John 6:22-40

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These small group studies of John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

John 6:22-40 Inductive Bible Study

  1. The crowd chases Jesus (22-25)

  2. Jesus gives a discourse related to His miracle (26-40)

    1. Jesus exposes their motives (26-27)

    2. Jesus explains the proper work/motives (28-29)

    3. The people ask for a sign (30-31)

    4. Jesus tells them the true bread comes from heaven (32-33)

    5. The people ask for this bread (34)

    6. Jesus claims to be the bread of life (35)

    7. The people didn’t believe (36)

    8. His authority is from God the Father (37-38)

    9. Jesus explains the will of God (39-40)

Questions:

Why were the people searching after Jesus now?

Why do many people follow Jesus these days?

Is it OK if spiritual rewards or satisfaction motivate us to follow Jesus?

How about if material care motivates us to follow Him?

What is the right motivation for following God? What should our attitude be towards spiritual rewards and material benefits? How does Jesus deal with this issue in verse 27?

How does verse 28 reveal people’s ideas about how they can please God?

What is common denominator in every man-made religion?

What is the difference between every man-made religion and what Jesus taught us (see verse 29)?

Is it a good deed/work to believe? So does salvation still result at least partly because of ourselves?

What is ironic about the fact that they wanted to know what signs Jesus did that should compel them to believe (he just fed thousands out of almost nothing)? What sign do you think would be enough to convince them? Would it be enough if Jesus set up a worldwide kingdom, showed his power and miracles daily, ruled with a rod of iron, and was available for anyone to come and talk with Him?

What is the difference between the manna that Moses gave (through God) and the bread of God?

Does their response in verse 34 show that they finally believed and accepted Him?

Share your thoughts on what it means that Jesus claimed to be “the bread of life”.

What does it mean that those who go to Him do not hunger or thirst?

Is it possible for somebody to be elect, but not end up saved (37)?

Is it possible for somebody to lose their salvation after they have come to God? Why or why not?

If it is not possible to lose our salvation does this then give us excuse or make it easier for us to live for ourselves and follow our own ways after salvation?

What is the will of God as shown in these verses?

Cross-references:

Philippians 2:21 (26) – Many people seek after their own welfare and not Christ’s.

James 4:3-4 (26) – Asking does not guarantee receiving. Some have the wrong motives and are denied.

Philippians 2:13 (29) – It is God’s work in us; He is working in us for His good pleasure.

Ecclesiastes 6:7 (27) – People work and work for their mouth, but it is never satisfied.

Matthew 6:19 (27) – Treasures in heaven, not on earth.

Luke 10:40-42 (27) – Martha was working for the perishable, Mary for the imperishable.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (27) – The things seen are temporal, the unseen are eternal.

Colossians 3:2 (27) – Set your mind on things above not on things on the earth.

James 1:11 (27) – The rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

Mark 1:11 (27) – Jesus is the Father’s beloved Son (related to being sealed by the Father)

Matthew 19:16 (29) – The beginning of the parable about the rich ruler who asked what he could do to inherit eternal life.

Acts 16:30-31 (29) – What must the guy do to be saved? Believe in Jesus.

John 3:36, Ephesians 2:8-9 (29) – We need to believe and accept God. Good works cannot save us.

Philippians 1:6 (29) – He began the good work in us and will finish it.

John 12:37-40 (30) – Jesus did many signs, but the people didn’t believe. Their hearts were hardened.

Exodus 16:4, Numbers 11:6 (32) – God supplied the manna. They got tired of if and wanted something else.

John 10:10, John 3:16 (33) – He came that we may have abundant life.

Luke 16:31 (36) – If they didn’t believe Moses and the prophets neither will they believe if someone rises from the dead.

John 10:27-30 (39) – Jesus holds us in His hand and nothing can take is away from Him.

Romans 8:29-30 (39) – Those he predestines he justifies and glorifies etc.

Teaching Points:

Intro: His miracles validate His teachings. Discuss.

The crowd chases Jesus 22-25

The next morning the crowd was perplexed. Jesus and His disciples were gone. They saw the disciples go, but they hadn’t seen Jesus leave and there were apparently no boats that He could have taken. No one expected that maybe he walked! They also got into boats and cross the lake to find Jesus. When they arrived they asked Him how He got there.

Discourse begins

26

In verse 26 Jesus reveals their motives. At this point they are following Jesus around because they got a free meal. If Jesus created food to give them, couldn’t He do the same for all of their other physical/material needs and desires? The Jews generally disguised their longing for a person to overthrow Rome with seemingly lofty spiritual goals and wanting to see signs, etc. But Jesus realizes their true goal. It’s very materialistic.

Why do many people follow Jesus these days? Their attitude is no different than most people today. In US elections people will generally vote for whoever they feel will benefit them the most. Business owners may like one person. What a coincidence that that person plans to lower taxes for businesses! Poor people may like another person. What a coincidence that the person they want to vote for plans to give free handouts and increase welfare or unemployment. Old people want to vote for another. What a coincidence that the person they are voting for plans to increase social security benefits or health care. People are generally greedy. They will normally follow the path they feels benefits them the most without much thought of the morality of it. Here people who seemed to be believing in Jesus were following Him because He had their free meal tickets. He was their food machine. I want to ask a question and have you think seriously about it. Why are you following Jesus? Why? Discuss. Is it OK if it is spiritual rewards or even eternal life that motivates us to follow Jesus? Why or why not?

27

Here Jesus corrects their faulty motivation. Instead of pursuing food that doesn’t last they should pursue eternal food. What are the two kinds? One kind is pursuing materials and the other kind is pursuing God and working for Him. This issue is one that God teaches us about again and again and again in the Bible. The primary importance of the spiritual and serving God over and above the physical and serving ourselves is repeated over and over.

Ecclesiastes 6:7 (27) – People work and work for their mouth, but it is never satisfied. Matthew 6:19 (27) – Treasures in heaven, not on earth.

Luke 10:40-42 (27) – Martha was working for the perishable, Mary for the imperishable.

2 Corinthians 4:18 (27) – The things seen are temporal, the unseen are eternal.

Colossians 3:2 (27) – Set your mind on things above not on things on the earth.

James 1:11 (27) – The rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

Here are six separate Scriptures that discuss this issue. Discuss. God’s will is obvious. The effects of each choice are obvious. Our choice is obvious. The question is will we obey? Will we listen to God about what direction we should take in our life? Although the Bible talks about this issue again and again it remains probably the largest stumbling block for Christians. So many give their life to their work. Their life is consumed by their career to the point where they have virtually no time for God. They will be like the rich man in James. What about us? What will we have to show for our lives when we die? 1 Corinthians 3:12 (wood, hay). We may need to take a stand, to tell our boss “no” when he continually asks us to work overtime or to say “no” to some projects. We may need to say “no” to a promotion that we know will make us much more busy.

This verse also answers the question of if it is wrong to work for rewards. It is not wrong. Here Jesus uses it as motivation for us. Certainly we don’t want to become selfishly consumed with ourselves, but we should weigh the results of our choices in life and pursue the ones that have an eternal impact, both in our lives and the lives of others.

28-29

This verse is typical of man’s thoughts. It is ingrained into people’s minds that we must do something to earn our salvation or way to heaven. In this world almost nothing comes free. People believe in themselves, relying on their own efforts to provide for themselves. When they consider salvation they also immediately think they need to do something to deserve it, to earn it.

How does verse 28 reveal people’s ideas about how they can please God?

What is common denominator in every man-made religion?

I looked at a comparison of forty of the world religions. Christianity was the ONLY one that proposed salvation by faith. Every other one was works oriented. Some focused on gaining merit, honoring ancestors, keeping peace and harmony, reaching enlightenment, evangelism, etc. I’ve even heard Christians who have shared the gospel with unbelievers and the unbelievers may believe that Jesus died for them, but STILL feel the need to do something to pay back God for all the wrong they have done. This is one of Satan’s tricks. It is wrong to think he just goes around and tells people “you should hate God. Commit immorality. Murder. Rob banks. Become homosexuals.” Etc. His best trick is not even telling people to do wrong. It is telling people to do good!

What is the difference between every man-made religion and what Jesus taught us (see verse 29)?

Is it a good deed/work to believe? So does salvation still result at least partly because of ourselves?

Jesus responds to this very clearly. The only acceptable work is to believe in Him. Nothing else will count. The greatest sin in the universe is to reject Christ. Believing in Him can cover over all sins. Remember though from other Scriptures (like Php 2:13, 1:6) that even the “work” of believing is not a good deed that we do. It is a work that Christ brings about in our heart. We truly have nothing to brag about and no merit of our own.

30-31

The Jews were continuously looking for signs from Jesus in order to validate that He was true. Here they referred to Moses and the sign of Manna that came from Him. It seems they are saying something like this. “You say you are from God and we should believe you. But what signs have you done to prove this? Moses did many signs, including giving the people manna. We believe Moses. But you have not done signs like him so we do not believe you.” There are two problems with their hypothesis. Firstly, the Jews during Moses’ time were not saints. They disobeyed again and again and complained again and again and rebelled against God again and again. Second, Jesus did do many signs. They just chose to ignore them. Their hearts were so hard. Jesus had just fed more than five thousand, but apparently this sign wasn’t good enough!

Would it be enough if Jesus set up a worldwide kingdom, showed his power and miracles daily, ruled with a rod of iron, and was available for anyone to come and talk with Him?

John 12:37-40 (30) – Jesus did many signs, but the people didn’t believe. Their hearts were hardened.

32-33

Moses didn’t even give them the manna. That was also God’s work which He accomplished through Moses. But even if it was Moses, the manna was not the true bread out of heaven. Only God gives that. What is the true bread? What is the difference between the manna that Moses gave (through God) and the bread of God?

Jesus is the true bread. It is clear from verses 33 and 35. He came down out of heaven. And he offers life to the world.

Exodus 16:4, Numbers 11:6 (32) – God supplied the manna. They got tired of if and wanted something else.

John 10:10, John 3:16 (33) – He came that we may have abundant life.

34-

Does their response in verse 34 show that they finally believed and accepted Him?

The people still didn’t understand. In another Scripture Jesus told them that they had to eat or take of His body. In other words, if they want the benefit of the bread of life they have to follow Him. It’s like someone who hears the gospel and says, “Yes, I want eternal life. I want to go to heaven!” We ask, “Do you believe Jesus? Are you willing to repent of your sins?” And they answer, “No. I want to do my own thing. But I want God, if there is one, to save me.”

35-

Share your thoughts on what it means that Jesus claimed to be “the bread of life”.

What does it mean that those who go to Him do not hunger or thirst?

When Jesus makes a statement they are not empty words. He generally does a visible miracle in order to demonstrate He has the authority for His claims. If a normal person says, “I am the bread of life” it doesn’t mean anything. But in the first part of John 6, Jesus fed five thousand people with just five pieces of bread and two fish. After they had eaten their fill there were twelve baskets of leftovers! Jesus physically provided food for thousands. This miracle proved Jesus’ claim that He is the bread of life to be true.

And what does this mean that He is the bread of life? Food is something that we need everyday. If we don’ have it we will feel hungry. This hunger cannot go away and will grow stronger and stronger until the point that we can think of nothing else. The drive for food is perhaps the most basic to humans. Without it we are hollow, weak, and unsatisfied.

In a similar way, God put inside all humans a need for a relationship with Him. Without it we cannot be fulfilled spiritually. People try to fill this hole in their hearts with all kinds of things including: money, entertainment, family, career, and friends. But none of these can find lasting help. If we trust in them we will go through life being spiritually hungry, empty and unsatisfied. However, we have hope. Jesus is our spiritual bread. He will fulfill this heartfelt desire, give us a purpose and goal for our life, and satisfy us. He will fill the empty spot in our life and give us abundant life (John 10:10). His condition is that we come to Him.

36 –

They saw, but didn’t believe anyway. Jesus said that Thomas saw and believed, but even more blessed would be those who didn’t see yet believed. The Jews who saw and didn’t believe were the worst ones. They had absolutely no excuse.

37-40

Is it possible for somebody to be elect, but not end up saved (37)?

Is it possible for somebody to lose their salvation after they have come to God? Why or why not?

In this verse one can see God’s sovereignty. It is the Father who elects us and “gives” us to Christ. On can also see our responsibility. Though we are called by Him and it is His work in our lives we must still come to Him. That is our responsibility. If anyone does not come to God it is his fault. Thirdly, this verse shows our eternal security. Jesus will not lose the elect. These were chosen before the world began, so how can someone God chose before the world began do something that would cause him to lose his salvation? Is God’s grace not strong enough? Can God not keep the ones He chose for Himself? Of course not! The only logical way someone can lose their salvation is if their salvation was a result of their own good deeds! If God began it, surely we cannot stop it. John 10:27-30, Php 1:6, Romans 8:29-30. God’s election is not only to salvation, but it is to the very end step of resurrection and then glorification.

If it is not possible to lose our salvation does this then give us excuse or make it easier for us to live for ourselves and follow our own ways after salvation?

What is the will of God as shown in these verses?

Jesus came to do God’s will on earth. What is it? It is to bring salvation, to make a way for us to go to God. This is the chief reason for Jesus coming to earth. Thank God His will is not our destruction or suffering, but it is our life!!

Discuss applications of eternal security.

Main Points:

  1. We should work for the food that endures to eternal life. All of us should take a deep look at our lives and see if they are characterized by a pursuit of God or a pursuit of the world. Not only are the results much better for serving God, but it is a command here! Don’t ask yourself if something will benefit your physical life 10 years from now. Ask if it will have any impact 1000 years from now.

  2. Jesus Christ is the bread of life. He IS THE ONLY THING THAT CAN SATIFISY. The things of the world are temporary and cannot satisfy. We will have to eat them again and again and again and still feel empty when it is done. Take part in Christ and be satisfied.

  3. The elect are eternally secure. If we come to Christ He will never lose us and He will never cast us out. Nothing can take us out of His hands. This should free us to serve God with no constraints or fear in our hearts that maybe we fail and lose our salvation and have to go to hell.

Study John 6:41-71

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