How does the Father “draw” men to Christ (v.44)? I used to believe God used an irresistible tractor beam that He only aimed at the elect He had chosen to be saved. But like all verses, this verse has a context that defines it. Verse 45 says that all who are taught and hear and learn of God in His Word come to Christ. Thus we know that God draws men to Christ with His Word. Since only some choose to believe what they hear and are taught, only some come.
But are “all” men “taught of God” (v.44)? No! The Lord is quoting Isaiah 54:13, a verse that won’t be fulfilled until the kingdom of heaven on earth is established (v.14). But even then, men will have to choose to be taught of God (Isaiah 2:1—5), just as men had to choose to be taught of God in our Lord’s day and come to Him.
God always draws men “with lovingkindness” (Jer. 31:3). He tells men they are sinners, but tells them how to get their sins paid for. In the Old Testament, they got their sins paid for by animal sacrifices. Today we get our sins paid for by believing Christ paid for them on Calvary. Hosea 11:4 says God drew Israel “with cords of a man.” Men have no mysterious tractor beam power to draw others to themselves, and neither does God. He draws people with the cords of a man, with “bands of love.” Love draws peo-ple to people, and it is what draws people to God, when He tells them He loves them, and gave His Son to die for them.
The Lord knew that when you go to school you can see the teacher. So after talking about being taught of God, He says, “not that any man hath seen the Father” (v.45). But why would He then make sure to tell them that He had seen the Father? It was because they trusted in Moses (5:45), and they believed Moses had seen God (Ex.33:11). But since no man can see God’s face (33:20) we know that see-ing God “face to face” is a figure of speech, for we read that Israel saw God face to face when He gave the ten commandments (Deut.5:4-8), and Israel fled from the face of God that day. Seeing God “face to face” was a figure of speech for the plain way in which God spoke to Israel when He gave them the 10 commandments. That’s how Moses saw the Father, but the Lord saw the Father literally.
Kingdom saints had eternal life, as a present possession (John 6:47), just as we do. In the Old Testament, God’s name was “I am” (Ex.3:14), i.e., “I am whatever you need me to be.” In the New Testament, the Lord claims to be the “I am” of Exodus 3:14, but gets a little more specific when He says “I am that bread of life” (John 6:48), “I am the good shepherd,” etc.
After the Lord fed the 5,000 with a few loaves, the Jews reminded him that Moses fed millions—for 40 years! (6:31). The Lord reminded them that Moses didn’t give the manna, God did (v.32), and now reminds them that that whole generation that ate the manna died before reaching the promised land because of unbelief (6:49). He wasn’t putting Moses down, He was just trying to get them to let go of old truth in favor of new truth. We run into the same problem with people who won’t let go of the Lord’s earthly ministry in favor of Paul’s ministry.
We know eating the Lord (6:50) is a figure of speech for believing on Him because the Lord said if you eat Him you will “not die,” i.e., die spiritually. Of course, just because the Lord gave His flesh “for the life of the world” doesn’t mean the world is saved, any more than John meant to say that the sins of the world are taken away (John 1:29). Only believers get their sins taken away and get life from Christ.
The Jews thought He was speaking literally (6:52 cf. 3:4; 4:15). Two common Bible study mistakes are taking figurative things literally and literal things figuratively. When the Bible speaks of a literal hell, people think it is figurative (Ezek. 20:49).
Another way we know the Lord was speaking figuratively is when He talked about drinking His blood, something prohibited by the Law (Lev.3:17, etc.). Taking this figure of speech literally led our Catholic friends to believe the bread and cup become the body and blood of Christ and that these elements must be eaten to be saved. Not so!