John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 6:60-71

We are taking our final look into Chapter 6 in John’s Gospel. For those of you who may not be aware, my mom passed away and went to be with the Lord on March 13th at the age of 81 after nine long years from a blood cot that was found on her brain. It was about nine years ago that they operated on her to remove it but in so doing, my mom was basically left incapacitated. She spent the final years and especially the last few months of her life in misery and unable to communicate with anyone so in that regard, it’s a relief that she is gone so she didn’t have to suffer anymore. Over the last few weeks since learning of her passing, I’ve been wrestling with my feelings over the news. My mom and I did not exactly have the greatest relationship when I was growing up and it also continued well into my adult years. In fact, I basically cut off all contact with my family for many years, around 10 years I think, and it was only within last 20 years or so that I reestablished contact with them. I made a trip back to Orlando, where my parents now live, but unfortunately it wasn’t in enough time to say goodbye to my mom something I deeply regret. Although I made up with my mom years ago, I regret the time that I missed with her and the rest of the family because of my stubborn ways. Proof that just because you give your life to Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that everything you’ve done or said prior to that gets totally erased in this world. We are totally forgiven by God but there are still consequences for our actions. A lesson to be learned.

Okay, on with our study. Like I said, we are wrapping up Chapter 6 in John. Hypocrisy is one of the biggest sins in Christianity. The root word of hypocrisy is hypocrite. The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” Did you know that the hypocrisy found in most Christians is one of the biggest obstacles preventing unbelievers from coming to faith in Christ? We Christians talk the talk but we don’t walk the walk, at least most of us. There are some that do. This gets noticed by unbelievers and prevents them from coming to faith in Christ! I saw this at a young age. I can remember going to Catholic services on Sundays. If you are familiar with the way a Catholic service is conducted, there is a part of the mass where the priest will say, “Let us offer each other the sign of peace”. You would then turn to the person next to you and the person behind you and shake their hand and say “Peace be with you” or something of that nature. However I would notice that after the service was over and we were leaving, people would literally be trying to run people over trying to drive out of the church parking lot! That’s hypocrisy! The recent priest sex abuse scandal, that’s hypocrisy probably at it’s worst! James put it best when he says in James 1….

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. …. James 1:26 NKJV

In this passage, “not bridling the tongue” means any type of behavior inconsistent with the way we are supposed to have as saved Christians not just what we say. 

In this final part of Chapter 6 and this passage that we will look at in this post, Jesus is dealing with a hypocritical crowd. The people are following Him but for the wrong reasons. They’ve witnessed a miracle and they want more. Jesus knows this, that they are more interested in what He can do rather than who He really is, and He begins to “thin out the herd” so to speak. Let’s get started with our study and as always, the text link for the entire chapter and audio is provided so you can follow along. Before we get started though, let’s pray…

Father,

Thank you for the word of God that does the work of God in the hearts of the people of God. We bring our hearts, our minds, and our attention to the words that we will be reading, the thoughts that Your Holy Spirit will give us, and the questions that we will be wrestling with which will hopefully be answered and some truths that might be hard to swallow. We pray that you would feed us and teach us, but more than that equip us to be vessels to speak your word, to share truth, to encourage others, to have knowledge, but then, Lord, to act on it. We ask this is in Jesus’s name…Amen!

John 6

Let’s look at the passage that we will be studying here. For context purposes, we’ll pick it up a couple of verses before the passage…

(57) As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (58) This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (59) These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. (60) Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” (61) When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? (62) What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? (63) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (64) But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. (65) And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” (66) From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (67) Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (68) But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (69) Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (70) Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (71) He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. … John 6:57-71 NKJV

Let’s look at the passage more closely now…

v 60 – (60) Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”

Whenever you see a therefore in The Bible, you need to find out what it is “there for”. Jesus has just told the people that eating His flesh and drinking His blood will grant them eternal life. He doesn’t mean this literally of course and an argument ensues because the crowd just doesn’t get it. In this passage, John says many of His disciples. By this time, Jesus had a whole lot more people following Him than just the original twelve. They were following Him for the wrong reasons though. They weren’t true followers. John uses the word disciples because anyone who professed to following Jesus and believe in His teachings was considered to be a disciple. It didn’t mean that they were true believers though. These “disciples” now say amongst themselves This is a hard saying; who can understand it?. When they say that what Jesus was telling them, it wasn’t because it wasn’t easy for them to understand per say but more that it was very offensive for them to receive. The word hard, as used here, is the Greek word sklēros which means harsh or severe. In the King Jimmie, the word understand is replaced by the word hear. In other words, they didn’t like what they were hearing. They were basically saying, “We can’t stand here and listen to this anymore! It’s offensive to us!”. The same can be said about the church today. Talk about the Savior’s love but don’t you dare talk about sin and the consequences of it or about how Christ died for it! That is God’s people’s complaint these days about why The Bible is such a bloody book and why churches have to talk about the blood of Christ. In 2 Timothy though, Paul warns about the falling away of God’s people…

(3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; (4) and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. … 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV

Charles Spurgeon, a famous preacher back in the 1800’s, put it best where he said that a ministry without the blood is lifeless!

Moving on to verse 61…

vv 61-65 – (61) When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? (62) What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? (63) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (64) But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. (65) And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

In verses 61 and 64, is evidence that Jesus knows the thoughts and actions of people. Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this and Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. Further down the passage in verse 71, Jesus actually calls out Judas, not by name though, as His betrayer. If we as professed believers think that we can pull the wool over Jesus’s eyes by pretending to be believers, think again! Jesus knew exactly what the “disciples” were complaining about. They were complaining about His claim that He had come down from heaven and that they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood to gain eternal life so He asks them, Does this offend you?, knowing full well that it did! It offends people today as well. Christ’s claim to exclusivity of access to God offends many Christians today. It is offensive for them, as well as unbelievers, to hear that Christ is the only way to heaven and to think any other way is an automatic ticket to hell. A good example of this is everybody’s hero, Oprah Winfrey, a professed Christian, when asked if she believed that Jesus Christ was the only way to heaven replied no and that there were many ways she believed that person could gain access to heaven. She’s not the only one either. Ask a professed Christian the same question and most of them will either, one, change the subject or two, will answer no. This is a good way to find out if one is truly saved or not because if they don’t answer with an emphatic, unwavering “yes” then they aren’t! Perhaps we should be asking this question more to our church leaders!

Moving on now in verse 62, the people had taken offense because Jesus said that He had come down from heaven so now He asks what if they see Him go back there. He was speaking of His resurrection. It was sort of a trick question. The people thought He was talking about literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood so now Jesus poses this thought…how can you do that if I’m not here! Of course He wasn’t talking about literally eating His flesh or drinking His blood and in verse 63, Jesus points this out again to the people by telling them that flesh cannot grant eternal life only the spirit, meaning the Holy Spirit. In other words, what Jesus is saying here when He says that the flesh profits nothing, is that human achievement does not grant eternal life. Only belief in Him and until they accepted and truly believed that, then they did not have eternal life.

In verse 64, John says that Jesus knew from the beginning who would believe in Him and who wouldn’t. What did John mean by this? From the beginning of this discourse with the crowd? Jesus knew this from all eternity being God of course so John could have possibly meant that but he probably meant from the beginning of Jesus’s ministry on earth. It wasn’t so much that these people who did not believe couldn’t because they didn’t understand but because they were unwilling to understand. Jesus would become a “stumbling block” and a “rock of offense” to them and it still holds true with people today. This is exactly what the Lord foretold through Isaiah. Jesus would have a twofold effect. In Isaiah, the prophet says…

(14) He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. … Isaiah 8:14 NKJV

However, further on, Isaiah also says…

(16) Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily. … Isaiah 28:16 NKJV

Paul summarizes both trains of thought nicely in Romans…

(33) As it is written: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STUMBLING STONE AND ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.” … Romans 9:33 NKJV

It was true of the people back then and it is true of people today.

What follows in verse 65 is Jesus re-emphasizing what He said in verse 44…no one comes to Him unless granted by God. Jesus makes this statement because of the crowd’s continuing disbelief. This also puts emphasis on the fact that we do not deserve nor can we earn salvation. The people thought that just because they were Jews, God’s chosen people, that they automatically had a ticket to heaven. In today’s society, the belief is just because you are a participant in life you are granted that ticket no matter what your belief system might be. In verse 65, Jesus says think again! Let’s move on now to verse 66…

v 66 – (66) From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

After this, many of Jesus’s disciples walked away and stopped following Him. The word disciples really shouldn’t be used here. It should read many people because they were never truly disciples. They were never true believers! They were following Jesus because of the miracles. They loved His works but hated His words. Many people can bluff their way through life pretending to be believers but eventually, true motives are discovered. Here’s a real good example of this. Remember right after 9/11 how the churches across the country were packed full of people and how everyone got so “spiritual”? As time went on and the events of that day got further and further away and people began to forget (boy did we forget!), church attendance got less and less and all that spirituality disappeared. Why? Because more and more people were convicted by what they were hearing in churches and what they were reading in The Bible which totally conflicted with their lifestyles and most, not all, turned away. Jesus did not meet this crowd’s expectations. They were looking for a king, a liberator to free them from Roman oppression. When it was clear to them that He wasn’t going to do that, many turned away from Him. When Jesus doesn’t meet our expectations, we turn from Him as well. It is the reason why I spent most of my adult life away from the Lord. He didn’t meet my expectations. 1 John, John says about these type of followers…

(19) They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. … 1 John 2:19 NKJV

Doubting one’s faith from time to time is normal and to be expected but this speaks of a pattern of continuing to fall away. Hypocrisy will always be exposed. In Hebrews, it says…

(13) And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. … Hebrews 4:13 NKJV

Not everyone walks away from Jesus and His words though as we move on and finish out the passage…

vv 67-71 – (67) Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (68) But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (69) Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (70) Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (71) He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. … John 6:67-71 NKJV

I don’t think Jesus was surprised or upset or disappointed that the people walked away. He knew they would. Apparently though from what we read in this passage everybody was gone except for the twelve disciples. Jesus asks an honest point blank question to His remaining twelve disciples…Do you also want to go away?. He asks this question to test them. Did they really believe in Him and His words or were they just there for the show like the crowd? Peter speaks up, probably almost immediately, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. He then follows that up with the statement and the answer that Jesus was testing them for…Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter makes a bold statement here. He also uses the word we speaking for all twelve of them and Jesus corrects him and says that not all of them feel that way. He knew that one of them, Judas Iscariot, would eventually betray Him, a point that John brings out in this passage. Jesus doesn’t call him out by name but the statement that Jesus makes is His way of telling Judas, “Think about what you are going to do!”. Even though Jesus knew that Judas would eventually betray Him, He did give Judas several opportunities to back out of it and become a true disciple. That’s important to note because if Jesus did not give up on Judas then we should not give up on anyone as well. ALL people are worth the chance of salvation not just those we like and love. It’s just up to them whether they accept it or not. The statement that Peter makes is not exactly true. After Jesus is arrested, Peter will deny knowing Him and the disciples will flee and go into hiding except for John who is right there when Jesus is crucified. The statement that Peter makes though is what He truly felt in his heart at the time. As I said we all go through momentary lapses of faith and that’s what happens to Peter and the others. Judas however, never felt this truly in his heart though. There are a lot of “Judases” in the church today. It’s like, “I’ll follow You now but the moment You do something or say something that I don’t like, I’m out of here!”.

So here are the takeaways from this passage that we have been looking at. True words are hard to hear. Not necessarily because we don’t understand but because we can’t tolerate it. It offends us and contradicts our way of life. Jesus’s death on the cross for sin offends a lot of people many of those who are in the church. True motives will be discovered. Not all people who profess belief in Jesus Christ and His teachings are true followers of Him. The moment He doesn’t meet their expectations, they bail. The last thing though is that true disciples will never leave. True disciples have devotion and loyalty and they would never think of leaving. Yes there are momentary lapses of faith that we suffer but it’s not long term and we usually bounce back with even a stronger faith than what we started with. There is a sense of satisfaction in us who believe in Jesus and also a sense of conviction. I have said it before and I will say it again…true Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a RELATIONSHIP! You either have it or you don’t! For those of you that don’t, you can have it today. All you have to do is ask Him! Let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You again for this time spent in Your Word. Help us Lord to strengthen our resolve to worship You in spirit and truth not just once or twice a week in a special building but in our homes, on our jobs, in our schools and then help us to go out and find and convert others to do the same. As we put a lid on this chapter Lord, help us, strengthen us, to become true disciples. Lord, take care of all who have passed away and now are in Your loving care, especially my mom. Let her know that even though we didn’t see eye to eye on many things and fought a lot, that I love her and will miss her very much. Finally Lord bless us, bless our families, our communities and our nations wherever we may live. On this Easter weekend, we pray that more people would come to faith in Your Son Jesus Christ and we pray this in His name…Amen!