Faithlife Sermons

HG076 pt2 John 6:41-71

Harmony of the Gospels  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  20:57
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John 6:41–71 NKJV
41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 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.
Last week we learned that loads of people travelled over the lake to find Jesus but it was not really Him they sought but what He could do. Remember that these people were desperate for Jesus to become their welfare state. It was no easy thing to find work and do work but Jesus was not going to mollycoddle them. He wanted them to desire spiritual bread just as much the physical bread, if not more so. Jesus Himself IS the bread from Heaven. Jesus said: “I am the bread of life”. This is the first of seven ‘I AM’ sayings in John’s Gospel.
In the Old Testament God revealed Himself by saying I AM that I AM. And by Jesus using the I AM saying He was declaring His deity. It takes a bit to get your head around the saying ‘I AM’. The way to understand this is: “I was, I am and I shall always continue to be” (Bennett p.28). When Jesus said I AM the bread of life He was declaring that He is the One who provides, He is Jehovah Jireh, He always has, does and will do.
Jesus is much more precious than the manna that came from Heaven. You’ve heard the saying: ‘You are what you eat’. Jesus is to be a part of us just as much as the very food we eat. Just as bread is necessary to live for one cannot live without food so Jesus is absolutely necessary and you cannot live without Him.
Is He as real to you spiritually as something you can taste or handle? Is He as much a part of you as that which you eat? Do not think me blasphemous when I say that He must be as real and as useful to you as a roast dinner. I say this because, although He is obviously far more real and useful than these, the unfortunate thing is that for many Christians He is much less. (1999 Hughes, pp.208-209)
Preaching the Word: John—That You May Believe Receiving Christ’s Satisfaction (vv. 53–58)

Paul had a vision of the risen Christ, and that is what set him apart from his contemporaries. He prayed that people’s hearts might be opened so they could grasp the riches of their inheritance in Christ Jesus. He wanted his people to see that Christ is real. Is he real to you? Is he bread? Is he as real as meat and potatoes?

What else does bread suggest? Christ is absolutely indispensable. Since bread was the staple of life in those days, it was difficult for people to conceive of life without bread. Is it difficult for us to conceive of life without Christ?

But the crowd that was present that day could not take their eyes of the physical bread.
And with incredible patience He explains again what is on offer but not before He tells them to stop grumbling. Remember how the Israelites in the desert were always grumbling; they hadn’t changed much in the 1500 years that had past. You are like your ancestors who ate the bread in the wilderness but are now dead.
(Augustine put it this way:)

the fathers of these Jews were evil fathers of evil sons, unbelieving fathers of unbelieving sons, murmuring fathers of murmurers

Again John says that those who are drawn to Jesus do so through the Father and all who believe in Jesus have eternal life. When something is repeated in Scripture it is like underlining it and making it in extra large print for emphasis and to point out its great importance. How are we drawn to God? It is by being taught of God, whether through preaching like this or by someone who tells others about Jesus in their workplace, their doctor’s surgery, their hairdressers, their supermarket checkouts or through the reading of Scripture or through a myriad of different ways. God does draw all people to Himself:
John 12:32 NKJV
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
God has already taken the initiative but they still need to hear the message, the Good News, and God touches the hearts and minds of people to draw them to salvation. The whole Godhead is at work here for both the Father and the Son draw people but the work of the Holy Spirit is especially revealed upon the individual:
John 16:8 NKJV
And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
When He has come means what happened when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost in Acts 2, ten days after the ascension of Jesus. And He has not left so He is still here and He stirs people to respond to Jesus through the message of the cross and resurrection. This has not changed. He is still at work and people are still coming to know Christ.
Again Jesus makes it clear that this natural bread is only effective whilst alive but when dead it is of no use to you. No matter how well we look after our bodies one day they will stop working; have the living bread, Jesus, and you will live forever, for what He gives is immortal for we are made for eternity.
And in verse 51 He alludes to His death by saying the bread I give is my flesh which is given for the life of the world. This is what we think about when we come to the table to celebrate and commemorate communion.
But this is before the Lord’s Supper was instituted which led, inevitably, to the question how it is possible to eat His flesh for they were still thinking physically. To be honest, if you want to take Jesus absolutely literally you would have thought that He meant eat His body and drink His blood. Plainly this is not meant literally. Truly you have to be spiritual to be spiritually minded.
And Jesus presses on because these things are the most important things they’ll hear. Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you. Again we understand only in the light of the cross.
But when He says to them ‘you have no life in you’ is He speaking, therefore, to corpses? No, they were alive otherwise they would not have been able to hear but spiritually they were dead. If your spirit is not alive then you are in trouble and you need to wake up and have the Holy Spirit breathe life into you which can only be done by believing in Jesus.
When Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood they couldn’t grasp what He was saying. It was too much for them. This is too difficult. But then the key was in what He said next. He said what if I ascend to Heaven and you see me? He cannot ascend if there is no body to ascend with so plainly He has not given out His body and blood piecemeal to literally eat and drink. Who is this Jesus? Earlier John said:
John 3:13 NKJV
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.
He did not say ‘was’ in Heaven but ‘is’ in Heaven.
(Augustine said:)

In heaven He was when He spoke on earth. He was Son of man in heaven in that manner in which He was Son of God on earth; Son of God on earth in the flesh which He took, Son of man in heaven in the unity of person.

Truly Jesus is God of God and Truly Man of man. Perhaps upon His true disciples this truth was beginning to dawn.
These words are spirit and life. That is, these are about spiritual things not physical, Him being bread is a metaphor. But these things can only be understood by those who believed. But those who did not would never get it. Faith is very interesting; it is about trust. Some people think of faith as a leap in the dark. But it is about relationship. We have to have knowledge in order to come to Jesus but it is also true that we only truly understand after we have come to Jesus. I believe therefore I know.
It would have been better to have accepted what Jesus was saying and trust that it will come clear in due course but instead quite a number of people, because they could not wrap their minds around what Jesus was saying, grumbled and had enough. If only they had kept on following then they would have understood, if only they had trusted Jesus. When we eat bread it becomes a part of us and we are called to dwell in Him and He in us and to keep on living in Him.
I can imagine how hard it was to understand but, of course, we have the benefit of after sight because in between Jesus saying these words and the present day is the cross.
Jesus then says: It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. This is quite a statement. The fleshly life has no eternal value for one day what is seen will pass away.Only the Spiritual will last.
Scripture is brutally honest that not everyone loved Jesus, others would follow for a time but would turn back, and yet others would remain and follow Him to the end.
Opening Up John’s Gospel Reasons for Rejection (6:60–71)

We began John 6 with a crowd of around 20,000 people; we end with just a dozen. Thousands of people had witnessed a stunning miracle; thousands of people had heard Jesus Christ speak. And thousands had rejected him and walked away.

The twelve remained with Jesus. And Peter, in one of His moments of great clarity, had understood that to leave now would be the height of foolishness for to Jesus He says: “You have the Words of eternal life. Where else can you expect us to be except with You? We, he said, have come to know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. “
He knew that Jesus was the One the prophets said would come and He was none other than God Himself. I can imagine Peter thinking that he did not understand all that Jesus said but he had already come to trust Him. Yet, we also know that although Peter used the word ‘we’ He was not speaking about all of them for there was one there whose heart did not belong to Jesus and Jesus openly declared that He knew this to be the case. Even though Judas stayed he had an ulterior motive; money to stay with this band of men. Though He was near to Jesus His words did not penetrate his heart. He never believed. How shocking it is to know Jesus yet not know Jesus. How is it with you today? You have heard all the stories of Jesus yet have never allowed yourself to believe and trust Him. What about now, for there is no time like the present. Ask Jesus into your life and gladly He will come and though you may not understand everything right now, trust Him, and you will begin to truly understand.
The world is separated into two groups. One who knows the satisfaction that Christ brings as the living bread. Then the others who know nothing of this satisfaction and look to the world and are deeply dissatisfied. They are on the outside looking in to those those who have the full and abundant life Christ offers.
To whom should we go? For surely nothing compares to Christ.


Ephesians 3:17–21 NKJV
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Bennett, J. (2005). Day by Day Divine Titles. UK: Precious Seed Publications
Hughes, R. K. (1999). John: that you may believe. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Leadership Ministries Worldwide. (2004). The Gospel according to John. Chattanooga, TN: Leadership Ministries Worldwide.
Paterson, A. (2010). Opening Up John’s Gospel. Leominster: Day One Publications.
Schaff, P. (Ed.). (1888). St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies (Vol. 7). New York: Christian Literature Company.
Exported from Logos Bible Software, 09:18 23 June 2018.
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