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Spiritual Versus Concrete Continues in John 6

Week 7 Part 4 John 6:22-71: Focus–Concrete (Concrete Literal) vs Spiritual (Spiritual Reality)

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

In chapter 6 John continues the steady development of his presentation of the great salvation theme of his letter, and he continues to contrast the concrete-only understanding of the religious pundits of his day with the spiritual realities of eternal life.

I. John 3: Nicodemus and the necessity of being born again of the Spirit

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

II. John 4: The Woman at the Well and Christ the giver of living water that springs up in believers to a fountain of eternal life

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

III. John 6: Christ the bread of life and the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood

John 6:31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?

John 6:48 I am the bread of life.

John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

Recap:

  • To Nicodemus Jesus said, You must be born again. Nicodemus responded concretely–asking whether he needed to crawl back into his mother’s womb as an old man.
  • To the Woman at the Well Jesus said, I will give you Living Water. The woman initially responded concretely by asking for the water so as not to have to go to the well to fill her bucket every day.
  • To all the listeners in John 6 (the religious pundits, his larger circle of disciples, and his own group of 12 disciples) Jesus reveals that he himself is the living water, and that those who want the fountain of water springing up to eternal life must eat his flesh and drink his blood. He was not speaking of cannibalism, but of the spiritual necessity of fully embracing himself in deepest communion–also known as believing in him. Many who heard him interpreted his words as though he were speaking of cannibalism, and they were repulsed.

This one verse sums up Jesus’ teaching well–

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Application:

  1. Can you find other verses in which a teaching of Jesus is interpreted concretely rather than as the spiritual truth he intends?
  2. Given the strength and clarity of Jesus’ teaching concerning Spirit and flesh (see John 6:63 above), why do you suppose there are some today whose minds still focus on concrete fulfillment of spiritual words rather than on the spiritual realities to which the concrete symbols point?

 

 

Jesus’ Categorical Statements in John 6: The Impossibility of Faith Without God

Week 7 Part 3 John 6:22-71: Focus–God’s Sovereignty in Election and Human Choice and Responsibility

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Four Verses that Function as “Necessary/Sufficient” Couplets

I. Couplet One–John 6:37 (Necessary Condition) and John 6:65 (Necessary Condition)

A. John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

X = “all that the Father gives me”

Y = “will come to me”

In this construction, X is a subset of Y.sufficient-copy

• There may be others in Y whom the Father has not given.

• Everyone who is in X must be in Y.

• Y is necessary for X.

• X at this point is not necessary for Y.

Paraphrases of John 6:37

• If the Father gave you to me, it is necessary that you come to me.

• This necessity is called Irresistible Grace

B. John 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless is granted him by the Father.”

X = those who come to me

Y = those whom the Father granted sufficient-part-2

Jesus’ statement “no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” can be translated as–

No X (those who come to me)   If Not   Y (granted by the Father)

or,

No X unless Y = Y is necessary for X.

In this construction, X is still a subset of Y. Notice, however, that the terms have changed.

• The X of verse 37 has become the Y of verse 65.

• The Y of verse 37 has become the X of verse 65.

In both verses, however, X is still a subset of Y.

Conclusion: If “those whom the Father gives” is a subset of “those who come,” AND “those who come” is a subset of “all that the Father gives,” then both terms are subsets of each other. This can happen only if the terms are identical. Therefore, both terms are Necessary and Sufficient for each other.

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All whom the Father gives will come, and all who come were given by the Father. God’s grace is both Irresistible and Necessary.

 Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

II. Couplet Two–John 6:47 (Necessary Condition) and John 6:53 (Necessary Condition)belief_eternal-lifesufficient

A. John 6:47 Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

X = whoever believes

Y = those who have eternal life

X is a subset of Y.

Y is a necessary condition for X. However, as stated, it is not a sufficient condition.

B. John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

First, to “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood” is understood as a metaphorical, symbolic, or spiritual, way of saying, “believe in Jesus.”

Paraphrase: Unless you partake fully in the being and life of Jesus the Son of Man, you have no life in you. sufficient-couplet-2

Shortened Paraphrase: Unless you believe in Jesus, you have no life in you.

X = those with life

Y = those who believe in Jesus

If not Y, then not X

Y is necessary for X

As stated, Y is not sufficient for X.

Again notice, Jesus in these two statements has interchanged the X and Y terms. In verse 47, “whoever believes” (X) is a subset of “those who have eternal life” (Y), while in verse 53, “those with [eternal] life” is a subset of “those who believe in Jesus” (Y).

Conclusion: If “whoever believes” is a subset of “those who have eternal life,” and “those with [eternal] life” is a subset of “those who believe in Jesus,” then each subset is identical with the other. Again, belief in Jesus is both necessary and sufficient for eternal life, and in order to have eternal life, it is both necessary and sufficient to believe in Christ.

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There is only one set of believers–those who have eternal life, and only one set of those with eternal life–those who believe. Jesus has just demolished the “many pathways to God [eternal life]” argument. One may believe that there are many pathways to God and eternal life, but such a belief is not Scriptural; nor does it adhere to the teaching of Jesus.

III. These are not the only places in Scripture where Jesus has made these claims.

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

John 6:54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

The People Respond

When taken as whole, Jesus’ statements in John 6:22-71 presented a stumbling block to his listeners. These were–

1. The Jewish leaders

John 6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man [this fellow] give us his flesh to eat?”

2. Christ’s disciples, those who had been following him regularly for some time

John 6:60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

3. The Twelve, those closest to Christ, his intimate friends and companions

John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

Believing the words of Christ presents problems for millions of those who hear him today. This is why God’s “sovereign choice in election” is a blessing, an aid, a help, a gracious act of forgiveness, not a hindrance nor any unfairness on his part. Without that gracious drawing of God, no one would come to Christ, as Jesus explains in John 6. We do not know why God draws some to Christ and not others.

We do know that nowhere in John’s gospel, nor any other place in Scripture of which I am aware, does God or Christ ever say that he will turn anyone away who seeks him. Rather, Christ says that all who seek him will find.

Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Luke 11:10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Are you one who struggles against placing your faith and confidence in Jesus Christ? Perhaps you find the bluntness of his words difficult to receive? If this is so, there is no need to turn away from Christ. God provides a remedy for your condition.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

The remedy for an unbelieving heart is prayer. If you want eternal life, humble yourself and ask God to reveal himself to you. When God reveals himself to anyone, he also reveals Christ.

John 6:45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me–

Father, I pray that anyone reading this right now, who does not know you, will be found of you, and because of your drawing them, will come to know you, and that knowing you, they will come to know and receive Jesus Christ and through believing his Word, receive eternal life in his name. I pray, precious Father, that the gift you gave me when you drew my heart to know and believe in you, will be multiplied as the loaves and fishes, and reach out to many unto eternal life. Thank-you, Father, for hearing my prayer. In Jesus I pray, amen.

So Where in John 6 Is Human Responsibility and Choice?

Having said all that, God still provides for human responsibility and human choice. !!!!! How can this be? Well, God is God and he is infinite–we are finite, and unfortunately, still under the curse of the Fall. Some things that seem paradoxical are; perhaps God in humanity’s eternal future will explain all which is unexplainable now. What is known now is that God somehow takes our choice into account as he makes his own sovereign election.

In John 6 we find human responsibility and choice in the following verses:

John 6:25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

John 6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

John 6:67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Definition of want: “Gingrich, (θέλετε from θέλω,2. wish, will of purpose or resolve, wish to do Mt 20:14; Mk 3:13; J 6:21, 67; Ac 18:21; Ro 7:15f, 19f; 2 Cor 8:10; Col 1:27; Rv 11:5. οὐ θέλω I will not Mt 21:30 v.l.)” (See Bibliography for Gems from John)

Our faith is the mechanism, the means, which God uses to accomplish his own sovereign will.

All of us need God’s will–his help–in returning to him, in being drawn to Christ, and in choosing Christ, because our own will was destroyed at the Fall (Genesis 3). Regeneration is necessary in order to believe, simply because dead men don’t choose—they cannot. Faith is for the living; dead people have no faith, because they are dead. God regenerates us in Christ—we choose to believe.

 

 

 

Sent and Endorsed

Week 7 Part 2 John 6:22-71: Focus–Jesus Was Sent by God the Father and Endorsed by Him

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

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Faith Has Its Perfect Response

 

 

Jesus’ “I Am” Statements in John 6

 

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Link To: Outline of the Gospel of John

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Week 6 Part 2 John 6:1-15: Jesus Feeds 5,000 People from One Lunch

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Parallel Passages: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17

Important Items to Notice jesus-bread-life-50000

  • The healing of the nobleman’s son, Jesus’ second sign recorded in John’s Gospel (see Outline of John, Week 5), occurred at the beginning of what is called the “Great Galilean Ministry.” This fourth sign, in which Jesus feeds 5,000 men plus women and children from five “loaves” of Mediterranean flat bread and two fish, occurs at the end of his Galilean ministry.
  • John 5 records how Jesus was rejected in Judea; John 6 shows how he was rejected in Galilee also.
  • In Judea, John records how the Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus; here in Galilee, it was not just the leaders but his own disciples (the twelve excepted) who also rejected him.
  • This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (see links above, Parallel Passages).
  • As recorded by John, the disciples’ faith had not grown sufficiently for them to expect or even believe that Jesus could feed the enormous crowd from one boy’s lunch (John 6:5-9).
  • Nevertheless, the disciples obeyed Christ and arranged the men in orderly groups of about fifty each (Luke 9:14-15). Application: Obedience is a servant to faith in the outworking of miracles in our lives. Obeying Christ’s clear commands even when our faith falls short is sometimes enough for our miracle to happen (cf. the miraculous results of Peter’s obedience without faith in Luke 5:3-9).
  • Apart from the resurrection, this is the most well attested sign that Jesus performed, witnessed and participated in by over 5,000 people at once.

Many of Those Whom Jesus Fed Later Rejected Him (John 6:66).

John supplies a key to their actions:

NIV  John 6:15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

This was an unruly mob ruled by the concrete reality of their stomachs. They wanted control over a puppet king of their own making, one who would do their own bidding and feed them on demand. They had no interest in Jesus as a person–who was this amazing man? Nor did their eyes lift to the heavens to recognize the source of the awesome power Jesus displayed. Their interest in him was earthbound, not spiritual.

The writer John explores their attitudes and motivations later as Chapter 6 continues.

Application: How does this miracle demonstrate John’s theme–that Jesus is the Son of God. What does this mean for me personally in my own life?

 

Week 6 Part 2 John 6:15-21: The Fifth Sign–Jesus Walks on Water

 

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

Genesis 1:2 …  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

After the miracle of the bread and fish, Jesus sent the crowds away. Then he sent his disciples away into the one boat down on the shore and bid them sail to the other side of the lake, while he himself retreated into the mountains to pray. He prayed for a good deal of the night, while his disciples rowed against the wind on high seas in a fierce storm. By the middle of the night, they were still out in the middle of the lake, suspended half way from shore to shore, about 2-1/2 miles out.

Suddenly, an apparition-like form came moving across the water, and the disciples in the boat were terrified. The form spoke in a familiar voice, “It is I; do not be afraid.” At this, they recognized that it was Jesus, and they willingly brought him into the boat. Again suddenly, all at once, they found themselves and the boat on the shore towards which they had laboriously been rowing for hours.

Question: How does this fifth sign achieve John’s thematic purpose of demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God? How does this affect me in my life personally?

……………………………………..

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

This miracle-story should be accepted by faith. If one does not believe it, however, let him not try to explain it away. Let him be honest and say, “I do not believe it.” (Hendriksen, vol. 1, 227)

 

 

 

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