More Thoughts on John 6
I noticed something. When we get to the part that represents John 6 ... frankly ... and I say this with the utmost respect for the Word ... it starts to sound really strange. Now, I am not talking as a non-Calvinist here. I mean it sounds strange in the sense that He doesn't seem to be trying to draw anyone to himself, but rather, it sounds like He is trying to shock people, especially when you hear the drama of the audible presentation of His words. For example:
53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.I would think that many there would have thought He was quite off his rocker. Actually, the Bible indicates that they did think something like that.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.Now, I can't ask Christ directly why he spoke this way. Surely He could have said things in an easier-to-understand way. I have often wondered why he did this. Then, I found a pretty good explanation. Actually, when I think back, Matthew tried to explain this to me before, but it didn't become clear to me until I went to this link. I will cut and paste from the link that which I found helpful below. I don't agree with several of the things that I read there, but this makes so much sense:
" [Let's look at] ...the peculiar historical circumstances of this discourse in the general dispensational scheme. This discourse occurred in a Jewish setting, BEFORE Christ died on the cross. There was a specific dynamic occurring during Jesus' public ministry that is NOT occurring now. That dynamic is the partial blinding of Israel so that the crucifixion could occur. John 6 must be understood against the background of the following passages.
Jesus spoke to the Jewish crowds in PARABLES for the expressed purpose of keeping them in the dark! He spoke in riddles. But, He expounded the true meaning of these parables to His disciples! Why? If not, the crowds might have believed on Him! And having the crowds on their side was necessary for the religious leaders to carry out the crucifixion. Also, if the religious leaders had understood the Mystery that God had hidden, they would NEVER have crucified Him! Paul states this clearly in the following passage.
1 Cor 2:7-8 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (KJV)
The crowds had a lot of power. The leaders were afraid of the crowds. And any uprising of the people would most certainly bring down the wrath of the Romans on the Jewish leadership! That is why the Pharisees had such heartburn on Palm Sunday, when some of the worshippers cried "Hosanna" at Christ's entrance into Jerusalem for Passover. The ONLY WAY the crucifixion could be carried out was IF the crowds and the leaders rejected Jesus! So, Jesus' words and actions were designed to force the Jews to reject Him! This is very apparent in John 6. The RIDDLE about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and about His being the "bread from heaven" was more than most could bear! The whole "Bread of Life Discourse" was intended to DRIVE AWAY the crowds!
Now, this may seem absurd, given the fact that God desires to save all men. But, let me quickly point out that after the crucifixion and resurrection, this situation no longer existed, and many of the Jews who had been hardened against Jesus, who were part of the mob that cried "away with him, crucify him," were also converted on the Day of Pentecost, and 3000 of them were baptized and added to the Jerusalem Church! This is proven from Acts 2.
Acts 2:22-24,36-41 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, YE HAVE TAKEN, AND BY WICKED HANDS HAVE CRUCIFIED AND SLAIN: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. ... 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, WHOM YE HAVE CRUCIFIED, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, THEY WERE PRICKED IN THEIR HEART, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (KJV)
No longer did God blind the Jews! (Although many of them continued willfully in their blindness). Some of the very same Jews who abandoned Jesus in John 6, and cried "away with Him," turned to Christ and were saved on the Day of Pentecost. John 6 MUST be understood within this framework.
God elected certain Jews to be saved during Jesus' ministry, as the core of His church. He spent three years preparing them to be missionaries to the whole world. All the while, He kept the crowds and the religious leaders in the dark about what His real purpose was, by using parables. Mark said that without a parable He did not speak to them! In this way they were "blinded" to the Gospel."