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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
John 6

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-14

John 6:1-6. After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

That verse is worth thinking over. How often does Christ seem to ask us riddles, and place us in difficulties, so that we begin to say, “What will come of this? How shall we escape from this temptation; or how shall we stand under this trial?” He himself knows what he will do; and it is a very blessed thing when our faith being tried, it shows itself to be strong enough to leave the burden with him who can bear it, and to leave the difficulty with him who can meet it: “He himself knew what he would do.”

John 6:7. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

That is our way. When our faith is little, we begin calculating the pennyworths that are wanted, and we make them out to be so much more than we possess or can possibly scrape together. That is not faith, it is reason, — poor, dim, shallow reason, which forgets the Infinite, and begins to calculate its own limited and insufficient forges.

John 6:8-10. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

When Christ bids men sit down, he has a dainty carpet for them to sit upon: “There was much grass in the place.” One might have thought that some of those people would have refused to sit down, for it is not everybody who will sit at a table that has nothing on it. But God knows how to move the hearts of men, and so these people. If they had not strong faith, yet had they faith enough to do as they were bidden. I wish that we all had as much faith as that.

John 6:11. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

“As much as they would.” Note those words, for they are the rule at Christ’s feasts. Of earthly things, he gives us as much as we need; and of heavenly things, as much as we would! “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” “According to your faith be it unto you.”

John 6:12-13. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

“Waste not, want not,” Heavenly economy is to be practiced in the things of God. Christ is no niggard, but he is no waster.

John 6:14. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle which Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

They were convinced through their stomachs. They came to this conviction merely through eating and drinking, and that faith which comes by the senses is no faith at all, or it is a sensual faith which cannot save the soul. These people, who came to this belief through eating, were very poor followers of Christ, as he said to them, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.”

This exposition consisted of readings from John 6:1-14; John 6:30-45.


Verses 1-21

John 6:1-2. After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

Many of them curiosity-mongers wanting to see more wonders wrought, others of them sick themselves, and anxious to be healed. Wherever Jesus went, a throng went with him.

John 6:3. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.

That was his frequent posture when his disciples were gathered around him. He sat at his ease, and talked to his hearers. He was not very demonstrative in his oratory, but spoke calmly and quietly, and left the truth to find its own way into the minds and hearts of men.

John 6:4-5. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?

They were in a lonely place out in the wilderness, where the people had no means of obtaining food, and Jesus knew that they would soon be faint with hunger, so he consulted with Philip as to what was to be done. It is great kindness and condescension on our Lord’s part to consult with his followers; he often did it, not that he needed their advice or help, but because they needed to be taught how to think and how to act for the good of others.

John 6:6. And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Observe the complex character of Christ; as man, he consulted with Philip; as God, he knows beforehand what he will do.

John 6:7. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Two hundred pennyworth must have seemed an enormous amount to poor Philip, for all Christ disciples had made themselves poor by following him. The bag that Judas carried probably scarcely ever had as much as that in it. If it were all spent, it would not go far towards feeding five thousand men, beside the women and children.

John 6:8-9. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

These small fishes were commonly cured and dried by that lake, little fish very much resembling sardines or anchovies, and they were eaten dry as a relish with bread. This lad had five barley cakes and a couple of these little fish, that was all.

John 6:10. And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down,--

Jesus would have everything done decently and in order. The people obeyed Christ’s command, and sat down, we are told by Mark, “in ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties.” “There was much grass in the place.” Our Lord has a carpet in his banqueting hall, such a carpet as Solomon in all his glory could not have made. “There was much grass in the place. So the men sat down,”-

John 6:10-11. In number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks,

Among the Jews, it is always the master of the house who gives thanks. They do not call upon a child to say grace, but the father of the family, like a priest in his own house, stands up, and pronounces a blessing upon the food. It is a beautiful thought that Christ thus made himself, as it were the Father of that large family, the Head and Provider for those man; thousands of people.

John 6:11. He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

“As much as they would.” That is Christ’s measure for those who gather at his table; it is only your own will that limits the amount of grace that you may have.

John 6:12-13. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments, of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.

I am sorry today that it is a mark of very poor people that they are often very wasteful people. These beggars, who had come only to be fed, were not satisfied to eat till they were satisfied, but they threw down pieces of bread, just as I frequently see, in the streets of London, great pieces of bread thrown away. It should not be so, for bread is the staff of life. Among the Egyptians, they are always peculiarly careful that never a portion of bread should be wasted, nor should it ever be as in a city like this where there are so many persons who are starving for lack of bread. But while I see the carelessness and wastefulness of the crowd, I also notice the carefulness and economy of Christ. He who could make food enough to feed the thousands at his will yet would not waste a crust. I think a large-hearted liberality should always be consistent with a strict economy. I have heard of one who called at a rich man’s door to ask for a subscription, and he heard him scolding the servant for wasting a match.” Ah!” he thought, “I shall get nothing out of him.” Yet he received from that very man a larger subscription than from anybody else upon whom he called during that day. Christ would give anything but he wasted nothing; let us imitate his example.

John 6:14. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

But the faith that comes by the way of the stomach is not worth much. If people are converted by loaves and fishes, bigger loaves and bigger fishes will make them go the other way; converts made thus are of small worth.

John 6:15-17. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.

Then it was very dark. Ah, my dear friends, perhaps you know what it is to be in trouble, and to mourn an absent Lord. This is a direful description of a specially dark night for the disciples: “It was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.”

John 6:18-19. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

Do you wonder that they were filled with fear? It seemed so strange a sight,-a man walking on the waves of the sea.

John 6:20. But he saith unto them, It is I be not afraid.

Then they must have felt at ease at once as soon as they knew that it was Jesus who was walking towards them upon the water. Lord, if it be thou, fear would be foolish on our part; we are only too glad to have thy company.

John 6:21. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

No sooner was Jesus with them than they were where they wanted to be. The presence of Christ works wonders for us, we are soon at our haven when the Lord of heaven comes to us.


Verses 1-41

John 6:1-5. After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him,

They had been hearing him all day, and he had withdrawn a little from them, but they pursued him up the hill, and I doubt not that as they toiled up the hill they showed their faintness and their weariness, which led the Saviour to see how much they needed refreshment.

John 6:5-7. He saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

Men’s calculations concerning divine things generally terminate in a deficit. Two hundred pennyworth is not sufficient. But Christ’s calculations always terminate in a balance over, as we shall see. “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing may be lost.” We, at our best, fall short of the mark. Our blessed Master not only does enough, but in his house there is bread enough and to spare.

John 6:8-10. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. —

Or lie down, as it is, for they were accustomed to do that at feasts, and Christ would have them take their ease as well as enjoy their refreshment. “Make the men recline.”

John 6:10. Now there was much grass in the place.

So it was a splendid dining-room. It was carpeted luxuriously. We learn from this that it was the Eastern spring time, for there is not much grass else; and there was therefore in Christ’s banqueting hall the ceiling-was of blue, and the floor of green grass. What more could they want, except the meat?

John 6:10-11. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves:

— Common, coarse loaves of barley, not much esteemed even then as food.

John 6:11. And when he had given thanks,

Though out of doors, and “in the rough,” as we say, he did not forget that. I know some that fall to their meals, like so many swine, and have not as much grace as chickens, that are sure to lift their heads whenever they take a drink, as if to bless God for every drop they receive.

John 6:11. He distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down;

— Or reclining.

John 6:11. And likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

That is one of the rules of Christ’s feasting always — as much as they would. According to your appetite, according to your will, according to your faith, so be it unto you.

John 6:12. When they were filled, —

Had all they could desire.

John 6:12. He said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

Economy in the midst of bounty. However much we have, we are never warranted in wasting a single crumb. They had as much as they would, but they were not allowed to cast away the fragments.

John 6:13-14. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

Men are often convinced by the argument of selfishness. They had been fed, and now they believed. But faith that depends upon a full stomach will despair when they get hungry again. Always beware of that religion which is in dependence upon loaves and fishes. You know how it was with the children of Israel.

“Now they believed the word,

While rocks with rivers flow,

Then with their sins they grieved the Lord,

And he did bring them low.”

Oh, but we must not have a faith that depends upon what it can see, and upon what it can eat, and what it can drink. Oh, far the confidence in the blessed person of the Lord, and in the spiritual riches which he can communicate.

John 6:15. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, To make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

What, could ‘he not have used his kingship for the best of purposes? Might he not easily have routed the Romans, restored Israel to all her glory, conquered the Gentiles, and subdued the world, and set up a glorious church and state, with himself for the king, and himself at the head of the church? Ah, that has been the idol of a great many, and, like G will-o’-the-wisp, it has led many of the true people of God into bogs and sloughs, where they were likely to be lost. But our Master knew better than this, and was not to be tempted away from the true method by which his church is to be set up in the world. Therefore “:he departed again into a mountain himself, alone.”

John 6:16-17. And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was dark, and Jesus was not come to them.

That is a sentence that I should think some very gloomy people might hang upon, and about which they might groan in unison, “It was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.” Have you never been in that condition? Dark, dark, dark, as to circumstances, and as to feelings, and Jesus was not come to them. Now, something comes beside that.

John 6:18. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.

Misfortunes never come alone. An absent Saviour, a roaring sea, and a bellowing wind. What will they do now?

John 6:19. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus—

Here he is. Here is the first of their blessings. The first mischief is removed, and the rest will soon go. They see Jesus.

John 6:19. Walking on the sea,

Oh, what a sight! A grander sight than to see him on the land; and it is a more glorious sight to see Christ in the time of trouble than it is in the time of prosperity. He is always sweet, but he is more marvelous when they see Jesus walking on the sea.

John 6:19. And drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

Afraid of their best friend — trembling at their deliverer.

John 6:21. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

The sea and the winds knew how not only to spare the vessel, but to carry it instantaneously to the place where they wished to be. But how often have you and I been rowing about, five-and-twenty or thirty furlongs, and we did not seem to be getting out of the storm at all; but the moment Christ has come, we have been where we wished to be. Oh, glory be to his name; there is no difficulty that you can be in, dear friends, but Christ can get you out of it in a moment, and bring you where you should be.

John 6:22-24. The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

Was not that a pleasant sight? So it seemed, but it was not. “Seeking for Jesus.” That is a good description of a man — seeking for Jesus. Ay, but they were only seeking for more bread. They looked at Him as a bread-giver, and they were after him for that.

John 6:25. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?

They could not understand how he could have got there. Jesus answered them, and did not answer them. Some of Christ’s answers are evidently no answer at all. That is very often the best answer you can give.

John 6:26. Jesus answered them and said,

What, did he explain to them how ‘he got there? No, he would not gratify their curiosity. He came not for that end. He therefore gave them a home stroke, and said: —

John 6:26. verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me. not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

You are loafers — loaf-hunters. You seek not me, but mine. It is not for the good that! can give your souls, but it is that you may have another meal, that you are here. Yours is cupboard love. You come after what you can get.

John 6:27. Labour not for the meat which perished, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Now, you quite understand what Jesus meant? Seek after that: which will feed your souls. Do not hunt so much after bread for the body. Yet the Saviour puts it very curiously. This is a double-shotted perplexity, a singular, curious kind of word. You are not to labour for that which you cannot get without labour, and you are to labour for that which you cannot get by labour. The Saviour liked to put things in that sententious way, so that they might remember what he said. If they misunderstood him it was their own fault, for it is plain enough. God grant us grace to practice the meaning of these words. Why are ye so eager to get a bit of barley bread and a fish? Oh, that you were half as eager to come and get the bread which comes from heaven which will make a man live for ever, and which will be food to him as long as he lives.

John 6:28-29. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, —

The chief work, the greatest work which you can do.

John 6:29. That ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is the point. You would like me to work miracles. You would be glad to have very wonderful, mysterious experience, but this is the thing you ought to seek after — the grandest, greatest thing that you can have, :’ that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

John 6:30. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

Are you not wonderfully struck with the patience of Jesus? These people had seen his miracles, and they had eaten loaves and fishes, and yet they say to him, “What sign showest thou, then, that we may see and believe thy work?” Oh, the matchless patience of the Lord, and the marvelous provocations of men.

John 6:31. Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat,

Plainly hinted that they wanted more food.

John 6:32-34. Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then they said unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

Not understanding him, and praying still for bread, but not for grace.

John 6:35-37. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

What a striking truth that was, with which to reply to them. You only come after me for bread, but you do not come after spiritual things. You do not believe in me. But, even if you do not, I shall not be disappointed, and my work will not fail. God has an election of grace, and that election shall be carried out. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” And then, as if to cheer them up again, he says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

John 6:38-41. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

And there you see Christ has got no farther with them, but to leave them murmuring. And I believe that often the tame minister of God must expect to see no other result come of faithful testimony than for the people to murmur at him. But what if it be so? Will his Master blame him? No. No more than he blamed the Only Begotten. It trust be so that there may he a separation between the precious and the vile — that God’s chosen may be drawn out; while such as believe not, shall be judged, and, in their own consciences, shall be condemned.


Verses 14-40

John 6:14-15. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Our Lord Jesus had just wrought the miracle of feeding the five thousand men with five loaves and two small fishes, so he was very popular at that time. The people even wanted to come and take him by force, and make him a king, but he escaped from them, for he knew the value of that popularity. What was it but a puff of wind?” Probably, many of the very people, who tried then to crown him were among the crowds in Jerusalem who cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And, nowadays there may be a great deal of anxiety to hear the gospel, yet very little result may follow from it. A crowded house of prayer is certainly a very hopeful sight, yet it may end in disappointment to those who are looking for souls to be won for the Saviour.

John 6:16-26. And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, and entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea and drawing nigh unto the ship and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went. The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

How faithful and truthful the Master was! There was in him nothing of the politic concealment of his knowledge, and the endeavor to please everybody, which we see in so many. He speaks the truth whether it offends or pleases his hearers, and so should his servants do. “Ye seek me,” said he, “not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.”

John 6:27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you, for him hath God the Father sealed.

He rebuked their excessive ardor in seeking meat for their bodies, and urged them rather to seek food for their souls. But did you ever notice what an extraordinary piece of advice our Saviour gave to these people?” It is one of his paradoxes. He bade them not to labour for the very thing which they could not get without labouring, and to labour for that which they never could get by labouring. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth:” yet how else can we have it?” But for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.” It is a free gift, and not the reward of labour, yet Christ told them to labour for it. Did he not mean just this, Let not your greatest efforts be expended upon the things of time and sense, but let them go out after eternal and spiritual blessings.

John 6:28. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

“What is the noblest work that we can do? What is that work which will please God most?”

John 6:29. Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

The grandest work that any man can do is to believe on the Saviour whom God has sent. There are some who despise faith, but Christ was not of that number. He honoured it exceedingly when he said, in effect “This is the Godlike work, the work which is nearest to God’s heart, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.’” Dear friend, art thou struggling after that which is high and noble? Wouldst thou do the best day’s work that was ever done in any mortal life? Thou run not to this or that invention of thine own, but be content to believe on him whom God hath sent. This is the first, the highest, the noblest work, the work which gives to God the greatest pleasure.

John 6:30. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

What strange questions for them to ask when he had amazed them with his wonderful works.

John 6:31. Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

They talk about “bread” again, how they persist in coming back to that! You know the questions that men of the world are always asking, “What shall we eat, what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed?” This is the worldings’ wretched trinity.

John 6:32. Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven;

Moses did not give Israel the manna, God gave it. And it did not from heaven; that is, from the celestial sphere, in the sense in which Christ, the true Bread, came from heaven.

John 6:33. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from ‘heaven’, and giveth life unto the world.

The Bread of God is Jesus Christ himself. The man who would feed so as to satisfy his spiritual nature, and live thereby, must feed upon Jesus Christ himself.

John 6:34. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

They did not understand the meaning of their own prayer. Sometimes, in our services, when people are very quickly convinced of sin, and fall to praying on a sudden, a wise conductor ought to enquire carefully whether it is not a mistaken prayer. I do not doubt that many of the cries and many of the professions made in enquiry-rooms are mistaken ones after all, and that we put down as the results of our work much of which we shall have cause to be ashamed when it comes to the time of testing.

John 6:35. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Hear this, poor starving people; the wants of your soul can all be met by Jesus Christ. If you have him, the hunger of your spirit shall be appeased, and the thirst of your heart shall be quenched.

John 6:36. But I said unto you. That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

How the Saviour brings the truth home to these people, and he might do the same to some of you. You pray, “Give us this bread;” and he replies, “I have given it to you, yet you have not eaten it. You have seen me, you have heard me, you know me, and yet you do not believe on me.” If Christ were to appear in this building at this moment, might he not say to many of you, “You have heard of me from your childhood, and you know all you need to know about me, yet you have not believed in me”? Would God it were not so with so many of you!

John 6:37-40. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

This is the glorious gospel of the blessed God, — that everyone, who looks to Christ with the eye of faith, hath everlasting life, and though his body may die, yet even for that there is everlasting life too, for Christ will raise him up again at the last day, Oh, that you would all believe on Jesus Christ and so find that life eternal!


Verses 22-40

John 6:22-26. The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks) when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

Mixed motives bring multitudes together. How true our Master was, how outspoken! He never tried to win a disciple by keeping back the truth; and often he spoke very plainly indeed, as on this occasion: “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.”

John 6:27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

He seemed to say to them, “Do not come to me for bread and fish; I have given you that. Come for something better; come to me for spiritual food, food for your souls, food for eternity.” It is with that object that we should go to the house of God; not to listen to this preacher or that, but to hear the Word of God, that we may live thereby.

John 6:28. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

“What are the best works that we can do? What are the most acceptable?” I wonder what they expected Christ to say. I am sure they did not look for the answer that they received.

John 6:29. Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

The greatest, the best, the most acceptable work in all the world is that you come and trust Christ. This saves you; nothing else will do so: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

John 6:30-31. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

See how they came round to the old subject again, bread to eat. The Lord Jesus Christ may point them to something higher and better; but their carnal minds always return to that congenial topic, something to eat. Their stomach was lord of their heart.

John 6:32. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

“That which will really feed you, and feed you for all eternity.” Moses could not give the people that bread; the Father only can give “the true bread from heaven.”

John 6:33. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

“The bread of God is he.” What a strange expression, yet what a true one! The bread of heaven is Christ himself. You must come and take him to yourself, and trust him for your salvation, and in that way feed upon him, or you can never have the heavenly bread which both gives life and sustains life.

John 6:34-39. Then said they unto him, lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

See how the salvation of Christ reaches right to the end of all things. You and I may die; but though we lie a while in the grave, the salvation of Christ will preserve us, to raise us up again at the last day. There shall not be a bone nor a piece of a bone, of a true believer, left in the enemies’ land.

All Israel and all that belongs to Israel, shall come out of this Egypt, through the blood of the Lamb; not a hoof shall be left behind.

John 6:40. And this is the will of him that sent me that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

May all of us see the Son, and believe on him, that we may have everlasting life, and that he may raise us up at the last day, for his dear name’s sake!

Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 89:1-37, And John 6:22-40.


Verses 22-59

John 6:22-24. The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that the disciples were gone away alone: (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither the disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.

Everything looked very favorable, did it not? These people put themselves to considerable trouble in order to get where the Saviour was; they were not satisfied to be away from him; they were “seeking for Jesus.”

John 6:25-26. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

He did not gratify their curiosity by telling them how or when he came there, for that was no concern of theirs. Neither is it the business of Christ’s preachers to spin ingenious theories about the gospel, or to tell pretty tales to amuse their hearers. Their business is to deal faithfully with men’s hearts and consciences as their Master did when he said to these people “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles.” They said that at first, no doubt. Christ’s miracles dazzled them so they sought him in order to see more miracles wrought by him. This was not the highest motive for seeking the Saviour, but they had found a still lower one; they were now following him because they “did eat of the loaves and were filled.” Yet the Master did not reveal them, and thus he teaches us that it is better to follow him from the lowest motive than not to follow him at all. Perhaps some of us have been too severe upon certain people. We have said that they come to our place of worship out of mere curiosity. What if they do? It is well that they come at all, so let us not cut even the spider’s web that links a man in any sense with Christ. That web may grow into a thread, that thread into a cord, that cord into a cable and there may yet be an unbreakable union between that man and Christ. That which begins in an inferior way may lead to something higher and better. Still, it is wise to let people know that they are not deceiving Christ, even though they deceive themselves as to their motive in seeking him. So he said to them, —

John 6:27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

They laboured hard in order to get the bread that perisheth, so Christ made them devote their energies to a better object. This is a very extraordinary verse if we regard the letter of it, and not the spirit. Christ told these people not to labour for that which they could only get by labour: “Labour not for the meat which perisheth.” Yet few men get their daily bread or meat without labouring for it. And then Christ told them to labour for that which nobody ever does get by labouring: “Labour for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” This is an instance of how the mere letter of the Word killeth. We must take the spirit of it, and then we understand that what the Saviour meant was this: “Do not be spending all your energies to get that which will melt away when you get it; but spend your time and strength in seeking after that which will last through all time, and be yours to all eternity.”

John 6:28. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

They wanted to do the greatest of all works; for, by “the works of God” they evidently meant the most important, the most sublime, the greatest of all works: “What shall we do in order to work such works as these?”

John 6:29. Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

This is a wonderful statement, which is just as true now as when Christ uttered it in Capernaum. The greatest and best work that any of you can do is to believe on Jesus Christ; though, in another sense, this is not a work at all, but ceasing from your own works, and resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ. But if any man would do that which is most acceptable to the thrice-holy God, let him believe on Jesus Christ whom God hath sent.

John 6:30. They said therefore unto him, what sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

This was a shameful question to put to Christ when they had so recently been miraculously fed by him, and so had received the best sign of his divine power in the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

John 6:31-34. Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, he gave them bread from Heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

This would have been a good prayer if they had understood the meaning of the Saviour’s words; but, as it was, it was a blind prayer. They did not know what Jesus meant when he spoke of the bread of God, which cometh down from heaven. They were thinking about the bread that perisheth, the bread for the body, so they prayed blindly when they said, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.” Do you not think that many a prayer which children are taught in their childhood, and which men and women continue to pray for years, may be as blind a prayer as this one was? They know not what they ask, and the question very naturally arises as to whether it is a prayer at all.

John 6:35. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

“I will take away his need by removing his hunger; I will take away his pain by removing his thirst.”

John 6:36. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

See, then, how little there was of advantage in the mere sight of Christ. Many seem to think that it must have been much easier for people to believe in Christ if they had actually seen him, but it was not so. There were multitudes that saw him, and saw his miracles, and even ate the bread which came from his wonder-working hand, yet they believed not. Faith does not come in that way, for it does not come by sight, but sight comes by faith. Seeing is not believing, but believing often is seeing; it opens the eyes so that they are able to see what before was hidden from them.

John 6:37. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;

God’s own elect shall surely come to Christ; they shall all believe in him, and be saved by him.

John 6:37. And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

“Whoever he is that comes, I will never reject him. Whoever he may be that accepts me, and believes in me, he is mine, and I will never cast him away from me.”

John 6:38-44. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.

“I did not expect that you would receive me; I did not imagine that you would believe me. You have not yet been drawn to me by the Father, so I knew that you would not come unto me.” But he who is drawn by the Father will come to Christ, and Christ tells us what will be his future lot: —

John 6:44-46. And I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

He corrects the notion into which they might have fallen that they could ever see the Father as he himself had seen him. Into that vision none of us can ever enter, for there is a peculiar divine relationship between Jesus and the Father which we cannot know.

John 6:47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, —

Jesus uttered this great truth with very special emphasis: “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” —

John 6:47. He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

That text is worthy to be printed in letters of gold, and then the letters would be far inferior to the message itself. If it be written on all your hearts by the Holy Spirit, you will not need any other sermon than this divine text: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”

John 6:48-51. I am that bread of life. Your Fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Here we have the doctrine of the great atoning sacrifice by which sin is put away, and that is not merely Christ incarnate, but Christ yielding up his life, dying in the room and place and stead of guilty sinners. That is the food, whereof, if any man eat, he shall live for ever.

John 6:52. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

These Jews were still stumbling at the letter of Christ’s words; still in their blind carnality misunderstanding Christ.

John 6:53-56. Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

Do not any of you interpret this teaching of Christ as the Jews did, after a carnal fashion, and fancy that we literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ when we come to the communion table. The Lord’s supper was not instituted at the time that our Saviour spoke these words, and he was speaking of quite another matter, the spiritual reception of Christ, the real and true feeding by faith with our spirit upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 6:57-59. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught it in Capernaum.


Verses 25-51

These people had crossed the Sea of Galilee, and gone to Capernaum, “seeking for Jesus.” It seemed a very hopeful sign that they should be willing to make such efforts to find Christ, but see how the Lord Jesus himself regarded it.

John 6:25-26. And when they had found him on other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek; me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

What very plain talk this is! Our Lord does not try to gain popularity by the concealment of truth, but he tells these people to their faces, “You are only following me because of what you get out of me;” “Oh!” some worldly-wise man would have said, “that is a very imprudent speech; it will drive the people away.” Just so; and Christ seemed to say, on more than one occasion, “If people will be driven away by the truth. let them be driven away.” John the Baptist had declared that Christ; had his fan in his hand, and that he would throughly purge his floor; and if that floor is to be purged, there must be a driving away of the chaff Our Lord’s example should teach us to speak in his name nothing less and nothing more than the truth in all love and kindness. After thus pointing out the true motive which made the people seek him, our Saviour uttered a very singular paradox: —

John 6:27. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Is it not strange that Christ says, “Labour not for the very thing which you cannot get without labouring for it,” and then he says, “Labour for that which you cannot get by labouring for it”? He virtually tells us that it is so, by adding the words, “which the Son of man shall give unto you,” plainly proving that it does not come as the result of human labour, but as the free gift of the Son of God. He that is wise will spell out the meaning of the paradox; but he that is blind will stumble over the letter of it, and not discern the spiritual interpretation.

John 6:28. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?

“We want to do the best works, the noblest works, the most acceptable works in all the world; tell us what we: should do in order to perform a Godlike work.”

John 6:29. Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God,

“The highest and best work which you can accomplish is”

John 6:29. That ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Faith is the noblest of the graces; it is the very essence of true worship; it contains within itself the germs of all excellence; and the man who believes in Christ has done that which is more pleasing to God than anything else in all the world.

John 6:30-31. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from, heaven to eat.

Do you see the drift of their talk? They are still looking after the loaves and fishes; and, therefore, whatever Christ may say, they turn the discourse round that way. If they can get from Christ something to eat, they will believe in him; what groveling, earth-bound creatures they were!

John 6:32-33. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

“The best and noblest bread,— the bread which has Deity in it,— the bread which can feed your souls, and sustain you with everlasting life, ‘the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.’”

John 6:34. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

They said this, not knowing what they said, and not understanding what he meant. Bread for the body was all that they wanted; their cry was, “Give us bread, and we are contempt;” they had no spiritual appetite for Christ, “the bread of God.”

John 6:35-36. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

These were the very people whom he had fed on the other side of the sea; yet they were craving for more. That kind of bread cannot stay their hunger for long. They had not received him as their Saviour, else they would have been well content with him, and would have asked for nothing more.

John 6:37-39. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which lie hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Christ will not lose one whom the Father gave him, nay nor any part of one. He will not lose the body of any one of his people any more than he will lose the soul of one.

John 6:40. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Christ will never have finished his work upon believers till he has raised their bodies from the grave, and glorified them like his own resurrection body. He will never cease from the work which he has commenced on any one of his people till he has laid the topstone in the glorious perfections of heaven; and this truth is: the joy of our hearts even now.

John 6:41. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

They muttered, murmured, whispered, growled amongst themselves at this saying of Christ.

John 6:42. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the, son, of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

This is just the way with men, they judge by outward appearances; and if the gospel comes to them as a thing beloved of poor men, if it be preached with much eloquence, if the service be without; the attractions of sweet; music or of gaudy attire, straightway they say there can be nothing in it. O blind bats, when God veils himself in human flesh, can it be otherwise?

John 6:43. Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

“I never thought you would believe in me; I never imagined that I should win your confidence.”

John 6:44. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. —

“You are not drawn unto me; therefore it is clear that you are not the subjects of divine grace. You think you are judging me, but in so doing you are really judging and condemning yourselves.” Whenever men sit in judgment on the gospel, they soon let us know what kind of spirit possesses them. It is not Christ who is on his trial, it is they themselves; and when they rail at him, they do but prove that the grace of the Father has never drawn them to him: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:” —

John 6:44-46. And I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

“Do not suppose that, even when you are taught of God, you will know the Father as I know him, or see him as I have seen him.” That divine glance at, Deity is not for us.

John 6:47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

This was how our Lord spoke straight to the face of those who had derided him, and said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know ?” With the strongest asseveration which he was in the habit of using, he says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”

John 6:48-51. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh, down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.


Verses 30-45

John 6:30-32. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

Jesus did not say to them, “I gave that bread to your fathers in the wilderness,” as he might truly have said. It was not Moses who fed their fathers in the wilderness, it was God who had fed them, and if they would but think, they would clearly see that it was so. But the Master took them on to another tack, and led their thoughts to a higher topic.

John 6:33-34. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

Not knowing the meaning of their own request.

John 6:35-39. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will —

Many want to pry between the closed leaves of God’s secret purposes, to see what his will is. Now this is it: “This is the Father’s will” —

John 6:39-44. Which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know! how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven; Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:

Note how that doctrine of sovereign grace is used by Christ. He seems to wave it, like a lighted torch, in the faces of his adversaries, as if he said to them, “I did not expect you to understand me; I did not expect you to receive me. Do not think that you surprise me by your action. Imagine not that you frustrate my eternal purposes by rejecting me. I knew that you would not receive me; and that, as you are, you could not come to me, for ‘no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.’”

John 6:44-45. And I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

May we so hear, and so learn of the Father, that we may come to Jesus Christ!

This exposition consisted of readings from John 6:1-14; John 6:30-45.


Verses 41-65

John 6:41. The Jews then murmured at him, —

That is, at the Christ, —

John 6:41-42. Because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

They did know his mother; but they made a mistake, which may have seemed a very slight one to them, when they said that they knew his father. Yet that is how nearly all great errors spring from some slight and apparently trivial addition to the truth. They did know Mary, but they did not know that Jehovah was the Father of the Christ.

John 6:43-44. Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day,

Note the unflinching boldness of Christ. He did not say to these people, “Well, you have some cause for murmuring, and I will explain the matter to you.” On the contrary, he faced them with the doctrine of sovereign grace, and told them that he did not expect them to understand him, for they could not do so except the Father, who had sent him, should draw their hearts towards him.

John 6:45. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

So, in street, he said to them, “You have not been taught of God; the Father has never drawn you, else would you have received me.” So does the brave Champion thrust the naked sword of truth into their very souls.

John 6:46-47. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

Let me read those precious words again, catch at them, you timid and trembling ones: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath “ — now, in present possession, — “everlasting life.”

John 6:48-49. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

He does not say, “Our fathers.” He comes out, as it were, as much from the Jews as from the Gentile ungodly world, and he says, “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.”

John 6:50-51. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat there, and not die. I am the living bread —

Bread that contains life within itself, and is therefore most potent to sustain a life like itself: “I am the living bread” —

John 6:51-52. Which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

I wonder if they perceived that this declaration of Christ involved his death, for he did not speak of giving them his living body, but his “flesh.” There are some who find their main comfort in the Incarnation of Christ; and,

certainly, that is a very comforting truth; but, without the death of Christ, it affords no nourishment for the soul. Atonement, atonement, — there is the kernel of the whole matter. Christ must die, and then he can give us his flesh to eat.

John 6:53-54. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

His soul shall live; his spirit shall never die; and though his body shall die, the force of the eternal life within the man shall quicken even his mortal body into an immortality like that of his spirit.

John 6:55-60. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

And a hard saying it really is until we are instructed of the Spirit of God to understand it. The Papist has made it into a gross and carnal saying, teaching men that they really, and actually, and corporeally, eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, which is horrible blasphemy, and nothing less. But they who are taught of God see the inward meaning of the truth peeping up from behind the letter, and know what it is to receive into their hearts, though not into their bodies, — into their thoughts, though not into their months, — the very body and blood of Christ.

John 6:61-63. When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; —

The inward, Spiritual meaning gives life to the Word, and life to us also: “It is the spirit that quickeneth;” —

John 6:63. The flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

They are not carnal; they are not gross they have in them an inner sense which is full of life and spirit.

John 6:64-65. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

“No man “ — no, not even an apostle, — not the one who ate bread with Christ, and was his familiar friend, — not even he could come without being drawn by God. And he did not come to Christ; in the sense in which our Lord used the Word, Judas never really came to him, but perished in his sin. The Father must draw us with cords divine, or else to the Son we shall never come.


Verses 41-66

John 6:41-44. The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

Christ never retracted a truth or diminished its force because it was rejected, but he rather seemed to say, “You refused this truth. I knew you would. You need not murmur: you are none of mine. If you had been, the Father would have drawn you. You will not come. So are you set against truth that you cannot see it. So blind are your eyes that you do not behold it. No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.”

John 6:45. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Beware, dear friends, of any learning Christ, except by divine teaching, for what we learn merely from the lips of our fellow-men will never be vitally learnt or really understood. We must be all taught of God; and so we shall be if, indeed, we be among these whom the Father draws towards Christ. All his teachings draw that way, and when they are taught into the inner man — not no much to the mind as to the soul and heart then do we know the truth indeed.

John 6:46-47. Not that any man hath seen the Father save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

One of the richest passages surely of all holy Scripture. It is all marrow and fatness, but here you seem to have the quintessence. We have eternal life if we are believers not shall have it, but have it now. We have a life which is eternal. It is idle to talk of our losing it, because it would not be eternal if we did. We have a life within us which can by no possibility ever die, but must live on for ever. “He that believeth on me though he hath many tremblings — though he may be the subject of many infirmities, yet he that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” O my soul, exult in that glorious truth. Thou hast everlasting life as surely as thou hast faith in Christ.

John 6:48 I am that bread of life.

The food on which that everlasting life lives — living bread for living souls.

O brethren, the dead letter is of no use to us. All the truth in the world, unto - “it be quickening, cannot feed our quickened natures. It in incarnate truth, even Christ that we must feed upon. “I am that bread of life.”

John 6:49-50 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

For that manna of theirs was corruptible. We read that it bred worms and stank, and though it was an angels’ food for a time, yet it was but temporary. It only fed a temporary life, and, like that life, it passed away. But Jesus Christ is incorruptible, and they that live on him live on incorruptible food, which nourishes the incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever.

John 6:51-52. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

They misunderstood the Master. They tarried in the letter, and did not reach to the spirit — the meaning, and that letter killed them, for “the letter killeth: the spirit giveth life.” The inward meaning is that on which the Soul feeds. And so the unhappy Humanist believes that he can literally eat the flesh of Christ, which, if it were true, were monstrous and could be of no service to him. Of what value is one flesh more than another flesh, if it is carnally to be considered? He loses the inner meaning. Blessed are they who are drawn of the Father and taught of the Lord — who spy out what is, after all, so little concealed beneath the thin veil of the metaphor.

John 6:53. Then Jesus said unto them,

What? Do you think he explained it? No, he did not explain to these Jews. They were given up to judicial blindness. They had so long refused to see, that now they must not see, for on them was come the curse that, seeing they should not see, and hearing they should not perceive. Oh! how terrible this is when this falls on a man, and I think I know some upon whom it must have fallen. They have indulged the philosophical vein, always spiritualizing and cutting out the soul of truth, and they are given up to spiritualizing as many of the great German philosophers evidently have been, who cannot now receive a plain statement, however simple be the words, but, from their natural habit of continually twisting and tearing to pieces, they do so with everything; and a man may be an unbeliever so long that it will never be given to him to be a believer again. God grant we may never make scales for our own eyes, and so plug up the soul’s mental vision with the miry clay of sin, that henceforth, even though the eternal Christ flash the divine truth into our eyes, we shall only be dazzled by it into a greater darkness. So it was with these men. Jesus did not explain to them. He just repeated the truth more emphatically, and made it more offensive to them than before. May a preacher sometimes be offensive in his preaching? He must be. He must sometimes feel that such a truth will only move men’s wrath if he preach it. Nevertheless, we are not to put truth to the verdict of a jury; neither is truth to be submitted to what is called the “inner consciousness” of a set of sinners whose consciousness is all defiled. As well make a company of highwaymen a jury about theft, as make unconverted men to be a jury about what is truth. It cannot be. Christ does not condescend to that. He tells them the truth more fully and more offensively than before.

John 6:53. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood,

Which he had not said before, and was more startling still.

John 6:53-57. Ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

You see here three living persons — the living Father, and the living Son, and the living believer, and, truly, these three live one life, which comes from the Father by the Son into us, and we are made partakers of the divine nature, according to the apostle’s wondrous language, “having escaped the Corruption which is in the world through lust.” This is a great mystery which only he understands who feels it within himself.

John 6:58-60. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying: who can hear it.

It was not merely the blinded Jews, but even his disciples who did not understand. Now, brethren, the test of a true disciple of Christ is that he is willing to believe what he does not understand. If you will only follow Christ’s words as far as you can comprehend them, the spirit of discipleship is not in you. You are the disciple of your own understanding. Christ is not master, but your judgment is master. But he that submits himself to the words of Christ often finds it profitable not to understand. Say you so? How is that? It is profitable to feel that we have come to the end of our own understanding. I have no doubt that a wise father’s talk is good to his children, even though the child does not as yet understand him. He will lay it up in his memory: he will understand one of these days, but the child — the true child heart — says, “I believe thee, father, though thou dost puzzle me. Thou hast given me a paradox which I cannot grasp, but I believe thee: thou art true.” We do say that of Christ; and may we have evermore that spirit of a little child, without which we cannot receive the Kingdom of God. The other spirit is very rife in the world — the spirit that maketh man, virtually, his own teacher. And, truly, I wonder not at it, because there was originally so much of submission of the judgment to the dictum of the church, or the dictum of the Pope, which is degrading, but to submit to Jesus and to his teaching — that is ennobling. May we have the same sacredly blind faith with regard to Christ which some have had to human authority, believing everything he speaks. But some of these disciples did not so.

John 6:61-62. When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

What will you say then?

John 6:63. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

“You are not to take them as if they were flesh, and understand them carnally. They do but embody my words do but embody a living soul of meaning, which it will be for you to receive if you are indeed quickened, and then it will quicken you, and you will understand me, and live in me.”

John 6:64. But there are some of you that believe not.

And if they do not believe, then they miss the whole soul of the thing.

John 6:64-65. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

No, not even though he were an apostle — though he came so near to Christ as to pray to him and hear his secret and most private communications, and to see his singular and special miracles yet he would not understand, except the Father gave it as a special act of grace.

John 6:66. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Did he want them? I trow not He desired not to have around him a mass of chaff, but the pure winnowed corn. Consequently he used his own word as the winnowing fan. And I believe, brothers and sisters, that wherever Christ is faithfully preached, preaching is the best form of church discipline.

Somehow or other, carnal minds get weary of it, and they go away, and those that have not a longing and a love for the truth drop off of themselves; so they walk no more with him.


Verses 41-71

John 6:41. The Jews then murmured at him, —

That is, at our blessed Lord: “The Jews then murmured at him,” —

John 6:41-42. Because he said, I am the bread which came down from heavens. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven!

There are always some who complain that the gospel is “too commonplace, too well-known.” They already know all that is to be known about it, just as these people knew the mother and father of our Lord Jesus. How could he, who was the son of the carpenter, have come down from heaven? But this ought to have commended him to them that though he was divine, he became so truly human, and so perfectly took upon himself our nature as to be the son of Joseph, — one whose father and mother they knew; and ought we not to be glad of a gospel plain enough for a child to grasp, simple enough for the most ignorant to be saved by it? Let us not seek after signs and mysteries, but graciously accept the gospel which the Lord himself gives us.

John 6:43-44. Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and will raise him up at the last day.

This was high ground for Christ to take; it was as much as to say, “You need not murmur; I did not expect that you would believe in me. I know that human nature is such that, without a divine work upon the heart, man cannot come to me, and will not believe in me. I am not disappointed, or deceived, when you murmur among yourselves, ‘No mall can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.’;

John 6:45. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Nobody else will come to Christ; there is no real Christian in the world but is of God’s making. A Christian is a sacred thing, the Holy Ghost has made him so. It takes as much of God’s omnipotence to make a believer as to make a world; and only he that created the heavens and the earth can create even as much as a grain of true faith in the heart of man.

John 6:46. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

The Divine Son hath seen the Father; you and I are to believe, we cannot see as yet.

John 6:47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

He has it even now in possession; a life that can never die out is in the breast of every man who believes in Christ. Oh, what a joy is this!

John 6:48. I am that bread of life.

Jesus is that bread which feeds the spiritual life, and sustains the everlasting life.

John 6:49-50. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

The bread that feeds the undying life is Christ Jesus himself, whom we do spiritually feed upon, and who is the nourishment of our souls.

John 6:51. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Christ — God incarnate — is the nourishment of faith, the spiritual food of the everlasting life. The new life which God puts into us is not natural, so as to be fed upon natural food, like bread and meat; but it is spiritual, and it must live upon spiritual food. That food is nothing less than Christ Jesus himself.

John 6:52-56. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

These Jews would not understand Christ when he spoke very plainly. He did not therefore retract a single word that he had said, but as the first light had dazzled them, — and willingly were they dazzled by it, — he turned the lantern full upon their faces, and made them blind, for the excessive light of the explanation was too much for them. It was not Christ’s intent to save them; he was making the light itself to be blindness to them, because they had already refused him, and now the time was come when the heart of these people must be made yet more gross, that they should not see with their eyes, or hear with their ears. May the Lord never give us up to such a fate as that! It is a dreadful thing when the light of the gospel becomes the instrument of blinding men, and it does so still After a certain degree of willful rejection of it, that which would have been a savor of life unto life can be turned into a savor of death unto death by men’s closing their hearts against it. Yet I wonder and am astonished at our Lord and Master’s course of proceeding, that here, when the men do not and will not see, he does but speak the truth the more boldly. Let no man think that Jesus was here alluding to the eating of the bread and drinking of the wine in the Lord’s supper; that ordinance was not instituted at that time, and there could be no allusion to what did not then exist. It is quite in another sense, in a high spiritual sense, that our mind feeds upon the flesh and blood of Christ. That is to say, the fact that God was made flesh, — the fact that Christ died for sin, — these are the food of our souls, and thereon our faith grows, and our spirit is strengthened.

John 6:57-58. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which camte down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

This is spiritual feeding upon spiritual truth.

John 6:59-62. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

Let our Master teach us what he pleases, nothing ought to offend a disciple of Christ. It is ours to sit at his feet, and receive all his words without cavilling. But if we do not believe what he tells us upon some elementary points, what should we do if he were to reveal something more to us, and lead us into the higher and deeper doctrines of his Word?

John 6:63. It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing:

That is to say, it is the meaning of Christ’s words that gives life, not the words themselves; and if we stumble at the letter, and begin to ask, “How can we eat the flesh of Christ?” taking that expression literally, it will kill us. We need to get into the spirit of what he says, the true spiritual meaning of it, for that is where the life lies.

John 6:63-64. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not.

Could that be truly said of any here? “There are some of you that believe not.” If so, you know what becomes of unbelievers; you certainly cannot attain the blessings promised to faith. May God grant that, ere this day is quite over, there may not be left one among you that believes not!

John 6:64-66. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

So it seems that a man may be recognized as a disciple of Christ, and yet he may go back, and walk no more with him. Oh, that we may be real disciples — disciples indeed! Oh, that we may be part and parcel of Christ, true branches of the true Vine, living members of the living body of Christ!

John 6:67. Then said Jesus unto the twelve,-The choice and pick of all his followers:

“Then said Jesus unto the twelve,”—

John 6:67-68. Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter —

Who was the ready tongue of the apostles: “Then Simon Peter” —

John 6:68. Answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

That was a very conclusive way of answering one question by another: “Will ye also go away?” “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” Brother, sister, if we wandered from Christ, where could we go? And how can we leave him when he has the words of eternal life?

John 6:69-71. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spoke of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon : for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 6:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-6.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, August 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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