“..this He said to test them…” – Why John 6:6 is more important than you might think..

The Ineradicable Evidences of Christ’s Deity

To say that the gospel of John is concerned about conveying to the reader that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate – at virtually every turn – would be a great understatement. Every chapter, in way or another, points to the deity of Christ in such a way that for an individual to deny this, he would have to be an expert at performing exegetical gymnastics, deny the validity of John (as either Midrashic writing or pure fable, as some liberals have done), or re-translate the Scripturess in such a way that is more favorable toward their own unbiblical, unorthodox ideas about Christ. The problem is that John’s statements about the deity of Christ are not only very straightforward, explicit declarations like “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, paraphrase , added italics), but much more subtle.

A great example of this can be found in John 6:6 which, if one is not paying, can easily slip by even the careful reader’s attention. The statement from John reads:

“But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.”

I’ve read many fine expositions of this chapter, but I haven’t yet come across an exposition that shows how John’s statement is a historical detail that bears profound theological siginificance. In this passage, the Lord Jesus provides bread miraculously for Israelites who have been following Him for some time. Later, He exposes their own sin to them and many, when they are offended by His words, fall away. In the end, only the twelve disciples are left, and even then there is a devil (i.e. Judas Iscariot) among them, so that we see that the Lord’s testing is not something that applies to Philip only (cf. 6:1-6), but in a very real sense the test extends to all the individuals who were following Christ. Why were they  following Him? Did they desire to be ruled by Him (via His Word) or were they carnal men who desired only bread and comfort, treating Christ as if He were a means to an end?

By the end of the chapter we know the answer: The large majority of the individuals who are following Him are in it for only bread.

Just as the Israelits in Moses’ day were.

See, we see Christ as a type of Moses, the greater Moses, and we do well, I believe, for the Lord is truly the greater Law Giver and Redeemer of God’s people. However, we can also see Christ as who He was, is, and ever will be: Almighty God. For the LORD led the Israelites through the desert, where they hungered and thirsted and met all kinds of difficulties, for the express purpose of testing them. The Lord tested them to see if they would depend on Him, by trusting in His Word/Promises, or if they would not continue in faith, just as the Lord Jesus has led these individuals who are now hungry, thirsty, and seeking relief.

We read:

“And you shall remember that the LORD your Godled you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to test you, to know what was in your heart, and whether or not you would keep His commandments. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know not did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”

-Deuteronomy 8:2-3

What is of great significance here is that while it is Moses who is stating that the LORD has led Israel in order to test them, in John 6:6, it is John who is commenting on the Lord’s actions, so that Christ is being declared by another to be doing that which the LORD (YHWH, Jehovah) did to Israel. This is a clear indication that what John means to convey is that the Lord Jesus is the greater Moses, but He is more – He is God in the flesh.

Those who desire to deny the deity of Christ need to cut out this entire chapter from the New Testament if they are to perist in their error.

-h.

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