John 6:60–71: The Preservation of Jesus
Although both John 5 and John 6 narrate the rejection of Jesus, these two chapters give us very different kinds of rejection. Among the Judeans in John 5, we see Jesus against the world, so that not even the man whom Jesus heals seems that interested in following Jesus. In John 6, however, the rejection of Jesus comes not from hostile enemies, but from people who have eagerly followed and sought out Jesus (John 6:2, 24). The narrative of John 6, then, does not primarily offer a judgment against the most outwardly rebellious, but a warning to those who are following Jesus, urging us to continue following Jesus, even when following him becomes hard. Instead of reading any longer about the rapid expansion of Jesus followers, we see here the pruning and sifting out of those who discover that Jesus is not who they thought he was.
Still, this passage does not drive us to despair, wondering if we are strong enough to resist the temptation of walking away from Jesus. In the final analysis, this is a passage about the way in which Jesus preserves his people rather than how we muster up the strength to drag ourselves across the finish line. To those who do not genuinely believe, Jesus’ words are scandalous and offensive, but that is not the case for Jesus’ own. For those who believe, Jesus’ words are spirit and life, assuring us of the reality of our faith, and driving us away from the possibility of apostasy. The message of John 6:60–71 is this: Jesus graciously preserves his people by promises, assurances, and warnings.
1. How is the message of Jesus scandalous in today’s context? Where do you find yourself shying away from proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ with your friends, family, co-workers, schoolmates, and neighbors?
2. What does it look like to live by every word that comes from the mouth of Jesus? Describe a time when Jesus’ promises to you were precious.
3. Do you have assurance of your salvation? If so, on what grounds? If not, what keeps you from resting in the promises that Jesus makes to all those who look on him in faith?
4. How do Jesus’ warnings of apostasy sound to you? Do they drive you to despair? To apathy? To faith?