John 6:41-59- The Bread of Heaven
Explanation- As this dialogue about the Bread of Life continues, we see the Jewish people displaying more fervently their hardness of heart. As Christ explains to them the mystery of the ages, namely His place and purpose, these Jews begin to be offended by His words. We are told that they grumbled about Him. This is reminiscent to the way in which the Jews of Moses’ day grumbled against the Lord in the wilderness. Yahweh had continually provided for the Israelite people during their wanderings in the desert, yet even in His provision, the Jews had complaints. When Yahweh sent down bread from heaven, the Jews became disgruntled and desired meat. They despised the care of Yahweh and hardened their hearts against His provision. In similar fashion, we see here in this account that the true Manna from Heaven has been sent down to eternally fill all of its partakers, yet there is grumbling amongst those to whom it is offered. Even after seeing the many proofs and testimonies to Christ’s deity, they still are blinded by carnal means. They know of the earthly lineage of Christ and are hindered to see Him for who He truly is because of this.
As Jesus progresses in this dialogue, some beautiful truths are revealed. First of all, He explains that only those whom the Father draws unto the Son will be saved. Thus it is when we are dealing with the will of God in salvation. The Father draws men unto the Son and keeps them there by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. To these Jews who made their boast in knowing God there is a heavy rebuke. If they had truly known the Father, then they would have readily accepted the Son; but because they do not truly know the Father, they have rejected the Son. This blindness, we are told in the Book of Romans, is intentional on God’s part and is meant to shift the offer and benefits of salvation to the Gentile peoples. The Lord’s election stands sure. At one time, the truth of God was revealed almost exclusively to the Jewish people; with the exception of Gentile conversions here and there throughout Old Testament history. We see now that there is a shift in focus as the Jewish people, to who God is seeking to reveal Himself more fully, reject Him and the offer is in turn directed to the Gentiles. This blindness of heart on the Jew’s part is indeed the will of God for the time being. Does this mean that during this time that none of Jewish descent will be saved? Absolutely not! Our God is in the heavens and does whatever He pleases. Many Jews have been saved since the coming of Christ to earth, but the general focus and efficacy of the Gospel (in contrast to the focus of the Old Testament) is currently directed toward many tribes, tongues, and nations other than Israel. There will come a day, when the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled, when the focus will shift back to the Jewish people and we will see many, if not all, have their eyes opened to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As the people of God in Christ, we are partakers of His flesh and blood. This was a hard saying for the Jewish people as they were spiritually blinded from seeing the reality of these statements. When Christ offered Himself up to die on the cross, His body was broken and His blood was shed. Christ was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). It has always been the intention and will of God to provide Christ as a sacrificial atonement for the sins of His people. To stand in our place and receive the punishment that our sin rightfully deserves. As a result, we indeed are partakers of His flesh and blood. He would broken that we may be healed; his blood was spilled so that our sins may be removed. There is no hope for sinful man apart from the cross! It was there that Christ suffered under the wrath of His Father, died, and rose again triumphantly! Belief in this phenomenon is the spiritual partaking of Christ’s flesh and blood.
Application- As we continue to witness the hardened hearts of the Jewish people, let us be moved to compassion. We are told on several occasions that Christ was moved with compassion for these people and had great love for them. Likewise, so should we. These were the ones to whom was revealed the oracles of God from the beginning. They were God’s chosen ones and, as we are told in Romans 11, they are the natural olive branches that have been removed so that we may be grafted in. Does that give us a better standing or placement with God than them? Absolutely not! It is our duty to pray for the Israelite people. Pray that the Lord would be merciful and reveal Jesus Christ to their hearts. Pray that He would send laborers into the harvest and see these men, women, and children saved! Let us have compassion on all men, and especially toward the Jewish people.