On the next day, the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
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. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 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.”
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
Understanding And Applying the Text
The signs of Christ’s divinity are everywhere in this chapter. First, he has just fed five thousand men. As a result, they were ready to take up arms, overthrow the Roman Government and install Jesus as King. The disciples saw Jesus walk on water. Even though they were a long way from land, once Jesus entered the boat it immediately reached shore.
In verse 23 John iterates the Lord gave thanks before the crowd ate. When studying scripture you look for things that the writer emphasizes. John repeats several times the Lord gave thanks. This must be important. It was by prayer Christ was able to feed five thousand men with only a few loaves and fishes. John impresses on us that our Lord prayed and gave thanks even for what was not much.
The crowd finds Jesus in Capernaum. From verse 59, it appears the crowd found Him in the synagogue teaching. They did not understand how He got there. There was only one boat. They had watched the disciples leave in it. Jesus was not with them. The signs of Jesus’ divinity were there. But they did not see it.
When they asked Jesus how he got there, he did not answer their question. Instead, He addressed why they were following Him. They only wanted Jesus to feed them.
If they had acknowledged Jesus as Messiah, Jesus would give them something much better. Jesus would give them eternal life. They needed to surrender to Christ. Then they needed to learn from His teaching and submit to His authority. But they closed their eyes. This passage is clear. All will not believe because they cannot believe.
The reason they wanted to follow Jesus was because they understood Jesus could take care of them. He could feed them. He could protect them. He could overthrow their enemies and get rid of all their troubles. This is the heresy preached today in the prosperity gospel. Jesus condemns it in no uncertain terms. Following Jesus for a full belly or so you can get what you want is not loving Christ. It is loving you. That is why Christ rebuked the crowd. They were aware of the reason Christ fed them but there were after something other than Christ. They were not interested in Christ, they interest was in themselves.
In seeking Christ, we are to despise the world and seek the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Christ tells the crowd to direct their desires to that which brings eternal life.
They ask Jesus to give them a sign so they can believe. The irony is the sign they ask for is the sign they have already received. They asked for a sign like Moses. He fed them in the wilderness. Isn’t that what Jesus just did? He fed five thousand in a mountain wilderness with five loaves and two fish. They had just seen the sign they asked for. But, that was not good enough. They wanted Jesus to do it again and again and again. They tried to control God by giving and withholding their belief. This is like a child threatening his parents to withhold his love if the parents do not knuckle under to his demands.
They already knew Jesus was the Messiah. They were even willing to fight and make Him King. But their belief was fickle. They wanted the sign repeated. They want their bellies filled again.
We are no different today. How often do we pray “God show yourself to me.” “God make yourself real to me.” God has done so. He reveals himself in His word. But that is not good enough for us. We want God to dance to our tune. We want an emotions experience. We want Him to do it our way. We want to fell good. We are no different than the Jews in Capernaum.
They asked Jesus what work they must do to have eternal life. Jesus reminds them that the one work they must do is believe. They must have faith. And faith comes from the Father. We learn three things from what Jesus taught here. First faith is a work. Second, faith comes from the Father. Third, we are to exercise the faith God gives us. Without faith all our other work is vain.
Jesus calls faith a work, just as Paul does when he compares the law of faith and the law of works, (Romans 3:27.) You may think there is a conflict with Paul when he tells us we are not justified by works. And Jesus says faith is a work. When Paul says men are not justified by works he means works of merit. We do not merit God’s favor by anything we do. Even our faith does not merit God’s grace. Faith is the instrument through which God delivers His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Jesus offers them true bread. Just as He did with the woman at the well. He offered her living water where she would never thirst again. He is using food as a metaphor for himself. And, just like the woman at the well, they were thinking of it in literal terms not metaphorical. As a result, they missed what Christ was saying.
The context of the rest of this passage is metaphor between Christ and food. They are asking for food and Jesus says He is that food. He is the one who gives life. The language reminds us of the Lord’s Supper. So, we may think about this as a foreshadowing of the Supper. But Jesus is just using the context the people provide.
Jesus points out their guilt of ingratitude. He offers them life. But they refuse it. They want it in another form. They refused the bread offered to them. Anyone who comes to Jesus and believes in Him will have eternal life. Christ will not refuse anyone who comes to Him.
How ungrateful! Jesus offers men something of extreme value they cannot get on our own. It is a free offer. Yet men refuse it. This gift leaves unbelievers hungry. It is of no value to them.
These people knew the truth. They had already acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah. Yet they now refused to accept the truth. They did not intend to do evil. Yet they did. They ignorance did not justify their refusal to accept Jesus as Messiah.
Our intention may not be to deny God. We always think our actions are right or at least justifiable. As Paul said, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8.) Unbelievers willingly close their eyes to the light. God justly condemns them for what they refuse to see. Believing we are doing right while you are doing wrong does not excuse us.
In verse 37, Jesus tells them all the Father gives Him will come to him. He is doubling down on their condemnation. He is distinguishing them from those who belong to Him. They will not and cannot hinder His purpose. Their unbelief will not get in the way of God’s purpose. What we learn here is the Father gives some to the Son. And all who the Father gives the Son will come to the Son. There is no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. They will come. And the Son accepts the gift from the Father. He will not turn away any of those the Father gives to Him.
Faith does not depend on human will. Belief is not some indiscriminate random event. God elects those whom He gives to the Son. Jesus adds, for our comfort, He would not cast out any who come to Him. Christ gives us the assurance that we have free access to Him by faith.
It is God’s will that Jesus would not loose any that the Father gives Him. The Father has committed to Christ our eternal security. The assurance of our salvation is in Christ. It is not in ourselves. It is Christ who will raise us up. Many object to the idea of predestination. They feel it is unfair for God to keep out of the Kingdom those who want it.
Jesus answers that objection right here. If you are willing to believe that is the clearest evidence you are part of the elect. Christ does not prevent you from coming. The Father gave you to Him. If you are unwilling to believe then you were not given to Christ by the Father. In other words, your salvation is a gift from the Father to the Son. Men are contrary to God’s purpose when they say salvation is of their own work. That we must invite Christ’s into our heart. No! The Father gave us to the Christ. We do not give ourselves to Him.
Christ words here show faith comes from the knowledge of Christ. To trust in Christ we must understand who and what He is. We must understand what he brings to us. Knowledge of Christ is the foundation of faith. That is why preaching the Gospel is so important.
“The crowd grumbled about Him.” They had two obstructions to seeing Christ as Divine or from heaven. First, They knew Jesus parents, Mary and Joseph. Second, they did not believe the Christ would come down clothed in human flesh. The fact He became human and took on human flesh is illustrious proof of His boundless love for us. “But emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7)
Men today are no better than the crowd at Capernaum. Not only do they refuse to believe, they even call God evil when they deny the doctrine Christ states here. I have heard more than one say electing some condemning others to hell makes God a monster. They blaspheme the name of God.
But Christ doubles down on the doctrine. He has just said, everyone the Father gives to Him will come to Him. He now says no one can come to Him unless the Father draws Him. Many are so foolish they think the things of God depend on the opinions of men. Salvation is of God, not men. Christ could not be any clearer than He is here. Salvation is a monergistic work of God. Like the crowd, we want the gifts of God. We want a full belly. But we do not want Christ. Faith does not depend on the will of men. It is God who gives us faith.
This is not a new doctrine. Christ confirms it by quoting Isaiah. “’And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” This passage is Isaiah 54:13. Isaiah speaks of the restoration of the Church. And He promises here sons taught by the instruction of God. Christ says all those taught by God, the Father draws to Him. Those the Father draws come to Him. What could be more clear?
This is the grace of God. He not only gives the opportunity to believe, He gives the faith needed to believe. When we yield to the guidance of the Holy Spirit this is the sealing of that grace. God would not draw us if all He did were only to stretch out His hand and leave our will in a state of suspense.
When Jesus says in verse 46 “Not that anyone has seen the Father except He who is from God.” We might find this confusing. Didn’t Moses see God? Didn’t Isaiah see God? What does Jesus mean? There are two things at play here. First, is the Trinity. Moses and Isaiah saw God. But that does not mean they saw the Father. Second, when Jesus says “see the Father,” He is not referring to a simple viewing. It is clear from the context He is referring to an intimate knowledge of the Father. The only flesh that has an intimate knowledge of the Father is Jesus. These words direct us to Christ.
Some draw from verses 47 through 59 that believing in Christ is the same as eating Christ or his flesh. Christ is accommodating His language to the hearers. They cared only about the physical eating of bread. They looked for manna. Yet Christ invites them to eat. This is as if He said He is ready to give Himself to all provided they are willing to believe.
Christ repeats this over and over. It must be important. So, we should pay attention to it.
John says the crowd argued among itself. It is not wrong to seek answers to questions that arise from God’s word. A willful disregard of those doubts and difficulties is a sin. We are lazy and slothful when we leave God’s word unstudied.
Jesus tells the crowd in verse 53, “If you hold my flesh in contempt rest assured there is no hope for life for you.” The soul feeds on His flesh as bread sustains the body.
Christ connects the resurrection with eternal life. Our salvation remains hidden until that day. We are to agree with Paul, that we reckon nothing to be good except Christ crucified. As soon as we have departed from the sacrifice of his death, we have nothing but death ourselves.
Verse 56 puts the nail in the coffin of those who would claim this has to do with the Lord’s Supper. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” Judas ate the Supper. Many unbelievers have eaten the Lord’s Supper. If this was the about the Lord’s Supper then Judas would have had Christ in Him. But the scriptures tells Satan entered him. (Luke 22:3 John 13:27).
Jesus is the bread of life. Believe in Him and you will be eternal life.