Responding to the Bread of Life
John 6:60–71

Good Morning, from the Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team, to all who are reading this message; I welcome each of you gathering by way of the internet. Once again, I praise God as we are able to share His Word all over the world.

The title of my message is “Responding to the Bread of Life” and the scripture is found in John 6:60-71 which we’ll read as we go through the message. If you would turn there, you will be able to follow along.

Brief background: Christ the day before had fed the multitude. The following day in Capernaum in the synagogue, He claimed to come from heaven and to be the bread of life. He told them that they had soul hunger which was infinitely worse than physical hunger and there was only one thing that could satisfy their souls and that was He Himself. And thus He has claimed to be the bread of life, the only soul food that can really satisfy. 

He concluded in verse 58. Verse 59 tells us where He preached it. Now, verses 60–71 we find their reaction to His words on the bread of life which brings us to the climax in our Lord’s Galilean ministry. 

Jesus had performed miracles. He had taught. He had turned the water into wine in Galilee. He had healed the nobleman’s son without even seeing him. He had fed the hungry multitude. On that very same day He had performed many miracles. He had taught and taught and each of His miracles singularly accredited Him as being the Son of God. Collectively they are beyond the possibility of question or refute. He had unquestionably given evidence of His deity and unbelief became inexcusable. 

In addition to all of His works had been His words. His works had been convincing but His words were even more convincing. He had offered Himself freely to them as the bread from heaven to nourish their souls and then He had warned them in these words; “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you,” the climax. If you want life, it is in Me and nowhere else, there is no other resource. 

Their response to all this was unbelief. It was the same response that He had received in Judea and Jerusalem. And incidentally, it is the very same response He gets today when He claims to be the only food that can satisfy a man’s soul, when He claims to be all that a man needs, He gets the same response, unbelief. 

People are enamored with the person of Christ. They’re enamored with the things He did. But as soon as He opens His mouth and starts to make commands, they walk away in anger and offense. It’s amazing how the Bible is a living Word; it mirrors the heart of two thousand years ago. It’s the same kind of heart today as men treat Him the same as they did then. 

So Jesus came, a few people followed Him, they liked what He did. As soon as He became definitive and says, “This is My standard, this is what I want, this is what you are …” Whoosh … they were gone and not just gone and indifferent, but gone in hostility. So the great declaration of this chapter is He is the bread of life; it brings to front three different groups, each one giving a different reaction. 

Number one, the Jews reacted very hostile against Christ. They were antagonistic. They just threw up a wall of unbelief. Hostility was their reaction. 

Then you have a second group, and that’s the group of false disciples. They hung around long enough to ask Him a few questions. They moved around with Him. They weren’t really willing to hear what He had to say, they only wanted free food and to see miracles. 

So we have a large number who had been attracted by His miracles and by the free food and enamored by His personality but didn’t believe He was the Messiah. They didn’t believe He was God in human flesh. They weren’t convinced He was the Son of the living God. They’re simply attracted by the physical phenomena. But as Jesus moves from deeds to words, all of a sudden, the rift comes. It was all right when He fed them and it was all right when He healed them, but as soon as He started to talk about being the bread of life that came from heaven and you’ve got to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He turned them off fast; they could take His person and His works but not His words. So many folks today are doing the same thing; running around the world to see some miracle worker because Jesus’ words simply aren’t enough. 

Verse 60, “Many therefore of His disciples when they had heard this said, ‘This is an hard saying, who can hear it.” or who can hear Him. Notice these are actually called disciples. The word “disciple” just means follower. It doesn’t qualify the type or motive of following. When you see the word “disciple” in the Bible, it doesn’t have to mean the Twelve disciples. It doesn’t have to mean that they were honest disciples. It only means they followed Him around. 

So here He’s got this crowd of more or less interested folks, they’re not hostile enough to blow the scene when He starts talking, they hung around a little while and they’ve listened to Him on the bread of life. But now they’re reacting. They could take His person and His works, but His words they can’t tolerate. So immediately upon Christ’s words they have joined themselves with the hostile Jews. They say, “Whoa, wait a minute, that’s all, we want out.” They don’t like what He said. 

Isn’t it amazing how much the world is attracted and charmed by the work of Christ and the person of Christ. But O how much they hate the words of Christ. I think that’s one reason why Christmas is such a big thing; the world knows nothing better than to get Christ back in a manger where He can’t say anything, keep Him a little baby. It’s all right to have a sweet, lovable nice Christ who does nice things and heals sick people, and has got a wonderful social orientation. This is the garbage the liberals pump out. But as soon as He stands up and said, “You’re a sinner on your way to hell and I’m the only answer,” they can’t buy that. 

So, we have this characteristic of the false followers. They say, “Oh, this is a hard thing.” And the word “hard” is skleros, it means withered, dried, stiff, dried out and the context here is not the idea that this is not registering on our brain. They’re saying. “Listen, this is objectionable and offensive to believe.” They’re not saying we don’t understand, they’re saying we don’t want to believe this stuff. 

First, they didn’t like the idea that He said He came from heaven. “What do you mean He came from heaven? We know Your father, Joseph and Mary, they live over there in Nazareth.” Secondly, they didn’t like the idea that He said He was the only answer to a man’s spiritual need. That’s egotism to them. The third thing that really capped off their attitude was that He said you had to eat My flesh and drink My blood and they said, “Whoa …” they didn’t like anything He said. They found it intolerable and they cried out and said, “Who can hear this stuff? Who can stand here and listen to that stuff?” And immediately they disqualified Jesus from being their Messiah because He didn’t fit their messianic mold. 

The key to false discipleship is to accept the person of Christ but reject His words. Almost every false disciple falls at this point. In John 8:31, “Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on Him,” they had an initial faith, that’s not talking about saving faith, they were just there and they sort of were concerned about finding out more about Him. He says, “The real proof of your true belief is you continue in My word.” Not that you’re hung up on My person, but if you can take My word in truth, in reality then are ye My disciples. True discipleship is that discipleship that accepts and believes the words of Christ. 

The character of false discipleship is, “Yeah, Jesus is okay, but just don’t let Him open His mouth and make any demands of me.” That’s why Jesus said, “And blessed is he who shall not be offended in Me.” To refuse His word is to refuse salvation. It doesn’t do anybody any good to just think who Christ is and reject what He said. 

The words of Christ are the key to true discipleship. John 5:24, He says, “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life.” 

You call yourself a disciple? A follower of Jesus? Do you without exception believe His Word? That’s the mark of real discipleship. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, can you hear Christ’s condemnation of sin; can you hear His perfect moral demands and say I believe? Men’s refusal of Christ doesn’t always come because they can’t understand; it’s not an intellectual problem. It comes because they’re challenged, confronted and condemned by the words of Christ and they walk away. 

Verse 61, “When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, does this offend you?” Nobody needs to tell Him what’s in the heart of man. “Is this bothering you, men? Does this offend you?” You pretend an interest in Me, has My message killed your attraction? Has My message destroyed your belief? Is this the end of your interest in Me? You could take Me when I did this and did that and fed your stomachs, but do My words kill your attraction and your interest?” 

They were there for what they could get. If they really wanted to know they would have fallen on their knees and said, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Lord, explain to me, I don’t understand.” 

So Jesus says, “Have I killed all your hopes by My message? Is it too hard to swallow? Impossible to believe?” And He leaves it like that and they never reply. Then He gives this absolutely fabulous statement in verse 62, “What if you shall see the Son of Man ascend up where He was before?” 

What is He’s saying to them? Their Number one problem was they couldn’t believe He came down from heaven. Their number two problem was they didn’t get this deal about eating His body and drinking His blood. And He was talking of spiritually taking Him in. “Christ in you the hope of glory” means you accept His person and work on the cross sacrificially receiving it into your life. 

He says to them, “You don’t believe I came from heaven, “What if you see Me go back there, would that maybe indicate to you that I also came from there?” You’re hung up on the fact that I came from heaven, in My ascension I’m going back there. The ascension was the proof of where He came from. 

So, verse 62 is profound, He not only predicts His ascension, but He uses His ascension to answer the problems of their unbelief. Just to show you that’s the correct interpretation, look at verse 63. “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing.” Now, He’s not talking about the Holy Spirit. He’s not all of a sudden teaching the new birth. He’s contrasting spirit with flesh. He’s saying it’s not my physical body that needs to be in you, it’s My spirit. 

Christ is saying, “It’s the real Me that I want in you.” Isn’t that what Paul meant when he said, “Christ in you,”? It means the person of Christ received into us. So, He says, “It is the spirit that gives life,” My life coming into your life. Paul says, “Nevertheless I live, yet not I but the life which I live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” My life is Christ in me. 

He’s trying to get the message to them, and us, I want you to take Me, the real Me, My being, My person, My character, receive Me into you by faith. So Jesus says I came from heaven, I’m going to return to heaven. 

Then Jesus hits the crux of the issue again. Verse 63 in the middle, “The words …” there they are again, “The words that I speak unto you they are spirit …” They reveal My real self and they are life. What is the dividing line then? It is the words of Jesus Christ, for they and they alone reveal who He really is. He says it is My word that is the key. Words reflect the spirit … that is My words reflect who and what I am, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” I am what I am and will reveal what I am by what I say. You accept the words of Christ and in fact you have received Him. Paul says in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing about Christ.” It is the words themselves, empowered by the Spirit of God that give life. 

That is a biblical principle. Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them.” “They became the joy and rejoicing of My heart.” Taking in the word of God is to receive God, for the only expression God ever gave definitively is His words. And that’s where true and false discipleship separate company. The false disciple can take everything up to the word. That’s why you can categorize most of liberalism and modernism under that category of false discipleship. Whenever they start explaining away the words of Christ and denying the inspiration of the Word of God, you can file them in the false follower category. 

There’s an important note I want to make here. Jesus is giving a rather detailed explanation to these false followers. And it’s an interesting thought because He gave absolutely no explanation to the Jews. They didn’t believe and so He just turned away and made it more complicated, more profound and they didn’t know what was going on. To these followers even though they’re false followers, Christ at least condescends to give them some more information. 

There’s a principle there and we’ve covered that in past weeks, let me just remind you, Jesus never committed Himself to unbelief. Where there is the slightest opening of possibility of faith, Christ commits Himself. To the hostile Jew … nothing. To the would-be more-or-less follower, Christ will commit Himself and take the time to give a detailed answer. I’ll say it another way, Jesus never caters to unbelief but to the would-be disciple He gives Himself. He always honors the seeker. 

Now we get to verse 64, even in spite of His honoring them and giving them this information, they still don’t believe. Verse 64, “But there are some of you that believe not …” That’s a tragic statement. The most horrible word in the Bible is unbelief. They wouldn’t believe. He doesn’t say, “Well, I’m sorry that some of you don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand. Some of you just haven’t quite got the argument yet.” It doesn’t say that. It says, “You just don’t believe.” 

You see, salvation is not a question of intelligence; it’s a question of faith. The simplest child can understand the simple message of Jesus Christ and believe. So He doesn’t say to them, “You don’t understand,” He says, “You don’t believe, that’s your problem.” If you don’t believe you can’t understand it. Notice that’s serious personal responsibility. He says, “You don’t believe,” putting the responsibility on them. 

But wait, verse 64, “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not and who should betray Him.” He knew the very one who would betray Him. He not only knew the multitude of false disciples who wouldn’t believe, but He knew that singular one Judas. He knew and He said, “Therefore said I unto you that no man can come unto Me except it were given unto him by My Father.” He knows who the Father calls who will come and who won’t come. That’s in the decree of God in eternity past. So, again He explains their unbelief by the fact that God has not drawn them. But He also holds them personally responsible by saying, “Some of you don’t believe.” 

Then He adds this thought, jump down to verse 70. “Jesus answered them, ‘Have not I chosen you Twelve and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for he it was that should betray Him being one of the Twelve.” 

Why does He take the time to describe this betrayer here?” I think because, if He’s talking about false disciples and showing us the character of false disciples, who is the greatest example of a false disciple? Judas. So Judas becomes the illustration. Jesus says, “I knew Judas would betray Me from the beginning.” 

Tragically, Judas is no solitary monster. It would have been bad enough if there was only one Judas but there have been millions. There may be Judases here this morning, Judases who have sat at Christ’s table and eaten His bread, Judases who have contrived discipleship and love and then decided to lift up against Him. It would have been bad enough if Jesus had endured one Judas kiss; He has been kissed a million times with Judas lips. 

To hypocritically confess Christ with your mouth while your life denies Him, to exalt His virtues while your life robs Him of His place, to sing enthusiastic hymns and songs and oratories or whatever while you trample His gospel by Your word and deed, what is that but another Judas kiss. 

Everything’s okay as long as it’s the person and the work but when the words of Christ become demanding and just aren’t what you thought they should be, you leave. 

Verse 66, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him.” False disciples can’t take it when it gets to the crucial. They can’t hack it. So we meet the false followers and Jesus finds them coming and going all through His ministry. 

Now, I want us to see the character of a true disciple. In verses 67–69, just three verses. God always has His remnant. God always has His faithful. God always has some who believe. There are always some who hold on to Jesus Christ, always some who trust, always that quote “little flock,” that few. Verse 67 is a broken-hearted plea, “Then said Jesus unto the Twelve, Will ye also go away?” That’s a brokenhearted statement. 

The Greek indication of this question is much different than what you have in your Bible. Let me read this question as it appears in the Greek. “You won’t also go away, will you?” That’s the question. They’ve all left, but almost melancholy Jesus says, “You won’t also go away, will you?” A broken heart. Thank the Lord for Peter, he jumps up in verse 68, “Then Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’ ” Don’t you like that? “No, Lord, where would we go?” Is that the character of true discipleship? Then he says, “Thou hast the words of eternal life and we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

There is the key to discipleship. Two things make a true disciple? Faith, “Lord, we believe.” “We are sure who You are, we believe.’ The other one is Faithfulness. “Lord, where would we go.”  Not only do I believe You, I stay where You are. 

“If you continue in My Word then you are My disciples.” In other words, faith is the birth of the true disciple. Faithfulness is the character of the true disciple. So Peter says in that little statement the whole of the Christian life in one thought. Faith and faithfulness. I believe, I’m staying where You are. This is living conscious of Christ’s presence. 

Peter couldn’t stand to be away from Jesus. He couldn’t stand to be anywhere that Jesus wasn’t. He wanted always be where Christ was. This is illustrated so many times. He says, “Lord, I’m not going anywhere, You couldn’t get rid of me.” That’s the kind of Christian life that’s the real life of the disciples, just constantly practicing the presence of Jesus Christ knowing He’s right there beside you. “Lord, share my life, share my trials, share my joys, share my decisions, share my temptations.” Constant involvement with Jesus Christ. That’s discipleship. Lord, I have faith. Lord, I have faithfulness. I believe in You and I’m staying where You are. There’s the whole Christian life right there. 

God doesn’t need very many. It’s not how many, it’s what kind. He had His eleven. You and I who know Christ are here this morning because that eleven two thousand years ago had faith and faithfulness. 

Lord it’s my prayer this morning that we have a room full of Faith and Faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!


When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click here and may you be blessed by the song, "I Am the Bread of Life."