John chapter 6 is a miracle highway, and the people are drawn to the wonders of Jesus. This passage, to me, is a mirror to both humanity’s failure, and the incredible-ness of our awe-inspiring God. He never ceases to humble and amaze me.
The chapter begins with great crowds, in awe of His healing ability, and Jesus feeds them – all 5,000 or more – with five barley loaves and two fish.
14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
That evening, His disciples got into a boat to cross the lake, and 3-4 miles into their journey, Jesus joins them, walking on water, and then immediately, the boat arrives at shore.
The next day, Jesus explains to them the bread of life, comparing Himself to the manna from heaven. When the people ask Jesus to perform for them, to prove His providence (v.30) Jesus answers:
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me…..
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the f lesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, youhave no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
The people grumble, confused and angry that Jesus both claimed that He came down from heaven, and that they are to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Is He a cannibal, and was He not born from the Mary and Joseph that they themselves know?
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
The Father draws people to Himself through Christ alone.
The disciples themselves also grumbled at the ‘hard saying’, and Jesus replied with:
63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Granted by the Father.
At this news, many disciples walked away. Jesus, turning to His 12, asks them if they too want to leave, after just seeing Him heal the sick, multiply food and walk on water.
8 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Does this passage not ignite your heart? So many treasures among the truth.
To me, this passage shows a miraculous progression:
The Father draws us, we believe in Jesus, we are raised on the last day.
Too often people argue the non-existence of God by His current ‘invisibility.’ They say, if there was evidence – signs – of His existence, then perhaps they would believe. Not so. For even with signs and constant miracles, the people in crowds, and even His own chosen 12, ignored, betrayed and disbelieved in Him.
The key to faith, therefore, the beginning, the root, the crux, the deciding element, is not proof in miraculous wonders, but the Father Himself drawing us in to Himself. We really don’t then, have any ground to boast on. We neither sow nor reap the seeds of life ourselves.
I love, therefore, Simon Peter’s answer to Jesus in verse 68, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”
Once we know the truth, once we have been drawn in, once we have taste the bread of life, there is nowhere else for us to go. Nothing, no one, can ever be, will ever be, comparable to Jesus, the “Holy One of God” who has “the words of eternal life.”
No matter the challenges, the hardships, the pain or the suffering that we face, He is it, for us, His people – the ones the Father drew in to Himself, He is everything.
Back at the beginning of the chapter, among the 5,000 plus, Jesus asks Philip (already knowing what He is going to do):
“Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?
Jesus said this to test him (v6).
“Oh Lord,” Philip says, “you are filled with miraculous powers as the very Son of God! You can do anything!” was unfortunately NOT his reply. Instead, as I undoubtedly would have done, He freaks out a little bit, and rationally calculates the impossible cost of feeding all these people. Our flesh truly is, it seems, no help at all (v.63).
We are the disbelieving people drawn by miracles, with failing faith, unending doubt and questions, and weak, useless flesh and fear. The Father Himself, however, still draws us to Himself. Jesus came and died for us very irrational, ridiculous ones. He has invited us to His eternal, heavenly table to taste the bread of life. A nourishment which leaves us never in want of hunger or thirst again.
“Lord, to whom shall we go?”
There is no one but Him. Now, always, forever.