The Statement for Cynics: John 6:22-59

Focus Passage: John 6:22-59 (NCV)

22 The next day the people who had stayed on the other side of the lake knew that Jesus had not gone in the boat with his followers but that they had left without him. And they knew that only one boat had been there. 23 But then some boats came from Tiberias and landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 When the people saw that Jesus and his followers were not there now, they got into boats and went to Capernaum to find Jesus.

25 When the people found Jesus on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Teacher, when did you come here?”

26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you aren’t looking for me because you saw me do miracles. You are looking for me because you ate the bread and were satisfied. 27 Don’t work for the food that spoils. Work for the food that stays good always and gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because on him God the Father has put his power.”

28 The people asked Jesus, “What are the things God wants us to do?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent.”

30 So the people asked, “What miracle will you do? If we see a miracle, we will believe you. What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the desert. This is written in the Scriptures: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; it is my Father who is giving you the true bread from heaven. 33 God’s bread is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 The people said, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Then Jesus said, “I am the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you before, you have seen me and still don’t believe. 37 The Father gives me the people who are mine. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them. 38 I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do. 39 Here is what the One who sent me wants me to do: I must not lose even one whom God gave me, but I must raise them all on the last day. 40 Those who see the Son and believe in him have eternal life, and I will raise them on the last day. This is what my Father wants.”

41 Some people began to complain about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that comes down from heaven.” 42 They said, “This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

43 But Jesus answered, “Stop complaining to each other. 44 The Father is the One who sent me. No one can come to me unless the Father draws him to me, and I will raise that person up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread that gives life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but still they died. 50 Here is the bread that comes down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give up so that the world may have life.”

52 Then the evil people began to argue among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

53 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you must eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. Otherwise, you won’t have real life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day. 55 My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them. 57 The living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father. So whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 I am not like the bread your ancestors ate. They ate that bread and still died. I am the bread that came down from heaven, and whoever eats this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said all these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Read John 6:22-59 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During one of Jesus’ more straightforward conversations He has with a group of people during His ministry, He shares a prophecy and then He directly ties that prophecy to Himself. In all the gospels’ recorded conversations, this is a very unusual thing for Jesus to do, however I believe Jesus does this to emphasize the true nature of what it means to follow Him.

This conversation happens the day after Jesus fed the crowd of more than five thousand people when He is back in the city of Capernaum. Jesus tells those present, “It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life.” (v. 45-47)

The phrase that really jumped off the page in this section of the conversation is when Jesus clearly states that “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” (v. 45b)

I don’t think Jesus could be any clearer or more disruptive. This single statement is probably the best statement a cynic could use to reject Jesus. This statement sounds arrogant, closed-minded, and exclusive. All these traits mirror the negative characteristics of the spiritual leaders at that time.

In culture today, where the postmodern mindset has spread throughout most people’s minds, the idea many people believe is that truth is not absolute. Instead, truth is relative and based on the person who is thinking it. Mixed in this thought process is the idea that all spiritual paths lead to God.

However, this could not be more opposite to Jesus’ teaching in this statement. This statement, which Christians believe is from God, basically says that the only message God sends to us is one that points towards Jesus. We could say the same thing in the opposite way by saying that any message from “God” that does not point towards Jesus cannot truly be from God.

Mixed in with this challenging, exclusive statement is a reminder of the reward those who choose God and choose to come to Jesus will receive. Jesus draws our attention to this reward by saying, “I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life.” (v. 47)

Before thinking that this eternal life begins at the instant one believes, it is worth looking at Jesus’ words a little earlier, regarding raising people up on the last day. What we receive when we believe is the assurance and guarantee of eternal life when Jesus gives the reward out. It is like the ticket that guarantees our seat to a sold out show or our seat assignment to a sold out flight. In both cases, we have not been given access to the seat, but we know we will have it when the time arrives.

God the Father uses the Holy Spirit to point us towards Jesus. It is our belief in Jesus that gives us the assurance of salvation and within the gift of salvation is the reward of eternal life. Jesus says this reward is exclusive to those who believe and who have come to Him. This isn’t a belief that blends with popular opinion, but it is the only way eternal life can have any “eternal value”.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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