The Lord Jesus as Revealed to Faith

John 6:32‑58  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The thoughts of men, even of such as had the Word of God in their hands, come out in this chapter in singular and open contrast with the mind of God. "Man at his best estate is altogether vanity." They wished to make Jesus a king, and this (though certain to be in due time, according to the prophets) for their own ease, interests, and honor. He had made bread for them to eat in the wilderness. This they coupled, and rightly, with the promised Son of David in Psalm 132. He in a special way will provide His poor with bread. Literally and fully that day is not yet come; socialism would antedate it. But the salient point of this chapter, as of others in the Gospel of John, is to show that men, and even Israel, were in such a condition that no predicted blessing, no royalty even of David's Son, could of itself meet the depth of the evil and ruin. Consequently, our Lord Jesus teaches all through that there was incomparably more needed by man, infinitely more and better in God's love and purpose. It was not only that He was heir of David's throne; He is the bread of life, which should come down from heaven and give life to the world. David did not come from heaven. But the bread for man to eat and find life eternal is He that comes down from heaven, which was in no sense true of David, nor transmissible from him.
Had our Lord been only the Son of David, He had never been the giver of life eternal. He is the Son of David in the truest and fullest sense; and so the Apostle calls Timothy to remember "Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead, according to my gospel." It might not be so according to the manner that others looked at the gospel from another point. But according to Paul's gospel, the Son of David must not merely be born and live and die and reign, but must be raised from the dead. And why? It is because Paul, looking at the accomplishment of the promises, the glory attached to the Son of David, pressed more profoundly than any that the door of death and resurrection would secure even those blessings and set them upon an immutable foundation.
Much more, when it is not merely the accomplishment of promise, power, and glory in the kingdom, but God's moral glory and the deliverance of sinners. Then it is the communication of God's grace and truth to the soul, when the saints set apart to God by the power of the Holy Spirit are now brought into the communion of God's nature, love, and mind, and made meet not only for worship and the witness of Christ, but for partaking of the inheritance of the saints in light. This is what the soul learns here: a divine Person come down from heaven and become man, that believing man might live (vv. 32-50).
Even so, the Lord further declares that not even His incarnation, beyond measure blessed and precious as it is, could alone have secured all. He came down with life eternal in Him, and giving it to the believer, not of the Jews only but of Gentiles also-life to the world. For he that believes on Him has life eternal. But there was another and a most solemn test necessitated by the nature and character of God, as well as by man's total ruin. Therefore it is that He should not only come down from heaven as the bread of life, but give His flesh to be eaten and His blood to be drunk (vv. 51-58). Thus was He not only a divine Savior come down as man here below, but He was going to prove and display His grace even in death. And this is the central truth of the chapter. Therefore does He say, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." v. 53.
No matter how men pay other honor to Jesus, it avails not. Set Him on any imaginable throne as the crowd here wished, it is to no purpose and is rejected by God and His Son. Jesus then as now refuses and spurns a dominion of that sort. If the thing be conceived at all, it must leave Him to be a king without a people. Such was the ruin, such the sin, that He could have no subjects, not even one nation meet subjects for Him. The King must sit upon His throne without a people! But this could not be so. He would die atoningly, the Just for the unjust. He comes not only to bring the best good, life eternal, unto us, but to efface righteously all our sins. What must become of the evil that we were and had done? He suffered "once" for us (it was enough), and in His sacrificial death He brings us out of our evil and makes us to be the holy and joyful and righteous possessors of everlasting life. All is of His grace.
There is thus no longer a barrier against the outflow of His love. Till His death, there was. He had, as He said, a baptism to be baptized with; and how He felt it! Till it was accomplished in His death, He was straitened. Could He show His love as He desired to do? The love was there; nothing in us ever created it in Him or in the God who sent Him to save us, guilty sinners. Love, grace, filled His heart; but it was shut up and hindered from flowing freely till sin was judged in His cross. Now by His death (for without this all other obedience, however perfect, availed not), God was glorified even about sin itself! Only then and thus the love of God in respect of us was fully manifested (1 John 4:9, 109In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9‑10)). And we who believe are its objects, and in mutual love, as verses 11 and 12 proceed to show.
The Lord give us to rejoice in such a Savior-not a mere royal Messiah, but an incarnate and atoning Savior to God's glory. It is indeed divine love proved in Christ's emptying Himself to become a man and a bond-slave; and when thus, humbling Himself, and being obedient as far as death, even the death of the cross, that we might not only have life eternal in Him, but our sins effaced in His death.