John 6:59-71 - Three Types of Followers of Christ
(v.59) Jesus’ message was to the synagogue crowd in Capernaum. We read in (v.24) that this is where the people came seeking Jesus, but remember it was for the wrong reason. Even at Jesus’ arrest, when the high priest asked Him about His disciples and His doctrine Jesus said: I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said” (John 18:19-21).
At the close of this chapter, we read about three attitudes that parallel responses we see today.
1. Unsaved Believers—Spiritual Dropouts (v.60-66)
a) Many of His disciples (v.60a)
1) A Disciple is a “learner” or “pupil,” “one who follows one’s teaching”.
(a) There were “disciples” of John the Baptist (Matt. 9:14); Of the Pharisees (Matt. 22:16); & even of Moses (John 9:28).
(b) But in this passage we are looking at the “disciples” of Jesus. Jesus said, “learn from me” (Matthew 11:29). This means that we must spend time with Jesus (Luke 10:38-43).
2) A Disciple is a “follower” of Jesus” (Matthew 4:19; 10:37-38; John 10:27; 21:22)
3) A Disciple “Abides in His Word”(John 8:31). You must believe, then you hold tight to Christ’s teaching.
(a) Holding on to His teaching—“continuing in His Word” as other versions translate it— Perseverance in the obedience to Scripture (Matt.28:19,20) is the fruit or evidence of true saving faith (Eph.2:10).
(b) There are those who believe in Jesus but they have no commitment to Him. You can find the same problem in several other scenes in Scripture (v.66).
(c) When Jesus teaches the parable of the sower He talks about seed falling on rocky soil. This represents people who believe but have no real root, no commitment. When temptation or trial comes, they fall away (see Luke 8:11–15).
4) A Disciple Bears Fruit (John 15:1-8)
5) Some Were Secret Disciples (John 19:38)—For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26)… And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4-5)… For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)… The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25)
b) This is a hard saying, who can understand it (v.60b)?
1) The words “hard saying” mean rough and harsh. It refers to that which is hard to accept, not to what is hard to understand.
2) The people’s problem was not in their understanding, but in their hearts. Jesus said, “take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18), for blessed are those who hear it and keep it (Lk.11:27)
(a) Jesus was demanding a complete allegiance to Him, and demanding that everything else - including literal bread – be put in second place.
(b) The Proper Response To The Word Of God (1 Thess.2:13)
(c) The Resistance To The Word of God (John 8:43) Why was it that they could not understand His speech? It was because they were unwilling to tolerate His teachings.
c) Does this offend you cause you to stumble (v.61)? Is this bothering you? What’s going to happen when you see Me on the cross? When you don’t see Me overthrowing the Roman government.
1) Jesus Didn’t Preach Just To Please His Audience. If that was His concern, He would have taken back what was just said, seeing His audience was offended. Jesus didn’t take it back. He challenged and confronted them even more.
(a) Matthew 11:6 says “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” The Cross of Christ are an offense to sinful unbelieving man (1Cor.1:18-25; 2:14).
2) He’s Referring to the Cross & The Cross was a Stumbling Block to Them.
(a) So when He begins to talk of His cross, they couldn’t handle the concept of the spiritual kingdom of God because they were thinking only in terms of the material.
(b) Jesus said to His disciples, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone” John 16:28)…
(c) “all of you will be made to stumble because of Me” (Matt.26:30-35)… at Jesus’ betrayal and arrest we read, “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.”
(d) We must make sure not to preach a “Life Enhancement Gospel”
d) What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before (v.62)?
1) Jesus is saying, “If all this has offended you, what will you think when you see Me in glory, and have to answer to Me in judgment?” Better to be offended now and to get over it, than to be offended then.
e) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing (v.63). This could well be the “theme statement” for this whole discourse of Jesus. He continually calls us to put our heart and focus, on spiritual realities, not fleshly things. Set your mind on things above. (Rom8:5)
f) The words that I speak (have spoken NASB) to you are spirit, and they are life (v.63)
1) Let the Words Of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).
(a) Jesus said, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ ” (Matt.4:4). Man is fed spiritually by God’s “every word,” and every revealed word of God is found in His written Word, the Bible.
(b) The best bath you can take is to study the word of God. Jesus said “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3)
(c) In His last major public discourse, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).
(d) Jesus proclaimed the essence of the gospel: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).
(e) “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing,” “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). “For I did not speak on My own initiative”… therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me” (12:49–50; cf. 14:24).
g) There are some of you here who do not believe. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him (v.64).
1) Even though Jesus knew who would betray Him, John tells us in Chapter 13 that Jesus still washed the feet of His betrayer
h) … Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father (v.65). Jesus rebuked their own, carnal, fleshly motivation in following Him. If they do not seek Him by the Spirit instead of seeking Him as a walking bakery, then they have not come to Him at all.
i) From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more (v.66).
1) Jesus Effectively Discouraged Every Fleshly Motive For Following Him (Luke 9:57ff).
(a) If we could do the same thing - effectively discourage every fleshly motive for following Jesus - how many would stop following Him in our churches today?
(b) Instead, many churches encourage people to follow Jesus for fleshly motives, promoting Jesus as a “product” to “fix” our life – a “life enhancement” just like bread will fix your hunger.
2) The Lord Will Allow Division In Order To Reveal Spiritual Genuineness (1Cor.11:19).
(a) Church division, ungodly and sinful as it is, nevertheless is used by the Lord to prove the worth of His faithful saints, those who are genuine Christians. Evil helps manifest good.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1Tim.4:1)… “Now the just shall live by faith, But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (Heb.10:38)… “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb 3:12).
2. Firm Determination (v.67-69)
a) Do you also want to go away (v.67)? This is a simple question but one that must have cut deeply into their hearts & minds. Jesus Is Searching The Motives Of All Who Will Follow Him Including the Twelve.
b) Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (v.68).
1) If we have not come to the place where we look to God and say, “Where else would I go?” even in hard or confusing times, then we have not come very far with Jesus. Following Jesus, though is hard at times, is preferred above every alternative.
2) If You Were To Go Back, Where Would You Go?
(a) David said in Psalm 139:7-10: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. Peter spoke for all the apostles. He was their leader and spokesman.
(b) We must be like Paul & count all things loss & press toward the goal (Phil.3)
3. Subtle Deception (v.70-71)
a) Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve (v.70-71)
Standing right in the midst of the chosen men was one who looked and sounded like the most sincere disciple. His name was Judas, a name which has itself become a metaphor for betrayal.
1) Why Was Judas Chosen By Jesus If He Was Going to Betray Him?
(a) Because The Scriptures Foretold It.
John 17:12 cf. Psalm 41:9 tells us this: While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
Judas Was Obviously Never Saved. Judas was placed among the apostles (Acts 1:15-20) because it was essential for him to betray Jesus. God did not force Judas into that betrayal against the man’s will. Jesus even said of Judas that it would have been better for him if he had never been born, because of the choice he made (Matt. 26:24; cf. Luke 22:22). Instead He used Judas’s evil intent to accomplish His own predetermined purposes (cf. Acts 2:23).
(b) It Provided An Opportunity For Christ To Display His Perfections.
When Jesus had come to the earth He Professed: Behold, I have come… To do Your will, O God. ” (Hebrews 10:7). This was a trial for Jesus, because He had to associate Himself with a “tool of the Devil.”
(c) It Gave Occasion To Uncover The Awfulness Of Sin (Matthew 26:14-16)
The greed he evidenced by that act was another indicator of his wicked heart. Driven by disappointment and greed, this most tragic of all men squandered an immeasurable privilege, betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, and damned his soul to hell.
(d) It Supplies The Sinner With A Solemn Warning.
A person may experience the closest possible contact with the Lord Jesus & still not come to Him for Salvation.
(e) It Shows Us There Are Hypocrites In The Church Today (John 12:1-6; 13:2, 26)