Did Jesus Contradict Himself?

Q. I’m having difficulty reconciling John 3:14-15 with John 6:44, and I would appreciate your insight.

A. John 3:14-15 is a reference to a time when God had sent poisonous snakes among the Israelites as a punishment for their disobedience. God had Moses make a bronze image of a snake and mount it on a pole in the camp. Then He had Moses tell the people that everyone who was bitten could look at the snake on the pole and be healed (Numbers 21:4-9).

Jesus said this was a model of the crucifixion. We’ve all been poisoned by our sins and are destined for death. But everyone who looks to the cross and believes in what Jesus did there will be saved from death and have eternal life. It’s one of many places in the New Testament that demonstrates our salvation is a matter of our choice. John 3:16 and John 6:40 are but two examples and come from the same passages you asked about. Some others are Matt. 7:7-8, Romans 10:9, Romans 10:13, Ephes. 1:13-14, 1 Tim 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9.

But then John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This verse seems to indicate it’s not our choice but God’s.

The resolution to this apparent contradiction lies in Romans 8:29-30. It says that God knew in advance all who would decide to accept Jesus as their savior (He foreknew them). At that time He reserved a place for them in His Kingdom (He predestined them) At the appropriate time in their lives He calls them to make the choice He already knows they will make (He called them) and when they respond He applies the Blood of Jesus as payment in full for their sins (He justified them). At the Resurrection / rapture He will welcome them into the place in His kingdom He reserved for them (He glorified them).

In effect John 6:44 says the only ones who will be drawn to Jesus are the ones God already knows will come because He has looked down through time and seen them do so. Otherwise Jesus would have been contradicting Himself, and since He’s God in human form we know that would be impossible.

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