“I Shall Resurrect Him at the Last Day”
1. Jesus’ words, “I shall resurrect him at the last day,” do not apply to what class of persons living today?
THOSE remarkable words were spoken by Jesus, at John 6:54. They could not apply to the living “great crowd” that survives the approaching “great tribulation.” (Rev. 7:9-17) Well, then, whom did Jesus have in mind when he said those words 19 centuries ago?
2. Jesus spoke those words about resurrection to whom, and near to what festival of the Jews that involved him?
2 The Bible verses surrounding John 6:54 show that Jesus was speaking those words, not just to mere Jews as such, but also to many of his Israelite disciples, including his 12 apostles. Their Passover of the year 32 C.E., “the festival of the Jews,” was near. (John 6:4) In preparation for that feast, the Jews would slaughter the Passover lamb at the temple in Jerusalem and the priests would catch the blood in bowls and dash it toward the base of the altar. (See M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia, Volume 7, under “Passover,” p. 738, column 1, paragraph 4, lines 1-34; also, The Temple—Its Ministry and Services As They Were at the Time of Jesus Christ, by Alfred Edersheim, 1874 C.E., pp. 190, 191.) Jesus purposed to attend that feast in order to commemorate the first Passover celebrated down in Egypt in 1513 B.C.E. He himself was, in fact, the antitypical Passover Lamb, “the Lamb of God.”—John 1:29, 36.
3. Why did the Jews track Jesus down after his miracle of the previous day, and what justification for this did they offer to him?
3 The Jews, including his disciples, had seen him perform a remarkable miracle on the day before his reported conversation with them in Capernaum. He had multiplied five loaves and two fishes to feed the thousands of his listeners. So the patriotic Jews wanted to make him king as their Messianic Leader. Since Jesus was to be a heavenly Messianic King, he got away from those would-be king-makers. Later, by walking out on the water, he joined his 12 apostles who were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. (John 6:14-21) But the Jews were not so easily to be foiled in their purpose to follow an earthly human Messiah. So they tracked him down, having in mind the miracle of the previous day. They wanted a Messianic King who could supply them with material food as Jesus had demonstrated himself able to do. As a justification for this, they reminded Jesus that in the wilderness of the Sinaitic peninsula God had given their forefathers “bread from heaven” to eat in the form of miraculous manna.—John 6:22-31.
4. How did Jesus explain whether Moses had given their forefathers the real “bread from heaven”?
4 In answer to this, Jesus told them that Moses had not given their forefathers the true bread from heaven. “The bread of God,” said he, “is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”—John 6:32, 33.
5. What did the Jews then ask of Jesus, and what did he say in explaining the way for them to gain everlasting life?
5 At this the Jews said: “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus identified himself as being it, saying: “I am the bread of life. He that comes to me will not get hungry at all, and he that exercises faith in me will never get thirsty at all. . . . For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day.”—John 6:34-40.
6. Why are those who come to Jesus and put faith in him as the Messiah during this system of things guaranteed a resurrection?
6 Thus those particular ones coming to Jesus and exercising faith in him as the Messiah during this present system of things have the prospect of everlasting life. Why so? Because Jesus Christ will raise them up from the dead at the last day. This guarantees to them a resurrection. Here we should note that Jesus did not say, in this case under discussion, that a person must first have a resurrection and afterward come to him in faith and feed upon him in order to have everlasting life. Quite plainly Jesus is here not talking about those already dead in the memorial tombs like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, David and John the Baptizer. Jesus was there talking to the then living Jews, including many disciples of his, who were in the Mosaic law covenant.
7. In response to murmuring by the Jews, what did Jesus say about the person drawn to him and having everlasting life?
7 The Jewish listeners began murmuring among themselves in a contention about the origin of Jesus. From the comment that Jesus made about this we should identify the particular ones to whom he directs his speech. “In answer Jesus said to them: ‘Stop murmuring among yourselves. No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him; and I will resurrect him in the last day. It is written in the Prophets, “And they will all be taught by Jehovah.” Everyone that has heard from the Father [as Teacher] and has learned comes to me. . . . Most truly I say to you, He that believes has everlasting life.’”—John 6:41-47.
8. What prophecy was Jesus quoting, and what opportunity was he there offering to his Jewish listeners?
8 Jesus was there quoting from the prophecy of Isaiah 54:13, which is addressed to God’s “woman,” the heavenly Zion, and which says: “And all your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” These are the spiritual sons of Jehovah God. These are the ones whom he draws to Jesus by their present belief in him. These are the ones of whom Jesus speaks as entering into everlasting life by his resurrecting of them at the last day. Their life would be everlasting in Jehovah’s heavenly spirit organization. Jesus was therefore offering to his Jewish listeners, including many disciples of his, the opportunity to become sons of God’s “woman,” heavenly Zion.
“MY FLESH IN BEHALF OF THE LIFE OF THE WORLD”
9-11. (a) Jesus’ saying that that “bread” given by him is his “flesh” and this “in behalf of the life of the world” raises what question? (b) How does Paul answer that question in 1 Corinthians 10:2-11?
9 After Jesus repeatedly said that he was “the bread of life,” he went on to say: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone [of you, my listeners] eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.”—John 6:51.
10 Jesus was thus the true, life-giving Manna from heaven. This symbolic bread, he said, was his flesh. This flesh, he said, was “in behalf of the life of the world.” By adding those words, did Jesus mean that the Jews who ate the manna in the wilderness in the days of Moses pictured the “world” of mankind during the millennial reign of Christ and his glorified congregation?
11 Paul answers: “All got baptized into Moses by means of the cloud and of the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food [the manna] and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they used to drink from the spiritual rock-mass that followed them, and that rock-mass meant the Christ. . . . Now these things became our examples, for us [Christians] not to be persons desiring injurious things, even as they desired them. . . . Now these things went on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us [spirit-begotten Christians] upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.”—1 Cor. 10:2-11; Ex. 16:1-35; Num. 11:1-9.
12. How does the situation of the spiritual Israelites during this system of things contrast with that of the world of mankind during the millennium?
12 So those Israelites in the Sinaitic wilderness under Moses pictured the spiritual Israelites during this system of things. This system is death-dealing, spiritually speaking. Now is when the spiritual Israelites feed on the antitypical heavenly manna, the sacrificed Jesus Christ. During the 1,000-year reign of Christ, resurrected mankind will not be in a wilderness condition like that of Sinai. The restoring of paradise earth wide will be under way. Jehovah will then not be ‘drawing’ mankind to Jesus as He the Teacher now does with the spiritual Israelites. (John 6:44) Rather, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah sets his Son Jesus Christ as King over mankind, and this King calls the dead out of the tombs.
13. To be the antitype of the ancient manna, this “flesh” must be of what kind or how treated?
13 Bread made of grain is a bloodless eatable, just as the ancient manna was. Jesus said that the “bread of life,” the antitypical manna, was his flesh “in behalf of the life of the world.” To correspond with the ancient manna, the term “flesh” here must be understood as flesh drained of its blood. What Jehovah gave the Israelites in the wilderness to drink was water, not blood.
14. Why did Jesus’ listeners understand his reference to be to “flesh” drained of its blood, even human flesh?
14 The Jews listening to Jesus understood matters that way, for, in their contention over what he meant, they said: “How [in what way] can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52) They knew God’s law on the subject of blood. When, after the flood of Noah’s day, God enlarged the diet of mankind, he did not give them both animal blood to drink and animal flesh as their solid food to sustain their lives. He gave them water to drink and drained flesh to eat. He claimed the blood for himself as being the Life-Giver to all creatures of flesh and blood. (Gen. 9:1-4) Under the Mosaic law as given to the nation of Israel, the violation of God’s law concerning animal blood was punished with the death penalty for the offender. (Lev. 17:10-12; Deut. 12:16, 22-27) The eating of human flesh, even when drained of its blood, was repugnant to the Jews listening to Jesus. They did not want to become cannibals.—2 Ki. 6:26-31.a
15, 16. (a) How was the feeding on Jesus’ flesh to be done? (b) According to John 6:53-59, how did Jesus make this point still stronger?
15 Jesus wanted his Jewish listeners to understand that the eating of his flesh would be done in a figurative way. So, to make this point still stronger, he next said something that would be still more objectionable if taken in a literal way. We read:
16 “Accordingly Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, Unless you [my Jewish listeners] eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. He [of you, my listeners] that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he [of you, my listeners] that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. It is not as when your forefathers ate [the manna in the wilderness] and yet died. He that feeds on this bread will live forever.’ These things he said as he was teaching in public assembly at Capernaum.”—John 6:53-59.
17. (a) What was the impact of those words of Jesus in the Jewish synagogue, even upon many of his disciples? (b) So Jesus’ words in John 6:53 were directed, in large part, to whom, and what did these become?
17 Here the expression “in public assembly” is, literally in the original Greek text, “in synagogue.” It is the same expression that Jesus used in John 18:20, saying: “In a synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews come together.” So Jesus was addressing a Jewish audience who were in the Mosaic law covenant. This included many disciples of Jesus. We can imagine the impact of Jesus’ words when he spoke, not only of feeding on his flesh, but also of drinking his blood. “Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said: ‘This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?’” (John 6:60) This statement shows that not all of Jesus’ disciples were shocked by his speech. Besides the shocked ones, there were more “disciples,” including the 12 apostles. (John 6:61-66) Thus Jesus’ words in John 6:53 were directed in large part to his disciples and, by extension, to those who would become his disciples before the “last day.” These became spiritual Jews, spiritual Israelites.—Rom. 2:28, 29.
18, 19. (a) To whom did the blood of the sacrificial victim belong, and therefore the making of a meal upon Jesus’ blood and flesh meant what? (b) How was such a meal referred to by Jesus because of the faith of a Gentile army officer and also by a certain Jew commenting on Jesus’ words at a dinner?
18 The Jews in the Mosaic law covenant knew that the blood as well as the fat of a sacrificial victim belonged to Jehovah. (Lev. 3:16, 17) When Jesus ascended to heaven and appeared in Jehovah’s presence, he offered to Jehovah his “blood” or the value of it as a redemption price. (Heb. 9:12-14; John 6:61, 62) Since the blood belonged to Jehovah, the drinking of it and the eating of the flesh of Jesus would indicate having a meal with Jehovah. God would thus be sharing the blood of his Lamb Jesus Christ with the disciples of this Lamb. Jesus spoke of such a meal with Jehovah as the Greater Abraham, when he foretold that many Gentile believers (like the believing Gentile “army officer”) would come from all parts of the earth and “recline at the table with Abraham [Jehovah] and Isaac [Jesus Christ] and Jacob [the spirit-begotten Christian congregation] in the kingdom of the heavens.”—Matt. 8:5-12.
19 Once when speaking of a dinner having real merit because of those who were invited to attend, Jesus explained why it had merit, saying: “You will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous ones.” This brought to a person’s mind the privilege of having a meal with Jehovah God, for we read: “On hearing these things a certain one of the fellow guests said to him: ‘Happy is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 14:12-15) In response to this exclamation Jesus gave the parable of the “grand evening meal” spread by a certain householder. By this Jesus showed that not all would have the happiness of dining with God in the Kingdom.—Luke 14:16-24.
“LIFE IN YOURSELVES”
20. Those who gain ‘life within’ themselves by eating Christ’s flesh and drinking his blood have life in what measure, and where and when will they use this capacity?
20 In John 6:53 Jesus said: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Because the similar expression occurs here as appears in John 5:26, An American Translation renders John 6:53: “I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no self-existent life.” So Jesus here meant “life” with a specific capacity when he went on to say: “He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day.” (John 6:54) That everlasting life is to be enjoyed by the one gaining it, not on earth, but in the heavenly kingdom with Christ. He will enter into such life when he is resurrected by Jesus Christ at “the last day.” Those who, with Christ in the heavens, have such ‘life in themselves’ will be able to impart to others the benefits of Christ’s human sacrifice. They will do so when the redeemed ones of mankind are called out of their memorial tombs on “the last day.”—John 5:28, 29.
21, 22. (a) In what respect was Jesus’ flesh and blood “true food” for the partakers? (b) Such partakers have what relationship with him and what dependence on him?
21 When we contemplate the quality of the “everlasting life” that is to be gained in heaven, we appreciate why Jesus said: “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” (John 6:55) After that remark he showed the special relationship into which his obedient disciples would enter by adding the words: “He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him. Just as the living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father, he also that feeds on me, even that one will live because of me.” (John 6:56, 57) Thus Jesus spoke of his disciples as remaining in union with him and his remaining in union with them. Later, in like phraseology, he said in a parable:
22 “Remain in union with me, and I in union with you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, in the same way neither can you, unless you remain in union with me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He that remains in union with me, and I in union with him, this one bears much fruit; because apart from me you can do nothing at all.”—John 15:4, 5.
23. Why, then, did Judas Iscariot fail to gain ‘life in himself’?
23 Although Judas Iscariot remained in the personal company of Jesus Christ for more than a year longer, he did not remain in union with his Master. So he did not take up feeding on Jesus’ sacrificed body and drinking his blood, from Pentecost of 33 C.E. onward. He failed to gain ‘life in himself.’—John 6:66-71.
24. (a) How was Jesus the “bread” that came down from heaven? (b) How did Jesus live because of the Father, and how do those feeding on him live because of him?
24 However, Jesus reminded Judas and the rest of his Jewish audience there in that assembly in Capernaum of how their forefathers ate manna in the wilderness to sustain themselves. In closing his talk, he said: “This is the bread that came down from heaven. . . . He that feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:58) He had been “the Word” of God up in heaven, but, at God’s due time, he “became flesh.” (John 1:14) Thus as a perfect fleshly Son of God he was “the living bread that came down from heaven,” the antitypical manna. His flesh, which served as symbolic manna for the spiritual Israelites,b also serves “in behalf of the life of the world.” (John 6:51) Today Jesus Christ lives again in the heavens, immortal, because of his heavenly Father, for this “living Father” resurrected him from the dead to spirit life. Correspondingly, the disciple that “feeds” on the antitypical manna (Christ’s “flesh”) before the coming of “the last day” will, as Jesus said, “live because of me,” for the living Jesus will resurrect him “at the last day.”—John 6:54, 57, 58.
25. (a) Will those feeding on Christ’s sacrifice on earth continue to do so in heaven? (b) In what sacred office will they serve, and with what benefit to mankind?
25 In heaven, when having ‘life in themselves,’ the resurrected spiritual Israelites will no longer need to feed on Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood. (John 6:53) They will be privileged to serve as “priests of God and of the Christ” and will thus be able to pass on to mankind the lasting benefits of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. (Rev. 20:6) Because in heaven they have everlasting life, they will need no successors in the priestly office. Like the High Priest, Jesus Christ, they will be able to serve as underpriests continuously throughout the whole millennium. In this way they will share with Christ in uplifting mankind to human perfection on earth.
DIVINE PROVISIONS FOR PERFECT HUMAN LIFE
26. Since when has the “great crowd” been forming, and what need do they feel for the blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ?
26 As we know, since the middle of the fourth decade of our 20th century, a “great crowd” of Christ’s “other sheep” has been forming. (Rev. 7:9, 10; John 10:16) They also will benefit from this priesthood of a thousand years. The apostle John, who had the apocalyptic vision of the “great crowd,” was reminded that they also have an appreciation of the shed blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ. They appreciate it as a means of cleansing, for John was told: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:14) These know that they could not serve God acceptably at his holy temple if they remained clad in filthy garments.—Compare Zechariah 3:3-10.
27. Though not needing a resurrection, they will need the benefit of what services during the millennium?
27 To God and the Lamb Jesus Christ the “great crowd” ascribe, not a resurrection out of the memorial tombs, but “salvation” out of the “great tribulation.” They are preserved alive through that “great tribulation.” So they do not need to be ‘resurrected at the last day,’ as those spoken of in John 6:54 need to be. However, they will need the benefit of the services of the High Priest Jesus Christ and his 144,000 underpriests during the millennium.
28. What “hour” approaches with respect to dead redeemed mankind, and what opportunity will be set before them?
28 Now a marvelous “hour” is approaching. It is the “hour” when Jesus Christ as Jehovah’s associate judge will call “all those in the memorial tombs” to come forth as his redeemed ones. They will all be made the earthly subjects of his heavenly kingdom whether they like it or not. Before all of them will be set the opportunity to attain to perfect human life on a paradise earth.—John 5:28, 29.
29. What will the “great crowd” and resurrected mankind then drink and eat, and what exceptional opportunity will the “great crowd” then have?
29 What will Christ’s subjects then have to drink? What will they eat? The Revelation given to the apostle John shows that then “a river of water of life” will be flowing out from under the throne of Jehovah God and of the Lamb Jesus Christ. On both sides of the “river” were the “trees of life,” bearing a crop of fruit each month. Their leaves were for the curing of the nations. Of those divine provisions, the “great crowd” and the resurrected dead will drink and eat. (Rev. 22:1-3) By taking full advantage of all this undeserved kindness of Jehovah God through Jesus Christ the appreciative and obedient ones will make theirs “a resurrection of life.” Those of the resurrectionless “great crowd” of Christ’s “other sheep” will then have the opportunity to live on without ever dying and returning to the dust of the ground.
a The Hebrew equivalent for “cannibal” is okhelʹ adamʹ, meaning “eater of earthling man”; or, okhelʹ ben minoʹ, “eater of the son of his kind.” For horror at an instance of this in Jerusalem in 70 C.E., see Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews,” chapter 3, book 6.
[Picture on page 25]
As the manna sustained the Israelites in the wilderness, so Jesus, “the bread of life,” now sustains the spiritual Israelites