The Words of Eternal Life - John 6:41-71

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 7:17

Three things enter into God's method of saving men. He draws them to Jesus by the Holy Spirit, seeking for willingness in their hearts. He brings the knowledge of Jesus' provision to the willing soul. And He gives eternal life to those who believe. These three things are clearly taught in this lesson, and show God's eagerness to save all men.


John 6:41-50

No man can come to Him except the Father draw him. At first this seems a little hard to understand. It may seem that it relieves men of their responsibility. It may seem to provide an excuse for the umbeliever, for he might argue that he does not believe because he has not been "drawn." But not so, God draws all men. Only a little later Jesus said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (Jno. 12:32). He was lifted up on the cross of Calvary, and so the inevitable conclusion at which we must now arrive, is that He is drawing all men unto Himself. The way in which He does this is easily understood in another statement which He made just before His death. Then He said, "He (the Holy Spirit, the Comforter), when He is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged" (Jno. 16:8-11 R. V.). Without going into the details of the interpretation of this passage one thing is evident. The Holy Spirit is convicting the world. This is the drawing power of the cross of Christ in action. The Holy Spirit is the One Who tugs at the heart of every unsaved man, to lead him to Christ. The fulfillment of this promise may be discerned in the fact that the three things spoken of in this passage are universal in human experience. All men have a very definite sin-consciousness; all realize that there is a standard of righteousness higher than any to which they have attained, even though their standards may vary greatly; and all recognize some responsibility to a higher power. This is the outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit's dealing with their souls. It is the evidence that God is drawing them to Himself. No man can come to Jesus save the Father draw him, but no man is thereby excused from coming, for He is drawing all men. Rom. 2:4, Rom. 2:14-15.

When God finds a willing soul He guarantees that such an one shall know of the doctrine. This is necessary if anyone is to be saved, for though all men are convicted of sin, righteousness and judgment, yet all do not know the Saviour, and they must know Him to be saved. This knowledge comes through the teaching of God's Word, for "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 9:17). Many stories might be told of men who have hungered for peace with God, and who were willing to receive the Saviour, if they could only learn of Him. To all such God has sent the Word, and they have been satisfied. And He will ever do this. He is constantly reaching out for willing souls, and when He finds one He guarantees to get the Word of Life to him, whether he be in easy reach of the message, or whether he be in the heart of heathen Africa. Jno. 7:17, Jno. 4:33. Illustrations: Acts 8:26-37, Acts 11:1-48.


John 6:51-56

Jesus died for all men that all men might live through Him. In His death He bore the sins of all men from Adam to the end of human history. Weak and strong, moral and degenerate, young and old, respected and despised, the needs of all were met in the cross of Christ. "He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed" (Isa. 53:5). In His death Jesus satisfied the claims of God's infinite justice. He received the full measure of the wrath which we deserved because of our sins. He paid the price. He purchased eternal life for all by the shedding of His own blood. The vicarious death of Jesus is the basis of God's drawing men toward Him. Heb. 2:9, I Pet. 2: 24, I Pet. 2:18, I Tim. 4:10, I Jno. 4:14.

Without believing in Him men are hopelessly lost. God is not seeking to lead men to realize that they are all sons of God, for they are not naturally so. But He is leading them to become His children through faith in Jesus. He is not endeavoring to fan into life the "inherent spark of divinity in every man," for there is no •rood thing in the natural man. But He is seeking to impart the Divine Nature to all who ■^vill trust Jesus as their Saviour. His eiiort is not to induce men to emulate the example of Jesus' holy and blameless life, for they could never do that. But He is seeking to lead men to trust Him, and let Him enter into their lives and live out His abounding life there, where nothing but the merest poverty had been before. Only as men believe in Him as their only hope of salvation can God do anything for them. He has made full provision for their needs and is seeking to draw them unto Himself, that He may give them that which He has already provided. He is saying to them, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you" (vs. 53). We can do this only through believing in Him. John 3:15, John 3:3, Gal. 3:26, I John 5:10-12, Rom. 7:18, Heb. 7:26, II Pet. 1:4.


John 6:57-71

Many have mistaken ideas about Jesus' meaning when He said it was necessary to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Some have wickedly taught that the bread and wine which are used in the Lord's Supper actually become His flesh and blood. But this is not so. Nowhere in the Bible does God teach this wicked doctrine. He does teach that these things represent His body and shed blood, and when His children partake of them they are testifying that they have already partaken of the Bread of Life by believing in Him. Still others have swung to another extreme and misinterpreted His words when He said, "The flesh profiteth nothing, the words which I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." They have argued from this that it is the moral teachings of Jesus which must save men, and that His death had nothing to do with it. But not so. The moral teachings of Jesus if divorced from the cross, and its message, could only damn. The very heart of Jesus' teaching was the cross, and in no place is this more evident than in the passage we are studying. He was to shed His blood for the sins of men. His body was to be broken for them. In order for them to receive the life He thus provided they must believe in the Word which God had spoken about Him. They must believe that He did this for them. They must receive Him as Saviour. Titus 3 :5, II Tim. 1:9.

So the life which Jesus provided in His death can he received only through faith in Him. Throughout the Scripture this is what He teaches. If we will just review the few chapters we have studied thus far in the Gospel of John we will find that time and again He says the same thing.

The only condition of receiving His life is faith. Men. must do only one thing — they can do only one thing — and that is to place faith in His finished work, to believe in Him. Then, too, a hasty glance into the rest of the book is sufficient to show that the same thought is indeed a key-thought, for it is repeated over and over again. God has never had any different plan of salvation. It has always been the same. In the Old Testament He teaches that men may be saved by faith in the coming Saviour. In the New Testament they are to be saved by faith in the Saviour Who has already come. John 1:12-13; 3:14-16, 18,36; John 5:24; 6:35, 40, 47; 7:30; 11:25-26 ; 12:44-48.

This teaching is hard for men to receive. It always causes a division. To some it is a savour of life unto life, while to others it is a savour of death unto death. Some believe and are saved, but others scoff, or deny and are lost. But the faith of some, and the unbelief of others while deciding the fate of their souls, does not change the fact that faith is the one thing God requires. This is the basis of His judgment. "He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believed not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (Jno. 3:18). The Gospel divides. It divides between the saved and the lost. As men receive its message they are saved, but those who reject it are lost. So some of the disciples could not receive the message and went away, and Judas, himself, though he did not leave till later, failed to believe and was lost. These were not believers who lost their salvation, for such a thing is not possible. They were people who merely followed Jesus because of His teaching, or His miracles, but who never really believed in Him. So it is possible for one to be a church member, and moral reformer, but never to trust Him. Oh! dear friends, we need to receive Him, if we have not, and when we have received Him we need to urge others to receive Him, too, for in Him alone is everlasting life and joy and happiness! II Cor. 2:15-16, Acts 4:12, I Cor. 1:18, Rom. 12:1-2.