Lesson 61: Jesus Answered the Jews in a Synagogue of Capernaum
A Blending of TheFour Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 61. Again, this is a continuation of our last lesson. After Jesus taught his apostles over Galilee; he gave them powers against disease, unclean spirits, taught them what to preach, and sent them out two by two. They returned to Jesus about the time of John's death. Jesus took them to a private place, somewhere near Bethsaida. But, they were interrupted by the crowds. After speaking to the crowd about the kingdom; Jesus fed over 5000 and sent them away. Some had great political ambitions as to how they might use Jesus and thought of forcing him to be a king. Jesus sent the apostles to the boat; but he continued in the mountain alone to pray. The weather did not cooperate. They spent all night traveling only a few miles. Jesus came to them just before daybreak walking on the water. When daylight came they had drifted to land in a place called Gennesaret. After much healing in Gennesaret, Jesus made it back to the synagogue in Capernaum. As our last lesson ended, we were considering a dialogue of Jesus with a group of Jews in a Capernaum synagogue. These Jews had witnessed Jesus feeding the 5000 the day before. Their motive was to profit materially from Jesus' miracles. Jesus established that they DID NOT BELIEVE in Jesus as the messiah. Jesus put them on the spot and in John 6:41-42, they began to murmur. They said he was only the son of Joseph. So, we'll begin this lesson by reading John 6:43-51; which is Jesus' reply to their murmur. In this reading, Jesus repeated several things that he had already said; but, enlarges upon the thought. Let's read, beginning in v.43.
"Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Up in v. 35, Jesus had said, "I am the bread of life." Jesus repeated that thought in v.48. Then, He expanded upon the thought in v.50-51. The whole point comes down to the fact that Jesus spoke allegorically of spiritual bread that gives eternal life. But, it seems that's the part they wouldn't buy. They didn't question the feeding of the 5000 in which they has participated. They even challenged Jesus to bigger miracles or signs as they called them in v.30. And v.26 up above establishes that these very people saw and ate the miraculous meal of fish and barley loaves.
Now, we've talked about this before; but, let me ask you, as food for thought: What did Jesus' miracles prove? Let's go back to the definition. In the study of Christianity, a miracle is an extraordinary event. A miracle is unexplainable in terms of ordinary natural forces. When Jesus took those two fish and five barley loaves and looked up into heaven and gave thanks and the bread and fish expanded or increased to the point that it fed 5000 men plus women and children; THAT was an extraordinary event. You cannot explain THAT by any natural forces. Either (#1), it's the biggest lie that was ever palmed-off on man; or (#2) it involved super-human and super-natural forces. Now, you're a free moral agent. You've got to make up your OWN mind. Is it true, or is it false? It either happened or it didn't. If it didn't happen; then Christianity is the biggest farce ever perpetuated. If it DID happen, then you can't QUESTION that Jesus did miracles. If Jesus DID miracles, then Jesus was super-human. Now, another
question, What is faith? To have faith means to believe. Faith and belief are two ways of saying the same thing. Now, what does it take to produce faith? EVIDENCE! John said he wrote this book as evidence that ye might believe, John 20:30-31. Either you believe it or you don't. Now, IT IS TRUE that faith comes by degrees, i.e. your faith can grow. When you begin to evaluate the evidences you either believe that evidence OR you disbelieve it. As you continue to examine the evidences, your faith either grows or it diminishes. But, you can't vote YES and NO at the same time. Either you must accept it or you must reject it. Either Jesus was God's Son, or he wasn't. If he was just an ordinary man as these murmuring Jews said in v.41 and 42; then he was subjected to the laws of nature and he DID NOT DO miracles. But, NO ONE can straddle the fence; as these precarious Jews were trying do with more than 5000 witnesses. Unfortunately, this is the way we so often find that precarious stuff call the Christian religion, today. Some people say, OH! I'll take a little of the good and the sweet and that which fills my belly; but, I'll reject any part I dislike. But, I submit to you: it's a package. It comes TOGETHER as a unit. Either Jesus Christ was God's Son and was super-human and could feed five thousand miraculously and He was the bread of life as he claimed to be and can raise up those that come to him in the "last day," v.40 and again in v.43 OR he can't. Now, are you ready to vote? You've got a lot hinged on it, your very life and destiny.
In this discussion, I have simply tried to re-say in contemporary terms, what Jesus said in v.43-50; that we just read. Look at it one more time. Jesus said in v.43, "Murmur NOT among yourselves." Do you get the thought? Don't argue about it. Just make up your minds! Then v.44, "No man can come to me, except..." Except what? Except he have faith that Jesus Christ is God's Son, i.e. except the Father draw him, is the wording in v.44. What does that mean? Faith! Faith gives us the power to become! John 1:12. And EXCEPT! Except what? Except Jesus will raise him up at the last day. That's the last of v.44. You see, faith is a prerequisite. Now, look at the last sentence in v.45. "Every man...", how many is that? "Every man THEREFORE" What's "therefore"? Therefore means: here's the conclusion, i.e. based upon what was previously said. "Every man therefore THAT hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." What's he saying? When you've considered the evidence, i.e. scriptural evidence, then there's only one right and reasonable answer and you'll wind up coming to Jesus, if you have an honest and good heart. Now, you see, that's what Jesus said! Remember, this is Jesus speaking. It's what Jesus said to the Jews in a Capernaum synagogue and it what John is conveying to you and me. It's what John wants US to consider, as well. Then, get both eyeballs on v.46. Nobody has seen God. The point is, you see, there are limitations to the evidence we receive. Jesus did not give them the nth degree of evidence. He gave sufficient evidence. We have sufficient evidence that Jesus Christ is God's Son. I suppose no jury ever thinks it has as much evidence as they would like. But, they didn't have the right to demand bigger miracles than Moses did. A miracle is a miracle! All they had to do was establish it was a genuine miracle. It didn't make any difference how big or how small. You see, they were arguing over the magnitude of the miracle. They accepted it as genuine and didn't question that. You and I have less evidence than they had from that point of view; but we've got to vote with the evidence we have. Just like they had to go on the evidence they had. They didn't have the N.T. that you and I have; but they had evidence you see. Now, what you DO is the indicator of your faith. So, what do you say? "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Do you remember that?Matt. 12:37. We'll never get the nth degree of evidence until we're raised up on that last day. But, you've got to make the decision NOW on the evidence you have. Want some more evidence? Study some more! Hear and learn! That's what v.45 says it takes. So, look at the bottom line. Jesus illustrated it like this: just as physical bread sustains physical life; spiritual bread will . sustain spiritual life. In v.48, Jesus said, "I am that bread of life." Then in v.51, "if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever." Then, Jesus looked those Jews straight in the eye and said (same verse), "the bread that I will give is my flesh..." Now, with that 20/20 hind sight, you and I have; we can see that Jesus was talking about his death on the cross. But, you must realize that to those Jews, this was really a prophecy, i.e. foretelling the future. Notice also; that Jesus emphasized at the end of v.51 that this applies to the whole world.
O.K. V.52-59 is essentially a rehash of v.41-51, that we've just covered. Those Jews objected; but, Jesus patiently re-said it again. So, let's do it again. Are you ready? Let's read, beginning in v.52. "The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him as the living father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum."
This is the third time that Jesus re-asserted that proposition that offended the Jews, i.e. that Jesus was the bread of life. Thus, you can see the importance Jesus placed upon this understanding. They did not see Jesus as a divine friend. They saw Him as some wonder-working magician. They pretended that Jesus had done nothing conclusive. But, you can see from v.52 where it says they "strove among themselves" that their thinking obviously varied. Jesus in this third reiteration was much more vivid in his analogy than before. Jesus here said in words the thoughts that he later assigned to the Lord's Supper in symbols. Most of us today have heard this terminology with reference to Jesus' body and blood over and over. Therefore, it is not as startling to us as it must have been to those Jews. They understood the significance of a sacrifice as animal sacrifices were then being offered regularly at the temple. But, those words about drinking blood were far more repulsive to the Jews than to us; because, they were forbidden to even taste of animal blood and the reason given was that the life of the animal was in the blood (Gen. 9:4 and Lev. ch. 17). Of course, when you factor this in, in spiritual terms it means that Jesus was insisting that his very life be imbedded and assimilated in the life of his disciples. And much of the difficulty here was in spiritual thinking -vs- carnal thinking. It seems the Jews resisted any metaphorical thinking on the issue and tried to insist on literal meanings as a way of rejecting Jesus.
Let's read the rest of the chapter, John ch. 6. Beginning in v.60. Are you ready? "Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? .When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; and the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they 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 should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou are that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not Ichosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve."
The disciples that were upset at the thought of drinking blood and eating Jesus' flesh are not identified. You must keep in mind that Jesus "knew what was in man." Thus, Jesus picked up on this quickly when some of his disciples murmured, v.61. Look at the question that Jesus asked them in v.62, "What and if" they were to see Jesus ascend back up to heaven. Would that upset them? You see, this is tied back to their concept of Jesus as a civil ruler and their views and hopes of a temporal kingdom. As incredible as it seems, even the apostles didn't understand this; because one of the last things they asked Jesus, apparently only moments before Jesus ascended in Acts 1:6, reflected this earthly kingdom type of thinking. Notice v.66, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." The words "walked no more with him" carries the idea of disagreement and departure. Did they shake Jesus by their protest? Not in the least! Notice his next question was directed at the twelve, "Will you also go away?" Someone asked the question, what would Jesus have done if all the apostles would have departed too. I'll tell you what he would have said, GOOD RIDDANCE! You see, Jesus don't really need us. We need Jesus; but, Jesus can get along fine without us. Jesus has compassion, YES! You better believe it! But, Jesus followed a prescribed, fore ordained course given by the heavenly Father to win men. If that doesn't win them; they are simply NOT citizens of his kingdom. That's the idea back up in v.37 as well as v.44. It was not some arbitrary selection process. But, notice Peter's response. The captain of the ship, that quick witted, impetuous apostle answered for the group. "Lord to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life." Peter may not have mastered walking on the water; but, he had seen enough, long enough, and strong enough to be totally convinced that Jesus was the messiah. In v.69, Peter said he was SURE, that Jesus was the Christ. That's pretty heavy testimony for us; from a man in a position to know. As you read v.70, remember that Jesus knew what was in man (John 2:25). This was not something foreordained that made a locked in situation. As a matter of fact, the very fact, that Jesus said these things straight out; should have influence Judas to re-evaluate with more depth. You see, John wrote this book many years later; so, v.71 is John's explanation to us. It's not prophecy that locked Judas into a denial. Until our next lesson, have a good day.