Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:43-44)
As we continue our examination of Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse from John 6, we notice in vs. 43-44 another provocative statement by the Savior. In 6:37 we witnessed a universal positive logical statement when Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” In today’s text, we witness a universal negative logical statement.
Jesus addressed the grumbling group of people who did not like what He was teaching. He told them to stop their grumbling. In fact, the text accurately says that Jesus commanded them to stop their complaining about who He was and He had said about being the bread of life. He then followed this command with a statement which will surely solicit even more complaints from the people.
The statement is “No one can come to me.” This is a universal negative. No one who belongs to a particular class of people can come to Jesus. Who are these people? They are sinners like you and me. Notice, Jesus said “No one ‘can’ come, or place their faith, in me.” The word “can” refers to ability. Jesus did not say no one “may” come to me, but rather “no one can come to me.” No sinner possesses the inherent ability to come to faith in Christ. Left alone, this initial statement by Jesus leaves sinners with no hope for salvation.
However, Jesus is not done. He then says, “…unless the Father who sent me draws him.” The word “unless” is an adverb which modifies the preceding verb “come.” By using this word, Jesus introduces a necessary condition by which sinners may receive justification and redemption from God by coming to faith in Christ.
What is the necessary condition by which sinners can come to Christ? The Father must first draw them. The word draw (ἑλκύω; helkyo) means literally to pull in or to drag as well as to lead by force. This is sovereign and irresistible authority from God the Father by which He changes the disposition of man’s soul enabling them to come to Christ by God given faith. This is what Jesus meant in saying to Nicodemas that you must be born again (John 3:1-8). These who the Father draws Jesus will resurrect on the last day.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Jesus went on to stress again that the reason they remained blind was because God had not opened their spiritual eyes to see Him for who He truly was. He intensified His early claim that all those the Father gives to Him for salvation will be saved by asserting that no one, in fact, can be saved unless the Father draws him to Christ. And this drawing is not a weak exhortation to believe but a powerful act of God, for all of those whom God calls will finally give up their resistance to Christ, and they will be certainly raised up at the last day (John 6:43–44). In our natural state, we are completely unwilling and morally incapable of coming to Christ. If the Father wants us to come to Christ, He must effectually draw us to His beloved Son.”
Commenting on today’s passage, John Calvin writes, “The Gospel, though it is preached to all without exception, cannot be embraced by all . . . a new understanding and a new perception are requisite; . . . faith does not depend on the will of men, but that it is God who gives it.” See John 1:12-13.
Dr. John MacArthur explains, “The combination of v. 37a and v. 44 indicate that the divine drawing activity that Jesus referred to cannot be reduced to what theologians call “prevenient grace,” i.e., that somehow the power to come to Christ is allegedly dispensed to all of mankind, thus enabling everyone to accept or reject the gospel according to their own will alone. Scripture indicates that no “free will” exists in man’s nature, for man is enslaved to sin (total depravity) and unable to believe apart from God’s empowerment (Rom. 3:1–19; Eph. 2:1–3; 2 Cor. 4:4; 2 Tim. 1:9). While “whosoever will” may come to the Father, only those whom the Father gives the ability to will toward him will actually come to him. The drawing here is selective and efficacious (producing the desired effect) upon those whom God has sovereignly chosen for salvation, i.e., those whom God has chosen will believe because God has sovereignly determined that result from eternity past (Eph. 1:9–11).”
Dear friend, if you have come to faith in Christ, on what basis are you placing your hope in salvation? Is it based upon a decision you made at some time in the past, or an aisle you walked forward on during a church worship service, or even a card you signed? Ultimately, your coming to Christ was initially based upon God the Father drawing you and calling you to faith in God the Son, Jesus Christ, by the power and authority of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. This biblical truth, from the lips of the Savior Himself, results in God receiving all the glory for our salvation which He purposed in eternity past.
Soli deo Gloria!
Soli deo Gloria!