Again we are privileged to listen in as Jesus is speaking to the crowds. We need to look at the context to understand what He means when He says “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God” (:25). First of all notice that He identifies Himself as the Son of God throughout this chapter. Nearly 20 times, Jesus refers to His special Father-Son relationship with God. Secondly He is talking about eternal life (:24). He uses the present tense to describe crossing from death to life.
Now, as so often John records, Jesus prefaces His message with “I tell you the truth….” (6:25). Only God is the essence of truth. Here on earth our truth is motivated so often by self-interest, but God’s is pure truth and this is what His only begotten Son will tell people then, and now.
Jesus says the time has come, in fact it is now – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. Who are the dead? Surely Jesus didn’t mean those buried in the ground. Of course not! He is talking about spiritually dead people. Paul spelled it out for the Ephesian church “You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live” (2:1). That describes spiritual death in the midst of physical life, separation from God who cannot be in the presence of sin.
To further prove He is talking about spiritual life and death, Jesus clarified His Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him, should have eternal life…and I will raise him/her up in the last day” (6:40). Note that eternal life begins at the moment when a person puts their faith in God’s Holy Son! It is not something we wait to receive when we die. That eternal life is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).
The Jews kept asking Jesus for a sign to prove His deity (6:30). One might wonder what they expected. After all He was known for His miracles, so much so that crowds followed Him (6:24). How many of those who followed Him then were still dead, looking for excitement because of this miracle-worker new in town? Curious? Wanting to be fed, healed, to be seen as good because they were allied with a Holy man? How many things motivate a human being’s loyalties? We know the crowd was fickle. After lauding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, within a week they turned to shout “Crucify Him”! What caused their change of heart? They were dead spiritually. Those who were alive followed Christ to the tomb, grieving over His suffering and sacrifice.
It is a mystery how some folks go to church all their lives, but never hear the voice of the Son of God. We cannot judge another human heart, but Jesus knows, and the final judgment has been given to Him (5:22). Its never too late to hear, while physical life lasts. The thief on the cross was promised eternal life in Paradise that very day. How merciful is God to forgive at the eleventh hour, but oh what a waste of life in which one might have found such joy and peace through Jesus Christ our Lord!
“Come Holy Spirit, dark is the hour.
We need Your filling your love and Your mighty power.
Move now among us, stir us today.
Come Holy Spirit – Revive Your church today!” John W. Peterson