Treasures from God’s Word and Digging for Spiritual Gems – “Following Jesus with the right motive” (John 5-6)
“Because the people had the wrong motive for associating with Jesus and his disciples, they stumbled at his words (…. “feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood” study note on John 6:54, nwtsty; w05 9/1 21 ¶13-14)”
The study note on John 6:54 states “Jesus made this statement in 32 C.E., so he was not discussing the Lord’s Evening Meal, which he would institute a year later. He made this declaration just prior to “the Passover, the festival of the Jews” (John 6:4), so his listeners would likely have been reminded of the impending festival and the significance of the lamb’s blood in saving lives on the night that Israel left Egypt (Exodus 12:24-27)”.
This study note exemplifies how making such definite claims when there is not sufficient evidence leaves one open to criticism. We have to be careful about going beyond what is written. (1 Corinthians 4:6)
It is true he wasn’t specifically discussing the Lord’s Evening Meal as he didn’t specifically mention it and it had not yet occurred. Nonetheless he was discussing the principles and importance of that meal. After all Jesus likely knew (by means of Holy Spirit) that he would be instituting this memorial observance. He also ensured that the important things he wanted to teach his disciples were emphasised many times, often with extra details, such as his return. This meant that when he needed to pass on an important point about one of these subjects, it was easier and quicker for his disciples to grasp. (E.g. Luke 17:20-37, repeated later in Matthew 24:23-31)
When the disciples were at the Lord’s Evening Meal a year later, perhaps they remembered what Jesus said on this occasion and they understood better why the occasion. If they did not then, certainly they would later upon reflection.
The really important point though, is not when he spoke these words, but the import of the message he gave.
John 6:26 says “26 Jesus answered them and said: “Most truly I say to YOU, YOU are looking for me, not because YOU saw signs, but because YOU ate from the loaves and were satisfied.”
Many of his disciples at that time had a very fleshly view of anything. They went and did things to satisfy themselves, without thought of others and without thought of God. How they responded to Jesus sayings helped separate out those true disciples who after his death formed the nucleus of the early Christians.
How could we fall in the same trap today as some of the first Century disciples? There are a few ways.
- We could be ‘rice Christian’s’ literally. Many have joined Christianity because of the physical benefits, in getting food aid, or medical treatment, or the help of others in times of need. These ones are like the first Century Jews, desiring physical things to satisfy themselves without any other thought.
- We could be “spiritual rice Christians”. How so? By desiring to be spoon fed all the time and not being prepared to obtain our own spiritual food by researching in the Scriptures for ourselves. Attitudes like ‘I prefer someone to tell me what’s right and wrong’, ‘I live in a nice box, and I am not comfortable outside my box’, and a very common excuse, ‘the truth or Organization may have flaws, but it’s the best way of living and I am happy’.
All of these viewpoints reveal a selfish point of view. That of ‘Satisfy oneself and don’t worry about others or what God wants of us. I’m happy, that’s all that matters.’ It is an easy trap to fall into, so we need to be on our guard against it.
- There is another vitally important message in this passage of scripture. John 5:24 and John 6:27,29,35,40,44,47,51,53,54,57,58,67,68 all contain the phrase or equivalent “exercises faith” in Jesus and many add “will have everlasting life”. Jesus could hardly have emphasised it more.
- John 6:27 “Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting, which the Son of man will give YOU”
- John 6:29 “This is the work of God, that YOU exercise faith in him whom that One sent forth.”
- John 6:35 “Jesus said to them: “I am the bread of life. He that comes to me will not get hungry at all, and he that exercises faith in me will never get thirsty at all”
- John 6:40 “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day.”
- John 6:44 “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him; and I will resurrect him in the last day.”
- John 6:47 “Most truly I say to YOU, He that believes has everlasting life.”
- John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever;”
- John 6:53 “Accordingly Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Unless YOU eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, YOU have no life in yourselves.”
- John 6:54 “He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day”
- John 6:57 “he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me”
- John 6:58 “He that feeds on this bread will live forever.””
- John 6:67-68 “YOU do not want to go also, do YOU?” 68 Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life””
This passage of scripture recording Jesus teaching to his disciples and the crowds listening, made it absolutely clear that without exercising faith in Jesus Christ, everlasting life would not be possible. He is the means Jehovah has provided for us to gain everlasting life. It is therefore very wrong to minimise his role and point all our attention to Jehovah. Yes, Jehovah is God Almighty and the Creator, but we should never pay just lip service to the importance of his son and appointed king.
John 5:22-24 contains a cautionary message about having the right attitude to Jesus and his position when it says “For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son, 23 in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Most truly I say to YOU, He that hears my word and believes him that sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life.”
The problem today within the Organization is that as Jesus warned “YOU are searching the Scriptures, because YOU think that by means of them YOU will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me.” The Organization is so fixated on getting us preaching and attending meetings that it has forgotten Jesus primary commandment, to love Jehovah and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40, 1 John 5:1-3). After having faith in Jesus, it is to have love for others just as Jesus had. It is necessary to show this love in many, many ways. If we have love for others, all other important things follow as they are demonstrations of showing love. A focus on solely on preaching and meeting attendance as requisites for everlasting life leads to missing the entire point of Jesus message. They should be the natural result of love for others, rather than the object of one’s means to show love, so as to save oneself.