Notes on John 6:41-51

John 6:41‑51  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
THE Lord is thus contrasting His glory as Messiah on the earth with His raising up the believer at the last day. Unbelief was even then using the former to overlook the latter, but the Lord here brings what was unseen and eternal into prominence, and this, because He had to God's glory and in love taken the place of a servant to accomplish purposes yet deeper. Had He sought His own will or His own name, His reign as Messiah would have been still nearer to Him than to the Jews. But no! He sought the glory and the will of His Father, and, as He gave Himself up to suffer, so He should lose nothing but raise it up at the last day. To the individual all turns on seeing the Son and believing on Him: every one who does should have life eternal, and Christ should raise Him up at the last day. Those who look for nothing but the reign of the Messiah inevitably perish. They acknowledge not their sins, they feel not for the violated majesty and holiness of God, they believe not on the Savior, and, not believing, have not life. He that believes knows Him to be more than the Messiah, even the Son of the Father; he knows that only in Him has he life eternal, and that he will have his portion with Christ in resurrection at the last day. It is no question of man or the world as they are, but of Christ then.
This was peculiarly strange to the people of Judaea and Jerusalem, resting as they did in tradition, and so we see next, “The Jews therefore murmured about him, bemuse he laid, I am the bread that come down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the Son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then1 doth he say, I am come down out of heaven?” (Vers. 41, 42.) Thus they set the circumstances as they knew them (and they knew them ill) against the truth of Christ. It was judging according to appearances, and consequently unrighteous judgment. He was son of Mary—truly and properly man; else His work had not availed for man. He was not Son of Joseph save legally, but this He was, in order that He should be Messiah, according to the law, Had He been really son of Joseph, as of Mary, He had not been Son of God, or a divine person; but this was the foundation of all, and without it the incarnation were a falsehood, and the atonement a nullity. He was really Son, the only begotten Son of the Father, who deigned to become son of Mary, and by law consequently son of Joseph, who had espoused her. But as Son of God, the incarnate Word—a point of all moment for His Messianic title, for Messiah He could not properly have been unless He were heir of Joseph's rights—He was the bread which came down out of heaven: thus only could man feed on Him by faith and be blessed forever.
“Jesus2 therefore3: answered and said to them, Murmur not among yourselves. No one can come unto me except the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every one that heard from the Father and learned, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, except he who is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (Vers. 43, 44.) Unbelief can only destroy and trouble; it cannot give life or comfort. Man under Satan is the source of unbelief, which over leads from Christ, not to Him. But as the Father sent Christ, so He draws the believer to Christ, who raises him up in the last day. It is not man's worth or work or will therefore but the Father's grace, by which one comes to Christ. The whole work, in short, is of sovereign mercy, and so the prophets have written. All true teaching comes from God, and all are taught of God who never forgets what is due to Christ. “Every one that heard from the Father and learned,” comes to Christ. Not that the Father has been seen by man. He is known in the Son. “He who is of God, he hath seen the Father;” it is Christ only who has.
The Lord then solemnly reiterates, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth [on me§] hath life eternal. I am the bread of life.” (Vers. 47, 48.) In truth, as the promised one, He was always the object of faith, even as being the eternal Son He had ever quickened the believer. But now He was the Word made flesh; He was the Son of God, and this as man in the world, and, as rejected by Israel, He announces that He is the giver of eternal life. This is the grand point—not the kingdom merely by-and-by, but life eternal now in the Son and inseparable from Him, but in Him now a man,
Hence the Lord says, following this up, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and died. This is the bread that cometh down out of heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. If one shall have eaten of this4 bread, he shall live forever. Yea, and the bread that I will give is my flesh5 for the life of the world.” (Vers. 48-51.) Thus, if the Lord was typified by the manna, He went incomparably beyond its virtue. The fathers of the Jews ate the manna in the wilderness; but it could not ward off death, for they died like others. Christ is the bread that came down out of heaven that a man may eat thereof and not die. Eternal life is in the Son of God, and none the less because He was then the Son of man. Rather was the grace of God more manifest in Him thus, for, if He were a man, was it not for men to eat thereof and not die? He was the living bread that came down out of heaven. He who ate of this bread should live forever; but this, we shall see, involves another truth besides the incarnation, even His death in atonement; for the bread that He would give is His flesh for the life of the world. Here He hints at what He would open out somewhat farther—His atoning death. When His life is given, it is not for the life of Israel only but of the world. The grace of God which was about to descend so low could not be circumscribed to the Jews alone. “'God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” On this however He enlarges more fully afterward. Did they strive against His words in unbelief? He puts forward the truth so as still more to offend man's pride and opposition to God, but to feed and strengthen faith in His elect.