In John 6:51, Our Lord Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” We commonly use the word “world” to refer to everyone in the world. With this definition it would seem, at first glance, that Christ gave His life for the world. But this definition is rarely used in the Bible. This definition also raises two serious problems. The first problem is that many ultimately spend eternity apart from Christ without life. Clearly, Christ did not give them life because the gift of life is eternal. If a man goes to hell, he never had eternal life. All who have eternal life go to heaven. The second problem is more serious because if Jesus died for all of the world, yet all of the world do not have life, then it contradicts a most important truth: the Lord Jesus Christ cannot lie and He cannot fail.
If we read this verse more carefully, however, we see something most wonderful indeed. Christ gave His life for certain people, called, “the world.” All these live because He actually, really accomplished what He intended to do. The purpose for which the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life was not merely to die, and not merely to put away sin, but to actually give life: “...the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
It is clear from nature that there is no life before conception. Only after conception can an infant live and move and have its being (Acts 17:28). No infant lives before conception. Much more spiritual life, which is eternal life. Spiritual life is solely the sovereign prerogative of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who is Himself Life (John 14:6). Life is in no way the choice or will of the unconceived. To a much greater degree, spiritual life, eternal life, is in no way the result of man’s choice, man’s decision or man’s will. God gets all glory in salvation. Salvation is “not of him that willeth. (Romans 9:16). Nor can a man who is dead participate in life. As an unconceived infant, he contributes nothing. Christ alone is Life. If you have Christ, you have eternal life (1 John 5:12 “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”). If you do not have Christ, you are without life.
In John 6:51, the Lord Jesus says why He gave His life. He gave His flesh “for the life of the world.” Among other things, this verse teaches that for Christ to give eternal life to any, He Himself must first give His life for them. For any to live, Christ must die. Our Lord Jesus Christ does not, will not, and cannot give spiritual life until He first lay down His own life for those who are given life. If it were possible for the Lord Jesus to give life to someone without first giving His life for them, then His death was not required, which would make His death of no purpose; He would have died in vain. (see, for example, Romans 8:34; Galatians 2:21; 3:21). John 6:51 also teaches that the Lord Jesus not only gives His life for the “world”, but He gives His life to the “world,” that is, He gave His life for those that He gives Himself to.
Notice that in John 6:51, those who live and those for whom Christ died are one and the same: “the world.” Now, if the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, spoke by command and worlds leaped from nothing into existence, well then, what do you think the result must be when He who is the Word of God, is made flesh for the express purpose that He might give - not merely a word of command - but His own life, in order that all for whom He gives His life actually live because He gives Himself to them?! If the Word of God gave His life for a purpose, and He lives and reigns in victorious conquest because He achieved that purpose, then, most assuredly, it is true that the purpose for which He died is realized by His death.
Jesus said that He gave His life to give life to the world. Christ actually died. He literally gave His life. He gave His life to give life to the world. He actually achieved His intended purpose. His death was successful. To say or think less is blasphemy. Therefore, all for whom He died necessarily live; they live spiritually and eternally. Those that live are the world for which He died. The scope of His death is the same as the scope of the Father’s electing love and is the same scope as the life-giving, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit of God, when He, by the preaching of the gospel, conceives a sinner as one born of God. Christ died for those the Father gave to Him. (John 17:10 “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.”) When Jesus called, “Lazarus, come forth!”, only Lazarus arose. All others remained in their tombs. The Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, spoke life to only one man, Lazarus. Christ is “The Life” because He gave His life for the life of the world - His people, those chosen by God the Father from eternity, those given to Christ in the everlasting covenant of grace, those given faith to live by Him. All those for whom Christ died are unalterably, unfailingly saved, raised from the dead, and evidence their life with Him by faith in Him: Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
John 6:51 makes clear the purpose and result of Christ’s death: “I will give my flesh for the life of the world.” The Lord Jesus did what He said. He died to give His life for the world of Elect sinners. Do you believe on the Son of God who cannot fail, who gave His life for His people, who saves His people, and who raises all for whom He died to life with Him? Do you rely only and entirely on the Lord Jesus Christ’s accomplishments by His death on the cross to actually save you from your sins, to give you life and to bring you to God? Do you look to none other than Him for life? Have you called, as a sinner, on Him for life and all things? If you do, you have been raised from the dead, you have been given life. You have Christ Himself. And if you have Christ, you have eternal life, you have been raised in your soul, and when your body dies, you will live with Christ. Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.