Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #295 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading John 6 today and our focus is on What Did Jesus Say That Made His Disciples Immediately Turn Away And Stop Following Him? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Most people are under the impression that ALL of the common, rank and file Jewish people LOVED Jesus and it was only the elites and the spiritual leaders that really struggled with Him. Those people haven’t read the middle chapters of John recently, because John is going to show us situation after situation where the people struggle with what Jesus says and does. And you know what – this should not surprise us at all! Jesus was not a teacher who said things that all of the common normies loved and all of the elite 1 percenters hated. Nope, Jesus pretty much offended everybody at some time or another, because His teaching was radical in many ways, and called commoners and elites to repent and follow Him as Lord – an easy invitation for exactly nobody. In today’s passage, one of the longer in the New Testament, we are going to see Jesus say and teach something – quite intentionally – that drives many, many people away from following Him. We know this teaching drives many people away from Him because of John 6:66, which says, “66 From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him. “
Yes, I too find it interesting that John 6:66, the only 6:66 verse in the Bible (I believe) is about people abandoning Him. Now, does this interesting fact have anything to do with the number of the Beast in the book of Revelation, which is 666? Absolutely nothing whatsoever – the chapter and verse numberings of the Bible came about hundreds of years after each book was written, so this is just an interesting curiosity.
Of far greater importance is what exactly Jesus said that drove HIS DISCIPLES AWAY, and yes, John 6:66 does use the word “disciples” to describe the people that left. Followers of Jesus were called disciples before they were called Christians, and none of Jesus’ 12 disciples, including Judas, turned away from following Him in John 6. But many others did, and they did because Jesus said something that was highly offensive, radical, strange, off-putting, and, well, kind of gross. Don’t believe me? Here it is:
47 “Truly I tell you, anyone who believes has eternal life.48 I am the bread of life.49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die.51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”52 At that, the Jews argued among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves.54 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day,55 because my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.58 This is the bread that came down from heaven; it is not like the manna your ancestors ate—and they died. The one who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:47-58
Wow. You can see why people were shocked, can’t you!? Why did Jesus express Himself this way, and what did He mean by it?
Here is our good friend and reliable helper Charles Spurgeon to help us understand that while Jesus was being quite visceral, He was not being literal – but beyond literal…almost super-literal, or metaliteral.
To us who know the meaning of Christ’s words, it seems monstrous that anyone could have supposed that Jesus meant men to eat His real, literal flesh and to drink His actual blood. The best of literal food only feeds the body for a time, for that body ultimately decays. It is not in the power of food to repair the waste that is continually going on, that the physical system will forever abide firm and strong. This food is food, but it is not “true food.” There are also various kinds of drink that refresh and invigorate the body, and by means of these we are enabled to continue from day to day. But where is the water, where is the crystal fountain that can give immortality? Where is the juice expressed from any fruit that grows beneath the sky that can rid the body of all disease and pain and cause it to live on without end? Among all the many kinds of literal food and drink, there is no food that is worthy to be called “true food,” or any drink that is worthy to be called “true drink.” But the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ, which is expressed by his flesh, is food to our souls, and the great truth of the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, which is expressed by his blood, is the most nourishing cordial to our hearts.
Spurgeon, The Spurgeon Study Bible: Notes (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1432.
Bible Memory passage for the month of October: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
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