heaven, they will in one way be alone. He will be gone from them. True, He will be with them in the form of the Holy Spirit, but if they can’t receive Jesus’ spiritual teachings now, how will they be able to receive the Holy Spirit’s teachings then?

63 The Spirit—that is, the Holy Spirit—gives life. When men “eat” Jesus’ flesh, it is not flesh they are eating; it is the Holy Spirit. Flesh counts for nothing.

Jesus is trying to teach us to understand the spiritual meaning of His words. His words … are spirit. Just as God is spirit (John 4:24), so Jesus’ words are spirit. His words come from God (John 7:16; 12:4950). They are not the fleshly words of a man. Jesus’ words can be understood only by our spirits, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 and comment).

The words of Jesus are also life; that is, His words give life (see John 5:24). Just as God’s word created the heavens and the earth and gave life to all creatures (John 1:1-4), so Jesus’ words continue to give spiritual life to all who heed them.

64 Jesus knew from the beginning who would remain faithful to Him and who would fall away. He knows that also about each one of us.

Even though the disciples had heard Jesus’ words, most of them understood the words only in a fleshly sense. They had followed Jesus because of the miracles they could see, but they didn’t really believe in Christ in a deep spiritual way. Now, as soon as Jesus’ teaching became difficult, they fell away (see Mark 4:5-6,16-17).

65 Then Jesus reminded them that no one can follow Him unless God first draws him: “… no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him”(see verses 37,44 and comment). If God does not Himself first draw a man out of darkness and sin, he can never come to God. A sinner will never turn to God by his own desire; he always wants to remain in his sin (John 3:19). Therefore, when anyone comes to God and Jesus, it is always the result of God’s grace. The Father has enabled him to come.

Therefore, Jesus knew that some of His disciples would fall away, because they had not been truly “drawn” by God. Their faith was not real. Even among Jesus’ own special twelve disciples, one would in the end betray Him (see verses 70-71).

66 Therefore, just as Jesus said, many of His disciples turned away. They had thought that the Messiah would be like an earthly king. Perhaps they had thought they would get some worldly advantage by following Jesus. Now they saw that being a disciple of Jesus was different than they had expected. Therefore, they left Him.

67-69 Then Jesus turned to His twelve disciples. Would they also leave?

But Peter, acting as spokesman for the twelve disciples, answered Jesus: “Where would we go? You have the words of eternal life” (verse 68). He had understood what Jesus said in verse 63. To have the words of eternal life is the same as having the power to give eternal life. If Jesus had the the power to give eternal life, why should the twelve disciples go elsewhere?

Then Peter said, “We believe and know you are the Holy One of God”—that is, the

Messiah (see Mark 8:29 and comment). The twelve disciples (except for Judas) truly believed. Yes, later, they too would fall away for a short time (Mark 14:50); but their faith never totally left them.

70-71 Then Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. But He didn’t say who it would be. John tells us that it would be Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot (see Mark 14:10-11,17-20,44-46).

Jesus called Judas a devil, because he became a servant of the devil, Satan. Satan entered into him (see John 13:2,27).