Meditations on Various Scriptures 9

John 6:41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven ‘?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

The Jews were grumbling about Jesus because He spoke of Himself as being the bread that came down out of heaven. They knew Him, or at least they thought so, and knew of his father and mother. It did not make sense to them that he claimed to have come down out of heaven. Jesus told them not to grumble and told them that no one could come to Him unless the Father who sent Him would draw that person. This was a huge and hard teaching for the Jews of that day to grasp and it is a hard teaching in our day for people to grasp. We must not be surprised that the full deity of Christ is not accepted since it is a hard teaching for the natural mind to grasp.

The words of Jesus are also hard and it certainly appears that they are virtually universally denied. The word “can” is a word of power and ability. It is a word that speaks of what a person can actually carry out. Jesus speaks universally when He said that no one had the power or ability to come to Him. This type of teaching causes an outcry when it is taught, even among those who think of themselves as Reformed. Surely, it is said, we must not tell men that they have no power or ability or this will discourage them. I suppose those modern people should have been around tell that to Jesus as He had not quite arrived at that understanding yet. We must not back away from the clear teachings of Jesus the Christ. When He told a crowd of people that they had no power and ability to come to Him, that did not make Him a hyper-Calvinist or a defeatist of any kind. He was telling men the One that they were to look to in order to come to Him.

In the very words of Jesus we have Him speaking to a crowd about why they would not come to Him and why they could not come to Him. He also set out how people do in reality come to Him. These things must not be played down because of how it does not fit with what we like. In contrast to that, instead of explaining this passage away because we don’t like it perhaps we should deal with what He said and the circumstances in which He said it. Perhaps we should also try to understand why He said these things. What we must not do, however, is to blow this off as an anomaly and not deal with it at all. When Jesus said these things in the context that He did it would be wise for us to bow our heads and hearts and ask the One we call Lord to teach us regardless of how we like it or feel about it. He can change our hearts to love the things He loves.

With a great deal of clarity Jesus is setting out the utter impossibility for any person to come to Him (the Christ) in his or her own strength or by his or her own power. No one has the ability of power to come to Christ. While the vast majority will tell people that it is up to them to go to Christ, that is clearly not what Jesus Himself taught. One could even argue (as Luther did) that until men lost all hope in their own wills and choices that they have not been broken from pride and self and so thoroughly humbled to where they can trust in Christ alone. Until men stop trusting in themselves to go to Christ they will trust in themselves to be saved.

The only way that men can come to Christ is if the Father draws them. The word for “draw” is the idea of dragging, hauling in, and has the idea of coercion. Men do not come willingly of their own will and strength, but the Father must bring them by His power and strength and make them willing in the day of His power. It may be the case that in the modern day this cannot be emphasized too much. Men have no ability to come to Christ, but instead they must be brought to Christ by the Father. The doctrine of free-will is an attack on this teaching of Christ and is at direct odds with it. The glory of free-grace is at odds with the free-will position too. The wonders of free-grace must be preached and indeed that was what the Lord Jesus exalted rather than the power of man to do as he chooses. We must listen to the Christ and follow Him and His teachings with humbled hearts.

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