The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ

By Johann Peter Lange

Edited by Rev. Marcus Dods







Jesus’ discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum concerning the manna from heaven

(Joh 6:22-71)

Jesus had remained behind on the north-eastern shore of the sea for the express purpose of dismissing or sending home the people. If we bear this in mind, we cannot possibly see in the multitude which afterwards was waiting for Him on the sea-shore, and as soon as possible followed Him to Capernaum, the entire crowd of people whom He had fed in the wilderness. For in that case we should have to suppose that the words with which He dismissed the people had been of no avail. We surely have much more right to suppose that His command was obeyed by the more intelligent and pious amongst them. And if yet a crowd remained behind, which hindered His free movement, we must suppose that this was only a remnant of that multitude which had been fed, and that, too, a crowd of the most exalted fanatics, a rabble of obtrusive Chiliasts, who believed they had found in Him the bread-king that they wanted. Indeed, it is of such a crowd that the Evangelist John makes mention;—a crowd which had kept its ground, remained firm together, on the opposite shore until the next morning after the miraculous feeding. They then get into a state of especial excitement. They saw that the disciples had set sail alone, whilst Jesus had remained on that side of the sea. And they also know quite well that yesterday evening only one vessel had been there on the shore, that one in which the disciples had set sail. Therefore, in their opinion, Jesus must be still in that neighbourhood. And yet they can nowhere find Him. Hence they at length come to the conclusion, that in some way or another He must have followed His disciples, and was again to be found with them. And when, towards morning, other vessels from Tiberias arrived, not far from where the miracle had taken place, they perhaps imagined that He had made use of one of these ships. At any rate, they themselves now made use of this opportunity to cross over to Capernaum. There is no difficulty to be found in this statement, unless we entertain the notion, that that whole multitude of five thousand men must have rapidly crossed over in ships. But that is not what is said. The question is only respecting transport-ships for a body of men which had remained behind.

These people found the Lord really at Capernaum, and asked Him when He had come thither. Jesus found it necessary to treat these vulgar intruders quite differently from the way in which He was usually wont to treat the crowds who came to Him needing help. The discourse which followed upon this meeting between Himself and a crowd of unteachable hearers, is composed of three very distinct parts, which we must carefully observe if we would rightly estimate the full vividness and historical truth of the train of thought which runs through this discourse. First of all, Jesus dealt with the excited body of Chiliasts which was persecuting Him (25-40). But His last words to them concerning the heavenly manna, which in His person had come down from heaven, caused a murmuring and an angry feeling amongst the Judaizing or pharisaical party, so that He was led further to explain Himself in reference to His words against these murmurers. This explanation He gave to His opposers in the synagogue at Capernaum, in a discourse which He held there (vers. 41-59). But His explanation went so deep, and uttered so concretely and with such sharp distinctness the truth, that He with His flesh and blood is the world’s true living Bread, that now many even of His followers took offence at His words, and left Him (vers. 60-66). But we see that this turn in affairs was no matter of surprise to the Lord. Rather it now appeared to Him necessary to make a severe sifting amongst His followers, even down to the Twelve, in order to obviate the thrusting in upon Him of insincere followers, in order to accomplish the remainder of His pilgrimage as noiselessly as possible, and in order to prepare a fitting foundation for a holy Church. Hence He proved even His disciples with strong words (vers. 66-71). This intention must explain the whole character of the words of Jesus which are here uttered.

To the question of these impertinent vulgar intruders as to when He had come to Capernaum, Jesus returned no answer. With solemn asseveration He declared to them that He knew that they had sought Him not because His feeding of them was a sign, but because that sign had been a feeding; as He sharply expressed it: ‘because they did eat of the loaves, and were filled.’ It is obvious to suppose that these men, to whom the Lord was constrained to speak thus, could only have been the refuse of the real family which had been fed. He exhorts them that they should not be so concerned to seek for earthly, perishable bread, meat which in itself is perishing, but should make it their aim to obtain meat which endureth unto everlasting life. If only they desire to have that, He at once graciously declared to them that He Himself, as the Son of man, has this meat to bestow. For, He assures them, His Father, God Himself, has put His seal upon Him,—simply His seal; therefore, surely, the seal of His own life and being, the seal of the eternal life contained in Himself and giving life to the world; not merely the seal (we will say) of His Messianic credentials. They now understand that they are to attain the right object by an act of proper religious behaviour towards Him. But now they want to make a lawgiver of Him; He is to tell them what they must do that they may work the works which shall be well-pleasing to God. But He recalls them from the way of many works to the way of the one work of God, from doing to believing. They must believe on Him whom God has sent. They, on the contrary, now require that He should accredit Himself by a sign, by a miraculous sign, which they could see with their eyes. And thus they come back to their bread interests. They give Him plainly to understand what it is they really want by the remark: ‘Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat’ (Psa 78:24). Some have been surprised that they could thus speak. Had not, then, Christ given them a great sign through His miraculous feeding of them? Was not this a greater sign than the providing of the nation with manna? Those who question thus quite forget the account which Christ here gives of the character of these people. One plainly sees that they really have been fed by Him in a miraculous manner, for they rely upon His supporting them just as Moses did their fathers; but the fact is, they will not have anything less from Him. He is only to continue in the path on which He has entered, and always to support them; and even thus far He is to carry the miracle, that He shall not confine them to natural, earthly bread, but shall cause bread to come down from heaven, as Moses did. This is what they are aiming at; and from this Jesus again leads them back to the necessity of true life, by declaring to them that Moses had not given them bread from heaven, namely, the real Bread of life, but that this it was which His Father was now meaning to bestow upon them. The true Bread of God is a bread coming down from heaven, giving life to the world. Now they are ready to take Him at His word according to their sense of it: they immediately desire that He would evermore give them this bread. He, however, once for all closes the way against their carnal importunities by declaring: ‘I am the Bread of life, the nourishment of real life; he that comes to Me shall never hunger, ay, and he who believes on Me shall never more be tormented with thirst.’ Yet He laments over them, that they will not come to this feast of life, since they have already seen Him long enough (ἑωράκατέ με), and yet would not believe. Thereby they seem to be frustrating His mission to be the Bread of life to the world, and they perhaps allow the idea to rise up in their minds that He is dependent upon them. But they must not entertain such a delusion as that. He declares to them that, for all that, His people will come to Him; all that His Father has given or assigned to Him shall safely come to Him. God’s decree will have its way. But they are not to suppose that by this He requires an unattainable state of discipleship, lying beyond human determination, distinguished by fatalistic predicates. Rather He declares to them, that let a man only come to Him, and he shall be welcomed by Him; for, for this cause has He come down from heaven, has He quitted His purely ideal position in the universe, and entered into historic rapport with humanity, not to do His own will (according to His position taken in its supermundane idea), but to do His Father’s will (in His historic position). And just this is His historic mission, that He should lose nothing of all that the Father has given Him—that He should save all, whatever is man or belongs to the human race, even the least and the most sinful, and at the last day should produce it all complete in the glory of the resurrection. But from this desire of God to save men from destruction, there is further unfolded the will to bestow eternal life upon them through their seeing the Son and believing in Him. At the last day, when the former fashion of the world shall pass away, then shall these saved ones rise beyond all time into new freshness of life for evermore. These words of Christ’s were quite adapted to these hearers, hard and obscure though they seem. For in their beggarly pride they were intrusively offering themselves as His followers, who, under certain conditions—that, for example, of being daily fed with miraculous bread—were willing to believe and obey Him. It must be told them, on the contrary, that He receives His followers only at the hand of His Father. If the Father did not give them to Him, that is, if they did not come to Him by God’s pure inward drawing, they could not become His. Yet for all that, He would not despise their poverty or their wretchedness. Therefore He expresses Himself strongly: ‘He who will only come to Me, I will in nowise cast out.’ Therein lay the declaration, that it is not exactly a question concerning sanctifying and glorifying according to His own ideal sense of the beauty of men’s behaviour; rather, He has come down from heaven in that deep humiliation of His to fulfil His mission of saving men; and whatsoever will only allow itself to be saved by Him (πᾶν ὅ), that He will preserve to the last day. But in this salvation is contained eternal life. And in this sense it is that He desires to be their supporter, their living bread; He Himself desires to become their eternal nourishment for eternal life, if only they will receive Him.

It is possible that these words of Jesus may have aroused to anger the judaizing spirit even amongst this vulgar herd. But probably they were hierarchical Jews, assembled in the synagogue at Capernaum for the worship of God, who now begin as listeners to express in murmurs their displeasure at His being the true Bread come down from heaven. This Jesus is the son of Joseph, they say; His origin is well known, both His father and His mother. How, then, could such an one assert that He was come down from heaven? The exhortation with which Jesus rebukes these whispering murmurers—ʻMurmur not among yourselves!ʼ—is not, we may imagine, merely a dissuasion from the act of murmuring, viewed in itself. Rather in their whispering and murmuring amongst themselves was shown that narrow party spirit in which one strengthens the other in his bigotry, prejudice, and fanatical excitement. If they will let themselves be so schooled and in fluenced by party spirit, they cannot really come to Him. He who is willing to come to Him, He continues, must allow Himself to be drawn by His Father, and in the resurrection He will restore to him the glory of his life (even though, through his devotion to Him, he might perhaps have to lose it now). Such an one must not allow himself to be fettered by party spirit, but independently, and individually, must allow himself to be taught by God in heaven, according to the meaning of that prophecy: ‘They shall be all taught of God’ (Isa. 54:13; Jer. 31:33, 34). For such scholars of God among them He looks round. Te who, as such a scholar, hears low utterances of the Father, He goes on to say, and allows himself to be taught by them, such an one, He is sure, will come to Him, Amongst these pious scholars of God, it is true, there is not one who has arrived at the sight of God. ''o One only is this given, to Him who is ever with God, who ever dwells in the perfect consciousness of God. And therefore it is that He is also the Bread of life, the Fountain-Head of life, through whom all believers of God must receive eternal life, even to beholding God. In this sense, He explains to them, He calls Himself the Bread of life.

This saying the Lord now desires to explain to them hy returning to the comparison between the power of life which He imparts, and the manna of their fathers,

‘Their fathers ate that manna, and yet they died.ʼ Consequently they had only eaten of the typical bread from heaven, and not of the true Bread from heaven.

For the sign of the true Bread from heaven must be, that he who eats it is delivered from death.

But His life, He tells them, has this effect. He is that life-giving Bread, He says, which is ever descending from the heaven of eternal, essential relations, and imparting itself to all who are fitted to receive it. He therefore who arrives at the participation in His life shall live for ever.

Hitherto He had set forth His personal life itself as the principle of life to the world. But He had already declared that He imparts Himself to life-craving men by having come down from heaven, and ever continuing to come down, i.e., by continually entering into fellowship with the world and its sufferings. This thought He now further unfolds by pointing to the object of His self-devotion: ‘The bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world’ This is evidently a reference to His death, in which His devotion of Himself to the world’s welfare finds its completion. In His life He is the Bread which the Father gives to those in the world who are fitted to receive it; in His death He gives Himself completely away to the world as its Bread of life.

The world as a whole consumes Him, draws Him into her life of death ; but by that means His quickening flesh, which is one with His spirit, the energizing quickening being of His spirit and body, imparts itself to the world, and restores to her life.

Christ’s last. expression excited the Jews afresh. They begin to dispute concerning the question, how far this word can possibly have a reasonable meaning. Some might be inclined to search out the deep meaning of the word; but others would fain have it at once regarded as nonsense, with the remark: ‘How can this man give us His flesh to cat?’ Upon this, Jesus saw fit to address to them words the strongest and most difficult. For that proud spirit which thinks it understands everything whilst it will and can understand nothing, He confronts, in conformity with His pure nature, with the most mysterious utterances. It is a false principle of weak or perverted philanthropy, that of desiring that matters of faith should be made acceptable to crooked, falsely critical minds, by every possible dilution and softening down of their meaning. ‘To such dispositions Truth, on the contrary, makes use of the strongest, loftiest expressions, in order to bring the process of mutual influence, which tends to no good, to a prompt conclusion. Mystery veils itself before the scorner, by confronting him in the richest gorgeousness of its symbolism, of its symbolic expression, and departing from him. Thus in the richest symbolical utterances Jesus now declares the truth that His life is the principle of life to the world.

In the first proposition, Jesus, with His well-known asseveration, declares: ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you’—ye are already dead! This is the mark of a man’s being dead, when he cannot appropriate to himself the life of Jesus in its entire actuality as his spiritual or inward nourishment of life; or when, on the other hand, his life's nourishment does not become the body and blood of Christ through a reference to Him as the Principle of all life, of all ideal relations of the world. When a man lays hold of the world in its ideal nature, in the true essential relations of its being—therefore also in its highest relation, which is its relation to Christ,—then will it at once become to him the body and blood of Christ, and he partakes of that which nourishes true life. But in a more proper sense he actually partakes of the body and blood of Christ, when the whole personality of Christ, all the facts of His life, and especially His death, become the pure, spirit-quickening nourishment of his real being. And then, finally, he partakes of the body and blood of Christ in a determinate form, when the word concerning the life and death of Christ becomes to him one with the thus consecrated element of the real nourishment of life itself. In these several steps of partaking, he proves that he is alive in his soul; and through the quickening of such a partaking, he continues to live more and more.

The second proposition is stronger still: ‘Whoso thus, strictly speaking, eateth (τρώγων) My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. Here the partaking of the body and blood of Christ appears as a yet more distinct, and indeed as a continual partaking. It is the condition of all true life of man: eternal life now, and resurrection hereafter, proceeds directly from Him. Hereby it is declared that communion with the life of Jesus, the contemplation of His being, the consideration of His word, the entering into His death, becomes to the believer the highest and most especial nourishment of his life, so that the enjoyment of Christ glorifies every enjoyment of life, and becomes more and more identical therewith. And when his Christianity has thus become to the man his highest enjoyment of life, and all his nourishment of life has come to be connected with Christ, then he has the consciousness of eternal life; for he is one now with the Principle of life of the eternal world, and moves in the eternal relations of this life; his life continually proceeds from Christ and towards Christ, and moves around Him, just as the planet revolves round the sun. Therefore he is assured that out of all depths of physical death he will, by virtue of becoming one with Christ, be through Him drawn forth again into the light of life.

The third proposition completes this declaration. Christ says: ‘My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.’ Nothing but the one is meat in the true or real sense, namely, as imparting true life; nothing but the other is drink in eternal significance, refreshment of heavenly life. So long as a man does not partake of the body and blood of Christ,—that is, does not live, breathe, and ye receive health and strength, in the real ideal relations of the world to Christ, and through Christ to God,—his hunger of life must continue in spite of all earthly food, his thirst of life in spite of all drink, And the test proving that he really partakes of the body and blood of Christ, is, whether he abides in Christ, that is, in an inward, conscious relation of being to Him, and whether Christ abides in him—whether he confidently feels within him the priestly-royal presence of Christ, and allows it to govern.

It is plain that Jesus has here shadowed forth in a symbolical form the eternal, ideal communion which begins with the Christian’s life of faith, but which will be fully realized only in His kingdom (Luke xxii. 16, 18, 30). In general, its first beginnings are everywhere to be where the real in the ideality of His life, where the ideal of His Gospel in the reality of man’s participation of it, where the conjunction of the Gospel with some sign exhibited in human action, forms a sacramental celebration. Such conjunctions between the spiritual and the sensuous, which give to the word of salvation a phenomenal representation in the element of a human participation, have from the very first taken place, because all along the word has belonged to the world, and the world to the word. ‘They have at all times set forth the second positive sacrament of the kingdom of God, the sacrament of life’s glorification,—such as attaches itself to the first or negative sacrament, the sacrament of life's sacrificing. ‘The positive sacrament of the first man was at first paradise ; afterwards it was the treading under his foot of the serpent’s seed. Noah found his positive sacrament in his deliverance from the flood, and in the rainbow; Abraham, in the stars of heaven, and in the sand of the sea-shore,—afterwards in receiving, and in then receiving back again, his son Isaac. The people of Israel found it in the Passover. ‘lhe Church of Christ finds it in the life and death of Christ, in His body and blood. But the participation of His body and blood may be spoken of in a threefold sense. First, it is the essential participation of all the fulness of spirit and life which lies in His life and death, Then it is the entrance into the world of relationship to Christ, in which world

all sensuous experience becomes a participation of the body and blood of Christ—the mystical, eternal supper of believers. But, finally, it is especially also the participation of the holy Supper, which is appointed to show forth Christ's death, to foreshadow the ideal participation of His life, and which thus presents that fulness in symbolical distinctness. The holy Supper, it is true, was therefore afterwards brought prominently forward from out of this worldembracing feast of the kingdom, to be the more definite and the sacramental representation of it. But on this very account it is not the Lord's Supper in any particular sense of the term which is here spoken of, because the words relate to the whole form of the world as brought into relationship with Christ, out of which Christ at His death made to issue forth the institution of His Supper; or else there is only a reference here to the Lord’s Supper in the like sense as, in the history of the flood, there is a reference to the institution of baptism. In baptism there sounds a note responsive to the flood which buried the former race of men; and thus also, in the Lord’s Supper, there is a consonance with, and a foreshadowing sign of, that great communion, reaching beyond time into eternity, wherein Christ, as the Principle of life to the world, has changed all the human elements of the world into His flesh and blood, through the sanctifying power of His death, through the leaven of His body and blood ; and wherein every participation of it becomes a blessed consciousness of His God-man’s Being.1

We are forced to this explanation of the words of Christ, in their most comprehensive and deepest christological significance, by the doctrine concerning the Logos at the beginning of the Gospel, and by the analogies ‘of kindred passages. ‘hus, m the third chapter, Christ appears as the Principle of all human deliverance and renovation ; in the fourth, as the Principle of all human contentment ; in the fifth, as the Principle of all reanimation. Here He is the Principle of all true preservation and nourishment of life.

Now Christ adds a short, but luminous word in explanation of His deep sayings. He says, that like as He derives the energy of His human life from the fact that He is sent by the life-giving Father, that He lives through Him—being purely by Him upheld and borne as the counterpart of His life, so likewise they who partake of His life as the truest nourishment of their life, are through Him upheld in life—are renewed and quickened by the principle of life in Him. As certainly as God is the Source of life, so also is Christ, inasmuch as He continues to be Himself the manifestation of God, the Fountain of life in the world, in which is concentrated all the revealed life-giving power of God. And as certainly as Christ is this Fountain of life, so surely must he who makes his life wholly dependent upon Him, and allows it to be penetrated by Him, abide in the kingdom of life.

After this, Christ once more pronounces the word which He has explained, as the Gospel with which He invites to Himself hungry souls of every sort, which condemns in all its wretchedness and perversity every false pang of hunger, especially the chiliastic desire for a kingdom of a never-failing supply of fleshly bread and enjoyment: ‘This is the bread which cometh down from heaven,’ This bread is not like the manna which their fathers ate, and which could not prevent, them from dying, ‘He that eateth of this bread shall live for ever’

The Evangelist tells us that this discourse, which Jesus made in the synagogue of Capernaum, offended even many of His disciples ; the word disciples being here used in its wider sense. ‘This is a hard’—an offensive, objectionable— saying,’ they said; ‘who can hear it?’ What was it they found so unbearable in His statement? Was it this, that He set Himself forth as the centre of life to the world ? or was it that He spoke of His death, the dissolving of His life into flesh and blood? or finally, was it that He set forth His flesh and blood in seemingly so sensuous a meaning, as being the highest and most needful nourishment of life? The answer of Jesus must furnish us with the explanation. His spiritual ear perceived their murmuring. ‘Doth this offend you?’ He asked them. ‘What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?’ This obscure saying has had quite opposite interpretations given to it.

We must take into account, that here at last it is altogether the disciples of Jesus who are spoken of. Next, that Jesus assumes the ease that they will see Him ascend up to where He was before, therefore to the Father; a case which can only then be realized when they gaze after Him with the eyes of faith. From this it surely follows, that He does not mean that at that time they will be more offended, but that then they will cease to be offended. How shall they certainly know that He has ascended to the Father in heaven? Through the Spirit, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Not until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit shall the disciples be quite sure of Christ’s having ascended up, of His having reached His Father in glory.2 Thus His Ascension to heaven, as confirmed by the Holy Spirit, is to be a key which shall explain His earlier words that had offended them, and do away with their offence. And how is it calculated to do that? When His Spirit is poured out, then shall they first know from experience that He is the centre of life, from which must proceed the quickening Spirit which restores to the flesh of the unspiritnalized world, which in itself profits nothing, the true life. But then also shall they know from experience this, that it was necessary that He should pass through death, and withdraw from them His sensible presence, in order by His Spirit to impart to them life. And finally, it shall become clear to them how it is His Spirit which, through His quickening, transforming power, shall prepare for them out of the elements of the earthly world, which without that would also be an unprofitable substance, the nourishment of His body and blood. This, then, they shall one day know, that He is the true Manna, that acts in a threefold way betwixt heaven and earth ; first descending, in the power of His God-man’s person, down to the deepest depths of the world’s distress, and offering Himself up for the world, even to the surrendering of His flesh and blood; then ascending in His glorified individuality; finally, returning again in the outpouring of the fulness of His Spirit, in order to glorify His life and death to be the true Bread of spirit and life to the world. This Bread of life is just what they are wanting in, what mankind is wanting in. Their spiritual being is void of life; their corporeal being is flesh, is unspiritual. When He next goes on to say, ‘It is the Spirit that quickencth,’ He thereby declares to them that His Spirit does not mercly as spirit nourish their spiritual life, but that it is a power which quickens the flesh, And when, on the other hand, He declares, ‘The flesh profiteth nothing,’ He cannot mean by that His flesh and blood, as it is, as it has been offered up to the world, and through that glorified, as it thus works in perpetual unity with His Spirit's life ; but He plainly gives them to understand that flesh in general, considered in itself, without reference to His Spirit’s life, is dead, profitless, and unavailing, and that therefore He could not dream of feeding them directly with the material substance of His bodily nature, with His flesh, such as it would be, if, for example, according to their chiliastic conception, He chose to abide with them in such a way that His personal presence would fall from the eternal ideality of His being and of His mission. They might now perhaps express the further scruple, that by this explanation of His dark saying He was referring them to an activity of His life which was not to be realized till a future time. Therefore He makes that future operation clear to them through His present operation by the remark: ‘The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.’ Surely they have seen and known how, even from the beginning, His words represented the living oneness of mental and bodily life! They worked as spirit, not as a dead letter, which may be compared to unprofitable flesh, But they also worked as life, setting forth His flesh and blood, and streaming through the flesh and blood of those who were capable of receiving them, quickening and renewing,—not as abstract intellectual words of school-learning. Thus He has long ago begun to feed them with His flesh and blood ; and if they had any faculty for receiving this bestowal of His, they could not but have some apprehension of His hereafter, in the power of His Spirit, making His flesh and blood into heavenly manna and living bread for the whole world. Thus His answer explains the offence which they had taken: they had not sufficiently honoured Him, neither as the Centre of life to the world, nor as the High Priest offering up His life for the salvation of the world, nor yet as the Prince of life, transforming earthly elements into heavenly bread; and therefore, with the sentiments of a nascent Ebionitism, they had found His saying unhearable.

Hence He had reason to turn upon them with the reproach that their murmuring arose from this, that there were some among them who believed not. The Evangelist takes this opportunity to remark that Jesus knew from the beginning those amongst them who were unbelievers, and even the traitor himself, and that in this sense He declared: ‘Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father’ If, then, it is to be given to them, then they must plunge down to the very depths of their being, to the very depths of their destiny, to the appointment and guidance of the Father, in order that they may experience the drawing of the Father to the Son. But all do not submit to the rebuke of this word. Rather it seems that many find in it a new cause of offence. The word probably sounds to them of predestinarianism. First, they stumbled at the doctrine which was afterwards developed in the Lutheran dogma concerning Christ's flesh and blood. Then they stumbled at the doctrine which was brought prominently forward in the Reformed doctrine of predestination, Thus their falling off comes to a decision: ‘Many of His disciples,’ it is said, ‘ went back, and walked no more with Him, But He makes use of this opportunity in order to sift even the circle of the Twelve, as we have already seen. ‘ Will ye also go away ?’ He asked them, with a look searching into their very heart. Peter replied with a word full of glorious faith for himself, but which, having no apprehension of the real state of things, answered also for all the others : ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? ‘Thou hast the words of eternal life: and we believe and are sure that Thou art the Holy One of God’3 Upon this Jesus explains Himself more clearly concerning His question : ‘Have I not chosen you the Twelve? And one of you is a devil!’ John adds: ‘He spake of Judas Iscariot, ... one of the Twelve.’ He intimates that in this man there was already such a disposition of mind as would issue in the future treachery.



1. According to Schweizer’s hypothesis (das Evang. Joh. p. 223), Jesus spoke the words from vers. 27-58 in Jerusalem, and in connection too with the discourse in the fifth chapter. But if we consider that He uttered that discourse (in chap. y.) during an examination before a judicial court at Jerusalem, it would follow, that in that case His judges must then have required of Him to give them manna from heaven. .

2. The offence which is still caused to many by the ‘ hard saying’ in this chapter has been repeated in many forms down to the most recent times. Strauss thinks (i. p. 678) we may ‘consider the going back of many disciples upon such a σκληρὸς λόγος as very intelligible,’ but supposes Jesus could not have brought about that result by uttering any such words. Weisse remarks (11, 231): It cannot be denied that in His thus repeatedly reverting to the similitude of the Bread of Life, and enlarging of the same into the detailed discourse concerning the eating and drinking of the flesh and blood of Christ, there is something in the highest degree startling to ourselves, and even repulsive and offensive. The writer alluded to is of opinion that these words originate with the apostle’s recollection of the words at the institution of the Lord's Supper.

3. Concerning the sense in which Christ calls Himself the food of the world, Von Ammon remarks (ii. p. 248): ‘He is heavenly Bread personified, not in a rhetorical, but in a grammatical sense, but yet still only in a figurative sense; just as He is virtually the real Way and Vine, yet still only in a figure, or according to an indirect and analogous view, but by no means in a direct or immediate one.’ It is not to be denied that Christ cannot have described Himself as the Bread from heaven in a literal sense, according to the world’s usual mode of viewing things. But at the same time it must be considered that, according to John’s view, the higher heavenly relations are not types of the earthly, but their antitypes Thus, therefore, Christ is the essential Vine, the essential Bread, whilst the earthly vine and earthly bread represent that essential significance of Christ in a type or figure. With this qualification, the following opinion of Von Ammon is to be recognized as just: ‘What is true of the Bread of heaven is true also of the flesh and blood of the Son of man; for these predicates are only substitutes for the original image of the Bread of life, and are subject to the same analogical explanation as this last is. [The above distinction is very well put by Trench, Parables, p. 13—ED.]



1) Thus are set aside all the critical remarks which would fain discover here a sketch of the leading principles of the Lord's Supper, and therein a mark of the spuriousness of the Gospel. [On this much-controverted passage, see the long and satisfactory note of Lampe (in Joan. ii, 256 ff.) The best modern expositors follow the opinion of Bengel: ‘tota hie de carne et sanguine J. C. oratio passionem spectat, et cum ea S. Cœnam.’ Alford is scareely correct in numbering Calvin with those who find here no reference to the Supper. He does, no doubt, say, ‘Neque enim de Cœrna habetur concio, sed de perpetua communicatione, que extra Cœn usw nobis constat.” But on the next page’he says, ‘Simul tamen fateor nihil hic dici quod non in Ceena figuretur ac vere prestetur fidelibus: adeoque S. Cœnam Christus quasi hujus concionis sigillum esse voluit.’ And no one can read Calvin's interpretation of the whole passage without seeing that his view is really identical with Bengel’s—ED. ]

2) Lcke remarks in his above-cited work, p. 169, that the ascension was only beheld by the Twelve, but that here Christ speaks of something which all His disciples should be cognizant of. Yet, on the other hand, it must Le remembered that Jesus’ ascension was first fully confirmed to the disciples as an ascension into heaven through the Holy Ghost, and that this assurance was imparted also to those who had not been present at the ascension from the Mount of Olives. [Meyer (in loc.) objects to the author's interpretation of this passage, but apparently without sufficient reason, See especially Acts ii. 33, Eph, iv. 8. Throughout the 14th, 15th, and 16th chapters of John, the ascension and the gift of the Spirit are so bound together, that an interpretation is impossible if they be not reckoned one act.—ED.]

3) According to Lachmann,