Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #843 MP3 Audio File Video File

Yeshua's Seeker Sensitive Teaching

John 6:59-71

Delivered 01/29/17

I'm sure you have all heard of "seeker sensitive, or seeker friendly churches." Do you understand what that means? Wikipedia states, "Church Growth is a movement within evangelical Christianity which aims to develop methods to grow churches based on business marketing strategies. ... One prominent example is the 'seeker-sensitive' approach, which aims to make churches more accessible and sensitive to the needs of spiritual seekers.'"

So seeker-friendly basically means that they don't want to teach anything that will make a "seeker" uncomfortable. So you aren't going to hear teaching on sin, election, or Preterism. It's not going to challenge you on any level to holy living. It's not going to be very deep into Scripture. It's going to be mostly feel-good messages. Now let me ask you, "Does this sound like the way Yeshua taught?" He didn't seem to be very seeker sensitive in His teaching in John 6. He really seems more seeker insensitive.

John chapter 6 starts with Yeshua's popularity at its height. There were huge crowds following Him and as we come to the end of the chapter there seems to be only twelve disciples left. Yeshua begins His Galilean ministry in John 6 with a crowd of around 20,000 people. Thousands of people had witnessed first had a stunning miracle, they were fed bread and fish that Yahweh directly created. They watched as Yeshua healed people all day. Thousands of people had heard Yeshua speak. And thousands rejected Him and walked away. So what happened? Yeshua obviously didn't know much about church growth. Most of our seeker-friendly mega churches today started small and grew to large numbers. But Yeshua starts with a large crowd and teaches it down to just a few. That's something that you won't learn in seminary.

So when the crowd saw that Yeshua was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Yeshua. John 6:24 NASB

So here is a crowd seeking Yeshua. Do you think He knew how to deal with people? Then why does He end up driving almost all of this crowd away? What went wrong? Well as you study this chapter it's easy to see that Yeshua wasn't seeker sensitive at all. As a matter of fact He seems to do all He can to repel this crowd with His teaching.

Let's look at the final text in this section of John 6:

These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. John 6:59 NASB

Lazarus has already established that this discourse took place at Capernaum (v. 24), which was the current home of Yeshua's family. Now he tells us that Yeshua said this (probably referring to the entire discourse and exchanges, vv. 27-58) in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Our English word "synagogue" comes from transliterating the Greek sunagoge, which means: "a bringing together." In its earliest usage, sunagoge did not refer to a building or place of gathering, but rather to the group of people who were gathered together. Later, as the buildings for gathering developed, "sunagoge" became used of the "gathering place" as well as the people gathered. So the word "synagogue" is similar to the English word "church" in that we use it for the people who gather together or the place where the people gather together.

The synagogue is not the Temple; the synagogue is a completely different place. The origins of synagogue buildings and the worship associated with them are obscure. But it seems clear that synagogue buildings and meeting places started during the Babylonian exile.

By the time of Christ, it was the synagogue, not the Temple, that was the central institution for Jewish worship. This makes sense because even the Jews living in Israel would only go to Jerusalem three times a year (and most went only one time), but they went to their synagogue every Sabbath.

The Sabbath synagogue service had a general order, it started by reciting the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, that Yahweh is One God, accompanied by blessings that were spoken in connection with those passages. Then formal and written prayers were read. Then there was a reading from the Law and the Prophets. After the reading, there was a sermon. The Ruler could ask someone to give the sermon, or a person who wanted to teach could ask him. It seems at that point the Ruler could recognize people to further contribute, comment, share, or teach. The service concluded with a benediction.

The synagogue was a ready-made audience. Where else would you find a crowd of people interested in the Hebrew Scriptures? We should probably view Yeshua's teaching ministry here as similar to Paul's later practice. Both men announced God's revelations to lost religious Jews, and appealed to them to believe the Gospel.

Archaeologists have uncovered what they believe may be the foundations of this synagogue. Visitors to the site of Capernaum may now view a reconstructed edifice that dates from three or four hundred years later.

Verses 60-71 present the last material of Yeshua's ministry in Galilee, according to the Fourth Gospel.

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?" John 6:60 NASB

"His disciples"—the word "disciples" here is the Greek word mathetes, which means "a learner or follower." At the most elementary level, a disciple is someone who is at that point following Yeshua. Many "followed" Yeshua as "disciples" who did not really believe in Him. The term "disciple" is not synonymous with "believer," as we see in verse 64 where Yeshua said that some of these disciples did "not believe. We talked about this a couple of weeks ago in the message "The Narrow Road." You can be a believer and not a disciple, and you can be a disciple and not a believer. But all believers are called to be disciples. Don't mistake the crowd's having sought out and followed Yeshua as being an expression of faith in Him.

"This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"—the word "difficult" here is from the Greek word skleros, which has the idea of being both "hard" and "harsh." In this context it is not so much "hard to understand" as "difficult to accept." Skleros is found in medical language meaning: "stiff, dried out, inflexible, hard." In the figurative sense, this word is used as a word for harsh, unpleasant. It's objectionable. It's offensive. It's not hard to understand. So they are saying what Yeshua is saying is not very seeker sensitive.

What is meant here by a "difficult statement"? What did Yeshua say that was difficult for them to accept? If you read this discourse you see that just about everything He said was difficult to accept. He has said, for example, "All that the Father gives me will come to me." He has also said, "No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day." He makes these statement in response to their unbelief. As if to say, "I know that you don't believe, and the reason you don't is because the Father hasn't drawn you, you have not been given to me by the Father." That is not a very sensitive thing to say to an unbeliever.

But I think the "difficult statement" here refers primarily to Yeshua's statement about eating His flesh and drinking His blood":

So Yeshua said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. John 6:53 NASB

What was it about this teaching that was intolerable to an orthodox Old Covenant Israelite? The people believed He was speaking literally and demanding cannibalism, which was forbidden. Under the Law of the Sinai Covenant, no flesh or blood of any kind was to be consumed or the offender was to be completely cut off from the community.

A Catholic commentary states, "It is obvious that the crowd, including some of Jesus' disciples believed Jesus was speaking literally and not symbolically. The crucial point is that when they walked away Jesus did not stop them! If He was only speaking symbolically and then let them leave, He would be perpetuating a lie, which is a sin. Jesus is without sin. They left and He let them leave because He was not speaking symbolically, but literally."

Do you remember from last week what I said it means to eat His flesh and drink His blood? What is promised to those who "eat Christ's flesh" and "drink His blood" is the same as what is promised to those who "believe," that is, the promise of eternal life. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood is the metaphorical way of referring to believing in Him. Augustine wrote, "Believe, and you have eaten."

To believe in Yeshua, to come to Yeshua, to eat this bread, to feed on Him, to eat His flesh and drink His blood, all of these actions result in the same spiritual outcome: eternal life. So when He talks about eating and drinking His flesh and blood, He means that we must trust His sacrificial death on our behalf as the only way to have eternal life. Receive Him as one who gives His life for you. Yeshua was hinting that He would die violently. He connected the importance of belief in Him with His atoning death.

The idea that their Messiah would die as a sacrifice, was a huge problem for the Jews. They were utterly unwilling to accept that. Even today when we are told that we have our eternal life through the blood of Christ many are repelled by the very idea that the blood of Christ should be that upon which we rest our salvation.

But Yeshua, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble? John 6:61 NASB

"Yeshua, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this"—Yeshua knows what they are thinking and saying, and thus He responds in verses 61-65.

"Does this cause you to stumble?—the word "stumble" here is skandalizo, it is a common word in the New Testament translated as: "stumble, offend, and fall away." We get our English term scandalize from the Greek root. The essential meaning, virtually every time this word is used in the New Testament, is that something happens that negatively affects one's relationship with Christ.

What is "this" that was causing them to fall away? The doctrine of the Atonement! The idea that Messiah would die on a cross. So it was the idea of the cross that was causing them to fall away. This is what Paul said in:

but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 1 Corinthians 1:23 NASB

The Jews "stumbled, were offended, and fell away" because of the Cross. But it was only the Jews who were not given to Christ and drawn by the Father that stumbled:

but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24 NASB

To the "called," the drawn, to the given Christ is the power of God. Paul goes on to say:

But by His doing you are in Christ Yeshua, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30 NASB

Notice carefully what this verse says, "It is by His doing that we are in Christ Yeshua." Therefore, any boast we have is not in ourselves, but in the Lord. Literally, "From Him you are in Christ Yeshua." He creates the union by His grace. We embrace it by faith.

Paul also writes:

But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. Galatians 5:11 NASB

"The stumbling block of the cross"—the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews because they could not accept the idea of a suffering, much less crucified, Messiah.

When I understand the implications of the cross, what I'm saying is: I am a moral failure. I am unrighteous. I am damned, and I realize there's nothing I can do to change that. Therefore, I have to reach out to Yeshua on the cross and trust Him as my Savior in order to experience salvation.

The meaning of the cross is: "There's nothing you can do to make a good showing; you cannot perform well. Therefore, all you have is the cross." So the message of the cross is offensive to the natural man.

"What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? John 6:62 NASB

So He says, Does this cause you to stumble? "What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?—what is He talking about here? The ascension! How does Yeshua's ascension cause them to stumble?

The Pillar NTC states, "The Greek preserves the condition but no conclusion, so it is possible to understand the argument in one of two ways: (1) Jesus' ascension will make the offence even greater; or (2) Jesus' ascension will reduce or remove the offence."

I think that what Yeshua is saying here is that if the disciples find His language about eating flesh and drinking blood offensive, what will they think when they see Yeshua dying on the cross, which is His way of "ascending" to the place where He was before? That is the supreme scandal. However offensive the linguistic expression "eating flesh and drinking blood" may be, how much more offensive is the crucifixion of an alleged Messiah! The very idea is outrageous, bordering on blasphemous obscenity. Their view of Messiah was that He would conquer Israel's enemies and usher in an age of peace and prosperity, not that He would die, especially not on a cross as a criminal.

The reason that the ascension would cause an even worse offense is because the path to the ascension must go through the crucifixion. Yeshua's crucifixion was in a sense the first step in His ascending back to the Father. Notice what Paul wrote:

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8 NASB

Christ, in obedience to the Father, died on the cross. Now watch the next verse:

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, Philippians 2:9 NASB

"For this reason"—because of Christ's humility (verses 6-8), His exaltation now follows (verses 9-11). The crown, His ascension, follows the cross. The two are inseparable. The words "highly exalted" are the Greek word huperupsoo it means: "to elevate to a surpassing position, to exalt beyond all others, to exalt to the highest, maximum majesty." This particular exaltation is so grand that this particular Greek word is not used anyplace else in the whole Bible. No one ever humbled himself like Christ has, so not one will receive so great a reward.

How did God exalt Christ? The exaltation of Christ involved three things—the Resurrection, Ascension and Second coming:

"This Yeshua God raised up again [resurrection], to which we are all witnesses. "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God [ascension], and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear [Second Coming]. Acts 2:32-33 NASB

"He poured out 'this' which you now see and hear"—the "this" refers to the signs that gave evidence that this was the fulfillment of Joel's prophecy (verse 16), thus indicating that it was the "last days" (verse 17), which would culminate in the "great and notable day of the Lord" (verse 20), which is the Second Coming.

Hall Harris writes, "They had taken offense at some of Jesus' teaching (perhaps the graphic imagery of "eating His flesh" and "drinking His blood," and Jesus now warned them that if they thought this was a problem, there was an even worse cause for stumbling in store: His upcoming crucifixion. This ascent is to be accomplished through the cross; for John, Jesus' departure from this world and His return to the Father form one continual movement from cross to resurrection to ascension."

So Yeshua is saying to the Jews who are following Him, but offended at what He says, What's going to happen when you see the Son of Man go to the cross and there be crucified as a common criminal with the Romans and the Jews standing there mocking Him. What's going to happen then? If you're repelled by the words that I'm saying, how are you going to respond to the events that are soon to transpire?

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. John 6:63 NASB

The disciples are grumbling again and instead of saying, "No one can come to me unless the Father draws him," Yeshua says, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no help at all." In other words, God rules over who has life; we in our flesh can't create it. This is the same thing that He told Nicodemus in chapter 3, "You must be born of the spirit." Again, it's all about the divine initiative. He's looking at unbelief and realizing they're not going to come because only the Spirit can give life, quickening those who are dead in their trespasses and sins. Those who cannot grasp His words are devoid of the Spirit. The Jews knew that life came from the Spirit:

"I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it," declares the LORD.'" Ezekiel 37:14 NASB

Yeshua's words are Spirit, and the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit, so they take His words literally and are offended.

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. John 6:63 NASB

This verse, because of the larger context of chapter 6, may relate to a contrast between Old Covenant versus new covenant, Moses versus Yeshua:

who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6 NASB

Yeshua goes on to say,

"But there are some of you who do not believe." For Yeshua knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. John 6:64 NASB

"The beginning" may be a reference to the beginning of Yeshua's ministry, but it is probably another reference to Yeshua's preincarnate existence (1:1).

"But there are some of you who do not believe"—the facts are that natural men are unresponsive to the word of God. They are unable to come. They rebel against the Scriptures:

because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8 NASB

People like to say they didn't respond because he didn't give the message plainly enough, clearly enough, or he didn't speak in sufficient love, he wasn't being seeker sensitive, but Yeshua said:

And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." John 6:65 NASB

Again Yeshua teaches that the human decision to believe or not believe rested ultimately in God's elective purpose (vv. 37, 44). Thus He did not view the unbelief of His disciples as an indication that He had failed.

"No one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father"over and over in this chapter Yeshua refers to the divine initiative, intervention and empowerment necessary for anyone to come to faith in Him. This is a point that he wants us to get. Twice Yeshua says, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me"—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. Yeshua viewed the ultimate cause of faith as God's electing grace, not man's choice.

Then he says, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him"—the phrase "no one" includes both classes of people, Jews and Gentiles. The words "can come to Me"—this has to do with the ability of man. Yeshua was saying, "No one, neither Jew nor Gentile, has the ability to come to Me." The word "unless" is a "necessary condition." Yeshua said that the necessary condition for someone coming to Him was God drawing them. Four times in this chapter He tells unbelievers that they cannot believe in Him unless they have been given to Him by the Father, who will draw the given.

"No one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father"what's important to see here is that each time that He states this truth of God's sovereign election, it's in response to unbelief. In 6:36, He tells His critics, "You have seen Me, and yet do not believe." Then He immediately adds (6:37), "All that the Father has given Me will come to Me." In 6:43, Yeshua confronts their grumbling about Him and then adds (6:44), "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws Him." Here, in verse 64 Yeshua again confronts their unbelief and then adds, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." Yeshua is telling this crowd of seekers, None of you can believe in me and have eternal life unless you are part of the elect of God. Unless God has chosen you you will never understand what I am saying. Is that something that sounds seeker sensitive?

"No one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father"—do you see the necessary condition in this verse? No one can come unless the Father has granted him the ability to come. A necessary condition is a circumstance in whose absence a given event could not occur or a given thing could not exist. In other words, if a man is not given to Yeshua by the Father, then a man can NOT come to him. Every person who comes to Yeshua can only come if he is given by the Father. That's the necessary condition. We must be given to Christ by the Father. These are the words of Christ, not Augustine or Calvin.

So when a necessary condition for the occurrence of a given event, here divine election, is found we have a circumstance in whose absence the event could not occur, and whenever it does occur the thing exists. Everyone given by the Father will come, to Christ in faith. No one will come to Christ in faith who is not given.

If everyone is given, then they will all come. Because everyone given will come. This would be Universalism, and the Bible does not teach that. And if no one is given then nobody will come. Nobody would be saved because only the given can come.

Those whom the Father has chosen will trust in Christ, but only because they have first been chosen by God. This is a difficult doctrine for some to accept, but it is what the Bible teaches. We find it difficult to accept because our pride opposes the thought that God is in control of everything, including our salvation.

As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. John 6:66 NASB

The Greek phrase ek toutou translated here as "As a result" should be "from this time" or "for this reason." Both meanings fit here. These disciples were not believers, they were natural men without the Spirit and they therefor found Yeshua's discourse intolerable. Because his sermon wasn't seeker sensitive it converted popular enthusiasm for Yeshua into disgust; like a winnowing fan, it blew the chaff away, leaving a small remainder of wheat behind. I think we can conclude from the flow of the narrative that the defection has been so substantial that not many more than the Twelve actually remain.

So Yeshua said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" John 6:67 NASB

It seems that all that remains here at the end of this debate are the twelve.

Yeshua's question assumed a negative answer, as is clear from the Greek construction. He undoubtedly asked it, not because He had questions about the Twelve's perseverance, but because they needed to reaffirm their commitment.

Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. John 6:68 NASB

This is what Yeshua said in verse 63, "the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." Peter gets this. Yeshua's words are life.

Why does Simon Peter always seem to speak for the twelve? Peter was married and probably the oldest of the group being around 20-25. John was the youngest of the twelve disciples (tradition says he was 8 to 10 years old). These disciples on average were probably about 15 years old. Now I don't know that I can definitively prove this but let me show you a text that makes me lean this way:

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Yeshua spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Yeshua said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me." Matthew 17:24-27 NASB

Why was this tax only paid for Yeshua and Peter? To answer this we need to know who had to pay the tax and that answer is found in:

"This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD. "Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD. Exodus 30:13-14 NASB

The rest of the disciples didn't need to pay this temple tax because they were under 20 years old. Make sense?

"We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." John 6:69 NASB

"We have believed and have come to know"these are both perfect active indicatives. Salvation here is in perfect tense which means a past, culminated act has become a settled state of being.

"You are the Holy One of God"—there is a manuscript problem here. The KJV says, "the Christ, the Son of the living God". The shorter text (NASB, NRSV, NJB) is supported by the better ancient Greek manuscripts P75, B, C*, D, L, and W. The chances are that later scribes inserted the additional words from Martha's confession of John 11:27 or Peter's of Matthew. 16:16.

"The Holy One of God"—is an unusual designation for Yeshua. It only occurs one other time in the New Testament, when a demon-possessed man in the synagogue in Capernaum addressed Yeshua with this title (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). In the Tanakh the title the "holy one" belongs particularly to Yahweh himself. Isaiah uses this term for Yahweh more than any other Old Covenant writer. It's his favorite name for Yahweh, the holy one of Israel. The Jews knew that phrase. So when Peter says, "You are the holy one of God who is the holy one of Israel," they were affirming his equality with God. I think after the walking on water and teleporting incident they were finally getting it.

Yeshua answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" John 6:70 NASB

It might have appeared that the Twelve had chosen Yeshua as their rabbi, but really

the choice had been His (Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16).

Yeshua revealed that even among "the Twelve" there was one unbeliever ("a devil"). Yeshua had chosen him to be one of the Twelve, but God had not chosen Him for salvation (cf. 13:10-11; 17:12; Acts 1:25; Ps. 41:9).

Devil—is from the Greek word diabolos, which is from diá, meaning: "through, between" and ballo, meaning: "to cast, throw." So it means: "a false accuser, slanderer one who utters false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another's reputation." Diabolos does not have an article with it here in many reliable ancient Greek manuscripts. This usually indicates an emphasis on the quality of the noun. Here it probably means that "one" of "the Twelve" was devil-like (cf. Mark 8:33).

Why bring up Judas here? The story of Judas illustrates what Yeshua had been teaching all through this discourse, Unless Yahweh draws you you will not come to him. This shows the depravity of the human heart and how desperately we need God's sovereign grace and the new birth. Yeshua had chosen Judas as an apostle. He was with Yeshua for three years. He saw His miracles and heard His teaching. He went out on a mission and saw God work miracles through him. Yet he did not believe and he was lost! Why? Because he wasn't given to the Son by the Father.

Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him. John 6:71 NASB

This statement is another of Lazarus' post-resurrection insights, added for the reader's help in understanding Yeshua's statement in the previous verse. "Iscariot" is probably a transliteration of the Hebrew is qeriyot, meaning "man of Kerioth," a village in southern Judah (Josh. 15:25).

This is the first mention of Judas in the Fourth Gospel, and he is immediately identified (as he is in the synoptic gospels, Matt 10:4, Mark 3:19, Luke 6:16) as the one who would betray Yeshua. Matthew records that Judas betrayal was the fulfillment of a prophecy by Jeremiah.

Judas was one of the twelve Apostles but he wasn't a believer. Again emphasizing the absolute sovereignty of God in Salvation.

This chapter is a powerful teaching on God's sovereignty in salvation. Yeshua didn't use the seeker sensitive approach to people he did the opposite. His words seem designed to purposefully push away the non-elect. So let me ask you, Can we by anything we say cause the elect to not trust Christ? No! Can we by anything we say cause the non-elect to trust Christ? No! So then why are we so afraid to teach the truth? Why do we shy away from the difficult doctrines? We need to always speak the truth in love. It's not our methods that bring people to Christ it's Yahweh's sovereign election.

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