Last week we focused on the fact that the Father had given the elect to the Son as a love gift for His suffering. This deals with the sovereignty of God in salvation. Most people who read the Bible at all will tell you that they believe in the sovereignty of God, but then when you ask them what do you mean by the sovereignty of God, it is obvious that they all have different ideas of what it means. But most believers who say they believe in the sovereignty of God do not believe that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation. The question of how man is saved has received varying answers through the years.
Pelagious, who was a British monk, preached, "That man came to salvation by himself," and thus he denied the necessity of grace entirely. Pelagians followers of Pelagious principle, believe that men are saved by the things that they do.
Semi-Pelagians are those who acknowledge the need of grace, but hold inconsistently to the fact that we come of our free will. Semi-Pelagians say, "I wanted to come and God helped me." They deny the grace that comes first that enables a man to respond to the word of God. They conceive of themselves as first responding, first choosing to come, and then being helped by God to receive Christ as Savior.
Many evangelicals today would fit into the category of semi-Pelagians. They will say we are saved only by grace, but at the same time they will say we are saved through the exercise of our free will. In our last study we showed how free will plays no part in man coming to salvation. The ONLY people who come to, or believe in, Christ are those who the Father has "given" and irresistibly drawn.
Let's briefly set the context before we look at our text for this morning. Our Lord had fed over twenty thousand people with five barley loaves and two fish. Many of these people followed Him to Capernaum wanting to join Yeshua's welfare program of free food. He answers some of their questions and then He gives the sermon, which has been called "the Sermon on the Bread of Life," drawn out by that incident of the feeding of the twenty thousand.
We have to keep in mind Yeshua's audience. He is talking with unbelieving Jews who are skeptics. They ate the miraculous bread and then wanted to make Yeshua their king. But He didn't come to reign physically over the Jews, but spiritually over all men. They later sought Yeshua in Capernaum, but for the wrong reason. They wanted Him to be the new Moses, who could provide them with a lifetime supply of physical bread. So Yeshua tells them that He is the "Bread of life":
Yeshua said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:35 NASB
"I am"—this is the first of the major "I am" sayings in the Fourth Gospel in which our Lord takes the tetragrammaton YHWH, the verb "to be" in Hebrew, the name of God who is the "I AM that I AM," and applies it to Himself and adds a metaphor. "I am" recalls the name that God revealed to Moses. Yeshua uses this phrase so that they might make the identification between Yahweh, who lead the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt and who dealt with Israel as the covenant keeping God in the Old Covenant with the Lord Yeshua the Christ, who was there in their midst.
Yeshua is saying, "I AM the God of Moses." I am the one who provided the physical manna, and I am the spiritual manna that will give you eternal life. The gift of the manna and the multiplication of the loaves are explained by Yeshua as parables of His gift of Himself, the true bread from heaven.
Was it important that the Jews realized the Yeshua is Yahweh? Notice what He later says to the Jews:
"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." John 8:24 NASB
Yeshua claimed to be Yahweh, if they do not believe this, they will die in their sins.
"I am the bread of life"—the whole discussion of the manna in verses 22-34 appears to have been designed to lead up to this statement. The Jewish request in verse 34, "Lord, always give us this bread," suggests a misunderstanding of the sign of the manna, which allows Lazarus and Yeshua to make the matter perfectly clear.
Yeshua claims to be the Bread of Life, three times in this discourse (vv. 35,48, 51). The word picture of the bread reveals that He alone offers the spiritual truth that provides life.Yeshua fed the twenty thousand Jews with five loaves and had twelve baskets of leftovers showing that He was the bread of life for Israel. In the other Gospels we see that He fed the four thousand Gentiles with four loaves and had seven baskets of leftovers showing that He was the bread of life for the Gentiles also. Yeshua is the bread of life, it is Him and Him alone who provides spiritual life, eternal life.
In the ancient world generally, and in Palestine particularly, bread was the basic foodstuff. It was the primary source of nutrition and usually the only "solid" food consumed by a Palestinian peasant. As such, it was virtually the source of survival. Thus the fundamental thought that would have been associated with bread by Yeshua's audience was that which nourished and sustained life. Just as physical life depends on food [symbolised by bread] so spiritual life depends on Yeshua.
Where was Yeshua born? Bethlehem! This comes from two words bayith, meaning: "house"; and lechem, meaning: "bread." Yeshua was born in the "house of bread." What do we call a house of bread? A bakery! The bread of life was born in a bakery. Yeshua, is the "bread of life," this word picture reveals that He alone offers the spiritual truth that provides life.
"I am the bread of life"—is the first of seven such claims that Lazarus recorded Yeshua making in this Gospel. Yeshua used the same expression, "I am," plus a predicate in each case. Yeshua claims to be the Bread of Life, He is the satisfier and sustainer of life. He is the Light of the World, the dispeller of sin's darkness (8:12)). He is the Door, the entrance into security and fellowship (10:7, 9). He is the Good Shepherd, the protector and guide in life (10:11, 14). He is the Resurrection and the Life, the giver of eternal life (11:25). He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, He is the ONLY way, the ONLY truth, and the ONLY life (14:6). He is the True Vine, the source of vitality and productivity (15:1, 5). Each of these statements is a description of Yeshua's relationship with people.
Lazarus may be picturing Yeshua as Wisdom personified in the book of Proverbs. Just as Wisdom personified, in Proverbs 9:1-5, invites all people of all nations to her table, so does Yeshua invite all to come to Him and be filled:
"Come, eat of my food And drink of the wine I have mixed. Proverbs 9:5 NASB
The invitation to come to Yeshua is an invitation to come to the Wisdom of God, to Yahweh Himself.
"He who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst"—the bread and water together represent total human need. As I pointed out last week, "coming to Yeshua" and "believing in Yeshua" are synonymous concepts. These are parallel terms, coming to Christ is the same as believing in Christ and vise versa. This is important in understanding this text.
"But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. John 6:36 NASB
"You have seen me"—they have already seen Him in a Messianic function at the feeding of the twenty thousand, and yet did not see in that miracle His deity, and so did not believe.
If the Jews can see Yeshua and His miraculous signs, and yet still not come to faith, does that suggest His mission is in some measure a failure? Yeshua responds:
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. John 6:37 NASB
Remember "coming to Christ" and "believing in Christ" are synonyms. So who comes to/believes in Yeshua? "All that the Father gives to Yeshua"—the ability to believe on Yeshua requires divine enablement. It is only those whom "the Father" enables to believe that "come to" Yeshua in faith. These are "all" the people whom "the Father gives" to the Son as gifts.
The word "gives" is a word of destiny. It's divine sovereign election. This is what theologians call "irresistible grace." This does not mean that God drags people to Christ kicking and screaming against their will. It means that God gives them a new heart, and they respond to the Gospel.
A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. Acts 16:14 NASB
Notice carefully what the text says: "the LORD OPENED her heart to respond...." If you try to deny that the one single reason that Lydia understood and believed the Gospel was because God deliberately opened her heart and enabled her to believe, you are fighting God's Word. If you try to get man's "free will" as the one determining factor into this text, you are consciously corrupting the Word of God.
"And the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out"—this second part of the verse moves from the collective whole to the individual, and from the actual coming to preservation.
Remember, "coming to Christ" and "believing in Christ" are synonyms. Yeshua uses a figure of speech here called a "litotes" to stress strongly the positive fact that all who believe in Him find acceptance and security. In "litotes," the speaker or writer affirms a positive truth by negating its opposite. For example, "This is no small matter," is a litotes meaning: "This is a very significant matter." In the first part of this verse, Yeshua spoke of the elect as a group, and in the second part, He referred to every individual in the group. Yeshua had confidence in the Father drawing the elect to Him, and the believer may have confidence, too, in the Son receiving and retaining him or her.
The words "cast out" here are from the Greek verb ekball, which means to: "drive already "in." away" or "cast out." In almost all of its parallel occurrences, it is presupposed that what is driven out or cast out is "I will never drive away," therefore means: "I will certainly keep in".
This is speaking of eternal security, that is that salvation is secure. Just as I did nothing to get my salvation (I was given and drawn by the Father), I can do nothing to keep it, or loose it. I am eternally secure in His electing love. If any part of my eternal salvation depends upon my power and ability and commitment and righteousness, I'm damned! Because if I could lose my salvation, I would. And so would you. So I rejoice in the fact that I cannot lose it. The one who is given and drawn comes, and the one who comes is eternally secure.
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38 NASB
"For I have come down from heaven"—this is perfect tense, which refers to the Incarnation. Over and over Yeshua speaks of His preexistence. In chapter 6 alone He says it eight times, "I have come down from heaven." Lazarus began this Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 NASB
The Word here is Yeshua. Therefore, Yeshua was there preexistent with Yahweh, coexistent with Yahweh, self-existent with Yahweh eternally. As a person He is the eternal Son of God. He existed everlastingly in the presence of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He is God of very God:
Yeshua said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. John 8:42 NASB
Yeshua existed in the presence of God from all eternity. Yeshua is not a created being who came into existence like you and I do at the point of conception. He always existed as God the Son.
So Yeshua says He is the "I AM" referring to His deity and now He says He came down from heaven, also referring to His deity. He is trying to tell them that He is Yahweh:
"Not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me"—this repeats John 5:30:
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 5:30 NASB
The purpose of the Incarnation was that the Son would fulfill the Father's will. The Son will not act independently of the Father, but only in submission to the Father. If the Father gives someone to the Son, the Son will receive and keep this individual, because the Father has given them to Him. So the Son came to do the will of the Father, which is:
"This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. John 6:39 NASB
If one individual that the Father gave to the Son failed to reach heaven, it would be a disgrace for the Son, since it would indicate His inability or unwillingness to fulfill the Father's will. If you are a believer, you are secure, you can never lose your salvation.
"I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day"—three times in 5 verses He mentions the "Last Day." "The last day" is a phrase that occurs only in this Gospel (5:28, 29; 11:24; 12:48). So what is Yeshua referring to when He speaks of "the last day"? What will He "raise up"?
Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." John 11:24 NASB
So when Yeshua says, "raise it up" He is referring to the resurrection. And He tells us that this resurrection will happen on the last day.
So when Yeshua says, "of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day"—He is saying that ALL those individuals that have been given to Him by His Father He will resurrect on the last day. All believers will be resurrected.
Well, when is the last day? The traditional view that is held by most of the church is that the resurrection takes place at the end of time. Let me just say here that the Bible does not speak of "the end of time." The expression "the end time" or the "time of the end" is found in Scripture, but nowhere in the Bible can we find the expression "the end of time." The expression "the end time" or the "time of the end" speaks of the end of an age, but the end of an age is not the end of time.
To the Jews, time was divided into two great periods, the Mosaic Age and the Messianic Age. During the Second Temple period they distinguish between two types of olam: olam hazeh (this world) and Olam Haba ("the world to come"). The "olam hazeh" or "this world" is characterized by darkness, wickedness, sin, and death. It is called "night." The "Olam Haba," or "the world to come," as it was called by the rabbis, was known as a time of joy, peace, light, eternity; it is known as "day." The rabbis connected the olam haba and the resurrection.
According to the Bible, when was the resurrection to take place? The Scriptures testify that the time of the resurrection was to be at the last day of the Old Covenant age. We know this to have happened in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The disciples knew that the fall of the Temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant age and the inauguration of a New Age:
"Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. 2 "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:1-2 NASB
Daniel says that this resurrection will come after a time of great trouble for the Jewish nation. That sounds just like:
for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. Matthew 24:21 NASB
Here, Yeshua is speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem. Notice also:
"And those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3 NASB
Now compare that with:
"Therefore just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 "Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:40-43 NASB
Both Daniel 12 and Matthew 13 are speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The resurrection is an event that was to happen in A.D. 70.
Verse 4 of Daniel 12 identifies this time as "the time of the end."
"But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase." Daniel 12:4 NASB
The NASB really messes up here, this is a really bad translation. This should read "the time of the end" as it is translated in the KJV, NKJV, YLT, NIV, ESV and NLT. Every translation that I looked in had "time of the end" except NASB. The Bible never speaks of "the end of time."
In response to Daniel's question at the end of verse 6, "How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" the angel answers in:
And I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed. Daniel 12:7 NASB
This again speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70. In verse 12, Daniel connects the resurrection to the abomination that makes desolate:
"And from the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Daniel 12:11 NASB
Yeshua referred to this in Matthew 24:15, in discussing the fall of Jerusalem. The last verse in Daniel 12 records a promise given to Daniel about his own personal resurrection:
"But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age." Daniel 12:13 NASB
The statements of verses 1, 7, 11, and 12 tie the resurrection to the time immediately following the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. What Daniel had written was well ingrained into the thinking of the Jews. We see from Yeshua's discussion with Martha, that she had no doubt as to when the resurrection would be:
Yeshua said to her, "Your brother shall rise again." 24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." John 11:23-24 NASB
Yeshua taught that the resurrection would happen on the last day of the Old Covenant period. The New Covenant is an everlasting covenant, and therefore, has no last day. Back to our text:
"For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." John 6:40 NASB
Where verse 39 speaks corporately, verse 40 is individual—everyone. "Beholding" and "believing" are parallel like "comes" and "believes" in John 6:35. It is God's sovereign will that those whom He gives to Yeshua will believe, will have eternal life and will be resurrected on the last day.
Hendrickson says: "Scripture teaches a counsel that cannot be changed, a calling that cannot be resolved, an inheritance that cannot be defiled, a foundation that cannot be shaken, a seal that cannot be broken, and a life that cannot perish. This is the Father's will, who hath sent me, that of all that He hath given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day."
Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." John 6:41 NASB
Who is grumbling here? It is the Jews. Does that remind you of anything? The word used for grumbling here is gogguzo, which is a relatively a rare word in the New Testament, but it was used in the Tanakh to describe Israel's murmuring against Yahweh. The parallel with the wilderness wandering period is striking. When the manna was given, Israel murmured against the manna, they spoke out very strongly against the thing that God had provided for them:
"We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna." Numbers 11:5-6 NASB
So just as the Israelites of that day rejected Moses, God's representative, so do the Jews of Yeshua's day.
In his Gospel, Lazarus often used the term "the Jews" to represent the Jews who opposed Yeshua during His ministry (cf. 2:18, 20; 5:16). It became something of a technical term as he used it.
The grumbling of the Jews shows that they understood Yeshua's words, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven," as a Jewish idiom to claim to be pre-existent and divine!
What is interesting is that they obviously saw Yeshua as a fulfillment of:
'I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. Deuteronomy 18:18 NASB
But if they accept Him as "the prophet like Moses," they are required by Yahweh to listen to Him:
'It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. Deuteronomy 18:19 NASB
They saw the miracles that Yeshua did, they viewed Him in some sense at least to be a fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18, but yet they still did not come to/believe in Yeshua. Why? It was because they were not given by the Father to the Son.
They were saying, "Is not this Yeshua, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?" John 6:42 NASB
Some of Yeshua's hearers had known Him all His life. Even more of them had come to know Him and His family since they had moved to Capernaum, where Yeshua gave this discourse. His claim to "have come down out of heaven" seemed to them to contradict what they knew about His human origins. His very humanity is the stumbling block to their belief. He is one of them. Just the man from down the road. They cannot believe that He comes from heaven. They cannot believe that God has taken upon Himself human flesh and human blood.
They think they know Him, but what about His claims, He claims to be equal with the Father in every way, which might be ignored, if He wasn't raising the dead, healing the sick, and feeding thousands of people. If He is not from God, how does He do this?
Rabbi Duncan, who was the professor of Hebrew at the University of Edinborough, said, "No mortal man made the claims that Yeshua made. If they were to make them, we would think that he was mad. Christ then deceived man kind by conscious fraud. Or He was Himself diluted, or He was divine. There is no getting out of the Trilemma."
Notice how Yeshua deals with their objection:
Yeshua answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. John 6:43 NASB
This is a present imperative with the negative particle, which usually means: "to stop an act already in progress." I see Yeshua saying here, "Stop your grumbling, the reason you don't understand who I am is because you have not been drawn by my Father, you are not part of the elect, therefore you are blind to spiritual things":
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 NASB
Don't grumble, you can't come if you're not drawn. Who is the Lord talking to here? Unbelieving Jews. Did you ever learn this method in an evangelism training course? Have you ever been taught, when witnessing to the lost, tell them they have no ability in themselves to come to Christ ,and the only way they will ever believe in Him is if God sovereignly draws them? They don't teach this in evangelism classes, but this is Yeshua's method. You can't come unless you're drawn.
We dealt with this verse last week, so if you didn't hear that message, check it out. Let me just add a few more comments here. We saw that the Greek word helkuo always means:" to draw by irresistible superiority." And the word always has the idea of drawing against resistance. But no matter the resistance, when God draws, men come.
The commentator Lang writes: "Helkuo denotes all sorts of drawing, from violence to persuasion or invitation. But persons can be drawn only according to the laws of personal life. Hence this is not to be taken in a high predestinarian sense."
William Barclay, a well-known interpreter, writes, "Always there is this idea of resistance. God can and does draw men, but man's resistance can defeat the pull of God." Lang and Barclay both twist and distort the Word of God here.
Leon Morris, an evangelical, on the other hand says, "There is not one example in the New Testament of the use of this verb where the resistance is successful."
The concept of God's drawing people to Himself is expressed in the Greek translation of Jeremiah 31:3:
The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NASB
Who God foreknows, who He loves, He irresistibly draws. If we come to Yeshua, it is because the Father drew us, which none of us deserves. And if we don't come to Yeshua, it is because the Father left us in our rebellion, which all of us deserve.
"It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. John 6:45 NASB
This is a paraphrase from Isaiah 54:13, in this prophecy, Yahweh is speaking to the Jewish people about their future hope in Messiah and His coming kingdom. Among these promised blessings is the assurance that "all your sons will be taught of Yahweh." By omitting "your sons" the quotation can be expanded from Israel to have a universal appeal.
Yeshua is here explaining what kind of "drawing" the Father exercises. It is an illumination implanted within the individual, in fulfillment of the Old Covenant promise. Jeremiah looks forward to a New Covenant when God will put His law in the minds of His people, and write it on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34). In Ezekiel, God promises a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:24-26). The prophet Joel anticipates the time when God will pour out His Spirit not only on Jews, but on all people (2:28ff.).
"Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me"—remember, coming to Christ and believing in Christ are the same thing. So "has heard and learned" are synonymous with being "given" by or "drawn" by the Father.
"Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. John 6:46 NASB
This repeats the truth that John stated in the prologue:
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. John 1:18 NASB
Yeshua is the only "One" who "has seen" God fully. He is the only mediator of that knowledge of God, without which no one can know God. God teaches people about Himself through Yeshua. Listening to Yeshua, then, becomes essential for learning from God. God draws the elect to Himself by revealing Himself through Yeshua. It is only through Yeshua that anyone can come to Yahweh:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. John 6:47 NASB
All that are "given," all who are "drawn," all who have "heard and learned," believe in Him and have eternal life. This is not an invitation to the lost, but a doctrinal declaration concerning saints.
Let me close this morning with a couple of quotes from A. W. Pink and C. H. Spurgeon. Pink writes:
"Believing is not the cause of a sinner obtaining Divine life, rather is it the effect of it. The fact that a man believes, is the evidence that he already has Divine life within him...Therefore, we say that when any man does believe, is found believing, it is proof positive that he is already in possession of eternal life. 'He that believeth on me hath (already has) eternal life': [Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, page 340-41].
C. H. Spurgeon wrote:
"The doctrine which leaves salvation to the creature, and tells him that it depends upon himself, is the exaltation of the flesh, and a dishonoring of God. But that which puts in God's hand man, fallen man, and tells man that though he has destroyed himself, yet his salvation must be of God, that doctrine humbles man in the very dust, and then he is just in the right place to receive the grace and mercy of God. It is a humbling doctrine." [C. H. Spurgeon wrote (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [Pilgrim Publications], 6:259]
This text teaches the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation and the context is in dealing with unbelievers. People who are not "given by the Father" don't get it, they can't get it. So if you are a believer, thank God and God alone for your salvation.