Lessons from John’s Gospel, Chapter 6

The Offense of the Gospel

John chapter 6, people are following Jesus around because He has been doing miracles.  He multiplies the loaves & fishes, so then they follow him to get free bread.  He tells them to seek the bread of Eternal Life instead.  They demand that He give them miraculous bread to demonstrate that He is from God.  He notes that their forefathers ate manna from heaven and are all now dead, but that He himself is the true bread of Eternal Life.  Their sensibilities are offended, and many of them quit following him.

I guess Jesus did not relate to his culture very well.  Or could it be that the Gospel is meant to be an offense to the sensibilities of humanity and culture, that we must nevertheless accept in faith to be converted?  Could it be that there is no conversion without offense?

At Odds with ‘Total Depravity’

There is only one “work” we can do to receive salvation, according to the New Testament:  believe.  This principle is clear in an interesting wordplay in John chapter 6.  When Jesus has multiplied the loaves & fishes, people start following him to get free bread.  Jesus tells them, “Do not work for perishable food, but food that endures unto eternal life” (v. 27).  They ask what they can do to “work the works of God” (NIV:  “the work that God requires”).  Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe on whom He has sent” (v. 29).

Then the people go on to demand that Jesus “work” a sign akin to manna from heaven, at which point He tells them that He is the true bread from heaven, and “he that believes in me has eternal life” (v. 47).

© 2013 Paul A. Hughes

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4 Comments on “Lessons from John’s Gospel, Chapter 6”

  1. im4thwrite says:

    I don’t get the subtitle “At Odds, etc.” ? What am I missing?

    • biblequestion says:

      Calvinists teach that Man is so “totally depraved” that he cannot do anything at all to be saved, hence they are hyper-sensitive about any “work” saving us. However, clearly throughout the NT people are told to “believe” in order to be saved. See esp. Romans 10. Christ’s words here in John 6 demonstrate that God does expect one, and only one, “work” by which we may be saved, and that “work” is believing in Christ.

  2. im4thwrite says:

    Thanks for getting back with me on that. I guess I always understood the Reformed (lots of believers I know are in that category) to be saying that faith is simply the “conduit” or the “receiving hand,” and not a work. The analogy some of them gave was when you’re drowning and you grab the life ring (or the life rope from the helicopter, whichever), your grabbing doesn’t in any way count as your saving yourself. Maybe the folks you’re referring to are what’s called the “hyper-Calvinists”? IDK.

    • biblequestion says:

      I think those whom I would call hyper-Calvinist would insist, in terms of the metaphor you state, that man is so depraved (fallen, helpless), he cannot even reach for the life preserver, much less grab onto it.


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