John 6:66-71: After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
As we come to the close of yet another magnificent chapter of this wonderful gospel account by the apostle John, we immediately come face-to-face with what we were maintaining in our comments directly before this portion of our exposition, which is the fact that there are, concerning Christianity, two types of disciples, and that the first type we spoke of – the one who has difficultly with and takes offense at some, or any, of the teachings and sayings of our Lord – will invariably turn back and no longer walk with Him.
The same apostle who wrote this gospel puts this fact in clear words of no ambiguity in his first epistle to the churches in Asia Minor:
1 John 2:18-19: Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
There is something so offensive contained within the words of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that those who may, at the first, follow after Him – meaning following His pronouncements about mankind without believing in Him, and the necessity of trusting in His redemptive work on their behalf alone, with the accompanying truth He embodies and taught, as also taught throughout the entirely of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments – that, at some point, those who cannot see themselves in the light of God’s revelation, regarding the anthropology (the biblical doctrine of man) of man without Christ, must either corrupt this truth by adding their own works to the order of salvation, or denying the revelation of both the history of salvation and the order of salvation which comes to us only in Christ. These are those whom the apostle mentions as being “against Christ;” antichrist, as it states in that Scripture we just looked at above.
We have noted, above, many things; the feeding of the 5000 (more, including the women and children) was our Lord’s preparatory miracle for both His address to the general audience of Jews in the desolate place where He was ministering (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 19:12-17), and His address to the Jews in the synagogue at Capernaum immediately after that. This miracle set the tone for the words which He then shared with them. These words of our Lord were reminiscent of both the eating of the Pascal Lamb prior to the Exodus from the desolate place of Israel where they were held in physical bondage, and by which they knew that God had passed over them in His judgments upon Egypt, as well as of their exodus from Egypt and their many years of sojourning in the desolate place of the wilderness, in which place God fed them with manna from heaven to sustain them.
In other words, our Lord drew direct parallels between the Passover sacrifice and the divine sustenance in two places of desolation where the Jews dwelt and sojourned, with the attendant imagery of judgment on those who did not believe, and salvation for those who did believe, as well as sustaining of those whom He had called out of the first desolate place by His hand alone. The parallels of deliverance from slavery and sustainment in a place where they had no other option but to trust in the Lord their God is taken to a new height – that of spiritual life without end, which, of necessity, entails freedom from the bondage and dominion of sin, both now, in a temporal sense, and in the resurrected life to come, permanently. Since such new life as will be experienced in the resurrection is connected by allegory to that temporary freedom from the enslavement in Egypt and sustainment in the wilderness, the sign of the passing into that place where the Israelites were sustained is replaced by the greater, permanent sign of passing into the interadvental period of present life for believers by faith in the Son of God as their new Pascal Lamb, and ultimately, that resurrection life without end, suffering, or sin. This is where the connection is seen between both the first Pascal Lamb, which was a shadow of the final and true Pascal Lamb, and the bread of life which sustains believers through the means of grace as they travel through this wilderness of the interadvental life where they are still encompassed in bodies which suffer the ravages and failure of sin, and the resurrection life where all such hindrances will have ceased. Thus, the Lord speaks of eating His body and drinking His blood, both elements of which were part of the Pascal meal of the inauguration of the Sinaitic covenant. The blood was sprinkled on the door posts and lintel of the dwelling place of each Israelite in preparation to their passage into the desolate place of sustainment of the wilderness; they ate the Pascal meal ready to travel (Exodus 12:1-14ff).
New Covenant believers have placed their faith in He who substituted His life for theirs in atoning for their sins and making propitiation of God’s wrath; in this manner, His blood has been sprinkled for them not only over their households, but over all the household of God which is constituted in Christ Jesus’ mediatorial work. It is a new sense of the drinking of His blood is intended, as is the eating of His flesh, for before, there was temporal passage through the land of testing to the land of promise; now, what was intended by the first Pascal meal is superseded by the infinite value of the substitutionary death of the final and only valid Pascal meal.
One breaking point of this language of our Lord that troubled the Jews was that of drinking His blood, for they did not see anything other than a disregard and disobedience of God’s law in so doing (Leviticus 3:17; 7:26; 17:10-14), yet, they should have recognized the use of their own language in poetic manner to signify that which has value and virtue (2 Samuel 23:17), and is symbolic of ultimate victory in the prophets (Ezekiel 39:17ff). Since it takes the work of God to give an unbeliever a heart of belief, even with the references to their own Scriptures before them, they could only concentrate and understand that which pertains to the flesh (1 Corinthians 2:14; cf. John 6:32-58). It takes the work of the Triune God to not only give new life, with attendant faith and repentance, to those whom He willed to give eternal life to, but also to understand the significance of the teaching of our Lord concerning these things, to gain that understanding that this is a spiritual reference to imbibing the life of our Lord’s sacrifice, not a stating of disobedience to one of the commandments encompassing the life which was to typify that obedience to God which was realized in our Lord’s birth, life, and sacrifice; in the former, that disobedience promised being cut off from the national covenant given to the Fathers and their physical offspring, regarding a bountiful living in the land, but in the latter, the promise is that gospel obedience which comes from being united to Christ, and promises the benefits of never being cut off from the New Covenant and the family of God which is in Christ, with the attendant promises contained therein of eternal life and everlasting blessedness which shall never end.
This is a brief summarization of the forgoing study we have done in this chapter of John’s gospel, with some added observations derived from that forgoing study. Hopefully, it will prove helpful.
All of the above, of course, is based in and upon the choice of our Lord of His apostles in founding the church, in which observation we may note that all who are called to that eternal life promised in our Lord, as the apostles were call to their office and functions to teach us of these things, themselves enjoying the benefits of life with Christ immediately and thereafter everlastingly, are so called by the work of God according to His will and choice, as signified in the Lord’s calling of His apostles. We may even observe that those who cause distress and disorder within the gospel community of the local church do so by the fiat of God, wherein His sovereignty is expressed, for the general good of the church, and ultimately, the display of His glory (Romans 8:28ff; cf. John 8:66-71). It is important to note not only the reality of God’s sovereign choice of those He willed to build His church, but those whom He wills to use to continue to build upon that foundation (Ephesians 2:20; 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 11:18-19), whether vessels fit for glory or destruction, but all to His glory (Romans 9:22-24). With these observations and summary, we end this sixth chapter of our study in John’s gospel.
SDG – Bill