Responding to the Bread of Life is a series of posts on the reaction of the Twelve to Jesus in John 6:60-71.
- Introduction and Background
- The Bread of Life Discourse is a Hard Saying (6:60-61)
- The Spirit Gives Life (6:62-65)
Many Stop Following Jesus (6:66)
“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (6:66). ‘After this’ (from this time, NIV) marks a transition to a new section in the Bread of Life pericope as many of Jesus’ disciples leave him “and no longer walk with him.”
Köstenberger appositely says this “marks a watershed in this Gospel” as Jesus is abandoned by “not few, but many of [his] followers.”1 Their response to the gospel is staggering. Jesus had performed signs proving who he was. He had told them “the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (6:63). He was a popular teacher (cf. 6:14-15, 22-24)!
With this kind of result, Calvin observes, “Many would say that it would have been better that a sermon of this kind should never have been preached, which occasioned the apostasy of many. But we ought to entertain a widely different view; for it was necessary, and now is daily necessary” that we see that “it is the Spirit who gives life” (6:63).2
Those who left Jesus were unwilling to seek him further. “For he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6 NASB). Signs are not life-giving especially when one is seeking ‘loaves’ rather than the Bread of Life. So 6:66 harks back to 6:26 and displays the truth of the Bread of Life discourse and the danger of having a hard heart.