John 6

No chapter, hardly, that presents the difficulty of profound truth but should be received as simply as possible; and then let God be waited on, that our hearts may gradually enter into the mind of the Spirit. There are two veins of truth in this chapter, according to the persons addressed, and the turning back upon it after its first and simplest version is among the secrets for the saint to use
The occasion is the desire of the people, at least the idle portion of them, for the Lord's power in feeding the five thousand, to be continued, and so to be fed after the same easy way; being unattracted by the Lord's grace. Divine wisdom turns this to account in this chapter. They repeat every device to induce Him to exercise the power again for them, or to enable them to do so; but the work they should work was to believe on Him whom God had sent. They cared not to believe, but craved to be satisfied. It occurs here, as in other occasions of the Lord's ministry, that as their unbelief proceeds from step to step, and that the Jews murmur and object, the Lord in= creases the difficulty to their apprehension. The general practice of the divine wisdom in this respect is expressed in the words, " For whosoever bath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he bath." (See Matt. 13:1010And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (Matthew 13:10), and following verses.)
Wherever there was full acknowledgment of Himself, to them He vouchsafed to explain mysteries which He hid from them that rejected Himself. He deals with each one variously, according to this measure; a varying scale according to the measure of the acceptance of His person and office. Is it Nicodemus? Is it the woman of Samaria? Is it His disciples? The expression of the truth is dark or plain, according to the measure of the faith of the person in Himself. It once goes so far as to lead absolutely and finally astray; as in those who questioned His authority in driving those that bought and sold out of the temple. So here He uses the same method. We have two classes, the Jews who murmur, and the disciples who confess their difficulty. The difficulty had arisen in His presenting His doctrine in terms full of difficulty, and to the Jew of insuperable difficulty (in proposing blood as to be drunk); and He goes from things hard, to things yet harder, to be understood by the murmurers. It is plain at first, for He concludes His first words with, " 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." It is the explanation, in grace, of His being the bread that came down from heaven. The bread from heaven, in the desert, did not afford life; this bread did. It is God's bread to give life. Their thoughts were material, were after the flesh, as Nicodemus's were; as the woman's of Samaria were.
But there was enough to bring reflection on Himself as of God: "He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst."
Another opportunity is given. "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." The comparison of the manna and Himself again recurs. They die, notwithstanding they eat the one; they live if they eat the other. But He closes with a new difficulty. The bread is His flesh which He gives for the life of the world. From murmuring, they come to striving among themselves. Thereupon the difficulty is again in= creased by the Lord, who says, "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." We see, therefore, how He proceeds from point to point; and to faith (as necessary to them) never goes beyond this, viz. "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life," and He will raise such up at the last day. "He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." All this is lost, and the darkness deepens over those who yield not themselves in subjection to "the only begotten."
But another class had been stumbled: those who said, "This is an hard saying, who can hear it?" But it is also what disciples of Jesus should hear; and to them the way of taking advantage of the words of truth and life are made known. The Son of man dies to rise and "to ascend where he was before," the object of worship and the means of blessing there.
But this was to introduce them to that which only the prepared of the Father could receive. He adds, therefore, this; and many disciples conscious of their end being short of this, cease to follow Him; conscious that it was not God that had put them there. The little flock, however, is appealed to; whether they will also go away; but we believe and are sure," say they, "that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." He could not but except him who was in reality none of them; "one of you is a devil."
We have therefore the history in its first simple results, hid from murmurers and brought out to saints in the glorious truth of the Soil -of God; God applying to the. soul all things in Him as they are revealed to faith "front faith to faith." And we are thus sent back to look for the instructions that saints are to receive beyond the gospel that blinded the murmurers; instruction which became the more needful a men resisted subjection; and adapted only to saints as striving on their way to God. Indeed, it is no small labor to keep ever on the ground of grace and dependence. Labor for "that meat," but labor as in grace, "which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the 'Father sealed." This is the second vein of instruction that we find running through this chapter, and from this point; and so, though we have died in Christ, yet evil lives, and we died that the power of evil might not live; and though our liberty is Christ, and our peace His peace, and we are commended to God in Him, yet He that is ascended where He was before becomes the blessed means, through life, of the power of eating that flesh and of drinking that blood which is everlasting life. We lament the thought of those who have turned these things to material or spiritual hope from things on earth. Our Lord would carry us up where He is, that nothing may lack to our enjoyment of God; and when thus as disciples, indeed, we own the words of Christ, that " they are spirit and they are life," we find the power wrought of God in the application of all we want unto His glory by us. Our hearts are drawn to the source of life, whatever form of help we want unto the death of every rising tendency that is the relict of the first Adam, or to the expansion of that image to which God would eventually bring us. God, in His wisdom and infinite grace, knew how man is liable to return to the point the first action of his conscience pressed upon him, of the need of righteousness, which surely, if true, God greatly loves and defends (not in His own presence, for He would give better there, but) against the accusations of Satan, who would say that it is mercenary. That presence, however, reveals sin and powerlessness, which God will replace by righteousness and strength, in His strength, and establish that in which mercy and truth kiss each other. God knows how man returns to the first stirrings of his soul, and then pre-jealously, in His grace, renews the lesson He gives, and charges man in His grace ever to abide at the fountain of grace, which the thought of a condition of transformed in the renewing of his mind might lead from, while it is grace by death in the old Adam in practical denial of its workings in the lowly doer, (while we look at the eternal light within,) through which we are to pass. To eat the flesh and drink the blood is as necessary to the saint as to the sinner. The starting point is as needful to him, as it is perfectly untouched, and keeps up the ever springing work of thanksgiving, nay, of rejoicing. But this is the way of growth, according to the high position of the Church's union with a glorified Christ, to the pulling down of every stronghold; and we are able to say, "is rather risen again."