John 6:66 ‘Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.’

October 28, 2018 by David Farmer 0 comments

Posted in: Weekly Commentary

John 6:66 ‘Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.’

In the verses which have preceded this sixty-sixth verse of John, chapter 6, we are told, in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself:

But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him. And he said, For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father.

We are immediately informed of at least one of the results of these dual affirmations:

Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away?

To just what, in particular, does the expression, the words, ‘upon this’ refer? Upon this; upon what? He had informed His auditory concerning, at least a few, absolutely necessary things. Let us consider them in the order in which they were given. First, then, going back to verse fifty-four where we read Him saying, that, he that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life. That statement from the lips of this relative ‘stranger’ would indeed be likely to draw out such a response as This is a hard saying; who can hear it? (vs. 60). The very idea of this expression of some sort of apparent cannibalism would be repugnant to many an ear. It would be repulsive to the ear of natural man—and that is the point being articulated by our Savior in this passage before us. He will go on to explain that a spiritual ear is necessary in order to the hearing of this figure. “To all this which Jesus has asserted a radical objection is made. Jesus is a man among men, of well-known family and origin; how can he claim to have come down from heaven? Jesus no more denies his human than his heavenly origin, but simply repeats that coming to him, faith in him as the heavenly Man, is impossible without divine instruction; no wonder, then, that some should be offended.”—Barrett. How can we believe that this man came down out of heaven? This, added to the assertion that He is the bread of Heaven; this is just too much! The natural heart of man cannot receive these truths, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? Does this cause you to stumble? Jesus says, You ain’t heard nothin’ yet! What then if you should behold the Son of man ascending where he was before? This surely constitutes a great part of their unbelief. What are you talking about? We can almost hear them saying in response. But wait, there is more. Where does this life, this eternal life come from of which I have spoken? I will tell you.

It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him.

These are all hard sayings to sound into an unbelieving ear. But the best, as it were, is yet to come. He goes on to explain a precious utterance from verse 44; it did bear repeating. It may well have been that this particular statement which really speaks of each of the other particulars, drawing them together in these concise words. Concise, and yet again, impossible for the natural ear to receive. We read in vs. 45;

And he said, For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father.

This is a virtual repetition of verse 44; there are a few distinctions, but the direction and the reality are nonetheless nearly identical. In that verse, He had said,

No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day.

Where He had previously said, no man can come, except it be given unto him of the Father, here He says that, no man can come, except the Father that sent me draw him. He has added a reminder that He was the Bread come down from heaven, as also He said that the manner in which a man can come, is through the Father drawing him—we could cite Psalm 110 in this place—Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, as in, except the Father that sent me draw him. We could, and certainly should, underline the words that perhaps posed the problem for those hearers in the days of Jesus Christ, namely, no man can come. This is the huge issue that natural man will not accept. Man is by his Adamic nature, conspicuously independent, and unwilling to be told that there is anything, anything at all, that he cannot do. This is, at it were, the last straw. They will not be told of anything that they cannot do. It is this feature that has made even—sad to say—professing Christians revolt. They do remember—they say—when they made their decision to ‘come to Christ,’ and they will not hear of any suggestion that they did not do so of their own ‘free will.’

O that they would bow the knee to the Word of God; that they would submit to the truth of the Word. We are not saying that God’s chosen do not exercise their wills to submit to the demands of the Gospel when it calls them to ‘repent and believe the gospel.’ We are only saying no man will ever do so unless our sovereign God makes him willing in the day of His power. This is the same problem that confronted Nicodemus in the third chapter of John’s narrative. Nicodemus did not make use of the words—as far as we can tell—‘what must I do to be saved, but they were implicit in his inquisitive statement offered, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him. When Jesus responded, knowing his heart of unbelief, with the pronouncement, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. here is that hated word again, ‘cannot.’ And the qualification involved, Ye must be born anew, or, again. As, ‘you cannot, you must be made willing in the day of God’s power.’ To be made willing requires the new birth; you must be regenerated by the Spirit of the Living God Himself. Then you CAN, then you WILL, believe the Gospel.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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