Some Thoughts on John's Gospel: Chapter 6

John 6
The miracle of the increase of the bread shows, according to Psa. 132:1515I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. (Psalm 132:15), that Jesus was truly Jehovah. The multitude seeing such a miracle, recognize Him as the Prophet, and further, they wish to make Him a King; but He refuses, and goes into a mountain in the character of a Priest to pray.
While He is there in the mountain, the boat in which His disciples were was tossed by the wind and the waves of the sea; but when Jesus conies to the disciples, all is quieted, and the little ship arrives quickly at a safe port.
All this is a beautiful figure of the history of Jesus and His own from the beginning to the end. He is first Prophet and then King, which therefore He refuses, because it was in a carnal way they wished to make Him such. He will really take His place when God wishes it. Meantime He has gone to heaven, where He intercedes for those who are down here-His own people, tossed about with the difficulties of the world; but all the tempest will cease when Jesus returns to us.
In Matthew we have Peter leaving the boat to go to Jesus on the water, which represents the faith of the faithful who are traveling in the present state of things, separated from Judaism and from every human system.
The rest of the chapter presents to us the food that Jesus gives us to eat while He is in heaven; with Himself He nourishes His disciples, and unfolds what this food is. The Passover, in this chapter, is only mentioned to be put on one side, that He may put in its place something else-that is, the heavenly bread, which is Jesus incarnate on earth; that is to say, what He was, His tenderness, His love, His works, &c., in order that when I think of what He was, I may exclaim: 0 what a Savior is Jesus! He is what the true Passover is;-the flesh, then, and the blood are still Jesus, but dead; because by faith we are nourished by His death.
The 35th verse tells us that when the heart has found Christ for its object, one has neither hunger nor thirst, as has the world, which is never satisfied. In fact our hearts cannot find anything to satisfy them in the things of this world. God has given us nothing less than His own Son as an object for our hearts-the very object that God has Himself. Behold, in what manner we have fellowship with the Father and with the Son, because we have the very thoughts of the Father and their very object, since Christ is our object. To love Jesus and to behold Him is our source of joy, since we know the Father loves Jesus. Ah! the world has become very little in our eyes; we want Christ and Heaven. Many Christians, however, are not content in this world with having only Christ; hence the cause of their spiritual wretchedness.
In chap. 5 we have the power that quickens, and in this chap. 6 we have Christ the food of the soul. In v. 37 we have election, and in vv. 39 and 40 we have presented to us two aspects of the work. In the first, all who come to Jesus are those whom the Father has given Him, on account of which we cannot be lost; and in the other verse the Son is offered to all, to whosoever believes. Precious are these words, " I will raise him up at the last day." That is to say, the Lord will not leave us half-way, but will finish the work He has begun in us. He will persevere in His work even to the end.
In this chapter we find these words four times, vv. 39, 40, 44, 54.
This idea of the last day was new to the Jews; it judged and set aside the Jewish system as a system, and carried the blessings of His own from this world to another.
In v. 44 we have the need of grace. He that believes has life, but this life is Christ, and we have life because we have Christ; the life cannot be separated from Christ. He is the fountain, and the water comes to us. Thus it was said that the Holy Spirit was given to Him without measure. And in a sense, also, we have the Holy Spirit without measure, because we have Himself-the very person; but as to the operations, they are wrought measurably, according to the hindrances (greater or less) which He finds in us. When one has the life, one is not left uncertain of eternal salvation. One might have agonies of soul, since there are many different conflicts that a soul has before conversion, from those it will have afterward. The soul feeds on the death of Christ when it believes so as to have eternal life, and likewise continues to feed thereon when it has life, and that to nourish and strengthen this life in us. And further, we will eat eternally the flesh and blood of Christ, because we will remember always the death of the Lamb.
Before feeding on Christ as the living bread, we feed on Him as flesh and blood; because the sinner needs first the death of Christ to have life, then He feeds on Him as bread, that is, on His life. In this chapter we see that Jesus has first descended from heaven to become our bread; then He dies, and we feed on His death; and then, finally, at v. 62, He speaks of ascending into heaven.
We cannot apply what is said in this chapter to the Supper. It is very true that the Supper speaks of the truth contained here, but the chapter does not speak of the Supper, because it is said that those who will not eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man have not life. And we know that one has life before they take the supper really. Similarly it is also said that he who eats has eternal life (v. 54); and we know that many take the Supper and nevertheless have not life. It is not the Supper that gives life, but one takes the Supper because one has life. This observation applies also to chap. 3 of this Gospel, which chapter does not speak of baptism, but baptism speaks of the truth contained in that chapter.
The expression "to drink the blood" means to be nourished by the life, since death now belongs to the Christian. The blood separated from the body signifies death, because if they are not separated, it is a sign that life is still there. At v. 68 we see that when one has really known Christ, the desire is no more to leave Him. "To whom shall we go?" Peter, certainly, had a very weak faith, but on no account would he have wished to be separated from the Lord. The Lord says "Will ye also go away?" because not only was He disposed to be alone, but also to elicit this beautiful reply which Peter makes in the name of them all, which was the expression of true faith. How beautiful is the root of faith! It was grace and the work of the Holy Spirit that produced it. Let us remember that knowledge is not enough; we must watch that the flesh does not work, and that it does not happen to us as to Peter, who, after having had so blessed a revelation, is obliged to hear the Lord say to him, " Get thee behind me, Satan." His flesh was not held constantly dead.
When we have studied the Epistles which give the doctrine of the value of the cross, we come then with more pleasure to meditate on the history of Christ, first by feeding on His death, and then on Himself, as bread, in His life.
The disciples who drew back, and who ceased to go with Jesus, are those of whom the Lord speaks in chap. 15, who did not bring forth fruit, and who therefore were cut off, because they had not life in them; they had nothing but outward profession. They might have been sincere, but that is not enough; they had not counted the cost of being disciples of a rejected Savior. They had come, they were not drawn by the Father, but of their own will: they could not persevere.
When one wants to walk with the Lord, he feels all the difficulties there are; but if he does not want to follow Him, he feels none of them. It happens as to a person seated and bound by a chain to a wall; if he does not move, he does not feel the difficulty of moving; but the moment he attempts to go away he feels it. But if the heart is full of Christ one does not see the amount of the difficulty. Paul did not consult with flesh and blood; and had he done so, he would not have been able to walk with the consecration with which he did walk. The walk of a Christian is like that of a man who sees a light at night, at a distance; he sees no other object but the light; so it should be with us, if we would be faithful, we must have our hearts full of Christ.