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Life Journal // 007

I receieved an email this morning from a Real-Lifer (and good friend) about a verse from today’s Life Journal reading: John 6.65 – He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” His comment was quick and to the point: “Doesn’t sound like free will to me!!!”

Of course “free will” is a complicated philosophical concept that we aren’t going to get into here, but I thought I’d share my answer for any other Real-Lifers (or otherwise) who had the same question.

This verse finds a parallel in 6.44 – “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them.” This states the very same thing, this time substituting “draws” for “enables” (they’re synonymous and both fairly straightforward).

If we read these as detached philosophical or theological statements then they do certainly seem to argue against free will. But not if we read them in the context of the story John is telling about Jesus. Notice what Jesus later says in John 12.32:

And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all men to myself.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus being “lifted up” always refers to the cross; in John’s paradoxical theology, it is when Jesus is at his lowest that he is actually at his highest (or to use another John phrase, that he is “glorified”). So it is at the cross that all people are drawn to Jesus. The cross is the great “enabler” without which none of us could come to Jesus. But since in the cross God reached out to all of us through Jesus, we are now all faced with the decision of how to respond. So it is true that no one can come unless they are drawn/enabled by God to do so, but in the cross this very drawing/enabling has taken place. God has done his part and the rest is up to us (with his constant help, of course).