(Exodus 27, John 6; Optional Psalm 51:7-19, Proverbs 14:19-23)
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EXODUS 27 – Since John 6 is such a long and pivotal chapter, I’m spending most of my time there, but first a few comments on Ex 27…
Ex 27:1-8 – One of only two things in the courtyard of the Tabernacle (the other is the bronze basin for priests to wash themselves before offering a sacrifice). It was 4.5’ tall x 7.5’ long x 7.5’ wide.
Before the priests could enter the Holy Place to minister, they had to bring a sacrifice. Yet another daily reminder in Israel that even the spiritual leaders were sinners that needed forgiveness. So much blood was poured out for these sacrifices – I’m guessing some would ask, “When will there be enough blood? When can it end?” The book of Hebrews repeatedly reminds us that the repetitive need for more sacrifices showed that the blood of animals was not enough to cover the sins of humans. Even as OT (Old Testament) priests that were true believers would sacrifice, they must’ve thought something like this: “Yahweh, I know we’re going to off another sacrifice tomorrow, because this animal’s blood is not enough to cover my sin. And I know that ALL these sacrifices are somehow pointing to the One you’ll someday send to take care of our sin problem (see Gen 3:15). Thank you for graciously giving a way, even though temporary, for our sins to be covered. And for the stark, bloody reminders every day of how awful and deadly sin is. May I not flirt with sin, but remember the awful price.” And oned day Jesus shouted from the cross “It is finished!” And HIS blood was enough – see Heb 10:11-14.
Ex 27:9-19 – The Court of the Tabernacle was to be 150’ long x 75’ wide. Notice that things in the courtyard are bronze and silver, but as we get closer to the presence of God in the Holy of Holies, the materials get more precious – items IN the Tabernacle are covered with gold. Everything about the Tabernacle points to the ultimate value of God Himself!
Ex 27:16 – The entrance was unique and clearly stood out – there’s only ONE way to enter God’s presence (also see John 14:6 where Jesus is clear that He is the ONLY WAY to God the Father).
JOHN 6 – There’s a lot in this chapter, but it’s vital that we deal with the truths here – this is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry (and should revolutionize much of how Christians try to minister today). Jn 6 records the miraculous feeding of thousands from one boy’s lunch, then Jesus showing (again) that He is God in the flesh, stilling the storm and bringing the disciples safely to the other side. Then the crowds demand MORE food, hoping for a daily dole like the manna in the wilderness under Moses. Instead, Jesus says: “I AM the bread of life…” Many end up leaving Jesus from this point on, very offended that He won’t be the kind of leader they’d be willing to follow. Jesus is not all surprised by this but gives strong and humbling truth that the only people that will continue to follow Him (even when He says hard things) are those that God the Father sovereignly draws to His Son.
Jn 6:11 – This giving of thanks is emphasized in v 23. In Eph 5:20, Christians are commanded to give thanks always and for everything. How do we give thanks when there doesn’t SEEM to be enough? We give thanks by faith, then watch what God will do in His sovereign timing and in His own wise way.
Jn 6:14 – “the Prophet” – Yahweh had given Moses a prophecy (Deut 18:15-19) that one day Yahweh would send someone who would be a prophet like Moses. This One would be Mediator who would stand between a sinful people and holy God, and would authoritatively speak Yahweh’s words to the people. God made clear that the people must listen to what this Promised One says, or Yahweh will judge them. This prophecy WAS fulfilled in Jesus, and we’ll focus more on that when we get to Acts 3:22-23. But the crowd in Jn 6 ONLY sees Jesus as a prophet (and they want to make Him king too, as long as He’ll be the kind of king they want – see Jn 6:15, 30-42).
Jn 6:16 – The parallel accounts in other Gospels make clear that the disciples were obeying Jesus’ command, and yet they still came into a very rough and scary time. This whole chapter is one more reminder among many in Scripture that God is NOT focused on making life comfortable for His people (not in this temporary life, anyway – but see the ETERNAL perspective in Rev 21-22), but showing HIS GLORY.
Jn 6:20 – “It is I” – literally in the original Greek language, this is “I AM” (see Ex 3:13-15).
Jn 6:21 – Fulfilling Psalm 107:23-32 (especially notice Ps 107:29-30). Along with “I AM” in v 20, this is another clear evidence that Jesus is God in the flesh.
Jn 6:26-29 – Rather than be excited about the large crowd that is interest in Him, Jesus rebukes them and cautions them NOT to get overly excited about the temporary filling of the bellies, but to instead focus on eternal life that only comes for those who entrust themselves to Jesus. I heard Tony Marciano (at this interview, he was the 20-year director at a Gospel Rescue Mission) say in an interview with Warren Smith (~ 2016/2017) something like this: “Jesus fed them the first day and REFUSED on the second. What does this say to ministries that mostly focus on giving free food?”
Jn 6:28-29 – The crowd is trying to find what they can DO to please God. Jesus lets them know the only way to please God is to be satisfied in Jesus Himself – to believe / fully entrust their lives to Jesus as the Ultimate Gift from God. There may well be another meaning intended, too – that this life-entrusting belief in Jesus is a miracle that only God can do in our hearts. Two other texts where this is clearly seen… 1) Nicodemus in Jn 3:3-4 tries to turn Jesus’ words into something he can do, and Jesus lets him know that what Nicodemus really needs is a miraculous work of God’s Spirit giving him a whole new life (Jn 3:5-8). 2) Eph 2:8-9 makes clear that saving faith is a sovereign GIFT from God and removes any boasting as if it could come from any work we could do.
Jn 6:30 – What?! After v 7-14, how could they ask this?! Someone summarized this perfectly (but I didn’t write down who it was) – “Unbelief is never satisfied.”
Jn 6:29-35 – The crowd seems to be letting Jesus know what He’d need to do to keep them interested in Him – He needed to do something like the DAILY manna in Ex 16. But Jesus is far better than the OT manna – He Himself IS the bread from heaven. Jesus Himself is the best gift that God gives, and in feasting on HIM we are eternally satisfied!
|Jn 6:35 – From the John MacArthur Study Bible:|
|[“Twenty-three times in all we find our Lord’s meaningful “I AM” (ego eimi, Gr.) in the Greek text of this gospel (4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:5, 6, 8). In several of these, He joins His “I AM” with seven tremendous metaphors which are expressive of His saving relationship toward the world.|
|“I AM the Bread of life” (6:35, 41, 48, 51).|
|“I AM the Light of the world” (8:12).|
|“I AM the Door of the sheep” (10:7, 9).|
|“I AM the Good Shepherd” (10:11, 14).|
|“I AM the Resurrection and the Life” (11:25).|
|“I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (14:6).|
|“I AM the true Vine” (15:1, 5).]|
Jn 6:35-37 – The rest of Jn 6 is a key section in seeing both the foundational sovereignty of God in our salvation AND the responsibility of people. These are NOT equivalent truths – the accent and the decisive FOUNDATION is the sovereignty of God. But they ARE both necessary truths – and BOTH are clearly presented throughout the Bible. I’ve written “R” by v 35b and v 36, and “S/R!” by v 37.
Jn 6:37 – Another opportunity in Scripture to be both encouraged and humbled. Encouraged by the beautiful thought that each person that comes to Jesus in salvation is a GIFT from God the Father to His Son. Humbled (especially when compared to Jn 6:44) because it’s not fundamentally us (though our necessary choice to believe IS clearly involved). This should guard us from pride if we have seen that Jesus is the satisfying Bread from heaven and have come to Him for salvation. Pride is one ditch that these strong truths about the sovereignty of God in salvation should keep us from. But the other ditch is paralysis – some read these truths and aren’t sure what their next step should be. When folks ask me: “How can I know if I’m one that God is giving to His Son?” I answer: “Come to Jesus and entrust Him with your life.” If you do that, you’ll know that God was giving you to His Son, so don’t get prideful as if you’re better than others who don’t yet see Jesus as the eternally-satisfying Bread of Life.
Jn 6:39-40 – Also see Jn 6:44. The fact that it’s fundamentally about what GOD sovereignly and miraculously does is often linked with teaching on the PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS. All those who savingly trust Jesus WILL be brought by Jesus all the way to heaven. See also Phil 1:6 – God which BEGAN this work in believers WILL complete it. He’s the Author AND Finisher of our faith – Heb 12:2. Rom 8:29-30 (called by some long-ago preachers the “Golden Chain of Salvation”) is clear that ALL those that God has predestined for salvation WILL come to Jesus and be justified (declared “righteous” by God) and WILL make it to glorification in heaven (glorification is so certain that it’s in past tense even though it hasn’t happened yet).
But what about those who SEEM to come to Jesus and yet fall away?? 1 John 2:19 makes clear that when someone falls away from the faith they were never TRULY saved. There’s an example right here in Jn 6:70-71.
Jn 6:44-45 – also see v 65. I’ve written “**S” in my margin and also: “cf v 65, but for the OTHER side (R), see 5:40.” Normally Jesus just gave invitations to come to Him and find life (and He does that here, too – see v 35, 40, 50-51, 57-58). But the crowd here is arrogantly antagonistic – they’re basically threatening Jesus that if He doesn’t give them daily bread then they won’t be interested any more. And rather than plead with them to stay, Jesus makes clear that the ONLY ones that will keep on following Him (and that He will ensure make it all the way to heaven) are those that God sovereignly draws to His Son. Eph 2:1-3 makes clear why Jesus said in Jn 6:44 and Jn 6:65 that no one CAN come to Jesus unless God does a miracle in them first. The reason is that we ALL come into this world “dead in…trespasses and sins,” that we ALL are “by NATURE children of wrath,” headed for God’s righteous judgment.
Jn 6:47-60 – A very “hard saying” (see v 60) of Jesus! Sadly, many left offended before they heard v 63, reminding that these words are not to be taken literally, but for their spiritual reality.
Jn 6:53 – From the ESV Study Bible: [“As Jesus has done frequently in this Gospel, he is speaking in terms of physical items in this world to teach about spiritual realities. Here, to “eat” Jesus’ flesh has the spiritual meaning of trusting or believing in him, especially in his death for the sins of mankind. (See also v. 35, where Jesus speaks of coming to him as satisfying “hunger” and believing in him as satisfying “thirst.”) Similarly, to “drink his blood” means to trust in his atoning death, which is represented by the shedding of his blood. Although Jesus is not speaking specifically about the Lord’s Supper here, there is a parallel theme, because the receiving of eternal life through being united with “the Son of Man” is represented in the Lord’s Supper (where Jesus’ followers symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood; cf. 1 Cor. 11:23–32).”]
Jn 6:60-66 – Many in the church today are overly concerned about how lost people might interpret what we say/do. Jesus, fully knowing that many will misinterpret, be offended, and leave doubles down on what He’s been saying. He also states again that folks WILL have the wrong response (v 64 – I’ve written “R”) unless God does a miracle in their hearts (v 65 – I’ve written “S! cf v 44”). [“cf” tells me to cross-reference another verse – it’s a shorter way to say “also see” or “compare”]
This is balanced somewhat by 2 Tim 2:24-26 which reminds us that God’s messengers should be both KIND and CLEAR, but there we’re reminded again that God must do a miracle granting our hearers repentance that will lead to a knowledge of the truth and a release from bondage to the devil.
Jn 6:60-71 – From ESV Gospel Transformation Bible: [“That the crowds were offended by Jesus’ scandalous words is not surprising, and Jesus warned that there would be even greater grounds for offense in the coming days. Jesus didn’t come to win a popularity contest but to give his life as “a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus are foolishness, even offensive to the natural mind (1 Cor. 1:18; Gal. 5:11). For the gospel reveals the depth of our need and our total inability to save ourselves. When we trust in our own cleverness or obedience or resources or abilities, we abhor God’s grace. But when God kindly deconstructs our vaunted self-sufficiency, our hearts come alive again. The Father generously grants many to believe on Jesus (John 6:39–40), and the Spirit gives life to all who call on his name.”]
Jn 6:68-69 – The RIGHT RESPONSE when Jesus gives a “hard saying” (v 60)! It’s not saying that Peter fully understood the hard saying himself at this point (they clearly get a Spirit-given much better understanding after Jesus’ resurrection). But Peter IS clearly saying that there’s no where else to go for eternal life than Jesus and His words (including His hard sayings)!
Optional Psalm 51:7-19 – Although Ps 51 is mostly a prayer of confession for individual sin, notice how the prayer broadens in v 18-19 to include the wider people of God. Often as we pray, our narrow/selfish view widens and we get properly concerned about the whole kingdom of God. Also notice (and cf the notes in Jn 6 early today) that in Ps 51:12-15, 18-19 that we are DEPENDENT on God’s sovereign work, and THEN there can be a correct response from people (cf Eph 2:8-10, and note carefully the order of events – God grants faith and salvation, then strengthens believers to do good works).
Optional Proverbs 14:19-23 – The Bible is so real about human sin! Pr 14:20-21 tells us the reality that so many shrink back from helping the poor (and God wants us to NOT be like the majority here – see v 21). And in the same context deals with the reality that SOME poverty is a result of too little toil / diligent work. In the NT, God wants Christians to default towards generosity (Matt 5:42, Gal 6:9-10) but 2 Thess 3:10 is clear (and see the whole context in 2 Thess 3:6-15) that if someone CAN work and won’t that they shouldn’t eat. Know which ditch you tend towards and ask for God’s help in staying on the narrow road of His grace AND truth.