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To deliver himself from the company of such men, if he could not bring some of them to a better mind, he first rebuked them openly for their mean unworthy motives in coming after him; and when upon this, being chagrined and disappointed in their expectations, they set themselves to cavil with him and disparage him as not being so great a prophet as he pretended to be, and far inferior to Moses ; he goes on to assert his superior character and authority from God. But to put them off and divert them the more from their thoughts of making him a king, which we are told they entertained, and to let them see that there were none of those worldly advantages that they looked for to be received from him, he avoids raising their expectations by saying, in direct words, that he was the Messiah, their great expected prophet, yet asserts it in figurative language, easy to be comprehended by them, borrowed from the miracle he had lately wrought before them, calling both himself and his doctrine bread that came down from heaven ; to signify thereby that what he taught them was by an express commission and authority from God. For however we for want of consideration are apt to mistake such lan
guage, the Jewish common people were accustomed to understand a thing or person coming down from heaven, as not to be taken literally, but only to signify the being authorized or having authority from God. Thus, in that question which Christ put to the Pharisees concerning John's baptism, whether it was from heaven or of men ? Matt. xvi. 25. It was plain by their reasoning upon it that they well understood that its being from heaven implied no more than that John had authority from God for it. And these
men, had they been serious and properly disposed toward our Lord, would have found no difficulty in interpreting such language, that coming from God, or from heaven, means only the being a divine prophet, having a commission from God or from heaven. But being determined to raise captious objections, the history relates in the passage prefixed to my discourse, (ver. 41.) 6 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?"
Finding that, instead of indulging their bodily appetites, he promised them only spiritual food to instruct and nourish them in piety and goodness; being much mortified and disappointed, they set themselves to lessen him and to murmur against him, on account of his low parentage and mean kindred. He that was nobody, that had no learning, education or rank, to take so much
him. Ver. 43.“ Jesus therefore answered, and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves," i. e. do not raise vain cavils, and seek objections against me on such accounts. “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him.” In which words he insinuates that they were not the persons they ought to be, though he does not say it directly, to avoid giving needless offence, but speaks in the third
person. There was something necessary which they did not possess, and which he calls being drawn by the Father.
Before we consider what this is, it is proper to state what is that coming to him for which it is necessary.
No man can come unto me, unless the Father who hath sent me draw him."
He himself explains it a little above (ver.35.) « Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth in me shall never thirst.” Here to come to Christ is explained by believing in him.
So he says in another place (Matt. xi. 28, 29.) “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” Here also to come to Christ, is to submit to his discipline, to learn of him, to become his disciples.
These men that followed him, to whom he .now speaks, were many of them his disciples, and are so called (vv. 60. 66.) But they were such as had engaged with him on no good grounds, and who therefore soon deserted him.
They wanted something in order to become his true disciples, because they were not drawn of the Father.
What that is, then, we are next to examine.
Now this being drawn by the Father cannot mean any power or ability from God necessary to make them Christ's disciples,
which was withheld from them.
immediate agency of the heavenly Father, which our Saviour here speaks of, and which was denied to these men; but it must have been something in themselves that was wanting, which is spoken of in these terms.
To see this more clearly, it is to be remarked that it is a way of speaking frequently to be met with in the sacred writers, when they would commend any for their pious dispositions or good deeds, to say that such persons were taught of God, that he opened their hearts, that the Father revealed a thing to them, that they were drawn by him, and the like ; without supposing any immediate operation or