Where Else Can We Go?

John 6:64-7:5

Jesus has been speaking in a divine discourse following the feeding of five thousand:

“‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.’ As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?’ Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him. And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For not even His brothers were believing in Him.

If one celebrated the Jewish Pilgramage Festivals, Pesach comes first. For seven days no leaven is to be found, even in a corner of a cupboard. Then one counts the omer from the second day of Pesach for 49 days. After the counting of the omer Shavuot is celebrated. The third pilgramage festival follows a few months later and is called Sukkot, or Booths. In the beginning of today’s text Jesus was speaking at the time of the Passover, coming to a conclusion on his divine discourse concerning his miracle made by feeding five thousand and him being the bread of life. “And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand.” Therefore there is a minimum of 5 months between the end of chapter 6 and the beginning of chapter 7.

We see multiple feast days mentioned in John’s gospel account. The point: John doesn’t write entirely chronologically but thoroughly thematically and somewhat schematically. Metaphorical miracles of seven signs, most around special days, seven divine discourses and seven “I am” statements all allude to John’s aspiration to his audience. John does give a historical narrative in that these things happened but his focus is also on the future as well as the past. John links Jesus and the Spirit to God the father, from creation to the new heavens and new earth.

Context is king, author’s aspirations to his audience are apex, genre is the general, expository exegesis of examples enlightens and dividing rightly the word of truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions.

I really should stop listening to the dogmatic, dispensationalist, prophecy pundits. But they have millions of followers and millions of dollars to further their followers to further their millions of dollars; someone has to speak up, yet in love. I don’t want to be a noisy cymbal but I don’t mind sounding the alarm. In love I am saying; “you keep quoting that verse– I don’t thing that it means what you think it means.”

It is not only dogmatic dispensationalism but all the “isms,” modes and models that have the tendency to steer our study ships into some sort of shipwreck. Yet it is the prophecy pundits who rip verses out of context almost as much as the mega-churches and rip even more money out of your pockets. The biggest problem is that most believe that which they preach. How do we change minds? The most difficult thing for a person to do is to admit when they are wrong and to change their mind.

Antifa, BLM, dispensationalists, Hamas, Pentecostalists, Jehovah’s witnesses, name a cause or a dogma, the people involved are usually ardent adherents and advocates. The question is; from where does one derive their dogma?

Let’s jump ahead a bit in John’s gospel account to chapter 14: “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”

As always and without warrant, the dogmatic dispensationalists say, “this is the rapture.” Apparently, according to them, the way to where Jesus is, is a rapture rescue. One always puts the model in front, leaving the context and author’s aspirations in the dust.

These are two of the problems with this dubious dogma about the rapture– context and audience relevance. Jesus is speaking to the same people for whom he prayed; “I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

Much of what Jesus said to his 12 disciples is transferable to us, yet much is not. Just because Jesus said something to the 12 doesn’t mean it applies directly to us. Are we to go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel?In the same way, we can’t apply something to ourselves that Jesus said applied to his disciples, especially if the alleged application didn’t actually apply to the disciples. This is where ego-circular reasoning rears its ugly head. Be weary of egocentrically and wrongly placing yourself into the narrative of Scripture. We’re not Jewish exiles in Jeremiah and not sent out to the lost sheep of Israel, literally. Yet these can apply to us figuratively. Nevertheless, consider the continuing context.

The dogmatic dispensationalists promise that Jesus spoke of a rapture rescue to his twelve disciples, promising them, a rapture rescue but Jesus did not rescue them in a rapture. Think about it, how can what Jesus said to his 12 disciples not actually apply to his 12 disciples but to the 21st century church? It makes no sense. Especially when we read that Jesus prayed that the father would not take the disciples out of the world. The author’s aspirations to his audience are apex and Jesus was the author of this discourse to his audience of his 12 disciples; it cannot be about a rapture rescue 2000 years later…and still counting. We will consider this context more thoroughly in the future, Lord willing. But look at the context and especially the audience relevance; Jesus is telling the twelve that they know the way, that he is the way, but the dogmatic dispensationalists argue that Jesus is speaking about a rapture to the 21st century church. I can’t wait to consider this context in the future.

Yet the same is true with today’s text, the author’s aspiration to his audience is absolutely apex. We want to consider both the aspirations of Jesus to his audience and John’s reason for writing. We don’t want to read any of our preconceived “isms” into the text but draw out the aspirations of John. It’s utterly ironic that we apply what Jesus said to the twelve in John 14, and much of what he said to them in today’s text but not; “one of you is a devil.” I know this sounds simple but we have corrupted the context and don’t understand the author’s aspirations to his audience.

“‘But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.’ As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.”

Is this Calvinism or is this situational? Is Jesus speaking to the 21st century church or the people present? Which is more important, the model of Calvinism or the aspirations of Jesus to the people present and John’s aspiration to his audience?

Nowhere in the context do we read that Jesus chose Judas to betray him. What we read is that Jesus chose Judas as a disciple and that he knew that he would betray him. Context is king, John’s writes, “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.” John quotes Jesus and writes, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” What was the reason? Watch; For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.” We have to consider the context and the author’s aspirations to his audience.

Jesus fed the multitude but it was his disciples that gathered up the leftovers in the twelve baskets. Jesus sent his disciples ahead of him to Capernaum but sent the multitude away. Jesus walked on the water in front of his disciples and got them safely to shore but the multitude had to search for Jesus. Is John painting a picture of Calvinism or a sign of the times? Remember that Judas, or; Judah, was not believing but also was one of the twelve.

Despite the false narrative in our current cultural climate, every Woman is a human but not every human is a woman. Every old man is a man but not every man is old. Every raison was a grape but not every grape will be a raison. Every German Shepherd is a dog but not every dog is a German Shepherd and not all French fries are French or fried.

Judas was a chosen disciple nevertheless he was always going to betray Jesus. Yet Judas is clearly a type and microcosm of Judah, as the twelve disciples are a type of the 12 patriarchs and the twelve tribes.

I don’t write to disprove dispensationalism or Calvinism but write to get you to leave your “isms” at the door, reading the Bible for all its worth, letting the Scripture interpret Scripture and not necessarily all the commentaries out there. However, I hope I have disproved dogmatic dispensationalism…honestly, it has disproven itself. They proclaim that the rebirth of Israel as a nation restarted the prophetic clock. Unfortunately for them, we are beyond out of time. 1948-2021 is more than a generation. But dogmatic dispensationalism is a false narrative for much more than this, as we have seen.

Without any doubt, some situational scenarios have eternal implications, especially when we read a divine discourse. However we don’t want to miss the forest for the trees or the trees for the forest. John is writing about a certain situation in which Jesus indeed spoke truths eternal but we don’t want to miss the meanings, whether metaphorical, symbolic, overarching, overlapping or even contradictory to conventional wisdom. If Calvinism is all one can draw from this divine discourse, the mark has been missed. Why were all these signs around feast days? Why were there 7 signs, 7 “I am” statements and 7 divine discourses? We want to zoom in with a telescopic lens but also need to zoom out with the wide angle as well.

Pentecostalism, dispensationalism and many other “isms” would be eradicated if Christians would simply keep considering the continuing context. I can’t stress this enough, keep reading!

A great but lengthy example is found and has begun in today’s text. “And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For not even His brothers were believing in Him… ‘Then three years later I [Paul the apostle] went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.'”

Some doubly dogmatic scholars and religious leaders claim that this James mentioned by Paul couldn’t be one of the siblings of Jesus because he is listed as an apostle and therefore had to be one of the twelve. Some also point out today’s text, claiming that the brothers of Jesus did not believe in him. Yet things change and Paul was an apostle but he was certainly not one of the twelve. And while it is true that “brother” is the most common of terms used to describe christians, the context doesn’t call Peter the Lord’s brother. We miss the forest for the trees and don’t consider the context but create diabolical dogma based on tradition and religion and verses ripped out of context. It appears that James, or Jacob, the brother of Jesus, and Jude, or, Judas, or, Judah, another brother of Jesus, didn’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah until after his resurrection.

What’s in a name? James (Jacob) and Jude (Judas; Judah) were also a microcosm of Israel and Judah. That is, some were disobedient, some were obedient and even some of the disobedient had their minds changed. This all fits the narrative of our Old Testament tutor.

What does not fit is the continuation of the Old Covenant. Jesus came, exactly on time and did exactly what the prophets promised. But it didn’t look like it to many in Judea, including Judas. Dogmatic dispensationalism falls into the same category.

As we turn the chapter from the Passover, the feeding of five thousand, the walking on the water and the divine discourse of the bread of life, to the Feast of Booths, we want to remember the context and see the themes. Don’t clutch so closely to Calvinism that the metaphorical meanings of the miracles are missed. Don’t be like Judah and miss the prophets’ promises coming to fruition in Jesus. Don’t be like the people present who saw the signs but wanted different signs. Some didn’t believe but some did.

Certainly seen in the situational scenario is that the Father must draw people to himself. Letting Scripture interpret Scripture we read in Romans; “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

Paul also, quoting Isaiah and the Old Testament, writes; “we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE. THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE, WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING, THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS, WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS’…Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.”

Do we see Calvinism in exploring examples?Perhaps but we want to see that which John the apostle wants us to see. Examining examples enlightens but it is not the end of our studies. We see doctrine established by the examples but it doesn’t fully explain the author’s aspirations to his audience in a certain situational scenario. It highlights, enlightens even, but the context is king. The aspirations of the author to his audience are apex therefore we consider the continuing context.

We must see the themes put forth by John. We want to understand the scenarios, situations, scenes, cultural references, cultural climate and how Jesus used the traditions, teachings, signs, festivals, miracles and the like to link all of history to himself and his ministry.

Jesus is undoing the Old Covenant–the old way, the worldly way. Piece by piece, Jesus is changing the perceptions of history and pointing to the future and John is highlighting the diety of Jesus and his eternal existence as we go. John’s gospel account does differ from the synoptics, not only in content, structure organization and themes but in the aspect angles. We see some of the same scenes to be sure but we also see different attributes of Jesus– the most obvious began in the beginning– “In the beginning was the Word…” Only John used this type of language. John concludes his gospel account; “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.”

John systematically hit the highlights. John gives the reader a great glimpse into who Jesus was, is and will be. Not that God changed but that Jesus is one with the father and Spirit, perfect unity and love, existing before the creation of the universe. Then the universe is created by the Godhead, then man falls but redemption is promised. Throughout history God was working and at the right time, right place and to the right people, Jesus came and tabernacled among Israel. This passage is about Israel– this passage is about Passover– this passage is about Jesus being better bread–this passage and its signs are situational and relevant to their current culture, not as much to our culture and age.

Remember the continuing context of the feeding of five thousand, walking on water, references to the manna, Passover and the “Ego Eimi” (I am) statement of Jesus about being the bread of life because that’s the context. Yet we also remember everything else that John has written thus far. Therefore when we read; “no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father,” we want to be certain that this statement is not isolated on an island but kept in its context.

Jesus came to his own but those who were his own did not receive him. Nevertheless, to those who did receive him, to those he granted eternal life. Do we see Calvinism in this quote; “no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father?” Sure we do, if Calvinism is our context. But the context of John is an indictment against those who so very recently wanted to rapture Jesus and make him their king. John is building a case against the false bloodline but making a case towards the true bloodline. Jesus, as the gospel of Matthew presents, is the true Israel and John agrees.

Nevertheless not all Israel was apostate Israel. Peter, who was a rollercoaster ride, rightly proclaimed; “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

As we read these words, we don’t want to keep them CAGED but use the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics, where; context is king, author’s aspirations to his audience are apex, genre is the general, expository exegesis of examples enlightens and dividing rightly the word of truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions. Let the Scripture interpret Scripture and read the Bible for all its worth.

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