Tom Hayes


John 6:44

What did Jesus mean when He said, "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" (John 6:44)? Without question, He was setting forth the inability of man to come to Christ on his own. He was also emphasizing the saving purposes of the Father and His influential dealings with men. In other words, "Without this drawing," as J. C. Ryle points out, "no one would ever come to Christ."

A study of the word helkuo, or "draw" in our text, helps us understand this truth more clearly. The basic meaning of the term is "to drag, or to pull." And, as W. E. Vine mentions, it is suggestive of "vigorous action." Certainly, the word magnifies the mighty drawing of God upon souls. This is so vividly illustrated in the few times this word is found in the New Testament.

1. His Removing Activity

One setting in which the word is used portrays the meaning as a "drawing out of, or removing from." When the band of men came to apprehend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we are told that "Simon Peter having a sword drew (helkuo) it, and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear" (John 18:10). He drew the sword from the sheath in which it was carried.

The idea projected is that when God begins to draw us to Christ, He draws our hearts out from the darkness of sin's sheath. By the power of His grace, He begins to remove us from the usual environment, away from the ordinary interests and desires. This Divine activity, sometimes called "conviction," eventually brings us to salvation in Christ.

2. His Retrieving Ability

Another New Testament scene reveals that this word is a fisherman's term, which denotes a "drawing to, or pulling toward." Although the disciples had fished all night and caught nothing, at Jesus' command, "They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw (helkuo) it for the multitude of fishes" (John 21:6). And later, we read that "Simon Peter went up, and drew (helkuo) the net to land full of great fishes" (John 21:11).

Is this not a picture of how our heavenly Father draws our hearts to Christ? He not only draws us out, or removes us from the sphere of darkness we have loved, but He also draws us to, or pulls our hearts toward, His glorious Son. With His saving strength, and with His net of mercy, He retrieves us from the waters of evil and brings us on board "The Ship of Salvation."

3. His Regulating Authority

The usage of this term in the book of Acts relates a third valuable lesson. In this setting, it is indicative of "drawing to, or into." When a helpless slave-girl was delivered from demon possession by the Apostle Paul, her owners "caught Paul and Silas, and drew (helkuo) them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates" (Acts 16:19, 20) These godly men were forcefully taken, or literally dragged in, before the authorities.

We certainly realize that God doesn't arbitrarily drag sinners into His kingdom. No! Neither does He drive them to salvation with a rod of anger. But, blessed be God, He does authoritatively draw us with "bands of love" (Hosea 11:4) into His Divine embrace. With His lovingkindness, He overwhelms and wins our hearts, and we become willing in the day of His power (see Psa. 110:3). We come to Christ as we are tenderly, yet powerfully, drawn.

It is true that this drawing power, ascribed here in our text to the Father, is elsewhere designated to the Son. Jesus Himself proclaimed "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32). Because the entire Godhead plays a cooperative role in all Divine activities, it is not difficult to accept this claim. In this age, the dispensation of the Spirit, we are persuaded that the blessed Holy Ghost is also engaged in this drawing operation.

My first impression of the power of magnetism came in one of my early grade-school years. My teacher, holding a magnet bar slightly above her desk, pulled paper clips from the desk to the bar. Similarly, the drawing power of God - - like a mighty magnet - -pulls hearts up and away from the world and unites them to Himself and His heavenly purposes.