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Bible: What Does John 6: 41-71 Teach Us About the Trinity's Role in Salvation?
Drawing Mankind to Himself
The Act of the Father
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The Father's Role in Salvation
Thinking that they know who Jesus is (namely, the son of Joseph and Mary [though they omit speaking the name of Jesus’ mother]), the Jews begin to grumble about Him because He claims to be “the bread which came down from heaven” (vv. 41-42).
Now Christ begins a discourse that contains some highly figurative language (vv. 51, 53-58)--language the Jews (and others later in history) unfortunately take literally (v. 52).
First, however, He tells them to stop grumbling (v. 43), for this attitude not only shows their unbelief but also offends the Lord.
Jesus then explains the Father’s role in salvation (namely, drawing people to Christ) as well as His own role (that is, resurrecting them); people have no spiritual ability to come to/believe in the Son apart from the Father’s “drawing” action (v. 44).
Although this “drawing” may refer to the Father’s wooing of a person's will, as a lover courts a woman, it may simply suggest that the people come under the influence of His teaching (v. 45).
[An alternative interpretation of the word “draw” suggests a type of dragging; in other words, God has to drag the elect into His kingdom, so recalcitrant are they because of their spiritual incapacity.]
Jesus quotes Isaiah 54:13—a verse that explains the “educational” system in the Messianic kingdom—as support for this statement.
In every age, not just in the millennium, the Father teaches His truth to His children.
Jesus qualifies His statement, saying that since no one has ever seen God in His essence (except for the Son), the Father has not taught anyone in Person.
Instead, He has always used mediators to instruct His people in the truth of His word (v. 46; cf. 1:18).
Trust in the Sacrifice of Christ on Your Behalf
Christ: The Bread of Life
Now Christ returns to His original topic: Himself as the bread of life (vv. 48-51).
He first asserts the link between faith (in Him) and eternal life (v. 47); this faith includes believing that He is the bread of life (v. 48).
Unlike manna, which sustained the Israelites physically for thirty-eight years in the wilderness, He (as the bread from heaven) gives spiritual, everlasting life to whoever “eats” His flesh (vv. 49-51).
[Obviously, Jesus meant the Jews to understand His statement as a figure of speech.
He gave His flesh as the sacrificial Lamb on the cross.]
Upon hearing this latest conundrum, the Jews start arguments among themselves as to its meaning (v. 52).
The Mass: Eating Christ's Flesh and Drinking His Blood?
Is the Mass the correct interpretation of this passage?
"Eating" the Bread of Life
Christ does not explain the meaning of this expression, but adds to it the concept of drinking His blood (v. 53).
[Ryrie’s note that we must “appropriate” Christ does nothing to clarify what Jesus meant (New Testament Study Bible, 174).
How does one “appropriate” Christ?
In the context, Jesus equates His offering of His flesh and our “eating” it with our believing in Him and His sacrificial work; this "eating"/believing results in the obtaining of eternal life.
Therefore, by believing that He gave His body and shed His blood on our behalf, we are “eating” Christ, i.e., bringing the benefits of Christ’s death into our lives.
The Lord’s Supper merely symbolizes and commemorates this one-time salvation event; regular participation in this ceremony helps believers remember what He did for them.
Ingesting the bread and grape juice confers no extra grace upon the recipient.]
Whoever “eats” and “drinks” (read “believes”) has [present tense] eternal life, and Jesus will resurrect this one at the last day (v. 54; cf. vv. 40, 47).
This act of faith in Him initiates a relationship with Christ; “abide” in John means “remain, continue” or “maintain a vital connection” (v. 56; cf. 15:4-5).
Jesus compares the relationship that He possesses with the Father to the relationship that “feeder-believers” have with Christ (v. 57).
The Lord then summarizes His “difficult saying” (v. 60), synthesizing verses forty-nine through fifty-one (v. 58), and the apostle concludes this section by recording where Jesus made these controversial remarks (a Capernaum synagogue) [v. 59].
The Spirit Applies the Truth to the Believer's Heart
The Spirit's Application of the Truth
Christ intuitively knows that these words offended many of His “disciples” (v. 61).
He speaks next of His ascension, and asks them enigmatically what if they should see it occur (v. 62).
[His ascension signifies His leaving them.
Is He asking, “Would this event also cause you to stumble”?]
The Spirit of God animates those who believe Jesus’ spiritual words of eternal life; those who do not believe cannot spiritually understand or accept His message because their sinful flesh prevents that "connection" from occurring (vv. 63-64a).
Christ is not under any illusion that every one of His followers is a believer; the Lord has always known who are and who are not His people (v. 64b).
Who comes to Him depends solely on the Father’s eternal decree (v. 65).
[Does this last statement cause the mass exodus of verse sixty-six?]
Judas: The Apostate
"One of You is an Adversary"
When Jesus asks the twelve for their decision, Peter, acting as spokesman for the group, shows the instincts of a true believer.
Although he may not understand Jesus’ meaning much of the time, he has come to know through the Spirit's application of what he has seen and heard that Christ is God’s Son.
This spiritual knowledge has convinced him to “stick around” (vv. 67-69).
Jesus qualifies Peter’s “we” by announcing that one of the twelve is a “devil” (adversary); John names that individual as the traitor, Judas Iscariot (vv. 70-71).
[As God’s Son, Jesus had full knowledge of who the twelve were; the Father planned for Him to choose one who would betray Him to the Jews, so that He would eventually die a sacrificial death to atone for sin.]
© 2014 glynch1