Please read and memorise Jesus’ words in John 6:25-71
& read Mark 6:56
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” John 6:25-27
Having been silent on the previous 10 months of Yeshua’s ministry, John now, as he did in the beginning, gives us details of Yeshua’s teaching that are not included in the other gospel accounts. As he states in John 20:31, this gospel author focused on those things which demonstrated that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God. So it was with the teaching Yeshua now gave to the crowd who had eaten the miraculous provision the day before.
He began with an affirmation: “you seek (ζητέω zētéō) Me”. Zētéō refers to more than just looking for. It means to seek by inquiring, investigating to reach a binding resolution, it focuses on the moral attitude, the internal convictions, driving the seeker. These people were seekers, looking for spiritual truth, trying to work out if Yeshua really was their long hoped for Messiah.
“Not because you saw (ὁράω horáō) signs (σημεῖον sēmeîon)”. Horáō = to see, as in to perceive, it implies comprehension (“I see what you mean”), seeing with the mind, perceiving the spiritual reality behind what is physically seen. Sēmeîon = a miraculous sign which confirms, corroborates and authenticates eternal realities. They were seekers yet they had not perceived, they had not yet comprehended, the eternal reality of who Yeshua is. They had seen, and benefited from, the miracles, but had not seen the signs that those miracles were in pointing to Yeshua as the Messiah, the Son of God.
So, He began teaching them from the last sign they had all witnessed yet not seen (not perceived the spiritual significance of) – the feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children: “you ate the loaves and had your fill“. They had eaten of this miraculous provision, just like the children of Israel had eaten of the miraculous provision of Manna in the desert. Then, in explaining to them the spiritual significance of this miracle, Yeshua alluded to Isaiah 55:2. Most of the Jewish men listening to Him had memorised these verses in school, so just alluding to one verse brought the passage to mind.
“Come, everyone who is thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you without money,
come, buy, and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost!
Why do you spend money on what is not food,
and your wages on what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
and you will enjoy the choicest of foods.
Pay attention and come to Me;
listen, so that you will live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
the promises assured to David.”
Isaiah 55:1-3 HCSB
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” All the miracles they had witnessed, and the miraculous provision of bread they had eaten, were signs of God’s seal of approval on Yeshua. He alone was able to give them eternal life.
What is the Work of God?
Now their question was deeper…
So they said to Him, “What should we do in order to perform the works of God?”
Yeshua answered, “Here’s what the work of God is: to trust (πιστεύω pisteúō) in (εἰς eis) the one He sent!” John 6:25-29 CJB
This was such a radically different answer to their question. πιστεύω pisteúō = believe, have faith; εἰς eis = into, extension towards a special goal, penetration to become one with. The grammatical construction of the Greek verb pisteúō “believe” followed by the Greek preposition eis “into” in the accusative gives us the sense of having faith into Yeshua, putting faith in, trusting in Yeshua. It is something that we choose to do. It is the pre-requisite for every other act of faith and obedience. God sent His Son into the world, it is incumbent on us to choose to place our trust in Him. The expected answer was an injunction to follow the Jewish religious laws which govern daily life, with a specific emphasis on one of them. Instead, Yeshua continued with His theme from Isaiah 55:”Pay attention and come to Me; listen, so that you will live.“
Yeshua is the Bread from Heaven that Gives Life
They said to him, “Nu, what sign will you do for us, so that we may see it and trust you? What work can you perform? Our fathers ate manna in the desert — as it says in the Tanakh, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’
Yeshua said to them, “Yes, indeed! I tell you it wasn’t Moshe (Moses) who gave you the bread from heaven. But my Father is giving you the genuine bread from heaven; for God’s bread is the One who comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.”
They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread from now on.”
Yeshua answered, “I am the bread which is life! Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever trusts in Me will never be thirsty. John 6:30-35 CJB
Still they had not seen, they had not perceived, the signs He had already given them. They asked for another miracle, another sign, another work to be performed before they would choose to put their trust in Him. They asked for a miracle like the manna from heaven which God had given their ancestors to eat, yet they had just eaten the day before bread miraculously provided, with 12 full baskets left over as a sign to them. Yet, right before them was the greater miracle, the incarnation, the One come down from heaven to give them life, eternal life.
How difficult it was to move them from wanting miracles to choosing to put their trust in the One who had been doing these miracles.
“I told you that you have seen but still don’t trust. Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will certainly not turn away. For I have come down from heaven to do not My own will but the will of the One who sent Me. And this is the will of the One who sent Me: that I should not lose any of all those He has given Me but should raise them up on the Last Day. Yes, this is the will of My Father: that all who see the Son and trust in him should have eternal life, and that I should raise them up on the Last Day.” John 6:36-40 CJB
They had now horáō = seen, as in perceived, comprehended (“I see what you mean”), seeing with the mind, perceived the spiritual reality behind the miracles they had seen, grasped what He was saying, and yet still decisively chosen to not pisteúō = believe, have faith. It was not lack of evidence on His part, but lack of will on their part, even as it is today for those who choose to not believe.
Yeshua affirms once again that all have the opportunity to be saved, everyone who comes to Him will be accepted, none will be turned away regardless of how other men judge them. He has come to do the Father’s will and it is the Father’s will that none who trust in His Son will be lost, everyone of us shall be resurrected to eternal life.
The crowds had been eagerly listening to Him and excitedly seeing the miracles, and happily ate of the miraculous provision the day before, but they were not ready to believe in Him. The believed He could do miracles, they’d been excited about the miracles, but they did not believe in Him.
Grumbling and Refusing to Trust in Him
Shabbat found Yeshua back in the synagogue in Capernaum, having raised the daughter of one of the synagogue ruler’s from the dead they could hardly refuse Him to opportunity to teach there once again. He kept pressing the point – that miracle feeding 5,000 they had been a part of had been a sign that He is the bread which has come down from heaven, He is the bread of life.
At this the Judeans began grumbling about Him because He said, “I am the bread which has come down from heaven.” They said, “Isn’t this Yeshua Ben-Yosef (Jesus son of Joseph)? We know his father and mother! How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”
Yeshua answered them, “Stop grumbling to each other! No one can come to me unless the Father — the One who sent me — draws him. And I will raise him up on the Last Day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘They will all be taught by Adonai.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God — He has seen the Father. Yes, indeed! I tell you, whoever trusts has eternal life: I am the bread which is life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert; they died. But the bread that comes down from heaven is such that a person may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that has come down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread, he will live (ζάω zaō) forever. Furthermore, the bread that I will give is My own flesh (σάρκα sárks); and I will give it for the life of the world.” John 6:41-51 CJB
Eat His Flesh & Drink His Blood
This revelation was to be fixed in the life of the church with the instructions that Yeshua gave His talmidim at the Last Supper. Every time we take Communion we declare this reality – that Jesus is the bread of life and we need to eat His flesh, σάρκα sárks = flesh, merely of human origin or empowerment, human nature (Jesus’ human nature was pure and holy, not corrupted like ours) can we live (ζάω zaō) forever. ζάω zaō = to live; to experience God’s gift of living; God infusing His indestructible, self-existent life which makes believers lively in heart, soul, mind, strength and relationships; to be fully alive. Only in partaking of His human nature can we partake of His divine nature, only in recognising God in the flesh can we see God in the spirit. Yeshua gave His flesh, his holy physical human life, that we might have spiritual eternal life.
At this, the Judeans disputed with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Then Yeshua said to them, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life — that is, I will raise him up on the Last Day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me, and I live in him.”
“Just as the living Father sent Me, and I live through the Father, so also whoever eats Me will live through Me. So this is the bread that has come down from heaven — it is not like the bread the fathers ate; they’re dead, but whoever eats this bread will live forever!”
He said these things as He was teaching in a synagogue in K’far-Nachum (Capernaum). John 6:52-59 CJB
Yeshua explained it clearly to them: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood lives in Me and I in him.” It is all about living in Christ, and He in us. It is not about what goes into our mouth, but what goes into, and comes out of, our heart. It is about abiding in Him, partaking of His nature, being clothed in His righteousness. It is about Yeshua abiding in us, infusing us with His nature. The apostle Paul would later write: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)
The author, John, had already told us that: “the Judean festival of Pesach was coming up” (John 6:4). The Gospel accounts do not tell us if Yeshua went down to Jerusalem for the festival this year, or just celebrated it with His talmidim in Capernaum. Certainly it was on His mind that He would be the lamb of God sacrificed at Pesach (Passover) the following year. His communion teaching of His talmidim started one year before they would be confronted with the reality of it all. For now, even they could not grasp the meaning of His words.
On hearing it, many of his talmidim said, “This is a hard word — who can bear to listen to it?”
But Yeshua, aware that His talmidim were grumbling about this, said to them, “This is a trap for you? Suppose you were to see the Son of Man going back up to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life, yet some among you do not trust.” (For Yeshua knew from the outset which ones would not trust him, also which one would betray him.)
“This,” He said, “is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has made it possible for him.” John 6:60-65 CJB
The tide had begun turning, the sifting was taking place. Not everyone who was drawn to Yeshua’s miracles was willing to embrace His nature. Not all who thronged as part of the excited crowd were hungry for the life and truth of God. Yeshua had poured Himself out in meeting their physical needs, healing all who came to Him, but now He was demanding something of them. Now He was confronting their heart attitudes. Now Yeshua was asking them to go beyond believing that He could do miracles to placing their trust in Him as the source of life from heaven.
From this time on, many of his talmidim turned back and no longer travelled around with him. John 6:66 CJB
They had come from far and wide to follow Yeshua, from throughout Galilee, from the regions of Tyre and Sidon to the north-east, from the Decapolis to the south-west, from Judah to the south. This miracle worker had attracted huge crowds of adoring fans. But adoring fans are not true disciples. Yeshua was not looking for celebrity status, He was not impressed with the crowds or in need of large audiences. He was looking for those who were hungry to partake of His nature, to live as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, to give up all to follow Him. Yeshua did not shrink back from testing them with His words. He would not water-down the demands of Heaven to suit the likes of men. They were free to choose to stay or go, but if they stayed, if they were to enter the kingdom of heaven, it would be on God’s terms, not theirs. As He had told them in the Parable of the Sower, most hearts were not good soil for His word to grow in.
Word of Eternal Life
So Yeshua said to the Twelve, “Don’t you want to leave too?”
Shim‘on Kefa (Simon Peter) answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the word of eternal life. We have trusted, and we know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Yeshua answered them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is an adversary.” (He was speaking of Y’hudah Ben-Shim‘on, from K’riot (Judas, son of Simon Iscariot); for this man — one of the Twelve! — was soon to betray him.) John 6:67-71 CJB
A full year before His betrayal, Yeshua was preparing His talmidim for the harsh realities of what was to come. He knew who would betray Him, yet still included Y’hudah in everything, still taught him with the others, still invested in him, still kept his identity as future betrayer secret, for the time was not yet. As He had told them in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, evil doers would be allowed to grow undisturbed with the true sons of the kingdom until the time of harvest. This was, paradoxically, for the sake of the wheat.
And wherever He went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged Him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:56 NIV
Despite many leaving from following Him, deciding that being His disciple was not for them, Yeshua continued going to every village and town and healing all who reached out to touch Him. Despite the fact that much of the seed that fell on the ground of man’s hearts would fail to produce a crop, He still kept going and sowing. Everyone was given a chance, but the criteria for discipleship would not be altered for any of them. Entrance into the kingdom of heaven required “eating His flesh and drinking His blood“, a concept that only those being drawn by the Father could embrace.
1. HELPS Ministries. The Discovery Bible. [Online] https://thediscoverybible.com/.
2. Andrews, Edward D. Why Is the Greek Verb Pisteuo (faith, Believe, trust in) Rendered Differently at Times? Christian Publishing House. [Online] November 1st, 2016. https://christianpublishinghouse.co/2016/11/01/why-is-the-greek-verb-pisteuo-rendered-differently-at-times/#:~:text=Believe%2C%20faith%2C%20Trust%20in%3A%20(Gr..
3. Commentaries. John 6:36. Bible Hub. [Online] https://biblehub.com/commentaries/john/6-36.htm.
In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…
*What insights did you gain as you memorised Jesus’ words in John 6?
* What does it mean to eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood?
* What attracted people to Jesus, and what repelled them from Him?
* What brings more people to your meetings, and what causes them to leave your church?