Key passage

Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you gave him authority over all flesh, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent—Jesus Christ. I have glorified you on the earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed.

“I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from the world. They were yours, you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given is from you, because I have given them the words you gave me. They have received them and have known for certain that I came from you. They have believed that you sent me.
“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they are yours. Everything I have is yours, and everything you have is mine, and I am glorified in them. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by your name that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I was protecting them by your name that you have given me. I guarded them and not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled. Now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy completed in them. I have given them your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify myself for them, so that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they will see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the world’s foundation. Righteous Father, the world has not known you. However, I have known you, and they have known that you sent me. I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love you have loved me with may be in them and I may be in them.”

John 17:1-26

Quotes from Chapter 6

Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

John 6:37

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again. But as I told you, you’ve seen me, and yet you do not believe. Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:32-40

In the course of pronouncing himself the bread of life given to the spiritually hungry, Jesus declares: All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

Consider what Jesus says:

  • “All…,” not “most.” Once the Father sets his loving gaze on a wandering sinner, that sinner’s rescue is certain.
  • “… the Father…” Our redemption is not a matter of a gracious Son trying to calm down an uncontrollably angry Father. The Father himself ordains our deliverance. He takes the loving initiative.
  • “… gives…,” not “haggles over.” It is the Father’s deep delight to freely entrust recalcitrant rebels into the gracious care of his Son.
  • “… will come…” God’s saving purpose for a sinner is never thwarted. He is never frustrated. He never runs out of resources. If the Father calls us, we will come to Christ.
  • “… and whoever comes…” Yet we are not robots. While the Father is clearly the sovereign overseer of our redemption, we are not dragged kicking and screaming into Christ against our will. Diving grace is so radical that it reaches down and turns around our very desires. Our eyes are opened. Christ becomes beautiful. We come to him. And anyone—”whoever”—is welcome.
  • “… comes to me…” We do not come to a set of doctrines. We do not come to a church. We do not even come to the gospel. All these are vital. But most truly, we come to a person, to Christ himself.

For this word, “in no wise,” cuts the throat of all objections; and it was dropped by the Lord Jesus for that very end; and to help the faith that is mixed with unbelief. And it is, as it were, the sum of all promises; neither can any objection be made upon the unworthiness that you find in yourself, that this promise will not assoil.

But I am a great sinner, say you.
“I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ.
But I am an old sinner, say you.
“I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ.
But I am a hard-hearted sinner, say you.
“I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ.
But I am a backsliding sinner, say you.
“I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ.
But I have served Satan all my days, say you.
“I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ.
But I have sinned against light, say you.
“I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ.
But I have sinned against mercy, say you.
“I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ.
But I have no good thing to bring with me, say you.
“I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ.

This promise was provided to answer all objections, and does answer them.

Bunyan1

Fallen, anxious sinners are limitless in their capacity to perceive reasons for Jesus to cast them out.

We cannot present a reason for Christ to finally close off his heart to his own sheep. No such reason exists. With Christ, our sins and weaknesses are the very resumé items that qualify us to approach him.

Perhaps it isn’t sins so much as sufferings that cause some of us to question the perseverance of the heart of Christ. Jesus does not say that those with pain-free lives are never cast out. He says those who come to him are never cast out. It is not what life brings to us but to whom we belong that determines Christ’s heart of love for us.

The only thing required to enjoy such love is to come to him.

We cling to Christ, to be sure. But our grip is that of a two-year-old amid the stormy waves of life. His sure grasp never falters.

I follow close to you;
your right hand holds on to me.

Psalm 62:8

Once a sinner is united to Christ, there is nothing that can dis-unite them. The atoning work of the Son decreed by the Father and applied by the Spirit, ensures that we are safe eternally. This is not only a matter of divine decree but divine desire.

In order for you to fall short of loving embrace into the heart of Christ both now and into eternity, Christ himself would have to be pulled down out of heaven and put back in the grave. He cannot bear to part with his own, even when they most deserve to be forsaken.

For those united to him, the heart of Christ is your new permanent residence. His heart is the green pastures and still waters of endless reassurances of his presence and comfort, whatever our present spiritual accomplishments. It is who he is.


  1. Bunyan, Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, in Works, 1:279-80; language lightly updated.

Questions

  • What are some points of theology in John 17? Does a particular point resonate with you?
  • What does Jesus call himself in John 6:32-40?
  • What do you learn from the John Bunyan quotes in this chapter?
  • Is there any reason Christ would close off his heart to his own sheep?
  • What qualifies us to approach Christ?
  • What determines Christ’s heart of love for us?
  • What is required to enjoy Christ’s love for us?
  • Once a sinner is united to Christ, what can dis-unite them?
  • What ensures that we are safe eternally?
  • What objections can you raise about deserving Christ’s assurance? Why can you be certain that he will not cast you out?
  • Have you ever felt cast out? How did you respond? How does what you learned help you to respond in the future?

This article is adapted from: Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund and Gentle and Lowly Study Guide by Robert Zink.