John Chapter 6
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Lesson: John Chapter 6 – The Deity Of Christ
Key Passage: John 6:43-44 (See study note below)
John 6:43-44 Names of God Bible (NOG)
43 Yeshua responded, “Stop criticizing me! 44 People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me brings them to me. I will bring these people back to life on the last day.
John 6 New King James Version (NKJV)
Feeding the Five Thousand
1 After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.
4 Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.
7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”
8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
10 Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” 13 Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Jesus Walks on the Sea
15 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. 18 Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. 19 So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. 20 But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.
The Bread from Heaven
22 On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— 23 however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— 24 when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 And 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 and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
30 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give 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 Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Rejected by His Own
41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, 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 eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats 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 he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
Many Disciples Turn Away
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”
61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
6:1–14 The story of the feeding of the 5,000 is the fourth sign John employed to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. It is the only miracle recorded in all 4 gospels (Matt. 14:13–23; Mark 6:30–46; Luke 9:10–17). Since John most likely wrote to supplement and provide additional information not recorded in the synoptics (see Introduction: Background and Setting), his recording of this miracle emphasized its strategic importance in two ways: 1) it demonstrated the creative power of Christ more clearly than any other miracle, and 2) it decisively supported John’s purposes of demonstrating the deity of Jesus Christ while also serving to set the stage for Jesus’ discourse on the “bread of life” (vv. 22–40). Interestingly, both creative miracles of Jesus, the water into wine (2:1–10) and the multiplying of bread (vv. 1–14) speak of the main elements in the Lord’s supper or communion (v. 53).
6:1 After these things. A large gap of time may exist between chaps. 5 and 6. If the feast in 5:1 is Tabernacles, then at least 6 months passed (Oct. to Apr.). If the feast of 5:1 is Passover, then a year passed between these chapters. the Sea of Galilee.Chapter 6 is very close to the same structure as chap. 5 since both occur around a Jewish feast and both lead to a discourse of Jesus’ deity. While chap. 5 takes place in the S around Judea and Jerusalem, chap. 6 takes place in the N around Galilee. The result of both chapters is the same: He is rejected not only in the southern but also in the northern regions. See note on 21:1.
6:2 they saw His signs. The crowds followed not out of belief but out of curiosity concerning the miracles that He performed (v. 26). However, in spite of the crowd’s crass motivations, Jesus, having compassion on them, healed their sick and fed them (cf. Matt. 13:14; Mark 6:34).
6:7 Two hundred denarii. Since one denarius was a day’s pay for a common laborer, 200 denarii would be approximately 8 months’ wages. The crowd, however, was so large that such a significant amount was still inadequate to feed them.
6:10 five thousand. The number of men was 5,000, not including women and children, who probably brought the total up to 20,000.
6:14 the Prophet. The crowd referred to “the Prophet” of Deut. 18:15. Sadly, these comments, coming right after Jesus healed and fed them, indicate that the people desired a Messiah who met their physical, rather than spiritual, needs. Apparently, no recognition existed for the need of spiritual repentance and preparation for the kingdom (Matt. 4:17). They wanted an earthly, political Messiah to meet all their needs and to deliver them from Roman oppression. Their reaction typifies many who want a “Christ” that makes no demands of them (cf. Matt. 10:34–39; 16:24–26), but of whom they can make their selfish personal requests.
6:15 take Him by force to make Him king. John supplemented the information in Matthew and Mark by indicating that the reason Jesus dismissed the disciples and withdrew from the crowd into a mountain alone was because of His supernatural knowledge of their intention to make Him king in light of His healing and feeding of them. The crowd, incited by mob enthusiasm, was ready to proceed with crassly political intentions that would have jeopardized God’s will.
6:16–21 The story of Jesus’ walking on the water constituted the fifth sign in John’s gospel designed to demonstrate the writer’s purpose that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God (20:30, 31). The miracle demonstrates Jesus’ deity by His sovereignty over the laws of nature.
6:17 toward Capernaum. Matthew 14:22 and Mark 6:45 indicate that as soon as Jesus had fed the multitudes, He immediately dismissed His disciples to travel W toward Capernaum (vv. 16, 17).
6:18 a great wind was blowing. The Sea of Galilee is almost 700 ft. below sea level. Cooler air from the northern mountains and southeastern tablelands rushes down into the lake and displaces the warm moist air, causing violent churning of the water.
6:19, 20 Jesus walking on the sea. The synoptics reveal that in fear and the darkness, they thought He was a ghost (Matt. 14:26; Mark 6:49). The Son of God, who made the world, was in control of its forces and, in this case, He suspended the law of gravity. The act was not frivolous on Jesus’ part, for it constituted a dramatic object lesson to the disciples of Jesus’ true identity as the sovereign Lord of all creation (cf. 1:3).
6:21 immediately the boat was at the land. This wording indicates that another miracle occurred besides walking on the water, i.e., the boat miraculously and instantly arrived at its precise destination as soon as Jesus stepped into the boat.
6:22–58 Jesus’ famous discourse on the bread of life. The key theme is v. 35, i.e., “I am the bread of Life,” which is the first of 7 emphatic “I AM” statements of Jesus in this gospel (8:12; 10:7, 9; 10:11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5). This analogy of Jesus as “the bread” of life reinforces John’s theme of Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God (20:30, 31). Although John records Jesus’ miracles to establish His deity, he moves quickly to Jesus’ discourse on the spiritual realities of His person in order to define correctly who Jesus Christ was, i.e., not merely a wonder-worker but the Son of God who came to save mankind from sin (3:16). This discourse took place in the synagogue at Capernaum (v. 59).
6:22, 23 These verses indicate that the crowds who witnessed Jesus’ healings and His feeding of the multitudes were still at the original site of these miracles (E of the Lake) and, out of heightened curiosity, desired to find Jesus once again. Other boats loaded with people from Tiberias (on the NW shore of the lake) also heard of the miracles and sought Him out.
6:26 because you ate. This phrase emphasizes Jesus’ point that the crowds which followed Him were motivated by superficial desires of food rather than any understanding of the true spiritual significance of Jesus’ person and mission (8:14–21; Mark 6:52).
6:27 food which perishes. Jesus rebuked the crowd for purely materialistic notions of the messianic kingdom (cf. v. 26; 4:15). Although Messiah’s kingdom would be literal and physical someday, the people failed to see the overriding spiritual character and blessing of “everlasting life” given immediately to those who believe the witness of God to His Son. food which endures to everlasting life. The continuing discourse indicates that this was a reference to Jesus Himself (v. 35).
6:28 works of God. They thought Jesus was saying that God required them to do some works to earn everlasting life, which they thought they would be able to do.
6:29 the work of God, that you believe. The crowd misunderstood Jesus’ prohibition in v. 27 (“Do not labor”) which prompted Jesus to remind them that an exclusive focus on material blessings is wrong. The only work God desired was faith or trust in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God (cf. Mal. 3:1). The “work” that God requires is to believe in His Son (cf. 5:24).
6:30 What sign will You perform. The question demonstrated the obtuseness, the spiritual blindness of the crowd, and their shallow, selfish curiosity. The feeding of 20,000 (v. 10) was a sufficient enough sign to demonstrate Christ’s deity (cf. Luke 16:31).
6:31 Our fathers ate the manna. The crowd’s logic appeared to be that Jesus’ miraculous feeding was a small miracle compared to what Moses did. In order for them to believe in Him, they would need to see Him feed the nation of Israel on the same scale that God did when He sent manna and fed the entire nation of Israel during their wilderness wanderings for 40 years (Ex. 16:11–36). They were demanding that Jesus outdo Moses if they were to believe in Him. They quoted from Ps. 78:24.
6:32 true bread from heaven. The manna God gave was temporary and perished and was only a meager shadow of what God offered them in the true bread, Jesus Christ, who gives spiritual and eternal life to mankind (“world”).
6:33 bread of God. This phrase is synonymous with the phrase “bread from heaven” (v. 32).
6:34 “Lord, give us this bread always.” This statement once again demonstrated the blindness of the crowd, for they were thinking of some physical bread and failed to understand the spiritual implication that Jesus was that “bread” (cf. 4:15).
6:35 I am the bread of life. The obtuseness in v. 34 prompted Jesus to speak very plainly that He was referring to Himself.
6:37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me. This verse emphasizes the sovereign will of God in the selection of those who come to Him for salvation (cf. vv. 44, 65; 17:6, 12, 24). The Father has predestined those who would be saved (see notes on Rom. 8:29, 30; Eph. 1:3–6; 1 Pet. 1:2). The absolute sovereignty of God is the basis of Jesus’ confidence in the success of His mission (see note on v. 40; cf. Phil. 1:6). The security of salvation rests in the sovereignty of God, for God is the guarantee that “all” He has chosen will come to Him for salvation. The idea of “gives Me” is that every person chosen by God and drawn by God (v. 44) must be seen as a gift of the Father’s love to the Son. The Son receives each “love gift” (v. 37), holds on to each (v. 39), and will raise each to eternal glory (vv. 39, 40). No one chosen will be lost (see notes on Rom. 8:31–39). This saving purpose is the Father’s will which the Son will not fail to do perfectly (v. 38; cf. 4:34; 10:28, 29; 17:6, 12, 24).
6:40 everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him. This verse emphasizes human responsibility in salvation. Although God is sovereign, He works through faith, so that a man must believe in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God who alone offers the only way of salvation (cf. 14:6). However, even faith is a gift of God (Rom. 12:3; Eph. 2:8, 9). Intellectually harmonizing the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man is impossible humanly, but perfectly resolved in the infinite mind of God.
6:41–50 This section constitutes the beginning of the crowd’s reaction to Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life and may be divided into 3 sections: 1) the murmuring reaction of the crowd (vv. 41, 42); 2) Jesus’ rebuke of the crowd for their reaction (vv. 43–46); and 3) Jesus’ reiteration of His message to the crowd (vv. 47–51).
6:41 The Jews. In this gospel, the term “Jews” is often associated with hostility toward Christ. It is used ironically to indicate the incongruity of their rising hostility toward their Messiah. Since they hardened their hearts, God judicially hardened their hearts also (cf. 12:37–40; Is. 6:10; 53:1; Matt. 13:10–15). In the tribulation, Israel will turn to Jesus as their true Messiah and be saved (Rom. 11:25–27; Rev. 1:7; 7:1–8; cf. Zech. 12:10–14). complained. The reaction of the synagogue crowds to Jesus’ statements was the same as the Jews in the wilderness who murmured against God both before and after the manna was given to them (Ex. 16:2, 8, 9; Num. 11:4–6). because He said, “I am the bread…from heaven.” The Jews’ anger centered in two things: 1) that Jesus said He was the bread and 2) that He came down from heaven. Both the Jews in Jerusalem (5:18) and the Galileans reacted negatively when Jesus placed Himself equal with God.
6:42 whose father and mother we know. On the human level, they knew Jesus as a fellow Galilean. These words are reminiscent of Jesus’ words in 4:44, “a prophet has no honor in his own country.” Their hostility sprang from the root of unbelief. Jesus’ death was impending because hostility had resulted everywhere He went.
KEY VERSE NOTE: 6:44
Reformation Study Bible: 6:44 unless the Father who sent me draws him. Jesus teaches that no one can respond positively to His warning and invitation apart from the Father’s work of drawing the individual to Jesus. The heart is naturally hard and will not accept God’s invitation, unless a special work of God’s grace takes place (v. 65). See “Effectual Calling and Conversion” at 2 Thess. 2:14.
6:44 draws him. Cf. v. 65. The combination of v. 37a and v. 44 indicate that the divine drawing activity which Jesus referred to cannot be reduced to what theologians call “prevenient grace,” i.e., that somehow the power to come to Christ is allegedly dispensed to all of mankind, thus enabling everyone to accept or reject the gospel according to their own will alone. Scripture indicates that no “free will” exists in man’s nature, for man is enslaved to sin (total depravity) and unable to believe apart from God’s empowerment (Rom. 3:1–19; Eph. 2:1–3; 2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim. 1:9). While “whosoever will” may come to the Father, only those whom the Father gives the ability to will toward Him will actually come to Him. The drawing here is selective and efficacious (producing the desired effect) upon those whom God has sovereignly chosen for salvation, i.e., those whom God has chosen will believe because God has sovereignly determined that result from eternity past (Eph. 1:9–11).
6:45 Jesus paraphrased Is. 54:13 to support the point that if someone comes to faith and repentance to God, it is because they have been “taught,” and hence drawn, by God. The “drawing” and “learning” are just different aspects of God’s sovereign direction in the person’s life. Those taught by God to grasp the truth are also drawn by God the Father to embrace the Son.
6:49, 50 Jesus contrasted the earthly and heavenly bread. The manna that was given in the wilderness, although sent from heaven to help sustain the Israelites for their physical needs, could not impart eternal life nor meet their spiritual needs as could the “bread of life” (v. 48) that came down from heaven in the person of Jesus the Messiah. The proof of this contrast centers in the irrefutable fact that all the fathers died who ate the wilderness manna.
6:51–59 This section may be divided into 3 divisions: 1) Jesus’ pronouncement (v. 51); 2) the crowd’s perplexity (v. 52); and 3) Jesus’ promises (vv. 53–59).
6:51 This pronouncement exactly reiterates vv. 33, 35, 47, 48. My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. Jesus refers here prophetically to His impending sacrifice upon the cross (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). Jesus voluntarily laid down His life for evil, sinful mankind (10:18; 1 John 2:2).
6:52 quarreled. Once again the perplexity of the Jews indicates that they failed to understand the spiritual truth behind Jesus’ illustration. Every time Jesus had given them a veiled saying or physical illustration, the Jews failed to see its spiritual significance (e.g., 3:4; 4:15). The Mosaic law prohibited the drinking of blood or the eating of meat with blood still in it (Lev. 17:10–14; Deut. 12:16; Acts 15:29). The Jews, unable to go beyond the mere physical perspective, were perplexed and angered.
6:53–58 eat…drink. Jesus’ point was an analogy that has spiritual, rather than literal, significance: just as eating and drinking are necessary for physical life, so also is belief in His sacrificial death on the cross necessary for eternal life. The eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood metaphorically symbolize the need for accepting Jesus’ cross work. For the Jews, however, a crucified Messiah was unthinkable (cf. Acts 17:1–3). Once again, the Jews, in their willful and judicial blindness, could not see the real spiritual significance and truth behind Jesus’ statements. Moreover, Jesus’ reference here to eating and drinking was not referring to the ordinance of communion for two significant reasons: 1) communion had not been instituted yet, and 2) if Jesus was referring to communion, then the passage would teach that anyone partaking of communion would receive eternal life.
6:60–71 These verses constitute the reaction of Jesus’ disciples to His sermon on the “bread of life.” As with the crowds’ response in Jerusalem (chap. 5) and in Galilee (chap. 6), the response of many of His disciples was unbelief and rejection of Him. John lists two groups and their reactions: 1) the false disciples’ reaction of unbelief (vv. 60–66), and 2) the true disciples’ reaction of belief (vv. 67–71). After this sermon, only a small nucleus of disciples remained (v. 67).
6:61 His disciples complained. Many of Jesus’ disciples had the same reaction as the Jews in v. 41 and of the first generation of Israelites to manna, i.e., they murmured (Ex. 16:2).
6:64 Jesus knew. Reminiscent of Jesus’ words in 2:23–25, Jesus knew the hearts of men, including those disciples who followed Him. He supernaturally knew that many did not believe in Him as Messiah and Son of God so He did not entrust Himself to them. These false disciples were simply attracted to the physical phenomena (e.g., miracles and food), and failed to understand the true significance of Jesus’ teaching (v. 61).
6:65 I have said. See notes on vv. 37, 44. Although men and women are commanded to believe and will be held accountable for unbelief, genuine faith is never exclusively a matter of human decision. Once again, in the face of unbelief, Jesus reiterated God’s sovereignty involved in selection for salvation.
6:66 disciples…walked with Him no more. The language indicates that the abandonment was decisive and final (cf. 1 Pet. 2:6–8; 1 John 2:19
6:69 we have come to believe. Peter’s words were somewhat pretentious in that he implied that the true disciples somehow had superior insight and, as a result, came to belief through that insight.
6:70 Did I not choose you, the twelve. In response to Peter’s words that the disciples had come to believe in Jesus, He reminds them that He sovereignly chose them (vv. 37, 44, 65). Jesus would not allow even a whisper of human pretension in God’s sovereign selection. a devil. The word “devil” means “slanderer” or “false accuser.” The idea perhaps is better rendered “one of you is the devil.” This meaning is clear from 13:2, 27; Mark 8:33; Luke 22:3. The supreme adversary of God so operates behind failing human beings that his malice becomes theirs (cf. Matt. 16:23). Jesus supernaturally knew the source and identified it precisely. This clearly fixes the character of Judas, not as a well intentioned but misguided man trying to force Jesus to exert His power and set up His kingdom (as some suggest), but as a tool of Satan doing unmitigated wickedness (see notes on 13:21–30).
6:71 Iscariot. The word most likely is from a Heb. word meaning “man of Kerioth,” the name of a village in Judah. As with the other 3 gospels, as soon as he was named, he became identified as the betrayer.
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