This is part 2 of this series. Previous: 1
Transitional Passage 2
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:37-40).
As is often the case today, John 6:37 should not automatically be assumed to describe one group of people to whom both ideas apply. Must those “the Father gives” to Christ and the one who “comes to” Christ be describing the same kind of people? Is it not possible that the statements, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,” and “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” distinguish two distinct classes of humanity? Note that the first speaks of a group, “all,” since they were all guaranteed by the Father to respond positively to the manifestation of Christ—they were already God’s people. The second speaks of individuals, “him,” because these are required to personally believe in Him in order to “have everlasting life.”
This becomes clearer as the Lord Jesus goes on to describe the two groups in somewhat greater detail. “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (vv 39-40). Here the action of the Savior raising persons up “at the last day” is repeated, emphasizing the two distinct categories of those who are “His own.” Again notice the group/individual distinction: “all” and “every one.” Who were these two kinds of believers?
The Bridge from Old Testament to New
When the New Testament opens, we are introduced to some intriguing characters. There is “just and devout” Simeon who was “waiting for the Consolation of Israel” (Lk 2:25). There is saintly Anna who “served God with fastings and prayers night and day…and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (vv 37-38). And of course we are introduced to Joseph and Mary, Zacharias and Elisabeth, and Andrew who breathlessly told his brother Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41). Like father Abraham, they all rejoiced to see Christ’s day and were glad. It was these of whom the Lord spoke when He said that the Father had given them to the Son. From that point forward, those like us who “see the Son and believe” and therefore “come” to Him (see 6:37, 40) would also be included in the flock that belong to the Good Shepherd. He will not reject one sinner who comes believing: “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (v 37).
In fact, some of Group A—those who had believing faith in the Lord before hearing about the Son—can be found well into the book of Acts, as the gospel spread far and wide. In Acts 19, we read that “… Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (vv 1-5).
Note that these “disciples” had responded to the preaching of John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, and were prepared, as John had preached, to “believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” True belief had come before Christ had been manifested. Is this not also true of Lydia, mentioned in Acts 16? “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (v 14). She was a worshipper of God, had access by prayer to Him, and her heart was opened to Paul’s message concerning God’s Son of whom she had not yet heard. Thus the Father gave her to the Son.
The Jews Prove Jesus’ Point: They Didn’t Know His Father
Responding to the obvious and vital link which the Lord Jesus had made with His Father, the listening Jews in John 6 complained vociferously (vv 41-42). In their objection they sought to break the heavenly link by stating that His “father” was not in heaven but known to be living in Nazareth, Joseph by name. To which Jesus replied: “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (vv 43-45).
Again the point should be clear. Those who were already in God’s tutelage before the incarnation had discovered the same character traits in the Son that they had learned from the Father. They were drawn to the Son because they “beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). Or as Jesus Himself would say to Philip in the Upper Room, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9).
Who Are the Chosen? And What Does That Mean?
At the end of chapter 6, the Lord makes one final and specific distinction. Clearly, though never one of the Shepherd’s sheep, Judas was certainly chosen: “Did I not choose you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (v 70). Clearly he was chosen for a role, not for salvation. Similarly 15:16 is often misconstrued, quoted as if the Lord is stating the way of salvation: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” There the quotation usually stops, but it isn’t where the Lord Jesus stops. Here is the rest of the sentence: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” Christ’s disciples were chosen to “go and bear fruit” for God. For this role they were given access to the Father and His resources through the mighty name of Christ. We will consider this fruit-bearing when we look more intently at chapter 15.
This is a consistent concept throughout Scripture, that election or choosing is to a role:
• First and foremost, Christ was chosen: “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles” (Isa 42:1). You can see quite clearly, by use of Hebrew poetry’s parallelism, the equations: My Servant = My Elect One and “whom I uphold” = “in whom My soul delights.” Christ’s election was to a role as Servant supreme.
• Israel was chosen, but it is clear that not all in the nation were saved, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Heb 4:2). No, Israel was chosen for a role, to be a servant of God: “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend” (Isa 41:8).
• Aaron and his sons were chosen for a role: “For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever” (Deut 18:5).
• The city of Jerusalem was chosen, obviously not to be saved, but for a role: “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever” (2 Ki 21:7).
• Similarly, the Church, composed of those in this age who are “in Christ,” has been chosen for a role: “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph 1:3). Notice carefully the words “before Him.” This idea of being “before the Lord” is repeated more than 150 times between Exodus and Deuteronomy. For example, all the males were to appear before the Lord three times per year (Ex 23:17). The animals were killed before the Lord (29:11). The showbread and lampstand were “before the Lord” (Ex 40:23, 25). Is this not similar to our place of honor in serving “before Him”?
Twelve Chosen and One is a Devil
What of Judas? In John 17:12 we read, “Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition.” This construction is awkward to our ears, similar to Luke 4:26-27, where we should not suppose that the woman of Sarepta was one of the widows of Israel, nor Naaman the Syrian one of the lepers in Israel. Perhaps the idea becomes clearer if we read as follows: “None of them is lost; but the son of perdition [is lost], that the scripture might be fulfilled.” Yes, Judas was chosen, too—not to be saved, but for a role in history.
I realize some of these expository notes are not the generally presented views. I only ask that you prayerfully consider the passages in the light of these thoughts. “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess 5:21).
In our next article, we’ll take a closer look at the Shepherd and His sheep in John chapter 10.