Many have taken Jesus' usage of the phrase 'last day' ( John 6:40 & 54 ) as meaning something almost totally different than that of similar phrases used of the imminent expectation of 'the Day of the Lord', such as 'the last hour' ( I John 2:18 ), 'these last days' ( Hebrews 1:2 ( II Timothy 3:1 ), and 'the Judge is standing at the door' ( James 5:9 ). Clearly, though, and maybe more clearly to some than to others, Jesus is speaking in the same vein, and of the same 'Day' as elsewhere in the prophetic text. You may have heard that Jesus was speaking of individuals throughout the ages, telling them that if they believed on Him, and partook of His Body and Blood, though they died, He would raise them up to life everlasting, on 'the last day'. Even here though, there are variations; Jesus either meant, as Martha clearly thought, that He would raise her brother 'in the resurrection at the last day' ( John 11:24 ), or that He would raise their souls to 'Heaven ( spiritually ) on their 'last day', when their biological bodies quit functioning. Neither of these explanations is quite satisfactory! Why would Jesus leave His context and begin speaking of those far of in the future, when His main concern was that generation?
Looking at the wider context of Jesus' words in John 6, and reading further in John 11, Jesus also told Martha that 'whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die'. He was obviously not telling Martha that if one were alive ( biologically ) at the time that he believed in Jesus that he would never lose his biological life! In that case, we could easily say that no one living at the time believed in Jesus because no one from that era is biologically living. Obviously, He was saying that those who put their trust in Him had eternal life, not physically or biologically speaking, but spiritually speaking, as in 'neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor
any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of
God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord' ( Romans 8:38 & 39 ).
Here the covenant context, and the fact that Jesus is not referring to individual bodies must be taken into consideration. The covenant context, as we have already discussed somewhat, requires that the meaning of Jesus' words of comfort here, must be sought in the wider context of His dealings with those covenant people, 'His people' ( Matthew 1:21 ) that He came to save from their sin. The sin that He delivered ( saved ) them from was the sin of their covenant head, Adam. In our Covenant Head, whom Paul calls 'the last Adam' ( I Corinthians 15:45 ), we never die, for unlike the first Adam, He kept His Father's command perfectly!
As we have discussed previously, although the corporate Body of Christ, or Israel is no doubt composed of individuals, as a symphony is composed of many notes but is one symphony, one piece of music, there is but One Body in view here, or rather, I should say, two. That is the Body of Adam, or Moses, those under his covenant headship, as were those up till the first century, and those who came under the Headship of the Son of God, the Body of Christ, the Church! Paul discusses at great length in Romans 12, then I Corinthians 10 & 12, how this individuality works in the one body; so we will go no further on that subject here.
Back now to the immediate context of John 6; in the surrounding passages ( remember, no chapters or verses in the original? ), Jesus was discussing the 'bread from heaven' which Moses, in a type, had given to the children of Israel ( covenant children of Adam ) in the wilderness, and how He was the true 'bread from heaven'. Again; Jesus' primary concern was with that generation, not one 2,000 plus years in the future!
More could be written here, but what has been written is presented so as to engender in its readers a Berean mind, who searched the Scriptures for themselves to see 'whether these things were so'. Let us all be as they, and search out the truth of these things for ourselves, not just being satisfied to take someone else's word for it. Once we have found the truth of these matters, and with the freedom that we have in Christ, our covenant Head, and in God our Father; let us put this freedom into action, knowing that we, as the Body of Christ, will never die! There is no 'last day' for us!
Charles Haddon Shank