Study Notes

John 6:41-71


Last week, we saw Jesus speaking to the multitudes about seeking the true bread from heaven rather than the bread that would feed their stomachs.

6:41-42 Where'd Joseph Go?

It would seem that everyone in the synagogue at Capernaum knew Joseph at this time. Matthew 13 also tells us that they knew him in the synagogue at Nazareth, which was about 20 miles away:

Matt. 13:54-57 And coming to His home town He {began} teaching them in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said, "Where {did} this man {get} this wisdom, and {these} miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then {did} this man {get} all these things?" And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his {own} household."

Now we do know that Joseph was dead by the time of Jesus' crucifixion, because we'll read in chapter 19 where Jesus commits stewardship of His mother to the apostle John:

John 19:26-27 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her into his own {household.}

But as to how and when Joseph died, we're not told.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

They're saying, "How can this guy have come from heaven? We know His mom and dad. We know His brothers and sisters." Their familiarity with Him kept them from recognizing the supernatural in Him.

This weekend, I was talking with a brother who went to a family camp. Although many of the families were pastors' families, several of the kids gave their hearts to Christ this week. This took me by surprise - I thought that certainly, if any kids would already be saved, it would be these pastors' kids. But then I remembered the difficulty Jesus had with His family and in His hometown. Sometimes, because of familiarity, the one person you can't hear it from is dad. Or mom. Or the carpenter's son next door.

6:43-45 The Father Draws Them

Jesus tells them that they shouldn't waste their breath grumbling about Him. They can't come to Him unless the Feather draws them to Him.

This makes for something that is very difficult to accept - and even harder to understand! This is what the Bible refers to as "predestination." The fact that God chose us for salvation even before we were born.

Eph. 1:4-5 ...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will

Now He did this in His love and with kind intention. But to many, it still sounds really unfair. People have a tendency to be angry at God about that. "Why didn't you choose me?" Well, first of all, if you'd get saved, then you'd see that He did in fact choose you! But Biblically, we're not even given room to argue with God about it.

Rom. 9:14-23 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." So then it {does} not {depend} on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH." So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And {He did so} in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory

The whole point here is that God is God. And we, little insignificant, finite beings that we are cannot accuse God of being unjust. On the contrary, He's being more merciful than any of us would ever be. He's made salvation available to all.. The Lord...

2Pet. 3:9 patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

He patiently endures them even though He already knows who will reject Him.

Rom. 8:29-30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

God sees the future, and knows who will choose to know Him. He sees the future and knows who will choose to reject Him. Now, if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that if I were God, I wouldn't have called Judas to be an apostle. I wouldn't have let him carry the money box. I wouldn't have shown him such love and compassion when I knew that he would betray me. I wouldn't have endured Pharaoh for a minute. I wouldn't have endured Cain or Balaam or Pilate or the Pharisees. I would have seen into the future, seen their hearts of wickedness and lifetimes of hatred for me and smoked 'em before they could even be born! God knows who will accept Him and who will reject Him. But He still says to all,

John 3:15 that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.

And those who God sees will believe, He predestines them and draws them to Jesus Christ.

6:46 No Man Has Seen The Father

Even though the Father draws them to the Son, no one has ever seen the Father. John mentioned that in chapter 1 when he said,

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

Remember back in Exodus 33, there appears to be a contradiction. We read that Moses would meet with God in the tent. Verse 11 says,

Exod. 33:11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend...

But then just 7 verses later, we see that Moses asked

Exod. 33:18 ..."I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!"

Exod. 33:20 But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"

Now this would seem like a contradiction, until we realize that God is a Trinity - one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It was God the Son that Moses would speak to face-to-face, and God the Father who said, "You cannot see My face." No man has seen the Father, except the Son.

6:47 Eternal Life

Once, a man came up to Jesus and said,

Matt. 19:16 ..."Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?"

Most of us are under the impression that eternal life is gained by the good works that we do. We think that as long as my good works are better than most of the jerks that populate this earth, I'll be okay, and God will let me into heaven. But the Bible tells us over and over again in so many different ways, that it is only those who believe in Jesus Christ that have eternal life. John 3:16 is of course, the perfect example,

John 3:16 "...Whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

So there is nothing other than believing in the Son that you need to do to gain eternal life. But as we talked about last week, true belief is a total dedication, a fully-committed life. So we need to make sure that we're continuing in the walk of belief. That means someone who truly believes will be living a righteous life, and will be persevering in good works. That's why we see verses like:

Matt. 25:46 "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Rom. 2:7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

Your good deeds don't earn you a place in heaven - they don't give you eternal life. But they do prove that you have eternal life. James explains this very well in his epistle,

James 2:14-17 What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for {their} body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, {being} by itself.

Your believing is proved by your perseverance. Your commitment to Christ is ratified by your righteousness. You're saved by believing. Your belief is proved to be true by your works.

6:48-58 Flesh And Blood

We talked in detail last week about Jesus being the Bread of Life, the True Bread From Heaven. How the manna that God sent to the Israelites in the wilderness was a picture of Christ. But like all representations, it was incomplete. All those Jews that ate the manna died eventually - it gave them life, but not eternal life.

Jesus is saying, "If anyone takes Me in, appropriates, internalizes Me, he will live forever."

Notice that the Jews began to argue, not with Him, but with one another, saying, "How can He give us His flesh to eat?" I think that this is interesting, because Christians today argue amongst themselves with the same argument. The Communion table, the bread and the fruit of the vine, where Jesus said,

Matt. 26:26 -28 And while they were eating, Jesus took {some} bread, and after a blessing, He broke {it} and gave {it} to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave {it} to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

Various denominations argue over how Jesus can give us His flesh to eat. Does it represent the flesh? Does the bread become the flesh? If so, at what point exactly does it?

These are pointless arguments, but if you really want to know the answers, don't argue amongst yourselves, talk to Jesus about it. He'll let you know.

6:59-60 Difficult Statements

Those disciples that were following Jesus had a real hard time with the stuff Jesus was preaching. They suddenly had a decision to make. Do I reject it because it's difficult to grasp, to understand, to accept, to listen to? Or do I say, "God is God, and I'm not going to try and conform Him to my way of thinking - I'm going to conform to His way of thinking."

This morning, most of what we've talked about are some of the most difficult things in the Bible: the concept of predestination, the Trinity, and the delicate balance of faith and works. Churches are continually being divided over tough issues like these. And people are continually rejecting God because they cannot listen to such difficult concepts. How about you? Do these concepts, ideas, and teachings cause you to stumble? Jesus asks them this very question...

6:61-64 The Words Are Spirit And Life

"If your faith can't handle this," He says, "Then what's going to happen when it comes to Me rising from the dead and ascending into heaven? You certainly won't be able to believe that. But if you accept the things I'm teaching now, and let the Holy Spirit minister them to your hearts, then you will have life."

The Word of God is life when you don't harden your heart against it. We read in Hebrews that,

Hebr. 4:12 ...The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hearing and receiving the Word of God brings you to belief that results in eternal life. Peter said,

1Pet. 1:23 ...You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, {that is,} through the living and abiding word of God.

The Word of God is truly living and life-giving. His Words are spirit and life.

6:65-69 Where Else Shall We Go

So many disciples couldn't handle this - they took off. Jesus turns to the twelve apostles and says, "Well, guys. If you want to leave, now's a good time. What are you going to do?"

Peter said,

John 6:68-69 ..."Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."

That's what it all boils down to: Only Jesus has the words of eternal life. Many will claim to have them: "Kill yourself as the comet flies by to get to heaven!" "Send all your money to me, and I'll tell God to let you in!" "Empty your mind of everything and you'll find eternal life in the void!" But only Jesus has the true words of eternal life. Jesus said,

John 14:6 ..."I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

Only Jesus is the Holy One of God with the true words of eternal life.

6:70-71 Peter Or Judas?

There will always be some who see the miracles, hear the teachings, who know Jesus is real, and still reject Him. This morning, who are you? Are you a Simon Peter who says, "You're the One - I'm following you!" Or are you a Judas, who's looking to make money and don't really care about all this stuff about eternal life?

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