You have words of eternal life
John 6:43-71 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 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. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus 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. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”
59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. 65 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.”
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” 71 Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
Today’s text is a great example of the importance of understanding and interpreting scripture in the context of the whole word of God. We cannot create doctrine from isolated verses without understanding how they are aligned with the rest of scripture. God’s word does not contradict itself. Neither does a single verse convey the truth of God’s word if it is contrary to the rest of scripture. If we were to create doctrine from today’s text without aligning it with the whole word of God, we could come to the conclusion that Jesus promoted cannibalism or drinking of human blood. Jesus says: “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. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” Jesus of course was not speaking literally here. This is a continuation of an interchange, when there was a demand from some who were with Jesus, to show them a sign. John 6:29-31 says: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” Jesus is comparing the daily life sustaining provision of manna to a disciples need to abide in Christ, to daily seek new understanding and revelation, fresh provision for the needs of the day.
Jesus was also speaking prophetically about what He would do and say when He shared the last Passover meal with His disciples. In Matthew 26:26-28 it says: While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul says: For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. The doctrine we have then from Jesus words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood is not the doctrine of a cult, but rather it is the doctrine of the sacrament of communion, which we as believers share to remember and proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. What we are remembering and proclaiming is not merely that He died, but rather that through His death on the cross we have received all the covenant promises of God.
In today’s text it says: Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” … As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. Their misunderstanding of Jesus words, their taking literally an isolated statement, caused them to fall away. So too, can creatng doctrines from isolated scripture verses, without considering their meaning and application in alignment with the rest of scripture, cause people to fall away. Some today focus on sin and judgment, creating a harsh doctrine based in guilt, condemnation and judgment. This limited view causes many to fall away. Others speak only of love, grace and forgiveness, completely setting aside sin and its consequences. This too causes people to fall away from the truth of the gospel. If God was simply loving, gracious and desired to forgive us, if there were no consequences for sin, Jesus would not have needed to suffer and die for us. In Psalm 89:14, the psalmist rightly says: Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before You. God is loving and gracious, but there are consequences for sin. Romans 6:23 says: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. God’s love, His grace and mercy cannot be separated from His righteousness and justice. The cross of Christ was not a demonstration of God’s wrath and judgment, but rather as Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The cross itself is a demonstration of God’s love. Yet the cruelty of the cross was necessary because of God’s righteousness and justice. Jesus suffered and died for our sin.
In today’s text it says: So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” For any who have fallen away because of a doctrine based in a limited view of God and Christ, the words of Peter are as true today as they were then. Jesus has the words of eternal life. He is the Holy One of God. He is loving and gracious, righteous and just. He bore the cruelty of the cross, because of sin. But because of love we are free from judgment.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your words of life. Thank You for the whole word, the truth of scripture, the revelation of who You are, loving, gracious, merciful and compassionate. Thank You for the forgiveness of sin. But, may I never forget or minimize the consequences of sin. Thank You for the cross, a demonstration of Your love, an instrument of Your justice. Thank You Jesus. You died for my sins so that I can walk in Your grace. Amen.