A FULL VIEW OF GOD’S SALVATION
In chapter three we have the case of Nicodemus, an elderly religious gentleman. This chapter reveals that Nicodemus had a serpentine nature and that he needed to be replaced by Christ as the brass serpent in order to receive eternal life and thereby become part of the universal increase of Christ. The revelation here is deep and profound, and it requires much study.
In chapter four we have the case of an immoral Samaritan woman. This woman did not have satisfaction in her human life, and she did not have the genuine worship of God. Therefore, Christ came to her that she might have satisfaction by drinking the living water and might know how to worship the Father in spirit and reality.
When we put together the two cases of Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, we have a full view of God’s salvation. God’s salvation is to replace our old man and redeem our sinful person so that we may be born again to have a new life, the eternal life, and thus become part of the increase of Christ. We shall have a source of satisfaction in our human life and also the way to worship God in reality. Both the source and the way are the Christ who is our Redeemer and Savior.
THE REAL FEAST OF PURIM
We have seen that the background of chapter five was the feast of Purim and that the feast here was at the end of the first full year of the Lord’s ministry. The Lord Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and there He enlivened the impotent man. By doing this the Lord indicated that He is the only one who can give life and that apart from Him the holy city, the holy temple, and all holy persons and holy things are nothing. Christ alone can cause us to have the real feast of Purim, a feast which indicates that we have passed out of death into life. We may say that the situation of the Jews at the time of the first feast of Purim was a passing out of death into life. With this feast as the background, the Lord Jesus said in 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and will not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” The significance of the record in John 5 is that nothing should replace Christ, for He is everything and only He can enliven us.
Following the record in chapter five, we have the second year of the Lord’s ministry, a year covering the time from the feast of Purim in chapter five to the Passover in chapter six. However, as we have indicated, the record in the Gospel of John does not say anything about what took place during this year.
THE BREAD OF LIFE
A new year, the third year of the Lord’s ministry, begins with the Passover in chapter six. The Passover includes redemption with the blood of the lamb and with the feeding on the lamb, the unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. The main significance of the Passover in chapter six is eating. The people in John 6 were hungry and in need of food. They needed the feast of eating, the feast of Passover. But apart from Christ, the One who is prevailing in every way, even the Passover is empty. The crowd that gathered around the Lord was made up of empty people in need of food. The only One who could feed them is the One who is the bread of life, the living bread, the bread of God, the bread out of heaven, and the true bread. In chapter six all these terms describe Christ as the bread of life. The unleavened bread of the Passover was not the real bread; it was merely a shadow. The substance of that bread is Christ as the bread of life. He is the true bread from God who has come to be our life so that we may live.
THE LIVING BREAD
Christ is not only the bread of life—He is also the living bread. The food we take into us enables us to live. The food we eat is organic and something of life. For example, vegetables, fruit, cereal, and meat are all organic, and they all come from living things. Because we eat living food, we also are living. This illustrates what the Lord meant when He said that He is the living bread. If we receive Him as this living bread, we shall live by Him. In 6:57 the Lord Jesus said, “He who eats Me shall also live because of Me.” Here the Lord seems to be saying, “I am the living bread out of heaven. If you eat this bread, I will be living in you, and you will live by Me.”
At the beginning of the new year in chapter six of John, we have the feast of Passover. But the food eaten during this feast is merely a shadow of Christ as the real food. He is the only One who can truly feed us and make us living.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 20, by Witness Lee)