What does John 6:62 mean?
ESV: Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
NIV: Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
NASB: What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
CSB: Then what if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
NLT: Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again?
KJV: What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
Scholars see two possible meanings behind this statement. Jesus led into this verse by pointing out the reaction some of His students had to His recent teachings.
Some of Jesus' followers are taken aback at His claims about the Bread of Life and what it means (John 6:41, 52). Even though they have been following and learning from Jesus, the teachings He has just explained are challenging (John 6:60). They contradict many traditional Jewish interpretations and many worldly perspectives. In the prior verse, Jesus has asked these men, directly, if the teaching they have heard offends them. The Greek term describing this is skandalizo, which means something that causes a stumble or deep offense.
Here Jesus makes a reference to the ascension of Christ back into heaven (Luke 24:50–53). Whether literally or just in general, Jesus is comparing the reaction His followers have to His words with their possible response to seeing future events. This is what leads scholars into two possible interpretations for Jesus' question here.
The first possibility is that Jesus is asking whether or not these people will also be offended when they see Christ taken back into glory. In other words, "if this teaching offends you, are you still going to be offended when you see me return to heaven?" The question is whether or not seeing future events will change their minds, or just deepen their resentment. The other possible meaning is a suggestion that if this offends them, the ascension will offend them even more. Under this interpretation, Jesus seems to be saying, "if you don't like this, just wait until you see what's coming next."
John 6:60–71 shows the drastic impact of Jesus' teaching on the crowd: most walk away. When confronted with spiritual needs and a spiritual message, most people will turn it down. What society wants is spectacle, material things, and a political savior. The more Jesus insists on being the means to eternal life, the angrier the crowd becomes, until the vast majority simply abandon Him. The twelve disciples, on the other hand, seem willing to follow Jesus, though they are also struggling to accept His recent claims. Peter's declaration will be the third of John's seven witnesses to Jesus' divinity.
In chapter 6, Jesus feeds thousands of people who had been following Him. He does this by miraculously dividing the contents of a small lunch, leaving more left over than He had to begin with. At first, the crowd is amazed and they enthusiastically praise Jesus. After sending the disciples across the Sea of Galilee, and rescuing them from a storm by walking on the water, Jesus once again addresses the crowd. This time, He emphasizes the spiritual lesson behind His prior miracle. In response, most of those who had been praising Jesus turn away from Him in disappointment.
John chapter 6 occurs some months after the events of chapter 5, bringing the narrative to about one year prior to Jesus' crucifixion. As with the rest of the Gospel of John, the purpose is not to repeat information from the other three Gospels, but to focus on Jesus' status as God incarnate. This chapter continues to expand the list of Jesus' miraculous signs and the witnesses to His divine nature. Here, Jesus also gives the first of seven ''I AM'' statements found in this Gospel. Chapter 7 will once again skip ahead to a major public step in Jesus' path to the cross.
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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