Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-Spring, AD 29-
Capernaum
(39) Peak of Popularity Passes in Galilee
(Isaiah 54:13) John 6:22-7:1


22 The next day the people who had stayed on the other side of the lake knew that Jesus had not gone in the boat with his followers but that they had left without him. And they knew that only one boat had been there.
23 But then some boats came from Tiberias and landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.
24 When the people saw that Jesus and his followers were not there now, they got into boats and went to Capernaum to find Jesus.

 

In these verses we see:
1. The close watch, which the people kept over Christ. 
They saw the disciples go to sea, and they saw Christ retire to the mountain, probably with a suggestion that he wanted to be alone for a time.   But, their hearts were set upon making him a king.  The day following, they watched for His return.  They were anxious for His return, but they didn’t know where He had gone or what had become of Him.  They saw there was no boat anywhere near there, except for the one that the disciples went off in.  They also observed that Jesus did not go with his disciples, but that they went off alone, and that they left him on their side of the water.
2. They were very diligent in seeking him. They searched everywhere around there, and when they couldn’t find Him, they began to search other places.  First, they determined to search for Him in Capernaum. That was his head-quarters, where he usually lived.  Since His disciples were gone, they didn’t think He would stay away from them for long.  The quickest way to get to Capernaum was by sea, and that opportunity presented itself when boats arrived from Tiberius, probably bound for Capernaum.
3. They took advantage of the opportunity that offered itself. They went by ship to Capernaum seeking Jesus. 

 

25 When the people found Jesus on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Teacher, when did you come here?”
26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you aren’t looking for me because you saw me do miracles. You are looking for me because you ate the bread and were satisfied.

They found Jesus on the other side of the sea.  It is clear from Jesus’ comment that he knew that they were looking for Him for the wrong reasons.  But He let them find Him and He admitted them into fellowship with Him.  This is a lesson for us: we should not exclude the hypocrites from close association with us, much less when we do not know their hearts.

Their first question was, “Teacher, when did you come here?”  In verse 59, we are told that they found Him in a synagogue.  They knew this was the likeliest place to find Christ in, for it was his custom to worship there.  But all they could think to say to Him was, “Teacher, when did you come here?”  They saw that He would not allow them to make Him king, so they don’t mention that, but their question not only asks what time He got there, but also by what method. 

Christ’s answer did not respond to their question, but was the answer that it deserved.  They didn’t seek him for the right reason.  Christ knows not only what we do, but why we do it.  They had not followed Him because of His teaching or even because of the miracles.  They sought Him for the sake of their bellies.  He said, “You are looking for me because you ate the bread and were satisfied.”  These people complimented Christ by addressing Him as Teacher, and they showed Him great respect, yet He let them know that He regarded them as hypocrites.

      

27 Don’t work for the food that spoils. Work for the food that stays good always and gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because on him God the Father has put his power.”

Jesus uses food to represent spiritual things.  He says, “Work for the food that stays good always and gives eternal life.”  He uses food, because they were so impressed by the Miracle of the Loaves; and He intends to make it clear that they need to tone down their pursuit of worldly possessions.  He is not talking about honest labor for food, but making the things of this world our chief care and concern.  We must be careful not to make our religion subservient to a worldly interest.  Our desire should be for those spiritual things which are dispensed by Christ; eternal life and the gifts of the Spirit.  He tells us to labor for it as if it could be obtained by our own efforts.   But even though we labor for them, they will only be acquired from Christ, who gives them as gifts.  And what’s more, they are free gifts.    

 

28 The people asked Jesus, “What are the things God wants us to do?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent.”

Because Christ told them that they must labor for the food He spoke of, they enquired what they must do.  What they want to know is what works can we do better or more of, than those we do in obedience to the Law of Moses.  It was a good question and well intended, and they were willing to do what was necessary.  They believed that they would have to do something great, and they were willing to do anything. 

Christ’s answer was clear enough; “The work God wants you to do is this: Believe the One he sent.”  The work of faith is the work of God.  They asked what things God wants them to do (that’s plural), but Christ gave them only one thing to do, “Believe the One he sent.”   The work of faith is necessary for the acceptance of all other works, and it produces them, for without faith, you cannot please God.  

 

30 So the people asked, “What miracle will you do? If we see a miracle, we will believe you. What will you do?

The people asked Jesus to do a miracle, and then they said they would believe in Him.  But had they already forgotten that He had just yesterday fed them, and many more.  This was Capernaum, where He had done more miracles than in any other city.  They had overlooked the many miracles that had already been done, and they ask, “What will you do?”

 

31 Our fathers ate the manna in the desert. This is written in the Scriptures: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; it is my Father who is giving you the true bread from heaven.
33 God’s bread is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

They preferred the miraculous feeding of Israel in the wilderness over all the miracles that Christ had done.  They said, “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert;” and to strengthen their point they quoted scripture, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” (Taken from Ps. 78:24)  Christ had fed five thousand with five loaves, and He gave that to them as a sign that He came from God; but they failed to appreciate this miracle and instead magnified the miracles of Moses.  In essence, what they were saying was, "Christ fed his thousands; but Moses his hundreds of thousands, Christ fed them but once, but Moses fed his followers forty years, Christ fed them with earthly bread, barley-bread, and fishes out of the sea; but Moses fed Israel with bread from heaven, angel’s food.’’

When Christ answers them, He corrects their mistake concerning the manna.  He says, “It’s true that your fathers ate manna in the desert, but it was not Moses that gave it to them; it was God.   Moses was only the instrument, and so they were not obliged to Moses at all.  Moses didn’t even ask God for the manna; it was a gift of God.  He said that the manna they are talking about is only a type of the true manna, and then He adds, “It is my Father who is giving you the true bread from heaven.”   And He is not giving it to their fathers, who are dead and gone, but to them.  The spiritual bread, the Gospel, which they had the privilege to receive, was infinitely greater than that bread from heaven.  And when He called God His Father, he stated publicly that He was greater than Moses.  Moses was only a faithful servant, but Christ was a Son.

After Jesus had replied to their questions, He said, “God’s bread is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  He is the gift of God; the true bread.  He is that bread that nourishes the soul, but worldly bread can only nourish the body; He nourishes and supports spiritual life like bread does the bodily life.  We live by those doctrines of the Gospel concerning Christ-that He is the mediator between God and man, that He is our peace, our righteousness, our Redeemer. 

Then Jesus announced that He “gives life to the world.”   He gives both spiritual life and eternal life; a life that includes peace and happiness.  The manna could only support the physical life; but Christ gives live to those who were dead in sin.  The manna was only given to the Israelites, but Christ gives life to the whole world.  When He says that He is the “the bread that came down from heaven”, He is proclaiming His divinity.  As God, He had been in heaven; before He came down to take our nature. 

 

34 The people said, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

They don’t get it; they are thinking of their appetite and physical bread.  This is just like the woman at the well.  It took Jesus some time to get her to where she was thinking about spiritual things, instead of the water in the well, and it will take a while to get these people to see beyond what they can see and touch.

 

35 Then Jesus said, “I am the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Those who ate manna in the wilderness became hungry again, so they had to gather more every morning.  But there is abundance in Christ, that can’t be exhausted.  Those who believe in Christ have everlasting life; even though they go down to death, they pass through it, and go to that world where there is no more death. 

 

36 But as I told you before, you have seen me and still don’t believe.
37 The Father gives me my people. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them.

There could never be enough evidence for some to believe in Jesus.  There are several reasons for that:
• First, Satan will be able to keep some from believing, by keeping them from the word of God.  He will place them in churches where the word is diluted, and a social doctrine is taught.
• Second, man’s desires for sexual and social gratification will consume him to the point that he is not interested in spiritual things.
• Third, those at each end of the social spectrum-extreme poverty or very wealthy-are the most difficult to reach for Christ; one because of the hopelessness of their condition and the other because of the deceitfulness of riches. 

There are other reasons that could be listed, but these are some of the most common.  The word of God is given to one, and it is given to another, and then it’s given to another.  One will believe immediately; one may believe only after years of hearing the gospel; and one will never believe.

In verse 37, there is both election and free will evident.  First Jesus says, “The Father gives me my people.”  This is “election” and “predestination.”  God is sovereign and He knows who will believe and who will not.  And He knew before the foundation of the world.  Those that will believe are the ones that are given to Jesus.  And then the word of God tells us that they are called.  They are called by the hearing of the Gospel and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again; born of water and the Spirit.  This new birth requires that a person be born from above, by the word of God and by the Spirit of God.  Jesus will see to it that those who are His will hear the Gospel, but they must believe; that’s the free will part.  He doesn’t force them to believe; they come to Him.  He said, “Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them.”  Charles Spurgeon, the great nineteenth century preacher, preached a “whosoever will” Gospel.  Someone asked him, if I believed like you do about election, I wouldn’t preach like you do.”  Spurgeon’s answer was something like this, “If the Lord would have put a yellow stripe down the backs of the elect, I’d go up and down the street lifting up shirttails, finding out who had the yellow stripe, and then I’d give them the Gospel.  But God didn’t do it that way.  He told me to preach the Gospel to every creature, “that whosoever may come.”  Jesus said, “I will always accept them.”   You see, you can argue about election all you want to, but you can come.  And if you come, He will accept you.  Someone may ask, “You mean, if I am not the elect I can still come?”  My friend, if you come, you are the elect.  How tremendous is that!

 

38 I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do.

It’s God’s will that Jesus should save all those that He has given Him; and that He should lose none.  To that end, He said, “I came down from heaven.”   And He will do all that is required to gain each one and to keep each one.  He will teach them, and heal them, pay their debt, and plead their cause.   He will prepare them for eternal life and preserve them through eternal life. 

 

39 Here is what the One who sent me wants me to do: I must not lose even one whom God gave me, but I must raise them all on the last day.

He must not lose even one whom the Father had given Him, because if He did He would not be a sure Savior.  If He lost one of the weakest, then Satan could say, “He can only keep the strongest.”  And if He lost one of the strongest, then Satan could say, “See, He can’t even keep the very strongest, who can almost keep themselves.”  And in the end He will resurrect their bodies and unite bodies and souls together to be presented to the Father. 

 
40 Those who see the Son and believe in him have eternal life, and I will raise them on the last day. This is what my Father wants.”

Everyone who believes and receives Christ has everlasting life and will be raised up again at the last day.  This is God’s plan for the salvation of all who will believe in His Son. 

 

41 The Jews began to complain about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that comes down from heaven.”
42 They said, “This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

When they began to understand that Jesus was referring to Himself as the “heavenly bread,” they despised Him.  It was His assertion that He came down from heaven, which they could not accept.  They had heard of angels coming down from heaven, but never a man and they overlooked the proofs that He had given them that He was more than a man.  They were able to solidify their accusations against Him because they knew His family; that His father was Joseph and his mother Mary.  They thought, “How could He have come down from heaven, when He is one of us.”  It was a mistaken assumption, that Joseph was his father.  


   
43 But Jesus answered, “Stop complaining to each other.
44 The Father is the One who sent me. No one can come to me unless the Father draws him to me, and I will raise that person up on the last day.

It is the Spirit of God that draws men to Him.  Some call that divine election, and I can’t explain how it works; I just know that you have a free will and you can exercise it.  God holds you responsible for the decisions you make; you are responsible for it, and you know you are responsible.  You know right now that you can come to Him or not come.  It’s up to you.

 

45 It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

Isaiah 54:13 says, “All your children will be taught by the Lord, and they will have much peace.”  And there are other places in the Old Testament that refers to being taught by God.  What Jesus is saying is, “Every man that listens to the Father and learns of Him will come to Me.”  The implication is that no one will come to Christ unless they have heard and learned of the Father.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit; He will draw men by giving them the Word of God.

The children of God are not only taught outwardly by the word of God, but they are also taught inwardly by the Holy Spirit.  The teachers of God’s word are His ministers; those called to preach the word.  Those who receive this teaching with faith have inward peace arising from the discovery of God’s love and reconciliation to us. 

 

46 No one has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only he has seen the Father.
47 I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life.

The only person who has seen the Father is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Me has eternal life.”  That’s the Gospel in its simplest form.  It can’t be any clearer than that.

 

48 I am the bread that gives life.
49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but still they died.
50 Here is the bread that comes down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will never die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give up so that the world may have life.”

Jesus came down to this earth: “The word was made flesh.” (Jn. 1:14)  He is on the way to the cross to lay down that human flesh as a sacrifice for your sins and for mine.  Listen.  When you accept that, you are saved. 

 

52 Then the Jews began to argue among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

They were thinking of His literal flesh, of course.

 

53 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you must eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood. Otherwise, you won’t have real life in you.

That means to partake of Him spiritually, by believing in Him.  One sign that you are not a child of God is if you have no desire for Christ and you don’t find your joy in Him.  A soul that doesn’t hunger and thirst for Christ, is still dead in sin. 

 
54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.
55 My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me, and I live in them.
57 The living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father. So whoever eats me will live because of me.
58 I am not like the bread your ancestors ate. They ate that bread and still died. I am the bread that came down from heaven, and whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

 

Remember, Jesus is speaking to His disciples.  He is getting them ready to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  We should not take His words literally, because He is standing there before them.  He is not telling them to begin eating Him and drinking His blood.  What He is saying is that He is going to give His life.  He will shed His blood upon the cross and give His life.  Salvation is by accepting Him in a most intimate way.  I think that what our Lord is saying to them is that what is important is that we have a close personal relationship with Him.  When they ate manna in the wilderness it was a temporary thing.  Jesus has something that is eternal-life which is eternal. 

 

59 Jesus said all these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
60 When the followers of Jesus heard this, many of them said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?”
61 Knowing that his followers were complaining about this, Jesus said, “Does this teaching bother you?
62 Then will it also bother you to see the Son of Man going back to the place where he came from?
63 It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh doesn’t give life. The words I told you are spirit, and they give life.

His followers reacted to His words, and they differed in their opinions about what He said.  But Jesus cleared the air, when He told them that He is going back to heaven, so it is obvious that they are not going to eat him literally.  It is the Spirit that makes us alive; the flesh is of no value.  So it is obvious that He is not talking about His literal body.  When we partake of the Lord’s Supper it is by faith.  The bread and wine are symbols, and He makes that clear in the Upper Room.  But when we take communion there is a blessing there.  God sends a spiritual blessing to those who visualize that Christ shed His blood for you, there on the cross.

 

64 But some of you don’t believe.” (Jesus knew from the beginning who did not believe and who would turn against him.)
65 Jesus said, “That is the reason I said, ‘If the Father does not bring a person to me, that one cannot come.’ ”

Here is predestination; God knows who will believe and who will not.  And the Holy Spirit draws those who will believe.  But remember, you have to put with that, “whosoever will may come.”  It’s up to you, you see. 

 
66 After Jesus said this, many of his followers left him and stopped following him.

There were many there that day beside the twelve disciples.  They stayed with Him, but many others left Him-some of the other disciples, some religious leaders and some who were hostile left.

 
67 Jesus asked the twelve followers, “Do you want to leave, too?”
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, where would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.

Simon Peter made a marvelous statement.  And the question is still pertinent today.  Where else would you go?  The Lord Jesus is the One and the only One who has eternal life.  There are many today who are turning in every direction, looking for light, but there is no satisfaction outside of Christ. 

 

69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One from God.”
70 Then Jesus answered, “I chose all twelve of you, but one of you is a devil.”
71 Jesus was talking about Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Judas was one of the twelve, but later he was going to turn against Jesus.

 Here is a great mystery.  Judas was one of the twelve and Jesus chose him, and yet He said that he was a devil, which probably meant that he was demon-possessed.  All through his time with Jesus he was given every opportunity to turn to Christ, but he chose to betray Him.  It is hard to interpret evil like this. 

What a contrast Judas is to the testimony of Simon Peter, “We believe and know that you are the Holy One from God.”

After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He did not want to travel in Judea, because the Jews there wanted to kill him.

During the last year of His ministry Jesus confined His activities to Galilee; He walked no longer through Judea because the religious leaders planned to kill Him.  Jesus is following a divine schedule, which his Father had given Him.  These men could not touch him, until his time had come.  A storm is gathering around Jesus and it will break loose when he is on the cross. 

 

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