John 6:60


We have to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to God, first for giving and sending his Son to be our Saviour, and then for guiding us unto his Son, in order that in fellowship with him we may experience the blessings of salvation. For in these two ways does the Father furnish us with a complete display of his love; in these two ways does he completely secure our highest good.

I. THE DRAWING OF THE SOUL BY THE FATHER.

1. The soul needs to be divinely drawn. And this because:

(1) By reason of sin it is estranged from God, is far from God, is even at enmity with God.

(2) There are other attractions, very powerful, and such as men are wont to yield to, which draw man's nature in an opposite direction. "The world, the flesh, and the devil" have great power; and in the case of very many exert that power efficaciously to keep the soul from God, and even to increase the distance by which it is so separated.

2. The instrumentalities, or spiritual forces, by which the Father draws human souls to Christ.

(1) The presentation of truth adapted to man's intelligence. The next verse brings this agency before us in explicit statement: "They shall be all taught of God."

(2) The utterance of moral authority addressing the conscience. Passion and interest may draw men from Christ; duty, with a mighty imperative, bids them approach their Lord and Saviour.

(3) Love appeals to the heart of man with mystic power.

"The moon may draw the sea;
The cloud may stoop from heaven, and take the shape,
With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape."
The attraction of Christ's character and life, of his gracious language, and above all of his sacrifice upon the cross, is the mightiest moral force the world has ever felt. "I," said he, "if I am lifted up, will draw all men unto myself." Thus in many ways, adapted by his own wisdom to the nature and circumstances of men, is the Father drawing men unto Christ.

3. The manner in which the Father draws the soul unto himself.

(1) This attraction is not of a physical, mechanical, forcible kind. Such compulsion would be out of all character, would not harmonize with man's moral freedom. And, indeed, it would not be the drawing of the soul.

(2) It is a moral, spiritual attraction, in accordance with the nature both of him who draws and of those who are drawn. The Holy Spirit of God is the power to whom we owe the action of those moral constraints which are the chief and most beneficent factors in the moral life of mankind.

(3) Mighty though this drawing be, it is for the most part gentle and gradual. Its influence is not always at once apparent; it becomes manifest with the growth of experience and the lapse of time. It is continuous, lasting in the case of many from childhood to old age.

(4) The power and efficacy of this agency is not to be disputed. The Father calls, and the child answers. The magnetism is exercised, and the soul flies to the attracting power. The light shines, and the eye turns towards the welcome ray.

II. THE COMING OF THE SOUL TO CHRIST.

1. There is an indispensable condition without which no soul can come to Christ. Christ must first come to the soul. The gospel must be preached, and must be received, for it is the Divine call, which alone can authorize the approach of sinful man to the Holy One and Just.

2. The soul's method in coming. It is easy enough to understand how when Jesus was on earth men came to him; they came actually, bodily, locally. Yet the principle of approach is ever the same; for our Lord said indifferently," Come unto me," and "Believe on me." The coming of the bodily form was useless apart from spiritual approach, sympathy, and trust. As it is the soul which the Father draws, so it is the soul which, being drawn, finds itself near the Saviour and in fellowship with him.

3. The soul's purpose in coming. It is impelled by conscious need of the Redeemer, as the Prophet, the Priest, the King, divinely appointed. It hopes to find in him that fall satisfaction which, sought elsewhere, is sought in vain.

4. The soul's experience in coming.

(1) There is welcome and acceptance; for he who comes is never, in any wise, cast out.

(2) There is a perfect response to the desire and need. The hungry is fed, the thirsty finds the water of life, the weary meets with rest, and the man who longs to serve has revealed to him the law and rule of consecration.

(3) There is the eternal abiding; for the soul that comes to Jesus neither leaves him, nor is left by him.

5. The soul's obligation in coming.

(1) Gratefully to acknowledge the infinite mercy by which this attractive influence has been exercised, and to which the fellowship with Christ is due.

(2) Diligently to act as the Father's agent in bringing other souls to Jesus. We can trace the Divine power in the human agency which was employed to lead us to the Saviour. The same God can still use the same means to the same result. - T.









Many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?
I. OCCASIONED BY A HARD SAYING (ver. 60). It was unquestionably hard (vers. 51, 53, 57).

1. Difficult to understand even for Christians (John 14:17, 26; 1 John 2:20, 27), but especially for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 2:14).

2. Difficult to receive, demanding humility, self-abnegation (Matthew 16:24), whole-hearted surrender (Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:8), none of which is easy for the unrenewed.

3. Difficult to practice.

II. ARRESTED BY A HIGH SAYING (ver. 62).

1. Retrospective (John 3:13; John 6:38, 51; John 7:29; John 8:38); referring to His pre-existent condition.

2. Predictive; foretelling His ascension.

3. Anticipative; cherishing the hope that His exaltation would resolve difficulties (Matthew 28:17).

III. INSTRUCTED BY A DEEP SAVING (ver. 63).

1. The announcement of a truth. Only spirit can impart life.

2. The removal of an error that literal eating was meant.

3. The illustration of a principle. Wrong understanding a stumbling block; right understanding of the same words life.

IV. WARNED BY A SHARP SAYING (ver. 64).

1. Discriminating. Christ, then as now, distinguished between those who believed and those who believed not.

2. Informing. Christ, then as now, showed that He was perfectly acquainted with characters, works, and ways (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; Revelation 3:1, 8, 15) of His professed followers.

3. Reproving of their guilt. Christ never regarded unbelief as an accident, misfortune, disease, but always as a sin.

4. Sorrowing (Mark 3:5; Mark 6:6).

V. EXPLAINED BY A DARK SAYING (ver. 65).

1. A rebuke to their self-sufficiency. They deemed themselves competent to pronounce judgment on Christ, to gauge His utterances, to estimate the value of His teaching, and to determine His position in God's kingdom. Christ assures them they could do none of these things without Divine assistance.

2. A declaration of their irreligion. They were yet in their uurenewed condition, and therefore incapable of receiving the truth.Learn —

1. The sin of stumbling at Christ's words.

2. To wait for further light on religious difficulties.

3. The danger of literalism.

4. The propriety of self-examination as to whether one truly believes.

5. The possibility of repeating the sin of Judas.

6. The need of daily prayer for Divine grace.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

I. For the SELF-RIGHTEOUS to feel he deserves eternal punishment.

II. For the LAODICEAN increased in goods to feel that he is a beggar.

III. For the WISE AND PRUDENT to believe he is a fool.

IV. For the MAN OF PLEASURE to believe that he is selling his soul for ashes.

V. For THE CARNAL MIND to know that he must owe his salvation to the blood of a crucified Galilean.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

Doth this
I. OF WHAT IS GOOD? That which the unrenewed hate to do.

II. OF WHAT IS TRUE? That which the unrenewed hate to hear.

III. OF WHAT IS HEAVENLY? That which the unrenewed hate to become.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing
Christianity is a latent spiritual power, designed and adapted to translate men from a lower and physical life into a higher and spiritual life. If this be so —

I. WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN LIFE?

1. It is the life of the human soul, derived not from natural laws, or the incitements of society, nor from any human causes, but distinctively a life derived from God; not an occasional excitement, but the indwelling of a Divine influence.

2. Under such influence is developed a personal experience differing from any that could otherwise be developed, which awakens in us a likeness to Christ's nature and habits in —

(1)Purity;

(2)Love;

(3)Activity.

II. SOME GOOD REASONS WHY ONE SHOULD ENTER IN THIS LIFE. Most have some conception of a character. With one it is wealth, with another learning, with others art, eloquence, home life. But these are not you. There is a living, controlling being behind all achievements: character is the fashioning of that. I urge you, therefore, to accept the Christian ideal — the man in Christ Jesus — because —

1. The Divine power, as a living influence on your souls, is the only reconstructive force adequate to your needs. Those ideals which men form, exterior to themselves, have no transforming power upon their dispositions. What man needs is a perfect control of his animal nature, his selfishness, pride, sensuality.

2. This developing power reveals the only harmonizing elements around which all of a man's nature can reorganize itself. Love is the only point of crystallization.

(1)Crown pride and there are many faculties which say, "I will not bow down to pride."

(2)Crown vanity, and many parts of the soul will say, "I am higher than thou."

(3)Crown reason, and many feelings will rebel.

(4)Crown beauty, and there is not one faculty that under stress of trial will cry, "O Beauty, save me!"

(5)Crown conscience, and many faculties indeed will follow; but conscience is a despot.

(6)But crown love, and all will acknowledge his supremacy.

3. It is only in a character fashioned on the model of Christ that we can find relief from things seemingly or really antagonistic.

(1)Aspiration and content.

(2)Conscience and peace.

(3)Hope and fear.

4. The Divine power in the soul harmonizes man with his fellow-men.

5. This Divine power gives to the whole economy of life and flow of events a reconciliation which nothing else can. Christ is not working for results that appear in this life alone, but for those that shall appear in the life hereafter. You do not care what befalls you, so long as you have the certainty that the end of it shall be right. This redeems death from being a catastrophe, and exalts it into a victory.Conclusion: If this view be correct —

1. There is a very great difference between reasoning upon Christianity and testing Christianity. No man is competent to determine questions in regard to it until he has put his whole soul into the attitude of Christ. There are multitudes asking for arguments; Christ says, "The words that I speak unto you," etc.

2. Is there not reason to fear that many persons who believe themselves to be safe come far short of true Christian life? No man is a Christian, whatever his morality, etc., until Christ's Spirit dwells in him.

3. No man can come into this position by his own power. But open your heart and the Spirit will come in with His vivific power.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. EXPLAIN THE PASSAGE. When it is said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth" —

1. It is not to be understood of the Holy Spirit exclusively, for the same work is ascribed to the Father and the Son.

2. The spirit does not quicken universally. "The wind bloweth where it listeth;" we read of those who were "full of the Holy Ghost," and of others which were "sensual, not having the Spirit."

3. Yet the Holy Spirit quickens all who are quickened (Ezekiel 37:7; Romans 8:12).

4. He quickens men in their several stations: ministers to preach with clearness and fervour; private Christians to hear, receive, and do.

5. Though the Spirit can do this immediately, yet He generally does it by the use of means, and principally by the Word.

II. THE SUBJECTS OF HIS INFLUENCE He quickens —

1. Our attention, as in the case of Lydia.

2. Our judgment (Isaiah 4:4). He leads us to distinguish between good and evil, to discern the reality of grace.

3. The will, to choose, embrace and cleave to that which is good.

4. The conscience, stirring it up to the faithful and vigorous discharge of duty.

5. The memory, to receive and retain Divine truths, to recollect God's dealings with us and our conduct towards Him.

6. The gifts of ministers and private Christians, that they may be ready in prayer, preaching, and conference, and also those graces which He has implanted — fear, love, faith, zeal, etc.

7. The dead bodies of the saints (Romans 8:11).

III. THE ENDS FOR WHICH HE QUICKENS.

1. To consideration, without which we should be utterly thoughtless about our spiritual concerns (Jeremiah 23:20).

2. To useful inquiries.

3. To fervent and importunate prayer.

4. To holiness of heart and newness of life.

5. To all acts of evangelical obedience.

IV. IMPROVEMENT.

1. Learn the proper Deity of the Spirit. He that doeth the works of Deity must have the perfections of Deity.

2. See why God's words and ordinances have no greater efficacy. The most persuasive address is not sufficient without the influence of the Spirit.

3. Let us earnestly pray for His quickenings.

4. Let us join in the use of means.

5. Grieve not the Spirit.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

However learned, godly, and eloquent a minister may be, he is nothing without the Holy Spirit. The bell in the steeple may be well hung, fairly fashioned, and of soundest metal, but it is dumb until the ringer makes it speak; and in like manner the preacher has no voice of quickening for the dead in sin, of comfort for living saints until the Divine Spirit gives him a gracious pull, and bids him speak with power. Hence the need of prayer from both preacher and hearers.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. IN THE PHYSICAL CREATION. He brooded over dark chaos and quickened it into life, order, beauty, and fruitfulness. This vitalizing power has never left His realm.

II. IN THE MORAL WORLD. "The inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding." He implants instincts and affinities that respond to the touch of God.

III. IN THE CHOSEN PEOPLE. He inspired poets to sing, prophets to teach, judges to rule, and warriors to fight.

IV. IN THE REVELATION OF SPIRITUAL TRUTH. Eye and ear are inadequate vehicles.

1. He was the efficient Agent in the Incarnation, and from that hour until now if Christ is born in a soul, the hope of glory, it is by the same Spirit.

2. Like a dove He descended on Jesus at His baptism, fitting Him for all His future work.

3. In bringing Him from the dead (Romans 8:11), and in the impartation of Pentecostal power the same fact is corroborated.

4. The personal and local Christ departed, for it was expedient for Him to give way for the Spirit. The dull eyes of the disciples were opened, and they were transformed into heroes of faith.

5. Your bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost, therefore your dust will be re-animated by Deity. Conclusion: The highest need of the Church is the overjoying power of the Holy Ghost.

(J. S. Kennard, D. D.)

I. THE LIFE OF THE SOUL IS DERIVED FROM A SPIRITUAL SOURCE.

1. The Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is the Communicator of life —

(1)Physical (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6).

(2)Intellectual (Proverbs 8:12, 14; Job 32:8).

(3)Spiritual (Acts 2:36-38).

2. The spirit of the new man inspires him to attend to the things that are appropriate to his life, and so he grows in grace (Romans 8:5).

3. A careful consideration of the ordinances of Christianity, anal their underlying truths, are conducive to spiritual results.

(1)Baptism, the symbol of death to sin, separation from the world, and the commencement of a new life.

(2)The Lord's Supper, the memorial of the sublimest self-sacrifice.

(3)The Scriptures, which contain the will of God and eternal life.

II. LIFE FROM THE FLESH IS IMPOSSIBLE (Galatians 5:17).

1. However imperceptible the path of a soul under the control of the unregenerate senses is a downward one (Romans 8:8).

2. The fleshly spirit divided Jewish society into hypocritical formalists and icy sceptics; and the same spirit has continued to work in priestly corruptions and theoretical and practical infidelity within and without the Church.

III. THE POWER OF CHRIST'S WORDS IS SPIRITUAL.

1. They are spiritual in their nature.

2. They are life-giving. Flesh and Spirit.

(1)Flesh here means the outward and sensuous, which appeals to the eye, ear, etc. There was much of this in the old Jewish faith; but whenever they rested in it, it profited them nothing.

(2)Spirit does not mean the Holy Spirit, but the inward part of religion which the soul understands and lives upon.

I. THE UNPROFITABLE FLESH. The external observances of religion in themselves.

1. The "real Presence." If Christ were really eaten carnally, then He could only profit carnally like other food. Does grace operate through the stomach? On the contrary, the real reception consists in belief in the Incarnation, trust in the death, realization of the spiritual indwelling of Christ.

2. Baptism. The putting away of the filth of the flesh is nought, the answer of a good conscience towards God is the vitality of baptism.

3. Apostolical succession. The mere fleshly connection between bishop and bishop, established by successive laying on of hands, supposing it could be proved, is valueless: the apostles' successors are those who preach apostolic doctrine, display apostolic piety, and do apostolic work.

4. The value of ornate worship must be determined by what in it is sensuous and what spiritual.

5. The same applies to architecture and symbolism: do they gratify a carnal taste or minister to spiritual life?

6. Eloquence often excites the same emotions as the theatre is as sounding brass, and only profits as the vehicle of a truth that moves the inmost soul.

7. Revivalistic movements frequently engender a mere carnal enthusiasm, and, unless their excitements stir the spirits of a man towards God and holiness, they are based upon a lie.

8. Prayer and ordinances of any kind as mere matters of form and habit profit nothing. Their power lies wholly in their spirituality.

II. THE QUICKENING SPIRIT.

1. It is the spiritual nature which quickens a man. He who has not received this from the Holy Ghost is dead in trespasses and sins.

2. This quickens all ordinances and makes them vitalizing means of grace.

3. So with spiritual acts and moral duties.

4. This spiritual nature has for its Author the Divine Father and is the actual operation of the Holy Spirit.

5. The mark by which it is discovered is faith.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE WORDS OF CHRIST PERTAIN TO AND REVEAL THE SPIRITUAL AND ETERNAL.

1. Spirit and life are closely related to each other. The Spirit originates, the life perpetuates.

2. Words strictly speaking cannot be Spirit; they represent or manifest; as Christ said, "I am the Door." The words of man express his thoughts and reveal his inmost being, How easy to detect the style of Johnson, Macaulay, or Carlyle. The words of Christ reveal His Spirit of wisdom and love.

3. Valuable as are the works of literature, etc., Christ's words do not pertain to them. They are of a prior and higher realm. They do not teach science, but they give light and life to men that he may pursue the most profound investigations. Hence under the shadow of the Cross alone flourish literary and scientific institutions of the highest character.

II. THE WORDS OF CHRIST ARE ACCOMPANIED BY AN UNSEEN SPIRITUAL POWER, which is indissolubly joined to them, and thus they become spirit and life. How the spiritual can be joined to the material we can't explain. Where are the cords which bind this earth to yonder sun? What is it that gives the minute seed the power to develop? Life. But what is life? The chemist says a grain of wheat is so much carbon, etc. I ask him to make one, and he takes the various substances in their due proportions, and the result looks like a grain of wheat. It has the same colour, weight, form. But plant it — it will not grow. But the grain that God made, though kept in Egypt's catacombs for three thousand years, will, because it has life. So with the words of Christ. They are like other words, but God has joined with them a spirit and life which affect the heart of man.

III. THE POWER OF THIS WORD IS SEEN IN THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE.

1. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made." The great worlds are God's conceptions materialized that finite minds may catch a glimpse of His almightiness and wisdom. Think of all this as the product of a word and who can estimate its power?

2. More than this, "He upholdeth all things by the word of His power."

3. Great as is the creation and preservation of worlds there is something higher in life. The one is passive the other active. In Christ was life and He breathed into man a living soul. His Word perpetuates natural life, and how numberless are its forms and varieties! What endless gradations in the character of that life from the worm to the man, from life for a moment to life everlasting.

IV. The text, however, refers to SPIRITUAL LIFE AND DECLARES THAT THE WORDS OF CHRIST ORIGINATE AND PERPETUATE THAT LIFE.

1. Were there no such declaration we might infer it. Unless needed to awaken man's sensibilities, why did God stoop to Mount Sinai and Christ to the manger and the cross?

2. Everywhere religion is spoken of as life. Ezekiel's mystic river and valley of dry bones.

3. The words of great men have frequently given to nations increasing influences: Homer, Aristotle, etc., for Greece; Bacon, Shakespeare, etc., for England. But if God speaks, how powerful must His words effect the hearts and lives of men! Even fancied Divine words, as of the oracle to Alexander or of the imaginings of Joan of Arc inspired almost irresistible power.

4. During His earthly abode, Jesus showed how truly His words were spirit and life. He healed the sick and raised the dead with a word. And how simple were His words, apparently without any effort. How quietly he calmed the winds and multiplied the bread. And His words reached spirit as well as matter. "Whether is it easier to say thy sins be forgiven thee," etc.

5. The same power accompanies His words as spoken by His servants. They have revolutionized the world, Idolatry disappeared before the Bible. The Cross was exalted above the eagle. Great reforms have always been preceded and accompanied by the study of God's Word.

(Bp. M. Simpson.)

Christ came into the world to introduce three great ideas, into which all His teachings could be classified.

I. The first was simple in form and sublime in sentiment; He came into the world to teach THAT GOD IS OUR FATHER, and urged that idea continually. Over all things was a sustaining power, and this over the most precious of all truths in regard to the being of God. The only prayer Christ ever taught began, "Our Father which art in heaven."

II. THE IDEAL OF A TRUE MAN. No one else ever did that or had ever attempted it — even in outline. He could tell us what a true man was because He was Himself a True Man. Eighteen centuries have criticised that life only to render it more radiant and excellent.

III. THE PERFECTIBILITY OF SINFUL MAN. No one had so clearly shown that man was a sinful being, or been more outspoken in regard to the awful consequences of wrong doing, and yet He affirms that fallen humanity can be lifted up and made holy. Sin was an obstacle to eternal life, but Jesus Christ had pledged Himself to remove it. He promises ,that if we will come to Him our sins shall be forgiven; that they shall be flung far from remembrance into the backward depths of space. His words will live and never change.

(H. M. Scudder, D. D.)

1. Christ's teaching was honesty itself compared with that of the scribes; and now no book has a ring so decidedly clear and genuine as the New Testament.

2. Yet honesty is not the whole of the significant quality of Christ's life and words. A man may be quite honest but greatly mistaken. It is a great thing to have a candid mind not obscured by prejudice or broken by passion.

3. But this is not enough. The position of a mirror in the light, and its angle towards the object to be seen in it is as important as its clearness. We cannot hope to gain true representations if we persist in holding ourselves at a wrong personal angle towards truths. But Jesus always kept Himself in a relation so true to men that in His thoughts and judgments, all objects are represented in their simple reality. His words are not only clear and honest, they correspond to the truth of things.

I. Let me DESCRIBE THIS CHARACTERISTIC.

1. In the conversations of Jesus. He quietly brushes aside Jewish notions and personal deceptions and touches with saving power the real lives of the people. They might for years have concealed their real self, but when Jesus came they became real. It was so with Nicodemus, the woman of Samaria, the publican, the Pharisee, the disciples.

2. In the teachings of Jesus.(1) They went to the moral core of their being, and insisted on their becoming true men at heart.(2) His doctrine of God has the same practical relation to human life. The doctrine of Jesus means real righteousness, justice, love, in God as in man. He did not come to teach a comprehensive system of philosophy, a subtle science of nature, or some perfect scheme of divinity. He represented God on earth, and realized in His life and death the whole eternal disposition of God towards man.

II. Some pertinent APPLICATIONS OF THIS TRUTH. Two facts are forcing themselves on our notice.

1. Ecclesiastical Christianity and dogmatic Christianity have less influence to-day than ever they had.

2. Never has a real Christianity of real life been more honoured or loved.

3. It requires therefore no prophet to predict that the church of the future will not be altogether the church of the past. It will not be a church of vested ecclesiastical pretension or formal and one sided orthodoxism, but a gospel of the Son of God in the hearts of men, preached through the conduct of life.

4. If we have any doubt as to what this real gospel is we may find it in the New Testament, if we read it with a willing mind; but to practice it means something much harder than coming to church, singing hymns or discussing doctrines. It is Christ loved, chosen, and obeyed as Saviour and Lord.

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

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