Sunday, March 28, 2021




I Am the Light of the World

In this passage, Jesus continued to speak to the crowds at the feast. The previous passage contained his saying the he is the source of living water. Here he said he is the light of the world.

The background to the previous passage was the ceremony during the Feast of Booths of pouring water from the pool of Siloam onto the altar in memory of God providing water to the Israelites in the desert.

The background to this teaching of Jesus is another ceremony at the feast. This ceremony was called the Illumination of the Temple, and it occurred on the first night of the festival and, possibly, every night. 

Jesus was teaching in the Treasury, which was in the Court of the Women. Also in the court were four large candelabras which were lit on the first night and kept burning all night long. Men danced and sang to the Lord in the light of the lamps.

So, at this place, Jesus declared that he is the light of the world. This is the second “I Am” saying. (12) The first was Jesus’ declaration that he is the Bread of Life. 

Although this is the first time the crowd heard this message of Jesus being the light of the world, John has already told his readers this in the prologue. There he said that in Jesus was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (1:4-7) He also wrote that Jesus was the true light, which enlightens everyone. (1:9)

In this passage, Jesus said he is the light of the world and whoever follows him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (12) There are many Old Testament passages about God as light that are possibly alluded to here. 

Psalm 27:1 says “The LORD is my light and my salvation…”. 

Psalm 119:105 says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. 

Isaiah 49:6 cites God saying of his Servant, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth”.

Maybe most telling comes from God leading the Israelites through the wilderness. At night, in the dark, the Lord went before them in a pillar of fire. (Exodus 13:21) They followed the Lord by following his light, which penetrated the darkness of night in the wilderness. 

Light in John’s gospel means the knowledge and understanding of God and of spiritual things. It, is revelation. Remember John 1:18 saying no one has seen God, but Jesus has made him known, or revealed him. 

Darkness is ignorance or rejection of God. Paul wrote in this same way, when he said that those who did not honor God became futile in their thinking and their hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21) 

Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul wrote that the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to them, and thy are not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. In other words, they are in darkness and do not have the light that Jesus brings.

So, Jesus says he is the light and whoever follows him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. (12) It is a metaphorical statement meaning that Jesus is the way to know the Father and have eternal life.

This statement must have stunned his audience. Here in the place where the celebration of God’s light in the darkness took place, Jesus claimed to be the light and that he was the light who gave life, meaning eternal of life.

There is a claim to deity here and a claim to give eternal life to his followers. So, the Jews are again are put to the point of decision: they must believe or deny. The first group denies: they claim Jesus’ testimony cannot be true because he bears witness to himself. They do not acknowledge Jesus’ authority as God to speak  about himself. They are also going beyond the requirements of the Law, which only applied this standard in criminal matters.

Jesus’ response is that, even if he did bear witness about himself, his testimony is true because he knows where he came from (heaven) and where he is going (heaven). In other words, he has first hand knowledge they do not have. (14)

Additionally, Jesus said they judged according to the flesh. (15) He means by human standards, by those of fallen mankind without the Spirit of God. (If you want to experience this kind of judging yourself, try talking to an unbeliever about God being just and having the right to punish or judge nations for their sins as he did in the Old Testament.) 

In contrast, Jesus said he judged no one. A better translation of the Greek word might be to “assess”. So, Jesus is not saying he did not come to condemn as he will at the second coming. That is true, but here he is saying he does not judge as the Jews do, in a world fashion or superficial way. 

But, Jesus said, if he did judge, his judgment would be true, and not worldly, because he and his Father both judge. (16) The Jews would not argue with the Father’s right to judge, though they do not seem to understand that Jesus is referring to God as his Father . 

We again see the complete agreement of Father and Son and the Son’s complete obedience to the Father in his earthly mission. 

This also means that Jesus does indeed have the two witnesses the Jews want to require: himself as one with first hand knowledge and the Father in heaven. 

So, of course, they asked where his father was. They are still thinking on a human, or fleshly, level. Even though it seems clear that Jesus is speaking of God the Father, they try to ascertain his earthly father to contest his claims. (19) 

Jesus explained again that they do not know his Father because they do not know him. (19) It is Jesus, the Son, who reveals the Father. If they know the Father, they will know the Son, and vice versa. As John said in the prologue, “No one has ever seen God (the Father); the only God (the Son) who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. These Jews do not know the Son who reveals the Father, so they do not know the Father.

Jesus will later teach this truth to his disciples plainly. He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. no one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7)

In verse 20, John closes the discussion by telling us Jesus said these things in the Treasury of the Temple, which is in the Court of the Women, but was not arrested because his hour had not come. The word for “hour” there is “hora”, meaning the time designated by God.

The Authority of Jesus


In this section, Jesus reiterates themes he has already stated, but with the addition of judgment. He lets them know that he will not be with them long and they will suffer consequences for not believing.

When Jesus said he was going away, he meant his death and resurrection, when he would return to the Father. (21) They cannot come to heaven, where he will be, because they do not believe in him. (22) 

Jesus also said they will seek him after he is gone, but they will die in their sins. (21) He may not have meant they would seek him personally, but that they would seek a Messiah. But that seeking would be in vain, for they would have already rejected the only Messiah God sent them. 

The Jews then speculated about where Jesus could go that they could not. They did seem to think it might involve death, but they wondered if he would kill himself (22) 

Jesus explained what he meant, but he did so by making contrasts between himself and them. First, they are from below (the world), but he is from above (heaven). They are of this world and he is not. (23) And I do not think he means just the material world in contrast to heaven, but the world as in the fallen moral order that is in rebellion against its creator. 

The implication is that he will return to where he is from, which is heaven, but since they are not from or of heaven, they cannot follow him there. That is because they do not believe in him (“that I am he”) and will die in their sins. (24) Those who die in their sins do not go to heaven. They are morally culpable, responsible, for their rebellion against God. As Paul wrote, the wages of sin is death, meaning a permanent separation for God. (Romans 6:23) The only way out is to believe in Jesus. 

By saying “I am he”, Jesus is making a claim to deity. He is using the words of Isaiah 43:10, where God declared that the Jews were his witnesses and his servant that they may know and believe that I am he”. At the end of this chapter, we will see that they finally understand is claim and are outraged by it, seeking to stone him for it. 

But here, in response to Jesus’ requiring belief that “I am he”, the Jews asked “who are you?”. Jesus meant that he was the light of the world, the one sent from heaven by God the Father to reveal the Father to mankind and give eternal life to those who believe, and that he is God. 

But the Jews asked who are you, giving no thought that he was the one sent from the Father, that he was one with the Father. So, Jesus just says he is what he has been telling them he is. (27) I am the one sent by the Father, who is true, and I have been telling you what I heard from the Father. (26) They still did not understand. (27) 

So, Jesus told them when they had lifted him up, meaning crucified him, they would know that he was the Son of Man, referring to the figure in Daniel who is brought to the presence of God and given a kingdom. (28)

They would also know that he did not speak or act on his own authority, but on the Father’s, and that they Father was with him as he did what was pleasing to the Father.

Verse 30 again shows us the division caused by Jesus and his teaching. The first group rejected him and questioned everything about him. But, the second group were the many who believed in him. 

We must also believe to be saved from our sins and their consequences. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins and you will be saved.

Sunday, March 21, 2021




Jesus and the Crowd

The people in this passage are people who live in Jerusalem. They are aware of the plot to kill Jesus. (25) Those in the proper passage were not from Jerusalem and did not know of the plot.

The people began to speculate that the Jewish leaders might really know that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) since they did not arrest him despite his speaking openly. 

But then, they fall back on a myth, that know will know where the Christ comes from when he appears. Jesus evidently heard this, and said “you know me and you know where I come from”. There are two ways to look at this sentence. First, it could be that Jesus made a statement acknowledging that they are correct to know something about him, but then goes on to say they know less than they think they do. The NIV seems to take this approach.

The second approach is to consider this statement a question. This is the approach taken by the ESV, which places a question mark at the end of the sentence. In this approach, Jesus is saying you think you know me, but you don’t.

Either way, Jesus exposes their lack of knowledge and understanding. It was not of utmost importance what town Jesus came from or who his parents are, because he did not come of his own will. Rather, the important fact is that who sent him. And the one who sent him is “true” and they did not him (the Father). The Greek word means true as in “real”. Jesus is saying the Father really is the one who sent him, regardless of what the Jews thought of him origin 

Jesus went on to say the Jews did not know the true God. This would have been a shocking statement. The Jews would say they were the only ones who did know God, as evidence by their having the law. Jesus’ argument would be that, despite having the law, because the law pointed to Jesus. He said this in 5:46. If they had really know God through knowing the law, they would not have rejected Jesus as the Son of God and the Christ. 

In contrast, Jesus said he knows the Father because he came from the Father and the Father sent him. (29) 

These statements did not go over very well, because people in the crowd tried to seize him in a sort of citizen’s arrest. (30) 

God did not let the crowd arrest Jesus, though. John does not tell us how this happened, but know one laid a hand on him. The reason for their failure is that his hour had not yet come. The Greek word for “hour” is “hora” and means God’s designated time for Jesus be be arrested and crucified.  God had set a time for this to happen and it would not happen before then. 

We see here the division that occurs when people are confronted with Jesus. This group rejected him and sought to arrest him. But many others believed in him. It appears they believed, at least in part, due to the signs that Jesus had done. (31)

Whenever you proclaim the gospel, there will be those who believe and those who reject. 

We should not be surprised at this. Jesus told his disciples that he did not come to bring peace but a sword. He did not mean a literal sword, but instead meant his message would divide people, even family members. (Matthew 10:34) 

For example, last week a young man was baptized at my church. His own parents did not come to see him baptized because they are adverse to Christianity. 

The Authorities Seek To Arrest Jesus


The Pharisees heard the crowd and realized many people were believing in him. So, they joined with the chief priests, who were Sadducees, and sent officers to arrest Jesus. The Pharisees and Sadducees were normally enemies. But, as the old saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So the Pharisees and Sadducees joined together to seek the elimination of their common enemy, Jesus. 

So, Jesus said to the crowds that he would be with the only a little longer and then he was going to the one who sent him, meaning the Father The would seek him and not find him and could not come to where he was. The crowd did not know what he meant, and speculated that he was going to leave Israel to teach the Greeks. (35) 

But Jesus is speaking of returning to the Father. And he is assuming a set and foreordained time for it. Death was not the end for him. His crucifixion was the means of his being lifted up to where he was before, returning to the glory he had with the Father before the world began. (17:5) 

These Jewish people, and even his disciples, could not follow Jesus back to heaven, at least while their physical bodies were alive. 

The Promise of the Holy Spirit


This passage shows that the days have progressed from the middle of the feast, when Jesus came to Jerusalem, to the last day of the feast. Evidently, Jesus has not spoken for a few days. But, on the last day he again addressed the crowd, crying out, or shouting. He said:

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. (37-38) 

John then explained hat Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit, who is given to all who believe in Jesus, but who had not yet been given. (39) The water was a metaphor for the Spirit.

Jesus’ statement about water seems to be a little strange and out of context, but it was not. During the feast, at the time of Jesus’ life, there was a ceremony every morning where the priests would take a golden container and fill it with water from the pool of Siloam. They would carry it in a procession led by the High Priest and go back to the Temple.

Once at the Temple, the priests would walk around the altar sining the Hallel, which is Psalms 113-118, then pour out the water on the altar. This rite was to commemorate God’s provision of water to the Israelites in the wilderness, giving them satisfaction of their thirst. 

So, Jesus probably stood up at the end of this ritual, when the water was all poured out. He makes a pronouncement that he is the fulfillment of the symbols of the Feast of Tabernacles. He is the one who can provide living water. 

Jesus’ words are again very similar to his words to the woman at the well in chapter 4. He told that woman that the water he gave to those who believed in him would become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)

Here, John interpreted Jesus’ saying. Those who believe in Jesus will receive the Spirit, the living water or the water that gives life. When we are saved, we receive eternal life and we receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us life, guides us to live for God in righteousness, and is our pledge from God of eternal life. (Romans 8:1-11; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14) 

John ends this passage with a word about timing. The Holy Spirit had not yet come to indwell believers because Jesus had not yet been glorified. Jesus will develop this theme more in chapters 14-15, but we see that the Spirit is sent by the Father in the name of Jesus. (John 14:25)



More Division 

Again we see division over Jesus and his message. Some believed that Jesus was the Prophet Moses spoke about. Some believed he was the Christ. Others questioned because they knew the Scriptural prophecies, but not the facts of Jesus life. 

Some of the people wanted to arrest him. Again, though, John tells us no one laid a hand on him. (44)

The temple guards, the “officers” of verse 45, returned to the chief priests and Pharisees empty handed. They did not arrest Jesus because of the way he spoke. They said no one ever spoke like this man. (46) They had been affected by Jesus’ knowledge of Scripture and the authority with which he spoke.

The reaction of the Pharisees to the officers reveals their arrogance. They spoke harshly to them, asking them if they had been deceived. They saw themselves as the arbiters of truth, asking if any of the authorities (the Sanhedrin) or the Pharisees believed in Jesus. (48) After all, they were the educated ones who should decide what the truth is. If they did not believe, the officers should not have hesitated.

Next, the Pharisees insult the crowd of Jews that heard Jews. They accused them of not knowing the law and being accursed. (49) That is really harsh. They are basically saying their fellow Jews did not know their religion and were going to hell. It actually reminds me of things I have read on social media by some people who call themselves Christians.

Then Nicodemus spoke up. He cautioned the Sanhedrin about judging a man without giving him a hearing and learning what he does. (51) We may see here a tiny progression in Nicodemus. First, he was curious about Jesus, but lacking understanding of Jesus’ message. (John 3) Now, he is still not committing to belief, at least publicly, but is defending Jesus according to the law of the Jews.

The Sanhedrin did not listen, though. They rebuked him with a very “classist” question, asking him if he was from Galilee, too. Even though Jews from Galilee were part of the nation, Jews from Jerusalem looked down on them as rural, uneducated, and distant from the seat of their religion in Jerusalem. 

They added a second insult by telling Nicodemus to search the scripture and see that no prophet arises from Galilee. Nicodemus surely knew the Scripture, or he would not have been one of the leaders. The insult was intended to identify him with the ignorant Galileans and shut him up. 

Ironically, the leaders were the ones who were ignorant. They knew the prophecies, but did not know the facts about Jesus. They made assumptions, such as assuming since he had lived in Nazareth and Capernaum, he could not have been born in Bethlehem. But they did not ask.

They also assumed that, since Jesus’ parents were poor, they could not be descendants of David so that Jesus would be a son, or descendant of David, as the Scripture foretold. 

Today, many people will tell you what Jesus would or would not do. But, they do not base it on Scripture, but their assumptions or their re-invention of Jesus to meet their own needs. 

It is our job, as believers, to know the Scripture and to present Jesus accurately to people, even if they do not like the Jesus we present. They cannot be saved by believing in a Jesus they invented. 

Then we rely on the Holy Spirit to draw to Jesus those he will. Some will believe and some will not. Some will get rude about it. When that happens, you can rejoice knowing that you have suffered what Jesus suffered: humiliation and rejection.

Others will believe and you will rejoice that you had a part in bringing them into the kingdom. And, sometimes, you will get a Nicodemus, one who walks away in doubt or unbelief. But, unseen by you, the Lord continues to work on that person and one day they step forward and confess Christ.

Sunday, March 14, 2021




Jesus’ Brothers Taunt Him

After giving the Bread of Life Discourse in chapter 6, Jesus traveled around in Galilee. He did not go into Judea because he knew the Jewish leaders were trying to kill him.

However, the Feast of Booths was at hand. (2) This is one of the seven feasts declared by God for Israel and one of the three that were mandatory for Jewish males to attend. This meant going to Jerusalem from wherever you lived. It was a popular feast to attend because it came right after the harvest of grapes and olives. You can read about the feast in Leviticus 23. 

Evidently, Jesus’ family was preparing to go. So, his brothers goaded Jesus to leave Galilee and go to Judea for the feast. They chided him for working in secret if he wanted by be known and told him to show himself to the world. (4) 

They were implying that Jesus was a coward, afraid to show himself. John explained in verse 5 that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him. And that is the reason they said these things to him. 

We do know that Jesus’ family came to believe in him, probably in response to Jesus appearing to his brother James after Jesus had risen from the grave. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us about this appearance.

Your Time Is Not My Time


Jesus responded to his brother that his “time” had not yet come.  

This passage causes some consternation because Jesus went to the feast later. So, how do we grapple with the fact that Jesus said he was not going, but later went? 

The original Greek, in which the text was written, gives us the answer. We, as English speakers, suffer from having an imprecise language. 

Jesus often spoke of his hour or time in the Gospel of John. He was referring to the time of his death, of going to the cross. For example, look at John 8:20, which says Jesus spoke in the temple, but no one arrested him because his hour had not yet come. 

God had set the time for Jesus’ crucifixion and would not let him be arrested until the time God ordained. The word used for time or hour there is “hora”, which means the destined hour of God. It was not movable or avoidable. It was the hour at which God had decided that something must happen.

But here in this passage, John used a different word. It is the only time the word appears in John. The word is “kairos”, which means the most opportune, or best, time to do something. 

So, Jesus is not saying here that the destined hour of his death has not come, but something much simpler. Jesus is saying simply: "If I go up with you just now I will not get the opportunity I am looking for. The time is not opportune." 

The Phillips translation from the 1950s, meant to be a more readable version of the gospels, translates this verse as follows:

“No, you go up to the Festival; I shall not go up now, for it is not yet time for Me to go.”

William Barclay translated it like this:

“The time of opportunity that I am looking for has not yet come, but your time is always ready.”

Both of these translators were trying to capture the meaning of the Greek word “hora”. 

So he delayed his going until the middle of the festival. That allowed him to arrive with the crowds all assembled and gave him a far better opportunity to slip into Jerusalem unnoticed than to go at the very beginning when the Jewish leaders were looking for him. Jesus was choosing his time with careful prudence in order to get the most effective results and to observe the time the Father set for him.

Jesus also drew a distinction between his brothers, who were of the world, and himself, who testified that the world was evil. (7) The brothers could always join the world, because they were part of it. But, Jesus could not because the world hated him. We know this to be true because John has told us that the Jewish leaders, who were part of the world, were seeking to kill him. 

The word “world”, in this context, means the part of humanity that is opposed to God. Jesus’ brothers, as non-believers, were part of the world. Jesus himself was not part of the world. With the same meaning in mind, Paul also tells us not to be conformed to the world. (Romans 12:1)

So, Jesus said he was not going up to the feast because it was not the best time for him to go, given what the Father wanted him to accomplish. So, he stayed in Galilee for a few more days. 

What we learn from this passage is:

  1. It is impossible to force Jesus' hand (or the Father’s). His brothers tried to force him into going to Jerusalem on their time table. It was what we might call a dare or a taunt. They were quite right from the human point of view. Jesus' great miracles had been done in Galilee. There was his changing of  water into wine (John 2:1 ff); the healing of the nobleman's son (John 4:46); the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1 ff). The only miracle that he had wrought in Jerusalem was the curing of the crippled man at the pool (John 5:1 ff).  If Jesus was ever to succeed in winning men, he could not hope to do so by hiding in a corner; he must act in such a way that everyone could see what he did. And Jerusalem was the most important place in Judaism. 


Jesus At The Feast

Jesus later went up to Jerusalem, to the feast, but he went privately. Somehow, the Father had let him know it was the right time. (10) And Jesus did the Father’s will.

The Jewish leaders were indeed looking for him, wanting to arrest him. (11) The people were also speculating about him, since had caused a stir at the last feast by healing a man on the Sabbath. Also, the Galileans who where there were likely telling stories of Jesus’ miracles done in and around Capernaum as well as his teaching at the synagogue. Some thought Jesus was good and some did not. But all worried about the Jewish leaders and did not want to heard talking about him. (13)

In the middle of the feast week, Jesus went up to the temple courts and began teaching. (14) The Jews marveled because they knew Jesus had never studied with a Rabbi, yet he spoke as one with learning of the Scripture. (15)

Jesus explained to them that he teaching was not his, but the Father’s. He named the Father as the one who sent him. Therefore, if anyone was seeking to do God’s will, that person would discern whether Jesus’ teaching was from God or on Jesus’ own authority. (17) This statement was probably directed at the Jewish leaders, who would claim to seek and do the Father’s will, yet rejected Jesus’ teaching and his authority.

Jesus went on to say that those who speak on their own authority seek to glorify themselves. (18) He was likely speaking of the teachers of the day. But the one who seeks the glory of the Father is true, and there is no falsehood. 

This reminds me of watching a preacher on television who told the hosts of the show that God had revealed something to him that had never been revealed before. The hosts were excited and begged him to tell them. He proceeded to say something that was completely unbiblical and heretical. But the hosts were impressed and complimentary to the preacher, who sat there smugly smiling. He got his glory in that moment.

But, we know that when we read the Bible, that is God speaking to us. That is why we call the Bible the Word of God. If God were to tell us one thing in Scripture, then tell us something different through a television preacher, he would be lying either in the Scripture or to the preacher. And we know God does not lie. And God does not change.

In verse 19, Jesus pressed them harder, saying Moses gave them the law, but they did not keep the law, as shown by the fact that they tried to kill him. The law said not to murder. (Exodus 20:13) The crowd ridiculed that idea, but we know it to be true. They accused him of having a demon, which was making him crazy and delusional. 

Jesus then defended his action of healing during the feast of Pentecost again. He said you will circumcise a male on the Sabbath, but got angry that he made a man’s whole body well. 

The command to circumcise all males on the 8th day came from the “fathers”, specifically Abraham. God made a covenant with Abraham. The sign of the covenant was that all descendants of Abraham would be circumcised on the 8th day after birth. (Genesis 17)

Moses institutionalized circumcision in the law in the covenant God made with the nation of Israel. But the command came before the law and therefore, had priority over the law, including the observance of the Sabbath. Therefore, they circumcised even on the Sabbath.

So, the Jews recognized exceptions to the law for necessity and for obedience to God’s commands. They also saw circumcision as a perfecting ordinance. The person circumcised was perfected in the covenant and had to be perfected on the eighth day. 

Jesus, in healing the man, perfected the man’s whole body. So, in a way, Jesus’ healing of the whole man was a fulfillment of the Old Testament rite of circumcision. Jesus was fulfilling the redemptive purposes of God set forth in the Old Testament. 

Jesus urged them to judge rightly and not just by appearance. The Jews judged Jesus based on presumptions about him and the Old Covenant law. 

If, on the other hand, they sought to do God’s will by faith rather than works, they would discern that Jesus did not break the Sabbath, but fulfilled it as he fulfilled the rite of circumcision. And they would believe in him.

It is interesting to see the Jews focus on smaller things and fail to grasp the greater thing, which is Jesus coming as the one God anointed to bring salvation to the world.

Yet, we see the same thing today. People reject Jesus and his salvation as they focus on smaller things. Church people do this too, at times, and lose the joy of knowing Jesus and his salvation because the focus on works and extra-Biblical rules.

Focus on Jesus this week. Rejoice in knowing him and his salvation. 

Sunday, March 07, 2021



They Grumbled


Upon hearing Jesus say he came down from heaven, the Jews in the synagogue at Capernaum began to grumble. They knew his family. They had evidently moved from Nazareth to Capernaum. (Matthew 9:1) They knew his father and mother and assumed he was conceived in the normal way, so how could he claim to come down from heaven.

This is an interesting observation, placed after a dialogue where the Jews compared Jesus to Moses, and found Moses superior because he gave them bread from heaven. It is interesting because, if we go back to the Old Testament narrative, we see that the Jews grumbled against Moses and the manna also.

First, they grumbled that they did not have enough food. So, God provided manna from heaven. (Exodus 16:8) Then, after they had manna for a while, they complained about the manna and the lack of meat. (Numbers 11) 

The Jews grumbled against Moses, the mediator of the Old Covenant. And they grumbled against the mediator of the New Covenant. In a sense, nothing has changed. They are a people who rebel against God’s provision for sustaining physical life and the rebelled against God’s provision of eternal life. 

In addition, there was plenty of Old Testament prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a woman, but also be divine. Isaiah 7:14 says: “…the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanual”. And “Immanual” means “God with us”. This verse tells us that the Messiah would be born of a woman and yet would be God.

Isaiah 9:6 says:

“For to us a child is born, 

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Again, the picture is of a child, a son, being born of a woman, yet being God. 

Jesus Explains Their Problem


Jesus told them not to grumble. They could not solve this problem by discussion among themselves. They could only come to Christ if the Father drew them. Jesus said “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (44) This is the counterpoint to Jesus saying earlier that all the Father gives to him will come to him.

Jesus emphasized the sovereignty of God in salvation. The Father takes the initiative: he draws men and women to himself. He does this by an illumination of the mind, revealing Jesus to the person. Jesus referenced Isaiah 54:13, saying they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Jesus for salvation. 

For example, remember Peter’s confession of Christ in Matthew 16:16. He said “You are the Christ, the son of the living God”. Jesus responded by saying blessed are you Simon. Why was Simon blessed? Not because he was smart enough to figure this out on his own, but because the Father revealed it to him. Jesus said “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven”. (Matthew 16:17) 

Jesus is the object of the Father’s teaching, but he is also both mediator of it. He is the only one who has seen the Father. (46) Therefore, he is the only one who can relate the Father’s teaching. 

So, God illumines our mind to the truth of Jesus, he draws us through the work of the Spirit to Jesus. And we respond with belief. Upon believing, Jesus gives us eternal life and raises us on the last day.

Eating the Flesh of Jesus


In verse 48, Jesus again distinguishes the effect of eating manna and the effect of eating the bread of life. It was a hard truth to swallow, if you can pardon the pun.

Jesus said the Jews ate manna in the wilderness, but they ultimately died. (49) But, those who eat the bread of heaven, the living bread, do not die. In other words, they have eternal life. Jesus is again speaking in the metaphor of bread.

As Jesus speaks in this metaphor, he also spoke of his death. He said the bread he gives for the life of the world is his flesh. (51) His death is necessary for our salvation. His death is to pay the penalty for our sins.

The Jews, though, continued to focus on the physical rather than the spiritual. They did not understand the metaphor. They asked how Jesus could possibly give them his flesh to eat. (52) They argued about it 

Instead of backing away from this metaphor when it caused problems, Jesus doubled down. He said you have to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life, adding his blood to the mix. 

Those that do this have eternal life and are raised on the last day. The one who became flesh and dwelt among us (1:14) gives that flesh sacrificially to save us. Those who do not eat his flesh and drink his blood do not have eternal life.

We can understand a bit of why the Jews found this statement offensive. The law of Moses forbade the drinking of blood or even eating meat with blood in it. So, if they focused on the literal statement, they would have difficulty accepting it.

But, if they understood it in terms of Jesus giving his life for us, it would make sense. The primary symbolic references to blood in the Old Testament refer to death, particularly violent death, and sacrificial death. The shedding of the blood of animals brought atonement in the Old Testament. 

The book of Leviticus describes many sacrifices of animals. The wage of sin is death (Romans 6:23), but God graciously allowed the Israelites to substitute animals for themselves. In Leviticus 17:11, the Lord told them that he gave that blood to them to put on the altar and make atonement for their souls. 

The shedding of blood, of course, represents death. The animal’s blood was shed, meaning it was killed in the act of sacrifice. Similarly, Jesus shed his blood, died, to pay the penalty of our sins. 

To eat the flesh of Jesus and to drink his blood is to totally identify ourselves with Jesus and his death. We believe in him and we live in him, with him, and through him. Augustine wrote “believe, and you have eaten”. We abide in him and he abides in us. He gives us eternal life and helps us live our lives to his glory.  

The Reaction of the Disciples


Even many of the disciples had problems with this teaching. These were not the 12, but part of the larger group that followed Jesus. They said it is a hard saying. They seem to be referring to Jesus’ statement that he came down from heaven. 

So, Jesus replied with a question: will you take offense if you see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before. (61) He was saying that you will see proof that I am from heaven when I ascend back to heaven, but, if you do not believe now, you may not believe even then.

We, of course, know Jesus did ascend to heaven because we have read it in Scripture. Luke recorded it in the first chapter of Acts. But, there are those who do not believe the account. They say the disciples suffered a delusion or that they lied about it. 

Jesus then reiterated the work of God in salvation. He said it is the Spirit who gives life. The Holy Spirit, third person of the Trinity, works to bring us to salvation, opening our minds to understand the gospel and our hearts to receive it. This is what Jesus referred to when talking to Nicodemus in chapter 3. He said that which is born of Spirit is spirit. And he emphasized that the Spirit moves where he will. (3:68). 

It is also what Paul meant when he wrote:

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

I think, at this point, Jesus looked over at the 12 when he said that he spoke the words of life, but some of them did not believe. (63-64) John added an explanation that Jesus knew from the beginning who would not believe in him and who would betray him.

As many of the disciples began to leave, Jesus asked the Twelve if they wanted to go away as well. Of course, Peter answered for them. He said there was no one else to go to, because Jesus had the words of eternal life. They believed and knew that Jesus was the Holy One of God. (69) 

This was a great confession of faith by Peter and Jesus acknowledged it by saying “did not choose you, the Twelve”? He chose them to follow him because he knew the Father had given them to him and the Spirit worked in them to believe and follow. 

Sadly, the passage ends with an ominous note. Jesus said one of you is a devil, even though I chose him, and John explained that he referred to Judas Iscariot. 

There will always be those among us who are not really part of us and not really part of Christ. The proof of conversion is endurance to the end in faith.