The other evening as we shared together from John chapter 6 we were rewarded once again as Jesus gave us some precious understandings. So we share some of these discoveries with you here.
Soon after Jesus wonderfully fed 5000 people who kept on following him on foot for extraordinary distances, he said to them, “you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” John 6:26-27
We had to ask ourselves: Are we seeking Jesus and what is our motive in seeking him? What am I looking to get from him? Some miraculous provision? Some special treatment? Why are we doing these in-depth studies? What are we really looking for? More knowledge?
He tells us emphatically what we truly need. There is the stuff we look for which will one day disappear, including spiritual stuff. But what will be left? What will last? What will satisfy? Only Jesus.
He promises to give us treasures—real food– that lasts and lasts, forever!
Jesus has this persistent message that will not go away: it is so, so long-term—it is about ETERNITY. We must try to think long-term and make firm decisions in the light of his words.
We realised that so often we are working for things that will soon be gone. But what he has to give us will last forever. Surely we need such food. And he is the only one who makes this outrageous claim. There is no one else who can do it.
He warns against ‘working for the food that perishes’ Working! So the crowd want to know “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” and the answer is stunning: The work of God is that you believe in Him whom He has sent (6:28). That’s the only work—just believe—it’s not a matter of doing but critically all about who you believe! Just believe in me, is the answer over and over right through the Gospel of John. We must not think for a second that what we do is unimportant, but that will not satisfy. That will not satisfy God and it will not satisfy us. Only Jesus.
Such an answer draws out the request for a sign—do something really spectacular like Moses did, like feed 600 thousand people from heaven for about 40 years. Well, it wasn’t Moses at all but ‘My Father gives the true bread’. Now Jesus feeds millions forever with food that comes from the Father through the Son. He will satisfy us—we won’t ‘hunger’. We won’t thirst. We need not look elsewhere. All else will disappoint.
Then this bombshell:
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never, most certainly not, ever cast out.” (37) he said this with tremendous energy and confidence and certainty. This is so good—for we have come to him and we are his and he is ours—forever! He has come down from heaven, not to do his own will, but the will of the One who sent him: “that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” (38-39) We can see that we are no longer our own possession but we are God’s own people whom he knows and gives to the Son—we are given to the Son.
That should send excitement, even shivers, through our hearts. Right?
It is a matter of not ‘beholding’ him, but believing on Him to have eternal life. People saw him but turned away sadly grumbling about his claims. They knew the family—how could all this be true? The Bible tells it like it is with no window dressing—many could not believe, won’t believe even when the obvious is before them. No mighty miraculous sign will ever be enough. No rational explanation will suffice. More is required from above. Perhaps no one believes in your family or neighbourhood, or our circle of acquaintances.
As we want to share Jesus with others what did we learn from Jesus’ words?
We must start to look not to men, or to techniques or strategies, but to God who alone can save. So Jesus drops another nuclear bomb: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
And another pointed explosive: “It is written in the prophets, ‘and they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” (45) It’s a sort of pre-evangelism—the Hound of Heaven is surely at work lovingly drawing people to Jesus. drawing them as beautiful music draws, as love draws us. As a gorgeous sunset evokes pleasure. As glimpses of the stars and handiwork draw us to the Creator.
As his messengers, we often worry about our failures in promoting the good news, our poverty of expression. We might give up—the people here are too hard-hearted, too in love with the world, too busy. We learn from the Master that we are merely his agents. It’s all about the Father and his Son, not you and me. We represent him, sometimes well enough, other times badly. We continue—just obey! He will do it.
Like the Jews we may wonder “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” (53) but he does not explain! It is impossible. We were reminded of what he said to Nicodemus ‘you must be born again’. He speaks in mysteries but those who are taught of God recognise the truth when it comes. How good is that!
He presses deeper: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (53-58)
We attempted a few suggestions. Jesus speaks of the deepest close relationship with him in these sayings. There is an intimacy in the Holy Spirit with Christ that can be truly experienced and enjoyed. Today. Forever. We can see that this is spiritual eating, spiritual drinking. A literal approach is certainly out of the question. This is not about the ‘Lord’s Supper meal as that has yet to be introduced.
Nothing can anywhere ever match this ‘in him-ness’ or ‘him-in-you-ness’. Abiding in Jesus.
Still, many of his disciples said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? There are even more fantastic things up ahead by which he may offend them—and us.
Here is the key: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
64 But there will be many we speak to who will not believe.” Don’t worry. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, (and who it was that would betray Him). And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” (64-65) Repetition underlines this precious truth.
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore, it says. Again we note the absolute frankness of the scriptures. Jesus faced so much rejection, failure—expect the same.
He then said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Of course he knew the answer and Peter shouted: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
We concur heartily. Where else but Jesus?
Thanks for commenting Brian–keeps me going. Jesus’ words sure takes the mickey out of any pride in the heart of the witness, eh?
Thanks, Ian, a powerful challenge & encouragement.