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The New Testament Commentary Vol Iii John by B.W. Johnson

Jesus the Bread of Life.

The reader should note the progressive revelation of the divine majesty of Christ as unfolded by John. In the temple at his first passover, he asserted his authority over his |Father's house;| at his second passover he demonstrated his power over diseases and gave intimation of his coming dominion over the grave; in his miracle of the loaves and fishes he revealed the secret that his hand gave the increase of the earth and seas, while the quelling of the storm on Galilee showed that the winds and the seas obeyed his voice. In the discourse that follows he proclaims himself the Bread of life.

After the feeding of the 5,000 the apostles embark in their boat; Christ goes up into the hills to pray; the people linger awhile for his return, then conclude that he has returned to Capernaum, and go back to Capernaum themselves; on the following Sabbath morning he enters the synagogue; their astonishment at his approach is great; they break out in questioning, How did you get here? His answer diverts them from mere astonishment to a serious consideration of spiritual truth: |Ye are seeking me, not because of the evidence I have given of my divine commission, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled. Labor not for the meat (food) that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.| -- Abbott. This gives occasion for one of the remarkable discourses that occur so frequently in John's gospel. There is no reason to believe that we have more than a condensed report. The whole discourse can be read in five minutes, and it is likely that the Savior occupied much more time in its delivery. (Joh 6:22)

22. The day following. The day after the miracle, when five thousand were fed, and after the night storm on the sea of Galilee. |The people who had stood on the other side and been fed,| remained awhile because there were no other vessels, and the more willingly, because they raw that Jesus had not gone with his disciples. (Joh 6:23)

23. There came other boats from Tiberias. Tiberias was the largest city on the sea, built by Herod, and named after Tiberius Cæsar. Herod Antipas usually occupied it as his capital. It was a place the Lord never entered, though often near it. It is explained that vessels came from there to the place where Christ had fed the five thousand, by which many of them returned to Capernaum. Others had probably dispersed to the neighboring towns and villages, but Capernaum was |on the other side of the sea.| (Joh 6:24)

24. Came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. As they did not see the Lord longer on the eastern shore, they sought him at the place where he made his home. These seekers were deeply impressed by the miracle of the day before, and were among those who would have made him king. They were eager to again And him, follow him, be fed by him, and partake of his glory. (Joh 6:25)

25. Rabbi, when camest thou hither? While they had come to Capernaum seeking him, they were astonished to find him there. He had not crossed the sea with his disciples; he had not come with them; how and when did he come? Of course they had not seen him walking the waves in the darkness. (Joh 6:26)

26. Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles. The Savior reveals to them the true motives which induced them to seek him. They may not have been aware themselves of the fact that they were led by selfish purposes, a desire of temporal benefits. They followed him, not because they saw in him |that prophet who should come into the world,| but because he supplied their lowest needs. Henry says: |Not because he taught them, but because he fed them; not for love, but for loaves. Thus do all who seek in religion secular advantages and follow Christ for the sake of secular preferments.| People are more clamorous for earthly bread, than anxious concerning food for their souls. (Joh 6:27)

27. Labor not for the meat that perisheth. The Savior does not prohibit laboring for food, but making the acquisition of food and worldly things the leading object of life. He means: Do not manifest a chief anxiety for bodily food, for the food that perishes with the using, but rather seek the meat that endureth to eternal life. The food of the soul; the Bread of Life. He had discoursed with the woman at Sychar of that which imparted eternal life to the soul under the similitude of water: he here speaks of the same things under the similitude of food. Our Lord bids us work for the food of eternal life. How few are doing it! This food he declares that the Son of Man will give. Him hath the Father sealed. Sealing is the mark of approval, of authority. A legal document must bear the seal of the State to give it force. The Father had commissioned, authorized, and stamped his seal upon the work of the Son. His miracles were a divine seal. In the East a document was always authenticated by the seal of the maker, instead of by the signature of a name, as with us. (Joh 6:28)

28. What shall we do, that we might work the works of God. These seekers of Christ are eager for more information. He had bidden them work for the food of eternal life. What works then shall they do that they may please God and receive the divine gift? The word work had impressed their minds. They had been painfully keeping the law and the rabbinical precepts in the hope that thus they should do the works of God. If, however, there was something more, if Jesus had requirements that would impart to them a share in the kingdom, they wished to know of them. Their question shows a teachable disposition. (Joh 6:29)

29. This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They are startled by hearing that to please God the first requirement is faith in Christ. This is |the work of God| that pleases him. |Without faith it in impossible to please God.| It is not works, but one work, that is required, a faith that will enable them to lay hold upon, follow in all things, and appropriate to the souls, him who is the Bread of Life. From such faith would spring a Christlike life. Pharisees, Romanists and Pagans have ever sought to |do the works of God| by pilgrimages, penances, vows, and mortifications. So Luther thought to do as he climbed on his knees up Pilate's staircase at Rome, and heard the words coming to him like the voice of God: |The just shall live by faith.| (Joh 6:30)

30. What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? He had pointed to himself as the object of faith, making his claim such as had never been made by mortal man. He had spoken of his seal, or sign. They ask now for a sign. The miracle of the day before had excited their surprise, but had not yet satisfied them that eternal life was to be found by believing in him as the Son of man sent by God. What mighty work can he do that will carry conviction? (Joh 6:31)

31. Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness. He may have fed a few thousands on the day before, but what was that to the feeding of the whole host of Israel for forty years in the wilderness? Is he as great a leader as Moses in whose time the manna fell? The sign they suggest shows that Christ had read their hearts when he said that they sought him because of the loaves and fishes. (Joh 6:32)

32. Moses gave you not that bread from heaven. It was not Moses, with whom they were disposed to compare him, that furnished the manna in the wilderness, but the Angel of the Lord. This Angel of the covenant is supposed, from Malachi 3:1, to have been Christ. If so, not Moses, but |the prophet like unto Moses,| was the dispenser of the bread from heaven, that sustained old Israel while journeying to the Promised Land. He still feeds the Israel of God on its way to the heavenly Canaan. My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. The true bread is not the manna. That perished like all earthly food. The true bread is for the soul instead of the body. It satisfies the soul's hunger and keeps it alive. The Father gives it by sending the Son, the true Bread of Life. Of the true bread the manna was a type. (Joh 6:33)

33. The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven. He here defines the marks of the true bread: 1. It comes from heaven; 2. It bestows life upon the soul and sustains it; 3. It is for the world, not for a single race. The manna did not last longer than a single day; all who ate it died; it was for a single nation. These things are not true of the bread of God. God feeds his people, not with bread made on earth, but prepared by his own hands from heavenly materials. (Joh 6:34)

34. Lord, evermore give us this bread. One cannot fail to see the resemblance to the case of the woman of Sychar. There the emblem is water, here bread; there Christ offers water that will permanently satisfy the soul's thirst, here food that satisfies its hunger; there the woman asks for this water, here they ask for this bread, not yet fully comprehending what it is. Like Ponce de Leon, who sought the fountain of immortal youth in Florida, they thought that this food would literally make them immortal and eagerly clamored for such a boon. (Joh 6:35)

35. Jesus says, I am the bread of life. They ask for this bread. He answers, It is here; I am that bread. The work of God is that you receive it by believing upon him whom he hath sent. He that cometh to me shall never hunger. He that cometh shall not hunger; he that believeth shall not thirst. It is thus shown that faith is the power that brings us to Christ. We come to him by believing. They who thus come will have their souls satisfied, and they who abide with him shall not hunger or thirst more. |Coming| and |believing in| are clearly equivalent to |eating| and |drinking.| (Joh 6:36)

36. I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. They had asked a work in order that they might believe, which was a confession of their unbelief. They ask for the bread of life, but they can only partake of it by believing in him. He therefore points out the one obstacle to obtaining what they had just asked for. (Joh 6:37)

37. All that the Father giveth me will come to me. Christ here, as elsewhere, shows that the power is of the Father. The Jews may reject him, but all whom the Father gives, of every race, will come to him. The whole body of believers, Gentiles as well as the Jews, are given to the Son by the Father. Christ is God's gift to men, but the believers are his gift to Christ. |The gift of the Father must not be understood of a predestinating decree. Here, and in other passages, when we read of God giving his Son to his people it is the moral and spiritual state of the heart that is thought of under the word. This state of heart by which they are induced to listen to the voice of Jesus is due to God alone.| Schaff. I will in no wise cast out. Every one that cometh is sure of a hearty welcome. No suppliant, however humble or despised, is rejected. (Joh 6:38)

38. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will. Christ will refuse none who come to him; all such are given by the Father and he came to do the Father's will. He did not come to choose such followers only as were congenial to him, nor to follow his own inclinations, but to do the Father's will, which was that he should save the world. All was to be subordinated to this purpose. (Joh 6:39)

39. That of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing. He would not cast out any one coming to him, for such were given of the Father, and his will was that the Son should lose none of those given, but should raise every soul at the last day. Whoever receives the Son hath life eternal, and at the last day the Son raises such because they have eternal life. Those |given,| |come| to Christ, but they must |abide| in him, if they would continue to live. (Joh 6:40)

40. This is the will of the Father. The will of the Father is paramount. That will is that |every one who sees the Son and believes upon him,| thus coming to, following and abiding in him, feeding upon him as the soul's food, should have eternal life, and that in the resurrection day Christ should raise him from the grave. These verses show, 1. That there is not any secret decree of election. The will of the Father applies to every one who believes upon the Son.2. The condition of eternal life is a faith that leads to and appropriates Christ; that makes him the Lord of the soul.3. Christ hath brought to light immortality. He is |the resurrection and the life.| He says, |I will raise him at the last day.| He is the life of the world, and in eternity all will praise him as the true Bread of Life that came down from heaven.

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