"Lord, To Whom Shall We Go?"

Ordinary 21B

John 6: 60 71


We come now to the closing portion of the chapter we have been walking through, pausing to meditate on the immensely rich contents. In the International Three-year Lectionary, this reading (actually verses 60 — 69) is coupled with verses from Joshua 24.

With boldness and clarity, Joshua, followed by others of the twelve tribes of Israel, declares his allegiance to the Lord God, who has been ever-present and faithful to the people of Israel in leading them from slavery to freedom. In like manner, Peter speaks for the twelve who were symbolic of those ancient tribes: he acknowledges the God who is source and sustainer of life for all, in the words and person of Jesus. (Mary Betz)

Some Notes On the Text

Verse 60

Earlier in chapter 6, the learned authorities and others had expressed their displeasure at what our Lord had explained to them:

  • I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.

John 6: 35

  • I am the bread that came down from heaven.

John 6: 41

  • Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.

John 6: 56

In verse 60, we are told that even some of his disciples (not the Apostles) were reacting negatively: many of them said, "This is a hard teaching", meaning hard to accept, not so much, hard to understand. They were most likely referring to verses 53 — 58, but could have been referring to the whole discourse. "Who is able", they added, "to agree with what he is trying to say?"

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In fact, they found the teaching of Jesus unacceptable precisely because it was not in accord with their expectations. In other words, it was not what they wanted to hear!

Verse 61

In the text we read, "But Jesus knew in himself" that they were grumbling about the 'hard teaching'. 'To know one's self' reflects Semitic Greek, and its purpose is to indicate the supernatural knowledge Jesus had (see also 1: 47 — 48, and 2: 25). (Newman and Nida)

In response, Jesus said to those grumbling,

Does this make you want to give up your faith?

Verse 62

Our Lord continued by asking the grumblers a kind of question but did not complete his sentence. It went something like: "What, then, if you were to see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before…..?"

J. C. Ryle helps to enlighten us a little on the impact of this question:

(What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend.) This means, "What will ye think and say of my ascension into heaven?" What will your feelings be, if you behold this body of mine going up to that heaven from whence I came down? Will you not be much more offended?" (See John 3: 12.)

The first thing, we must remember, that the Jews "murmured" about, was our Lord's saying that He "came down from heaven." 'The second thing was, His saying that He would "give them His flesh to eat." Both times our Lord's human body was the subject. — Here our Lord asks them what they would think if they saw that same body "ascending up" into heaven. Even then, after His ascension, they would have to "eat His flesh, and drink His blood." if they desired eternal life. What would they think of that? Would they not find it even more difficult to receive and believe?

(Where He was before.) This is an expression which Socinian can explain. It is a clear assertion of the "pre-existence" of Christ

(Socinian: a Unitarian, denying the doctrine of the Trinity and deity of Christ.)

Verses 63 and 64(a)

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Without waiting for an answer, or even a fair question, Jesus continued:

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.

As we know, God's Spirit frequently appears as the source of life in both the Old and New Testaments. This concept is given particular emphasis in the Gospel of John. For example, it is God's Spirit which brings about the new birth (3: 5, 8), and the Spirit is life-giving water (7: 38 — 39).

In our translation above, Jesus said, "....the flesh counts for nothing". In the Old Testament "flesh" is often used as a description of mortal man in contrast with God, who is life-giving Spirit. That is clearly the meaning in the present context. Thus it may be clearer if we translate it as, "Man's power is of no use at all", or "People themselves cannot do this". (Newman and Nida. UBS)

Our Lord, clearly, is not negating his earlier comments about needing to be united to his flesh and blood. Sadler has a particularly good explanation of this verse: Sadler On John 6: 63.

Verses 64 (b) and 65

Although the core of this discourse has been completed, Jesus found it necessary in verses 61 - 63 to deal with a little audience "feed-back". He added his final remarks:

For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him".

Why did our Lord refer to some who did not believe, and in fact suggest that some would betray him? He was well aware, from his astute observations, the difficulties different groups of people were having. It seems he felt the time had come to confront them with a serious flaw in their religious system.

Ryle has some helpful comments:

(There are some of you that believe not.) The connection of this sentence with the preceding verses seems to be this: "The true account of your murmuring and thinking my sayings 'hard' is your want of faith. You do not really believe Me to be the Messiah, though you have followed Me and professed yourselves my disciples. And not really believing in Me, you are offended at the idea of eating my flesh and drinking my blood."

Jesus knew from the beginning who... believed not. This is one of the many places which declare our Lord's Divine knowledge of all hearts and characters…….

When it says "from the beginning," it probably means "from the beginning of His ministry, and from the time when the unbelieving 'many' before Him first professed to be His disciples." Of course our Lord, as God, knew all thing's "from the beginning" of the world. But it does not seem necessary to suppose that this is meant here.

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(Who should betray Him.) We should not fail to notice in this expression our Lord's marvellous patience in allowing one whom He knew to be about to betray Him to be one of His Apostles. It was doubtless meant to teach us that false profession must be expected everywhere and must not surprise us. How much we ought to tolerate and put up with, if our Lord tolerated Judas near Him! The pain and sorrow which the foreknowledge of the conduct of Judas must have caused to our Lord's heart, is a circumstance in our Lord's sufferings which ought not to be forgotten.

Verse 65

Jesus then repeated an earlier declaration:

This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.

This is indeed very plain talk from our Lord as Ryle similarly interprets:-

(And He said, "Therefore said I, etc., etc".) The connection of this verse seems to be as follows: "There are some of you that believe not, and that is the reason why I said to you that no man can come to Me unless the Father gives him grace to come, and draws his heart to Me. The Father has not given you grace, and drawn you to Me, and therefore you do not believe."

(See also Sadler On John 6: 65)

Verses 66 and 67

At this point, not only had a lot of the general observers and Pharisees left Jesus, but many of his disciples also "turned back and no longer followed him". It was a sad moment for our Lord as they in fact were deserting him. They had been drawn by the Father to Jesus: now they turned their backs on him.

Jesus then spoke to the Twelve, or rather earnestly inquired how they felt about still being his chosen twelve:

You do not want to leave me too, do you?

Verses 68 and 69

Simon Peter, as usual, took the lead and answered on behalf of the Twelve:

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Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

(…..you are the Holy One of God.)

Knecht sums up the situation:

Peter, the head and mouthpiece of the Church, made this beautiful answer in the name of the rest: "Lord, to whom shall we go?" (who but thou canst lead us unto life?) Thou hast the words of eternal life, words of eternal truth which lead men to eternal life. And even if we cannot understand the mysterious words which Thou hast spoken, still we do not doubt them, but believe them, because we have believed and, through faith, have known that Thou art Christ the Son of God. Thus the apostles stood the test splendidly. They remained true to our Lord, openly confessed Him to be the Son of God, and placed themselves in opposition to their unbelieving fellow countrymen.

Our Lord is clearly much re-assured; so much so he gave them a warning to ensure they did not become misled.

Verses 70 and 71

Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!

(He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the twelve, was later to betray him.)

For more in-depth commentary see Ryle On John 6: 68 71.


Despite the length of our notes, we have barely scratched the surface of this complex Gospel document. It is a great treasure of the Church and deserves our best efforts to unpack its riches.

There are two very decisive warnings in this passage and we need to be aware of them. First, there is in the early part of the text (verses 60 — 64), the familiar situation of our Lord's followers drifting or even deliberately turning away because they are not hearing the doctrine they want from him. This is a dire warning to Christians to take the greatest care in discerning the presentation of our Lord's teaching as recorded in the Gospels principally, but also the rest of the New Testament.

The second warning is even more severe. Having heard his closest disciples, through St. Peter (verse 69) declare that they will remain his followers because he "alone" has "words of eternal life", Jesus feels moved to alert them to an ever-present danger. Even the most elite, the closest to him, can fall victim to the devil and become overtaken within by him. His closest associates will not realise he is possessed until the damage is done. Even a Peter can let the smoke of Satan into the Holy Sanctuary! Sadly the Church in our day is tottering on collapse because of a line of deceitful collaborators who have abused their authority and conspired to take over control themselves, for their own power-crazed ambitions. They need to remember that Jesus has declared in detail how he will deal with devils; when he is ready!

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Who said Lord to whom shall we go? ›

Simon Peter answered Christ's question by asking, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68).

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 23? ›

The phrase translated as "you who work iniquity," literally means "you who break the law." Alternative translations are evildoers or lawbreakers. There is debate amongst scholars over whether this is a specific reference to the Law of Moses.

What does Matthew 28 6 say? ›

6: He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. The modern World English Bible translates the passage as: 5: The angel answered the women, “Don't be afraid, for I.

What are the words of eternal life? ›

The answer is Jesus, the Word of the Father who teaches us the words of eternal life; the Word made flesh who by the words of a priest comes to dwell among us and feed us with the grace of peace and strength.

What was Peter's question to Jesus? ›

'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Peter answered: 'God's Messiah.

How many questions did Jesus answer in the Bible? ›

Overview. Contrary to some common assumptions, Jesus is not the ultimate Answer Man, but more like the Great Questioner. In the Gospels Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. To be precise, Jesus asks 307 questions.

What is the will of God according to Matthew 7 21? ›

In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall. enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth. the will of my Father which is in heaven.

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 8? ›

In this view asking, seeking, and knocking are all metaphors for the act of prayer. In the original language the terms ask, seek, and knock are/were intended to mean a continuous act versus a one-time act: Ask (and keep asking), and it will be given you. Seek (and keep seeking), and you will find.

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 6? ›

Interpretations. The metaphor seems to be teaching against giving what is considered just or holy to those who do not appreciate it. Animals such as dogs and pigs cannot appreciate ethics, and this verse implies that there is even some class of human beings who cannot, either.

What does Matthew 28 means? ›

Matthew 28 is the twenty-eighth and final chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. This chapter records that Jesus is risen, describes the actions of the first witnesses to this event, and ends with the Great Commission.

Who is the other Mary in Matthew 28? ›

Gregory I the Great. In Adams' oratorio, which has a libretto by acclaimed avant-garde director Peter Sellars, the other Mary of the title is Mary Magdalene, Jesus' most steadfast female disciple, who was present at the Crucifixion and later beheld the risen Christ.

Who are the angels of God in the Bible? ›

Chapter 20 of the Book of Enoch mentions seven holy angels who watch, that often are considered the seven archangels: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Saraqael, Raguel, and Remiel. The Life of Adam and Eve lists the archangels as well: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael and Joel.

What is God's promise for eternal life? ›

The most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, says that Jesus came into the world so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

What must I do to receive eternal life? ›

No man can obtain the gift of eternal life unless he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in order to obtain it” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 261). What did Jesus teach about the relationship between having riches and entering the kingdom of God? (See Mark 10:23–25.)

What are words of life? ›

Words of Life rightly roots its thinking about Scripture in the doctrine of God, and that means trinitarian theology. His central insight: God's word is something that God does. The Bible is not simply an object to be studied but the principal means by which the Lord engages his people and administers his covenant.

Why was Peter so special to Jesus? ›

Roman Catholic tradition holds that Jesus established St. Peter as the first pope (Matthew 16:18). Jesus also gave him “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19), which is why he is often depicted at the gates of heaven in art and popular culture.

Why did God ask Peter if he loved? ›

Why Does Jesus Ask Peter 3 Times, "Do You Love Me?" - YouTube

How did Jesus forgive Peter? ›

Following his resurrection, Jesus took special care to rehabilitate Peter and assure him he was forgiven. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled the apostles. Peter was so overcome that he began to preach to the crowd. Acts 2:41 tells us 3,000 people were converted that day.

What is the last words in the Bible? ›

When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. That phrase is actually the translation of one word, “tetelestai,” in the original language of the Bible.

What verse is the longest in the Bible? ›

Esther 8:9 is the longest verse in the Bible. Sometimes a sentence spans more than one verse, as in the case of Ephesians 2:8–9, and sometimes there is more than one sentence in a single verse, as in the case of Genesis 1:2.

Who questioned Jesus? ›

John states that Jesus was first questioned by Annas, Caiaphas's father-in-law who had previously served as high priest, and as head of the Annas family was probably considered a leading authority on religious matters. Following a brief hearing, Jesus was then referred to Caiaphas (John 18:13-24).

How do I know if it's God's will or mine? ›

If you are really unsure about whether or not something is God's will, seek counsel from mature spiritual people who walk with the Lord. You are not meant to make all decisions by yourself. Ask someone who is more experienced than you if what you are thinking about sounds like God's will. Ask them to pray about it.

How do I know God's will for my life? ›

Be in prayer

Take time each day to devote yourself to the Lord and the plans He has for your life. If you are giving each area of your life to God, then He will bless it and be able to work through it abundantly.

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 24? ›

To conclude His sermon on the mount, Jesus reminds His audience to remember one simple rule: Listen and obey "these words of mine." Those who serve in military and law enforcement are extremely familiar with the principle of listen and obey, for the sake of their safety and the protection of others depends on it.

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 22? ›

Matthew 7:22 is the twenty-second verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This verse continues Jesus' warning against false prophets.

What is the spiritual meaning of Matthew 7 7? ›

Explanation and Commentary of Matthew 7:7

Jesus explains that our Father in heaven loves to answer our prayers and give us that which we seek. He tells his disciples that just like a good father gives good things to his children, so will your Father when we sincerely ask, seek, and knock.

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 verse 11? ›

unto your children, how much more shall your Father which. is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? The World English Bible translates the passage as: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts. to your children, how much more will your Father who.

What is the meaning of Matthew 8 22? ›

Chrysostom: "This saying does not condemn natural affection to our parents, but shows that nothing ought to be more binding on us than the business of heaven; that to this we ought to apply ourselves with all our endeavours, and not to be slack, however necessary or urgent are the things that draw us aside.

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 4? ›

Fowler sees this verse as stating that those with major flaws should keep quiet about the flaws of others until their own are dealt with. He links this to the metaphor of the blind leading the blind, if you follow one who cannot see you will simply follow the blind one into disaster.

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 29? ›

authority, and not as the scribes. The English Standard Version translates the passage as: for he was teaching them as one who. had authority, and not as their scribes. For a collection of other versions see BibleHub Matthew 7:29.

What is the meaning of Matthew 7 24? ›

To conclude His sermon on the mount, Jesus reminds His audience to remember one simple rule: Listen and obey "these words of mine." Those who serve in military and law enforcement are extremely familiar with the principle of listen and obey, for the sake of their safety and the protection of others depends on it.

What's the meaning of Matthew 7? ›

We should seek the guidance of the Spirit in our decisions. We should limit our judgments to our own stewardships. Whenever possible we should refrain from judging people until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. So far as possible, we should judge circumstances rather than people.

What is the will of the Lord? ›

The will of God or divine will is a concept found in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, according to which God's will is the first cause of everything that exists.

What does workers of iniquity mean in the Bible? ›

Iniquity in Hebrew is “Avon” and means “to bend, twist, distort” so iniquities are a bending, twisting, or distorting of the law or God's Word to different degrees worthy of punishment (as we shall read later). Iniquity is certainly a violation of the right or duty that mankind is under obligation to do.


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