An Overview of John 6
Eric Landstrom 12/1/05
Jesus is addressing two groups of people: The first group is seeking to establish their own righteousness without regards to faith. The second group has received John's baptism and is in a faith relationship with the Father and are awaiting the coming kingdom of God.
Jesus' teachings are disguised. If Jesus revealed himself openly as the Messiah before the hour came this pearl would have been trampled underfoot. Therefore to keep his enemies guessing, Jesus' teachings were intentionally couched--but for those who had a faith relationship, his meaning is plain enough--and even if those in the second group misunderstand, they were free to come forward and ask for clarification like what happens in John 10.
The main reason for the first group's unbelief was they had closed their own eyes to the truth which was given to them by the law and prophets by the Father. Jesus taught in parables so that the spiritual among his audience would be stimulated to inquire further while the disinterested and enemies would remain in the dark. Finally, Jesus' thrust was that true faith and true religion flows from a relationship with the Father.
In John 6 only those Israelites with discernment stemming from a faith relationship first with the Father would be able to understand his teachings. You see this beginning in John 3 with Nicodemus who comes to Jesus and knows that Jesus is of God because of the signs he does. Jesus' cryptic reply to Nic's questions was that a person cannot even see the signs unless he is born again and to see the kingdom of God one must be born again to understand its secrets.
Then in John 4 Jesus teaches in parables of spiritual things and his audience does not understand and are puzzled when he speaks of living water, his meat, and the harvest.
Things begin coming to a head in John 6: Jesus' audience misunderstands the feeding of the five thousand but Jesus goes on to explain that he is the bread of life. To this remark they murmured among themselves because they were looking at the subject from a natural sense and not the spiritual sense Jesus spoke in. Then Jesus in 6:43-45 states his case plainly for those with eyes to see and ears to hear: No man can come to Jesus unless they first have a faith relationship with the Father because you must have faith in order to hear.
The pattern continued in John 6:47: his audience is still trying to understand relying on their own strength and intellect and Jesus goes onto explain that it is the Spirit and not the flesh that brings life and understanding (6:63).
And while Jesus teaches this he also knows that not all will believe and will come to reject and betray him. To them he says:
But there are some of you that believe not....Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father (John 6:64-65).
The reason was he wanted them to go to the Father and learn from him for the law and prophets would reveal the Son.
Jesus reinforces the same idea when he teaches in the Temple saying:
My teaching is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself (John 7:16-17).
For those Jews who truly sought God s will, to them God would reveal Jesus meaning. And for those who did not, who had closed their eyes they didn t get it because they didn t go to either the Father or the Son for explanations.
Because Jesus couches his teaching so as to not reveal himself to his enemies before the hour came, John can be a little hard to understand but once the major thrust of the narrative is understood understand, exegesis becomes easy and John become a veritable gold mine of wisdom, food for the soul, and theology.
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