What does Jesus mean when He says “the flesh profits nothing”? There are several different meanings for “flesh” so to understand what Jesus means, let’s first understand the rest of His saying so we can gain the intended contrast He has in mind.
John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
Jesus identifies who gives life. It is the Spirit who gives life. The Father gives life and the Holy Spirit gives life. Does Jesus also give life?
The Spirit Gives Life
Jesus said in John 4 –
John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Jesus said, “I WILL give him.” What will Jesus give? Jesus will give eternal life. Jesus said the same thing again in John 6.
John 6:27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
Jesus said that He will give eternal life to the crowd. What kind of life is He giving to the crowd? Jesus is giving eternal life. However, the way Jesus would give them eternal life is embedded in His use of the term “came down from Heaven.” It was the “who” not the “what” that came down from Heaven, that will provide eternal life.
Jesus is the life-giving spirit. 1 Corinthians 15 shows that Adam at his beginning became a living soul, but Jesus as the last Adam, came in the beginning as something more..
1 Corinthians 15:45 So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
In my last post, I talked about how Jesus showed the unbelieving crowd, who followed Him in John 6, that the “work” which result is meant to bring the crowd to belief, is God’s work. When Jesus shared that it is God’s work, not the work of the crowd, the crowd demanded a work from Jesus.
John 6:30 (NASB) So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?
Notice that the crowd is no longer conversing with Jesus about their own work. Instead, they want a work from Him. They demand “What then do YOU DO…” They understand that there will be a work whose purpose it is to bring them to faith. They now want a work that they can see, a work that is designed to cause them to believe. Jesus rightfully brought the crowd from their mindset about their own righteous works as being the cause of salvation, to the true cause of salvation which is the work of God.…
In my last post, I discussed the phrase in John 6, which Calvinists ignore from their own proof text passage. In this post, we will deal with John 6:28, 29.
John 6:28–29 (NASB)
28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”
29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
When the crowd that had followed Jesus asked Him what they were to do to work the works of God, their question was about their moral or legal obligations before God to gain eternal life. Their question was about works (plural). Their question was also personal. “What work shall we do…?”, they asked.
In reply to the unbelieving crowd, Jesus responded, “this is the work of God” (a singular thing as opposed to plural works). This one (singular) thing is God’s work, in order that you believe in Him (Jesus) whom He (God) has sent.
The verse that is the most ignored by Calvinists in their own proof text is John 6:27, and within the verse, in particular, a specific phrase. Calvinists prefer to start their focus in John 6 with verse 37, but it is vital to discuss all of Jesus’ words to the crowd, so that we do not miss out on the truth presented in verse 27.
Jesus makes a promise
In John 6:27 Jesus makes a promise that lays the foundation for the important words that will follow. Jesus said:
John 6:27 (NASB) “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
To understand this verse, we need to know who Jesus is talking to.
To whom is Jesus talking to?
John 6:26 (NASB) Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
Jesus is speaking to the crowd that had been fed by the bread and had followed Jesus. But they were not following Him because they had faith, but because they had a physical need met. Jesus exposes their motive for following Him in verse 26.…