In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now covering the Words of Jesus in the Words of Jesus. What the Word is and what the Word brings us. The first of these is ‘They are life itself’.
Jesus said, It is the Spirit Who gives life [He is the Life-giver], the flesh conveys no benefit whatever [there is no profit in it]. The words (truths) that I have been speaking to you are spirit and life, John 6:63.
There are certain words that are life itself. The opposite of life is death. If words are not bringing life then in their worst form they are bringing death. How can a word have such power?
The Word was God Himself
In the beginning was the Word. The opening chapter of the book of John gives us a clue. In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.
In this world we are surrounded by death and decay. But there is power in the Word, His Words, because His Words are life. They breathe life to our mortal bones and bring us life out of death.
Situated off the west coast of Turkey is the island of Patmos. Early tradition states that due to the Roman persecution of Christians, John had been exiled there. According to Tertullian (a prolific early Christian writer) whilst in Rome, John had been plunged into boiling oil. He had apparently suffered no harm and seeing him as a threat to the Roman empire he had been banished. Whilst on this island he had received a revelation of things to come. Towards the end of this revelation in Chapter 19 the Lord is dealing with His enemies, our enemies.
Jesus is that Word of God
John hears a mighty shout of a great crowd in heaven, exclaiming, ‘Hallelujah’ … His judgments are true and sound and just and upright … ‘After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [appeared]! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful (Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady) and True, and He passes judgment and wages war in righteousness (holiness, justice, and uprightness) … the title by which He is called is ‘The Word of God’.
Jesus is the Word of God. Not just speaks the Word, but He is in essence the Word. The Israelites were given daily manna in the desert to sustain them. This was a foreshadow of the ‘daily bread’ we are to eat for our sustenance, for our spiritual life and vitality, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’.
Just as the living Father sent Me and I live by (through, because of) the Father, even so whoever continues to feed on Me [whoever takes Me for his food and is nourished by Me] shall [in his turn] live through and because of Me, John 6:57.
The Word that God speaks is life
Henry says – The disciples were found murmuring at the doctrine they heard (John 6:60): This is a hard saying, who can hear it? “What stuff is this? Eat the flesh, and drink the blood, of the Son of man! What! must we be cannibals?” If they had humbly begged of Christ to have revealed to them this parable, He would have opened their understanding: for the meek He will He teach His way. Who can hear it? Thanks be to God, thousands have heard these sayings of Christ, and have found them not only easy, but pleasant, as their necessary food.
Christ knew their murmurings. He observes how His doctrine is resented by those to whom it is preached. Those who rejoice in it and who rebel against it, though ever so secretly. He is that essential Word that discerns the thoughts of the heart, (Heb. 4:12-13 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power, it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature]).
Not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless in His eyes. Thoughts are words to Christ, we should therefore take heed not only what we say and do, but what we think. He answered them: “Does this offend you?” People by their own willful mistakes often take offence where there is none given, and even make it where there is nothing to make it of.
The Spirit works with the Word
He gives them a hint of his ascension into heaven, as that which would give an irresistible evidence of the truth of His doctrine (John 6:62) – What if you shall see the Son of man ascend up to where He was before? And what then? First, “If this be so hard a saying that you cannot hear it, how will you digest it when I tell you of My returning to heaven, from where I came down?” See John 3:12. Those who stumble at smaller difficulties should consider how they will get over greater. Let us wait awhile, till the mystery of God shall be finished, and then we shall see that there was no reason to be offended at any of Christ’s sayings.
He gives a general key to this and other teachings that they are to be understood spiritually, and not carnally. It is the spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing, John 6:63. The word and decrees, if the Spirit works with them, are as food to a living man. Even the flesh of Christ, the sacrifice for sin, will avail us nothing unless the blessed Spirit quicken our souls. Unless powerful influences of His death are prescribed to us.
The doctrine of eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood, if understood literally, profits nothing, but rather leads us into mistakes and prejudices. But the spiritual sense or meaning of it quickens the soul, makes it alive and lively. So it follows: The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. To eat the flesh of Christ! this is a hard saying. But to believe that Christ died for me and to derive from that doctrine strength and comfort in my approaches to God, my oppositions to sin and preparations for a future state. This is the spirit and life of that saying, and, interpreting it this way it is an excellent saying.
Those by faith feed upon His Word
On hearing this teaching many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with him, John 6:66, (Curious that this number be 666? – the turning against Christ). When we admit into our minds and conceive a secret dislike of the word and words of Christ, we are then entering into temptation. It is looking back, which, if infinite mercy prevents not, will end up in a drawing back. Many of them went back to their houses, and families, and jobs, which they had left for a time to follow Him.
They had entered themselves in Christ’s school, but they went back, did not only play truant for once, but took leave of Him and His doctrine for ever. The apostasy of Christ’s disciples from Him, though really a strange thing, yet has been such a common thing that we need not be surprised at it. Here were many that went back. It is often so that when some backslide many backslide with them, the disease is infectious.
From the time that Christ preached that He is the bread of life, and that those who by faith feed upon Him shall live by Him (which, one would think, should have engaged them to cleave more closely to him)–from that time many withdrew. The corrupt and wicked heart of man often takes offence of that which should be a matter of the greatest comfort. Christ foresaw that they would take offence at what He said, and yet He said it. That which is the undoubted word and truth of Christ must be faithfully delivered, whoever may be offended at it. Men’s humours must be captivated to God’s Word, and not God’s Word accommodated to men’s humours.
Will you also go away?
They walked no more with Him, returned no more to Him and attended no more upon His ministry. It is hard for those who have been once enlightened, and have tasted the good word of God, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, (Heb. 6:4-6 For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—[it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace).
Thanks be to God, not all turned back, the twelve stuck to him. Even if the faith of some be overthrown, yet the foundation of God stands sure. Yet Christ puts this question to the twelve (John 6:67): Will you also go away? He takes this occasion to speak to the twelve, by trying their steadfastness. Christ will detain none with Him against their wills, His soldiers are volunteers, not pressed men.
The nearer we have been to Christ and the longer we have been with Him, the greater will be our sin if we desert him. Will you go away? No, I have a faster hold of you than so. I hope better things of you (Heb. 6:9), for you are they that have continued with Me, (Luke 22:28).
You have the Words of Eternal Life
Peter replies for us all who would: “Lord, to whom shall we go?” John 6:68. Those who leave Christ would do well to consider to whom they will go, and whether they can expect to find rest and peace anywhere but in Him. Shall we leave the fountain of living waters for broken cisterns?
The disciples resolve to continue their pursuit of life and happiness, and will have a guide to it, and will adhere to Christ as their guide, for they can never have a better. A divine teacher we must have, can we find a better than Christ? A divine revelation we cannot be without; if the scripture be not such a one, where else may we look for it?
The disciples resolved never to go away from Christ for – “You have the words of eternal life.” That His Words showed the way to eternal life. His Words are set before us, and direct us in what to do, that we might inherit it. He also has the words of eternal life which is the same as Him having power to give eternal life to as many as were given him, John 17:2.
Venture all for it!
Though we cannot account for every mystery, every obscurity, in Christ’s doctrine, yet we know that it is the word of eternal life, and therefore must live and die by it, for if we forsake Christ we forsake His mercy and our own benefits. When we have so strong a faith in the gospel of Christ as boldly to venture our souls upon it, knowing whom we have believed, then, and not till then, we shall be willing to venture everything else for it.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The Spirit Life If you seek then you will find If you ask then you will receive The Lord will rearrange your mind The promised gifts you will perceive. His joy will flow from deep within Exploring new and treasured parts To wash away the tides of sin In faith that pours out from your heart. O let the healing rivers flow To make your mind and body whole O let the freshening breezes blow The peace of God deep in your soul. The Spirit fruits so firm and ripe The promised love that never dies Your tears of sorrow the Lord will wipe Your life transformed before His eyes. The Lord is standing at the gate His open arms to welcome you Can you afford to stand and wait? Can you resist a love so true? By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I thank You that You breathe life into my bones and into my spirit that I might live. Father, intensify my hunger for Your Word that I may eat and be satisfied in You alone. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.