with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible, look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
In this chapter of John we have been reading the conversation Jesus had with Jewish listeners. He was explaining who He was and how He had come to do the will of His Father. The people are slow to grasp the truth and many wish to argue against it. Using the symbol of bread, the common food, He explains that eternal life is found in Him alone. The theme is continued to the end of the chapter.
Verse 51 "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
The Lord has already reminded the people about the manna which God sent to His people for food in earlier times. He now likens Himself as being sent from God to give life to mankind. It is obvious that we can't take these words to mean that His actual body is food for us. He explains what He means in the words, "This bread is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world." He is saying that His life will be laid down when He dies on the cross for us.
Verses 52-56 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless 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 real food and My blood is real drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in me and I in him."
Immediately, hearers misunderstand, taking the words literally. But Jesus doesn't make it any easier for them by going on to say with emphasis that they need His flesh and blood. But it means to believe in Him, to rely fully upon Him, receiving the new life He gives. Earlier in the chapter He explains it with the promise, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty." Even today there are churches that teach that we eat the flesh of Christ in the rite of Holy Communion. But this is a serious error.
Verses 57-59 "Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Our forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Jesus explains that He was sent by the Father and is sustained by Him. In the same way Jesus will give life to all who believe. Again He contrasts the temporary supply of food in Israel's wilderness journey with the eternal life He gives.
Verses 60-64 On hearing it, many of His disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that His disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you that do not believe."
We need to note carefully what Jesus says here. He speaks to a group called disciples but these are not the twelve chosen ones. They are simply followers who have gone after Jesus to hear what He has to say. In response to their feeling of offence at His words, He points out that the source of life is the Spirit, not actual flesh. He adds that His very words carry with them spiritual power. So they are not being asked to believe in the incredible, but to believe in One who has all the credentials of the Saviour of the world.
Verses 64 & 65 Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray Him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless the Father has enabled him."
John is commenting on the fact that the unbelief of the people was no surprise to the Lord. He even knew them individually and what their position was. Judas, the eventual betrayer, He also knew about. He knows us, too. It is only God H imself who can convict a person of the truth.
Verses 66–69 From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. "Do you want to leave too?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God."
Some of the adherents dropped off. They could not come to terms with what they had heard. They had no commitment to keep them loyal to Christ. So Jesus turns to the twelve disciples, the inner circle, and asks if they, too, want to leave and go their way. Peter answers for them. He immediately says that there is nowhere else to go. Only the Lord Jesus has the life-giving word. He has no doubt that Jesus has come from God and thus embodies the truth.
This is the question all who don't believe must answer. If you don't trust Jesus, who do you trust? Is there someone with superior words or powers? Who else has the credentials Jesus had? Who else healed the sick and raised the dead? Who else had fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish? The fact is that there is no one to compare with Jesus, neither then nor now.
Verses 70 & 71 Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray Him.)
Each man of the Twelve was called by Jesus to be a disciple. Their choice was to be willing to follow and obey. Jesus knew what Judas would eventually do and spoke about it. The wonder is that Judas went ahead with his treachery even though it was the act of an enemy rather than a friend. How regrettable it was to be for him.
As we read this account we can't help but position ourselves on somebody's side. There is a challenge in Jesus' words. Either we see Him for who He is and trust in Him, or we depart with some other view which we have taken. It is bold and foolish to take a stand that says Jesus was wrong. That is saying that I know truth better than He does. That can never be the case. So, we divide into unbelievers and believers and the difference is immense. That is simply the way it is.•
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