Friday, June 12, 2015

John 6:48-71 comments: the bread of life

48  I am that bread of life. 49  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. 52  The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 53  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54  Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55  For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57  As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. 59  These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Jesus uses a figure of speech (a synechdoche or transfer – the exchange of one idea for another as per Bullinger in Figures of Speech in the Bible cited earlier) to describe Himself as the bread of life that came down from Heaven. The Hebrews in the wilderness ate physical manna and died but Jesus is the bread of life that if anyone eats spiritually they will live. Notice how He did this in chapter 3 by equating two ideas, natural childbirth or, “born of water,” with the spiritual rebirth that is brought about by salvation in, “born of the Spirit.” So, there, we not only had two different births but two completely different kinds of birth, one physical and one spiritual.

Here, there is physical food that satisfied temporarily not preventing those who partook of it from dying physically and spiritual food that satisfies permanently and the promise is made that those who partake of it will never die. There are then two things to be considered here. One, that Jesus is not saying that His body is physical food that they must eat to live like cannibals nor is He promising that physical, biological death is prevented by eating this food. As in John, chapter 3, we move from the temporal world to the eternal world by these comparisons.

As unbelieving people, with minds clouded by slavish devotion to meaningless religious ritualism will do these people do not understand His meaning and are asking why or how they should eat and digest the speaker.

Bible versions created after the Enlightenment, the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, and the triumph of German theology and Higher Criticism translate verse 58 without, “manna,” after, “your fathers did eat,” based on a handful of corrupt manuscripts.

    60 ¶  Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? 61  When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? 62  What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? 63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. 64  But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65  And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.  66  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 67  Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? 68  Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 69  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. 70  Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 71  He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

In verse 65, the modern Bibles influenced by heresies of German Higher Criticism remove, “my,” and replace it with, “the.” As well, in verse 69 those same counterfeit Bibles remove, “Christ, the Son of the living.” They repeat the testimony of devils in Mark 1:24 and Luke 4:34 and say, “the Holy One of God.”

Jesus’ own disciples are having trouble with this concept. Jesus asks them, “doth this offend you?” Now, we think of being offended as an outrage against our finer sensibilities like an insult made against us, unintended or intended. But, in the Bible, to offend can cause to stumble or even cause someone to sin as in Matthew 5:29, 30 as well as to sin against as in James 2:10. One way of looking at this exchange is to think of Jesus saying, does this trip you up? You don’t get it? It’s making you doubt? Just wait until you see me ascend to Heaven. How are you going to handle that?

In verse 63 Jesus goes on to make the distinction clear by saying that the spirit makes alive while the flesh has no lasting value. The Jews ate manna in the wilderness and hungered again but those who believe in Him will eat spiritual food and never need anything else. Physical food provides temporary relief while the spiritual food He offers lasts for an eternity.

The implication in verse 64 is that Judas doesn’t really believe. There were probably others who had doubts, like Thomas (John 20:26-31).

Verse 65 reinforces what was already said in verse 44, reinforcing God’s part in drawing men to Christ. Remember the first chapter of the gospel.

John 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

At this point many of those who followed Him walk away. Belief in the supernatural claims of Christ and the Bible are essential for a person to honestly call themselves a Christian but for people such as Thomas Jefferson and others those claims were and are impossible to accept. They either leave the faith of their youth or they adopt the teachings of Christ as a standard and deny the supernatural claims. They are as lost as any atheist, however. To be a “Christian gentleman” without belief in the extra-natural, the supernatural claims of Christ, is to be no Christian. To believe in a Christian philosophy without believing in the supernatural claims of Christ is to believe in nothing different from anyone else. There are many good, by the world’s standards, persons of every faith or no faith at all who will match such a so-called Christian’s behavior and ambitions but without believing what Christ said about Himself they are bound for an eternity of agony and suffering as if they were a Stalin or the most selfish person on earth.

John 3:36  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

It is then that Peter expresses the understanding that is the basis of salvation, that Christ is God in the flesh and that God is a living being.

Jesus then reveals that He has, one, chosen all of them, and, two, that one of the ones He chose is a devil, that being Judas Iscariot who would betray Him. Later, He will refer to Judas as, “the son of perdition,” in John 17:12. At the end this son of perdition will be revealed. See 2Thessalonians 2:3. Some would claim that Judas himself will return at the end to be Satan’s person on earth based on this phrase and the following verse;

Acts 1:25  That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.

Then, in Revelation, there is this statement;

Revelation 9:11  And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.

With the human Judas being dead then, if this were the case, he would have his eternal body in which he will eventually be cast into the lake of fire. This is not a reincarnation of Judas but a continuation in the spiritual world.

Another possible explanation is the way John the Baptist was described. First, the prophesy about Elijah;

Malachi 4:5  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

And this one before John’s birth;

Luke 1:17  And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah from the Greek rather than the Hebrew], to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

And finally, Jesus’ statement about John;

Matthew 11:11  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12  And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13  For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14  And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

So, if John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah but was not the reincarnation of Elijah, a possibility not allowed for in the Bible as per Hebrews 9:27, then the Beast of Revelation, popularly called the Antichrist, could come in the spirit and power of Judas.

In any event, Judas is a devil, according to Jesus, and that means that a person can be a devil and not know it but act in accordance with his nature. It is perhaps true that some of the greatest villains in history such as Hitler, Stalin, or even H.H. Holmes may have been acting from their basic nature rather than due to some traumatic event in their lives that turned them bad. It may be that some people are just evil even by human standards, which, based on the genocides of the last hundred years, aren’t very high.

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