John 6:60 — 71

[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The Beginning John 1:1-2].

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who were the ones who did not believe and who was the one who would betray him. 65 And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

 Πολλοὶ οὖν ἀκούσαντες ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ εἶπαν· Σκληρός ἐστιν ὁ λόγος οὗτος· τίς δύναται αὐτοῦ ἀκούειν; 61 εἰδὼς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὅτι γογγύζουσιν περὶ τούτου οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Τοῦτο ὑμᾶς σκανδαλίζει; 62 ἐὰν οὖν θεωρῆτε τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀναβαίνοντα ὅπου ἦν τὸ πρότερον; 63 τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν τὸ ζῳοποιοῦν, ἡ σὰρξ οὐκ ὠφελεῖ οὐδέν· τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἐγὼ λελάληκα ὑμῖν πνεῦμά ἐστιν καὶ ζωή ἐστιν. 64 ἀλλὰ εἰσὶν ἐξ ὑμῶν τινες οἳ οὐ πιστεύουσιν. ᾔδει γὰρ ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὁ Ἰησοῦς τίνες εἰσὶν οἱ μὴ πιστεύοντες καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ παραδώσων αὐτόν. 65 καὶ ἔλεγεν· Διὰ τοῦτο εἴρηκα ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐδεὶς δύναται ἐλθεῖν πρός με ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ δεδομένον αὐτῷ ἐκ τοῦ πατρός.

66 Ἐκ τούτου πολλοὶ ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ ἀπῆλθον εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω καὶ οὐκέτι μετ’ αὐτοῦ περιεπάτουν. 67 εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς δώδεκα· Μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς θέλετε ὑπάγειν; 68 ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ Σίμων Πέτρος· Κύριε, πρὸς τίνα ἀπελευσόμεθα; ῥήματα ζωῆς αἰωνίου ἔχεις, 69 καὶ ἡμεῖς πεπιστεύκαμεν καὶ ἐγνώκαμεν ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ. 70 ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Οὐκ ἐγὼ ὑμᾶς τοὺς δώδεκα ἐξελεξάμην; καὶ ἐξ ὑμῶν εἷς διάβολός ἐστιν. 71 ἔλεγεν δὲ τὸν Ἰούδαν Σίμωνος Ἰσκαριώτου· οὗτος γὰρ ἔμελλεν παραδιδόναι αὐτόν, εἷς ἐκ τῶν δώδεκα.


I have to say, this chapter feels like it will never end. Last time, we went over one of the most difficult sections of the New Testament: Jesus told a crowd they must eat his flesh and drink his blood prior to any eucharistic context. Today we wrap up the chapter with verses that likely began right after verse 50, with verses 51-59 added to give context to Jesus as the Bread of Life, yet containing eucharistic motifs that would have been baffling to the crowd in chapter 6. IF we assume that is true, that verses 60-71actually follow verse 50 with verses 51-29 dropped in, THEN verses in the latter part of John 6 make sense.

For example, Jesus said in verses 56 and 57 of this chapter: 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. And then, as the text is now, Jesus said six verses later: 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. That is simply odd.

However, verses 60-71 continue with the themes that had been developed through verses 1-50, and it makes things must clearer. Even though Jesus tries to make the argument that his presence as the Bread of Life given from Heaven is life-giving, his followers find this “scandalous” (v. 61 literally in Greek. “Highly offensive.”). This crowd of followers gathered around him because he gave them free miracle bread earlier, but now the teaching gets hard (v. 60, “hard, harsh”). They murmur (one of our favorite Greek words — here the form is γογγύζουσιν — used in the Greek Old Testament to translate from Hebrew the murmuring of the Hebrews wandering in the desert).

The result of Jesus’ difficult sermon is that many of his disciples literally “break off” (v. 66). And then a rather sentimental scene evolves. Jesus turns to his inner core of followers — The Twelve — and asks, “Do you also wish to go away?” Peter answers, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” These verses echo the Synoptic Gospels when Jesus asked, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Notice Jesus’ reference to the Son of Man here in John 6:62.

So, what can we make of all this? Sometimes, the teaching gets hard. We may not comprehend it. It may challenge our deeply held beliefs. It may feel too scandalous to believe; too radical; too much of an upheaval of our lives! But I love Peter’s response to Jesus: where else will we go? We believe in YOU! We trust in YOU! The words may not make sense…yet…but we TRUST you!

Yep. LOTS of times in life I had no clue what was going on…I just trusted. It isn’t a philosophy, a theology, a tactical set of tools, or a self-help guru — it’s the Person of Christ I’ve grown to love and trust even when I don’t understand.

And therein lies PEACE and HOPE. To God be the glory!