John 6:35-40 - The Work of God

Today's lesson dives deeper into the work of God in our salvation.
• Taking our cues from Jesus we will seek to understand just how necessary the Father's work is.
• We will also try and understand how Jesus views his role in light of the Father's work.


Jesus’ bread:
John 6:35 (ESV) — 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

It must be pointed out that is the first of seven of the “I am” statements of Jesus.
• “I am the bread of life” – John 6:35
• “I am the light of the world” – John 8:12
• “I am the door” – John 10:7
• “I am the good shepherd” – John 10:11
• “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:25
• “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” – John 14:6
• “I am the true vine” – John 15:1

And like the living water offered to the woman at the well, the “bread of life” he offers is eternally satisfying.
• John 4:14 (ESV) — 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.”
• This is in stark contrast to the manna the crowd mentioned in John 6:31 when suggesting that Jesus’ work was not equal to the work of Moses.
• Jesus says as much in John 6:58 (ESV) — 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.

Moving on, we must notice that Jesus once again mentions the “whoevers”; a topic he addressed in John 3:16-21.

We learned from John 3 the following about the first “whoevers”:
• They believe
• They come to light
• They are not condemned
• They do truth
• These are the people described to Nicodemus as the born again in John 3:1-8 and thus have saving faith.
• They shall not hunger – from today’s text
• They shall not thirst – from today’s text

And in John 3 we also learned of the second “whoevers”:
• They don’t believe
• They hate the light
• They are condemned
• They do wickedness
• These are the people John tells us about in John 2:23-25; they have no saving faith

Obviously, in verse 35, Jesus is referring to the 1st “whoevers”.
• And we must remember that no third “whoever” exists – all of humanity is either one or the other.

Jesus makes clear in our text that access to the “bread of life” He offers is conditional.
• His bread is enjoyed only by the first “whoevers”.
• Which in our text are described as those that “come” (erchomai) and “believe” (pisteuo).

Jesus then makes an obvious yet remarkable confession.

John 6:36 (ESV) — 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
• Jesus has many, but this has got to be one of the most profound statements He ever makes.
• Considering the claims that He, John the Gospel writer and John the Baptist make about Him, it seems remarkable that any creature could be in His presence and not bow down in awe and wonder with every step He takes or every word He utters.

In just 6 chapters Jesus has been described as:
• The Word (1:1), God (1:1), Creator (1:3), The Light (1:4), The Lamb of God (1:36), the one whom Moses and Prophets wrote (1:45), Son of God (1:49), King of Israel (1:49), Source of Living Water (4:10), Messiah (1:41; 4:26), Savior of the World (4:42), Equal with God (5:18), Giver of Life (5:21), The Judge (5:22), Honored as the Father (5:26), Borne Witness to by the Father (5:37), Prophet (6:14), King (6:15), Rabbi (6:25).

He has, under the Father’s authority, expressed his divine power by:
• Omniscience (1:48), Turning water into wine (2:9), Healing a child (4:50), Healing an invalid (5:8), Feeding the 5,000 (6:11), Walking on Water (6:19), “Teleporting” the boat to its destination (6:21).

How is it then, that Jesus, who is and does all these things, can be rejected and not even recognized by so many?
• This fact seems to speak volumes about either the claims of Jesus or the capacity of humanity.
    o Interestingly Mark 6:6 tells us that even Jesus, when confronted with the rejection of His home town, “marveled because of their unbelief”.
• We have already seen that part of the answer lies in the “whoevers”.
But why, no matter the spiritual condition of man, do not all become the believing “whoevers” when confronted by the Jesus who is and does all these things?

And just to remind us of the depth of this paradox, John speaks of it elsewhere:
• John 5:43 (ESV) — 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me.
• John 12:37 (ESV) — 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,
• John 15:24 (ESV) — 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.

It would appear that the only reasonable conclusion that one could arrive at is that either Jesus is mistaken about who He is, or He is failing in His work to reconcile the Jews and Gentiles to God.
• Even Paul acknowledges this paradox when speaking of the Jews rejection of Jesus in Romans 9:6–13 (ESV) — 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel…

But Jesus has something to say about this paradox.

The Father Gives:
John 6:37 (ESV) — 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Look closely at what Jesus is saying here, and will reiterate later in this discourse.
• The crowd does NOT believe in Jesus because He is bogus or unconvincing, or because He has failed in his mission.
• Jesus doesn’t even attribute their unbelief to their fallen and sinful nature which is certainly a reason.
• Jesus says that the crowd does NOT believe because they have not been given to Him by the Father.

Moreover, Jesus knows they have not been given to Him because all those given to Him will come to Him!
• And Jesus can be sure of this, not based on anything man does, but due to the work of the Father.

We must pay particular attention to the words Jesus uses in this verse to really flesh out their meaning.

Jesus gives us a dynamic concept – Father Gives/We Come/Jesus Receives
• And in verse 44, Jesus fleshes out this concept even more by giving the converse statement of John 6:37.
• There the Father gives and we come and in John 6:44 one can’t come unless drawn.
• John 6:44 (ESV) — 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.
• We then see that – Father Draws/Father Gives/We Come/Jesus Receives.
• This is a great deal of action by the Creator and much less by the created.

So what do all these words signify?
(1) “Draws” refers to an act of the Father within a person that orientates or instills within them “a powerful impulse” “in the direction of” Jesus Christ – BDAG & TDNT.
• It is believed by many that this is the new birth from John 3.
• “The new birth is something that happens in us when the Holy Spirit takes our dead hearts and unites us to Christ by faith so that his life becomes our life” – John Piper.
• And this is why D.A. Carson says, “even the faith that we must exercise is the fruit of God’s activity”.
    o That activity is of course the drawing, the new birth.
• John 12:32 (ESV) — 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
    o And fortunately for us, the Father will draw both Jew and Gentile without distinction!
(2) “Gives” means “to entrust someone to another’s care” – BDAG.
• John 17:9 (ESV) — 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
• The Father has entrusted those He has drawn to Christ so Christ can see to it that the drawn may “never be cast out”.
(3) “Come” literally means “the coming of a worshiper to a deity” – BDAG.
• Those that are drawn and given will worship/believe/“get” Jesus.
• In other words, the Father will entrust those to Christ who worship Him as Lord and Savior!

An implication here is that unlike Jesus’ relationship with mankind as revealed in John 2:24 where Jesus is said to “not entrust Himself to them”.
• Here we see that those entrusted to Christ can be entrusted in by Christ based on the drawing and giving of the Father and the coming of the drawn and given.

POI – An important rabbit trail here is the “coming” of the disciples.
• We know that during their time with Christ they were called hard hearted, Satan, and seemed incapable of “getting” so much of what Christ was teaching them.
• In other words, they were very similar to unbelievers.
• However, we also see that they were the picture of “the coming of a worshiper to a deity”.
• John 1:49 (ESV) — 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
• Matthew 14:33 (ESV) — 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
• Luke 5:8 (ESV) — 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

(4) “Receives” is fleshed out in the bread of life discourse with statements such as:
• “I will never cast out” – John 6:37
• “I should lose nothing” – John 6:39
• “Raise it up on the last day” – John 6:39
• “Have eternal life” – John 6:40
• “Raise him up on the last day” – John 6:40
• We will talk more of this shortly.

Paul also illustrates this dynamic between the action of the Father and the coming of the believer.
• Romans 8:29–30 (ESV) — 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
• Ephesians 1:4–6 (ESV) — 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

And this dynamic is why Christ can say things like:
• Luke 16:31 (ESV) — 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’
    o If they aren’t drawn and given by the Father, there is no convincing so there will be no coming.
• Matthew 13:13–15 (ESV) — 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’”
    o The drawn and given are those that will “hear”/“understand” and “see”/“perceive” – COME.
    o The drawn and given are those that Christ will “heal” – RECEIVE.

So, not only has Jesus not failed in His ministry, but He has not failed because ultimately it is the Father who draws those that come.
• In His grace and by His Spirit, the Father makes us new and in that act we choose to come to Christ.
• Because of this Jesus can know that He will leave none behind – there are no what if’s.
o What if Jesus spoke one more sentence?
o What if Jesus gave one more sign?
o What if Jesus revealed Himself one more time?
o What if Jesus used one more metaphor?
o What if Jesus spoke one more parable?

BTW – this should also free us to speak the Gospel.
• We have not failed if no one believes!
• We have succeeded in that we have been obedient to the call and command of our Lord.


John 6:38–40 (ESV) — 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Pertaining to the Father Draws/Father Gives/We Come/Jesus Receives dynamic, Jesus explains what His “receiving” entails.
• Notice, first however, that again Jesus’ receiving is conditional to “everyone who looks on the Son and believes”.
    o In other words, His receiving is only for those who come.
    o And, as just learned, those who come are those that were drawn and given by the Father.
• Three times he states that it is the Father’s will that He receives those the Father gives Him.
• Jesus’ apparently defines the reason for His 3+ years on this planet as, in effect, completing the Father’s work.
For the believer, how awesome and humbling is that?
• You are a reason Jesus was made flesh.
• He came, in part, to receive you!
And then Jesus describes this “receiving” as:
• Losing nothing
• Raising it up
• Having eternal life
• Raising him up

For the believer, Jesus’ words are a great assurance of the believer’s eternal security.
• We will not be lost, we will be raised, and we will have eternal life.
• And our supreme confidence can rest in the fact that this is not due to anything we have done.
• But it can be attributed to the gracious drawing and giving of the Father that enabled us to come to Jesus and be received by Him.

Questions to consider for our upcoming lesson:
• Does the Father draw all of mankind?
• For the Gospel offer to be fair, must not everyone have the moral ability to respond in the affirmative?
• If all men possess an autonomous, libertarian free will and from this footing can either decide to be one “whoever” or the other, then doesn’t that mean that Jesus HAS failed in convincing unbelievers and has lost out to the power of Satan?
• Can someone who has come in response to being drawn, given and received simply decide later to reject the work of the Father and Christ and become an unbeliever again?