In John 6:45-46 Jesus said, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes to me. Not that any man has seen the Father, except He who is of God, He has seen the Father." Jesus quoted from the book of Isaiah in order to give evidence to the teaching that He is making here about the fact that no one can come to God unless they are first drawn by God. This time it says that a person must be taught by God. If you havenít learned something from God, then you havenít learned much about the true meaning of life. Thatís why a person who has been saved is a different person. When you meet God personally, it changes your life. Itís God who reaches out to humans and touches them, and communicates to them the truth of His existence and the truth of His great, eternal love. But donít get the wrong idea. This communication from God is a spiritual communication. Itís not by an audible voice and itís not by seeing Him, that He communicates with us, and so Jesus said, "not that any man has seen the Father."
In John 6:47-48 Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believes on me has everlasting life. I am that bread of life." Evidently, it was important to Jesus that the people understood that He was the bread of life, because He kept making the point over and over; and He kept telling them that the way to take in the bread of life is by believing.
In John 6:49-51 Jesus said, "Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." These people were seeking physical food from Jesus because they saw what He did at the feeding of the 5,000. The point that Jesus was making is that it would be of a very limited value to give them physical food in a miraculous way, because they would still eventually die. It would be of infinitely more value to give them something that would result in life that extends beyond the grave.
Now we understand very clearly what Jesus was teaching in John Chapter 6. We understand that Jesus made a comparison between bread that we eat for food for physical life, and that which Jesus said we must have for spiritual life, which is to come to Him and to believe in Him. Verses 52 through 59 of John Chapter 6 could be easily misunderstood if they were taken out of context. This is a good illustration of the importance of knowing the context that you are studying in the Bible. When a few verses are taken out of context, things can be taught from the Bible that never were meant to be taught. Another lesson about understanding the scriptures can also be learned from this passage, and thatís the fact that some parts of the Bible are meant to be taken literally and other parts are meant to be taken symbolically. If you take a portion of the scripture and give it a literal meaning when it should have a symbolic meaning, then you will get all mixed up, and you will emphasize things that you should not emphasize and you will teach things that you should not teach.
John 6:52-59 should not be taken literally. The people who listened to Jesus tried to understand what He said literally instead of symbolically, and that was the cause of their misunderstanding. John 6:52-59 says, "The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, how can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live forever. These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum."
These people who listened to Jesus made the same mistake that some people make today. They failed to recognize when a certain passage of scripture should be taken symbolically instead of literally. John 6:60 says, "Many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?"
The Lord knows how to work in our lives. He has ways of building up our faith, even if something else may have happened that would potentially be an obstacle to faith. John 6:61-62 says, "When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said to them, Does this offend you? What and if you shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?" At this point in their lives they were not able to understand everything that Jesus taught them, but Jesus would not let their faith fail: He would do whatever it would take to build up their faith in Him, and Jesus is saying here that the reason that they would be allowed to view His ascension to heaven was so that they would have a solid basis for faith, so that whatever doubts might assail them, they would always have the solid ground to fall back on. Itís the same today. If you are going to live a life of faith, you must have experienced some meaningful personal contact with the Almighty, so that when doubts assail you, you will have your personal experience with God to fall back on. For most people itís their salvation experience that they can fall back on, when they first met Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins, and they can always say, "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."
In John 6:63 Jesus said, "It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." Earlier in this chapter Jesus talked about His flesh and compared it to bread; but that was only symbolism: because He says here that the flesh profits nothing. The flesh also profits nothing in the sense that you cannot earn the favor of God. If you want to be accepted by God, then you enter into a relationship with Him that is based upon grace. Itís not what you earn, but what God gives you freely. This is not something that you can accomplish by how well organized you are or how disciplined you are. It can only happen by the Spirit of God. It can only happen not by what man initiates, but by what God initiates, and then by man following God and surrendering to God. Itís the work of the Spirit. Whatís wrong with a lot of religious organizations is that they are not spiritual. They may be well-organized and put together by the will of man and the efforts of man, but they are not spiritual if they are not organized by people who are moved by the Spirit of God.
Notice the close relationship between the Spirit and life, and between the Spirit and the words of Jesus. You canít know God without the Words of God. "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free;" and the truth is expressed with words. If you know and use and accept the right words, then you have the life that the Spirit gives and you walk in fellowship with God. If you donít have those words, then you donít have life, and you donít have the Spirit. God has given us His word so that we can have life, and God has preserved His word, so that every generation can have the same opportunity to experience the life of the Spirit.
John 6:64-66 says, "But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him. And He said, therefore said I unto you, that no man can come to me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him." Jesus said that He knew who would believe and who would not believe, ahead of time. Of course, Jesus was talking about the foreknowledge of God: the fact that God knows everything that is going to happen before it even happens. God is not limited by time, and He does not change over time, and He will not know more tomorrow than He does today, because He already knows everything that there is to know, and one of the things that He already knows is who will believe and who will not believe. This is the attribute of omniscience. But donít make the mistake that some have made of confusing this all-knowing attribute of God and thinking that it means that humans have no choice. God already knows the end from the beginning, but as far as you and I are concerned, whosoever will may come. Whosoever will may take of the water of life and drink freely. If someone does not believe, itís because they chose to not believe, and not because God knew about their choice ahead of time.
The real reason that some of these people stopped walking after Jesus, is because He did not do what they wanted Him to do. Instead of being attached to the words of Jesus, they wanted certain things to happen; and when they did not get what they wanted, they became discouraged and therefore lost their desire to follow Jesus. Most people do not get everything that they want, and if you follow Jesus, you especially will not get it; because those that follow Him must be willing to surrender their own wants and desires in order to find the will of God.
But for those who do continue to follow Jesus, Peter is a good example of why we continue to follow Him, and the confession of faith that Peter gives, we also can give. John 6:67-69 says, "Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will you also go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter said to Jesus, "Thou hast the words of eternal life." If your attachment is to the words of Jesus Christ then you will be able to keep following Him, no matter what else happens. There are many reasons that this is true. One reason is the greatness of the words of Christ. No man ever spake as this man, and nothing will ever be able to meet the needs of your soul the way that the words of Christ can do. If you fail, the words of Christ will remind you that He always forgives sins and therefore you will keep following Him because you are forgiven once again. If you face some great challenge, the words of Christ will keep you positive because Jesus said, "With God all things are possible." If you face an uncertain future, the words of Christ will give you peace because Jesus said, "Seek you first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you." If you face danger the words of Christ will remind you of divine protection because Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." As a matter of fact the better that you understand and put into practice the words of Christ, the better that you will be prepared for whatever life throws at you. We who have heard and received the words of Jesus can only say what Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of life."
John 6:70-71 says, "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spoke of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve." There are some who are true believers and some who are not. That will always be the case in the age in which we live, and it was even the case in regards to the twelve apostles. Even concerning the twelve apostles of Jesus, one of them had a devil. When Jesus told the parable of the wheat and the tares, He made it clear that only God knows enough about each person to be able to separate the wheat from the tares. For now the wheat and the tares grow together. In spite of anyoneís efforts, the wheat and the tares will grow up together until the harvest. Some day the wheat and the tares will be separated, but not now. One of the problems of some Christian groups is that they spend too much time and effort trying to determine from whom they should separate, when they should rather spend their efforts in saying and doing the right thing no matter whom they are around.
One of the twelve had a devil. This is in contrast to the fact that the others had the Spirit of God. There are two spirits in the world: the Spirit of good, which comes from God and which centers in the person of Jesus: and the spirit of evil which is in contrast to the spirit of God. A person will have the spirit of God within them through surrendering to the spirit of God; or they will have the spirit of evil within them because they have resisted the spirit of God. Some people ask, ďHow can such horrible crimes be committed that are committed; the murders, the molestations and the hatreds? How is it possible? Where does such evil come from?Ē It comes from the evil that can exist within a human, a human who is overcome by the extremes and excesses of their own selfishness. The spirit of evil is the spirit of human selfishness and self-interest. Evidently Judas joined the group of the apostles for selfish reasons, to see what he could get out of things in case Jesus really did become King. Once Judas realized that the kingdom of Jesus was a spiritual kingdom and not an earthly one, Judas was more than ready to turn Jesus in for 40 pieces of silver: he would at least get something out of the deal. Because of his selfishness and his lack of surrender to the will of God, he became evil: and the name of Judas has become synonymous with the most treacherous and despicable of humans. In the centuries that have passed since the betrayal of Jesus, there may be no worse name that you could call someone than to call them a Judas. Itís always better to go with God than away from Him. Beware of your own selfishness. It has the potential to lead to your own destruction. But thank God that He sent Jesus into the world to be the bread of life. If you come to Jesus, instead of destruction, you will have life forever more.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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