All That the Father Gives Me
We continue Jesus’ discourse to the people who are hungry for bread, bread that will fill their stomachs – and if it comes from heaven, so much the better. We must not laugh at this. How often are we focused on the things of this world, be it bread, cars, houses, fortune, fame, what have you? We are people who are naturally turned in on ourselves; we look after number one and seek to fulfill our own needs first. It’s who we are.
Jesus now directly tells them and points them away from themselves and their stomachs towards himself: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Jesus then tells them what is exactly in their hearts: that they do not believe in him. Jesus knew who believed in him and who didn’t. But how is this? How did Jesus know this?
And now we come to one of the most difficult teachings of the gospel for many to receive, even believers. The Reformed of the seventeenth century referred to it as the “covenant of redemption” or “covenant of grace.” The doctrine hinges on Jesus words, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” He makes it clear that he has come to do his Father’s will and not his own. And then he adds, “And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” So why is it that those listening to Jesus, and who even witnessed and ate of the loaves in that miraculous event, did not believe in him? Because they were not given to him from the Father. The teaching is deep and mysterious but we are to understand from this that the Father, who is the Fount and Beginning of the Triune God, chose a people to give as a gift to His Son, a gift given to and earned by the Son on their behalf as a propitiation for God’s just wrath and atoning sacrifice for their heinous crimes. The Holy Spirit then takes this atonement of the Son and applies it to this people for whom the Son died and rose again, so as to bring them by faith through the Son’s redemptive work to the Father who chose them from the foundation of the world. So we see that the doctrine of the Trinity is not some esoteric thing but eminently practical: The Father chooses a people, sends the Son to atone for that people, who both send the Spirit to apply that atoning work – which people having been moved by the Spirit to believe in the Son are now embraced by the Father. Yes, anyone may come, but those who come to the Son are given first by the Father; otherwise, we would never come at all.