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John 6:41-71 (web)

The Bread of Life: Part II

6:41 The Jews therefore murmured concerning him, because he said,
"I am the bread which came down out of heaven."
6:42 They said, "Isn't this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?
How then does he say, 'I have come down out of heaven?'"
6:43 Therefore Jesus answered them, "Don't murmur among yourselves.
6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,
and I will raise him up in the last day.
6:45 It is written in the prophets, 'They will all be taught by God.'
Therefore everyone who hears from the Father, and has learned, comes to me.
6:46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God.
He has seen the Father.
6:47 Most assuredly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life.
6:48 I am the bread of life.
6:49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
6:50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven,
that anyone may eat of it and not die.
6:51 I am the living bread which came down out of heaven.
If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.
Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

6:52 The Jews therefore contended with one another, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
6:53 Jesus therefore said to them,
"Most assuredly I tell you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you don't have life in yourselves.
6:54 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,
and I will raise him up at the last day.
6:55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
6:56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him.
6:57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father;
so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me.
6:58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven--
not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever."

6:59 These things he said in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

6:60 Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said,
"This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?"
6:61 But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said to them,
"Does this cause you to stumble?
6:62 Then what if you would see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
6:63 It is the spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing.
The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life.

Unbelieving Brethren

6:64 But there are some of you who don't believe."
For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn't believe,
and who it was who would betray him.
6:65 He said, "For this cause have I said to you that no one can come to me,
unless it is given to him by my Father."

6:66 At this, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
6:67 Jesus said therefore to the twelve, "You don't also want to go away, do you?"
6:68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom would we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
6:69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ,
the Son of the living God."
6:70 Jesus answered them,
"Didn't I choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
6:71 Now he spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot,
for it was he who would betray him, being one of the twelve.

Discussion Questions

vs 42 Why does familiarity breed contempt in this case?
vs 44 How does the Father go about drawing a person to Christ?
vs 52 Consider these people obviously didn't understand him, why didn't Jesus make clear that he was speaking allegorically, or otherwise clarify his message?
vs 54 In speaking of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, to what was Jesus really alluding?
vs 63 What does he mean by "the flesh profits nothing"?
What is it that really gives life?
vs 66 What things in the Bible have challenged your faith and how have you dealt with such challenges?


Paraphrase of the Discussion

The Crowd: "Who does he think he is? He's just one of us, an ordinary Jew."
Jesus: "I understand that you don't believe, but you won't be able to believe until you have gone through the process of the Father drawing you to me. If you learn from the Father, then you will come to me. Once again I say that I am the bread of life and whoever eats this bread will live forever."
The Crowd: "We're not cannibals. We're not going to eat your flesh."
Jesus: "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you. But if you do so then you will have eternal life."
The Crowd: "That's too hard too and too offensive to accept."
Jesus: "You think that's hard! It wouldn't be so hard if you saw me in my element. You shouldn't have such fleshy interpretations of what I say. Use your spirit to infer what I really mean, and then you will have life. But the unbelievers among you are not able to do so at this time."

Jesus to his apostles: "What about you guys, are you going to leave too?"
Peter: "There's not much of an option there. There's no where to go. You have the words of eternal life and no one else does. We believe you are the Christ, the Son of God."
Jesus: "Not all of you believe that. Even though I've chosen you let not that fact be your security for I tell you that one of you is like a devil."

Many interpret what Jesus says not in the spirit in which he says it, but rather in a fleshy sense. Thus for example some view what Jesus is saying in these sections of John 6 as referring to the communion service, in which the bread of communion - a material thing - is viewed as imparting eternal life to people. But it is not fleshly material things which give life. Such an interpretation is not much different than the cannibalism idea brought up here. It is characteristic of the occult to assign magical properties to material things. And yet such leaven is present in the Christian community among those who for example view the water of baptism as having magical powers or the bread of communion as having magical powers. It is the Spirit which gives life. These fleshly things count for nothing but symbolism. To take them in any other sense is to invite occultic ideas into the body of Christ.

Partaking of the body and blood of the Lord occurs when one hears and believes his word. One is then born of the Spirit of God and has Christ living in him by proxy in the form of the Holy Spirit. Such a person is reckoned to have been crucified with Christ and as such forgiven of sin but also the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit renews one's life unto holiness.

Unbelieving Brethren

We notice here that there were people following Jesus, even called "disciples", and yet who didn't really believe in Jesus. Their faith was simply a vain shallow faith. Such people fall away either when they are subjected to persecution or to hard teachings. So also there are many such people in the Christian community. John writes of those who fall away, that such people had never really belonged to begin with. "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19 Though temporarily associating themselves with Jesus or with the Christian community, such people have not really come to Jesus in the sense in which the Lord was speaking of here in John 6.

Many, like Peter, presume that all their fellow Christians are saved. But Peter was deceived. For Judas, one of the twelve, Jesus likened to a devil, even then before the betrayal. Many Christians are deceived on this point. And even later in leading the church of Jerusalem Peter continued to be gullible. It took Paul to rebuke him and to point out the false brethren in the church of Jerusalem, of whom he wrote, "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves." Gal 2:4 And yet James, Peter and John all gullibly tolerated such men in their midst. Beware of the wolves among the sheep. "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." 1John 4:1

NIV version used in comments

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jan 28,2022