June 5, 2016
The good news about Jesus is summed up by two words: forgiveness and life. Jesus continually spoke about having a kind of life that is different from the life we enter into at birth. It all goes back to the beginning. When God created Adam and Eve, everything he made, including Adam and Eve, was good. Adam and Eve were given the privilege of governing the world on God’s behalf in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were ikons of humanity living under the rule of God and sharing in that rule.
Adam and Eve chose to usurp the rule of God. In rebellion and disobedience Adam and Eve claimed the place of God and God banished them from the Garden and cast them into the world as we know it. All the descendants of Adam and Eve, including you and me, have followed in their steps, putting ourselves in the place of God. Well, God continued to seek to establish his good rule on earth by choosing Abraham and Israel. Israel was to be a light to the nations as they lived under the good rule of God in the Promised Land. Eventually Israel wanted to have human kings, and God gave the usurpers what they wanted. God sought to establish his good rule through the Jewish kings. But even the godliest kings of Israel were usurpers like Adam and Eve.
Finally God sent his Son, Jesus into the world. Jesus was a descendant of David. Jesus, God in the flesh, showed the world how good it is to live under God’s good rule. But more than that, in seeking to establish the kingdom of God, Jesus allowed himself to be crucified on the cross and in doing so, he bore the guilt of our sins and absorbed in himself the wrath of God against all sin. But Jesus rose from the grave with eternal life to give. And through Jesus, God is forming a new creation people. These are people who embrace and believe Jesus to be the only savior and giver of new life in the kingdom of God through the forgiveness of sin.
All of us have usurped the good rule of God for our own rule, our own kingdoms. But in Jesus we have the opportunity to enter into a whole new life. Eternal life. Men and women, eternal living is found in Jesus.
I. JESUS IS THE VISIBLE EXPRESSION OF GOD. Jn.6:57a
John 6 is the longest chapter in John’s Gospel and it is a very significant chapter. It is significant because in it we read about the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Other than the resurrection, this is the only miracle that appears in all four Gospels. But before we actually get to the miracle I want to think about the first part of v.57. There Jesus says, “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father,…”
To think about this let’s look at Jn.5. After healing the man at the Pool of Bethesda, we read in v.18, “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” The Jewish leaders understood the claims Jesus was making for himself. They realized that Jesus was claiming to be God in the flesh.
In v.20 Jesus claims that the Father shows him all that he is doing. In v.21 he says, “as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” In v.22-23, Jesus says that the Father has given all judgment to the Son that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” Wow! Jesus is saying that people should worship him just as they worship God. Look at v.27-29. “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” Two things: Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man. This comes from Dan.7 and supports his deity. But also note that at the time of judgment the dead hear the voice of Jesus. Now go back to v.26. “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.”
God is self-existent. In other words, the existence of God is not dependent on anything else. In fact, everything else derives its existence from God. You and I exist right now because God is enabling us to live. But Jesus claimed that he was and is self-existent as God because the Father granted the Son also to have life in himself. Theologians talk about the eternal generation of the Son from the Father. They sometimes use the analogy of a ray of light generated from the sun. As long as the sun exists the ray of light exists. Well it might be a helpful thought, but however we try to understand this, the reality is that Jesus is one with the Father from eternity past and he has life in himself.
Now drop down to 5:39-40. All this time Jesus has been talking to the Jewish leaders. Here he says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” In Jesus’ day, the scriptures referred to the Law and the Prophets, what we call the Old Testament. The Old Testament points to Jesus. The Scriptures do not give life. It is Jesus who gives life. We already saw this in v.21. “Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.”
There are people who have a sort of magical view of the Bible. They think that because they have a Bible and read it sometimes, that this will bode well for them. But no. The Bible does not give life. Jesus gives life. The Jewish religious leaders did not receive Jesus as their Messiah. They refused to come to Jesus for life.
What I want us to see is that God makes himself known in Jesus. Earlier this year we heard about the former professor at Wheaton College who said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. And there were many opinions on that question all over the internet. Of course muslims believe that Mohammed was the last prophet who revealed much about Allah, but he did not claim to be allah. And if allah is anything like Mohammed, then Allah is nothing like the God we worship. Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh and as such he reveals what God is like. God is like Jesus. Jesus is the face of God. He is God with skin on.
Because Jesus reveals God, we can see that God is not some far away being who is looking forward to bring judgment upon us because of our sins. Rather God is a God of love who has gone to great lengths to rescue and deliver us from our sins. Jesus is God with us.
People say many evil things about God because they think that God is to blame for the many evil things that occur in our society. How can a loving God allow innocent children to die? What they don’t understand is that in Jesus, God entered into and endured all the evil that society has to offer.
Has God done you wrong? No he has not. We live in a fallen world and God entered into our fallen world through his Son, Jesus, in order to rescue us that we might begin to enjoy eternal living in the kingdom of God. Jesus is the visible expression of God. Get to know Jesus and you get to know God.
II. JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE WITH GOD. Jn.6:57b
The second part of the verse reads, “so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.” In some way Jesus is dependent upon the Father for his eternal existence. And according to Jesus we are dependent upon him for our eternal living with God.
In Jn.6 we read about the miraculous feeding of the 5,000. In v.14-15 it says, “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes the people liked what they saw. They figured that Jesus was just the guy who could make Israel great again. And so they tried to take him by force and make him their king.
It’s not hard to see why they acted in this way. I mean if you had received this food from Jesus wouldn’t you think, “Wow, this guy can make food appear on demand. I want him to be my king. They didn’t really want Jesus to be their king. They wanted Jesus to fulfill their hopes and dreams for life. And on the next day when the crowd hunted Jesus down and found him, Jesus said in v.26-27, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." In v.30 they asked, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” It’s amazing. Even though Jesus had done this miracle, they pointed out to Jesus that Moses had given the people manna, (bread from heaven) for 40 years while in the wilderness. Could Jesus top that?
Jesus responds in v.32 by saying that it was not Moses who gave manna, but God. In fact God continues to give the true bread from heaven. They were interested and asked Jesus to give them this bread from heaven. Then in v.35, Jesus says “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The Jewish leaders did not like what Jesus was saying. As far as they were concerned, Jesus was the son of Joseph, so how could he say that he had come down from heaven? Now look at v.47-51. Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." Jesus was referring to his death on the cross.
Well the Jewish leaders took this in a very literal way and in v.52 they wondered how Jesus would give them his flesh to eat. And that’s when Jesus started talking about feeding on his flesh and drinking his blood. Verse 57 says, “So whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. The word translated, “feed,” means to crunch, to gnaw, and to eat. It is pretty graphic language.
In fact it is what we experience as we receive the Lord’s Supper. We take the bread and we chew it and crunch it with our teeth. In a sense we are doing exactly what Jesus told us to do. We are not chewing on Jesus, rather just as we sustain our physical lives by chewing and swallowing our food, likewise our life in Christ is sustained as we have fellowship with him around his table. We are being strengthened by his life giving presence.
Whenever we eat, we have a very intimate relationship with the food we are eating. It becomes part of who we are. Likewise with Christ. The Lord’s Supper offers an ongoing, life giving meeting with Jesus. Jesus is continually becoming part of who we are as we live our life in Him. In fact, he is our very life.
Earlier we saw from Jn.5:39 that just reading the scriptures does not give life. The Scriptures point us to Jesus who gives life. Jesus is the Life-giver. We could say the same thing about the Lord’s Supper. We might say, ‘You take the Lord’s Supper, because you think that in it you have eternal life.” No, like the Scriptures, the Lord’s Supper bears witness to Jesus. The bread and the grape juice do not give life. Jesus gives life. The bread and the grape juice are a sign pointing us to Jesus. Just as Jesus will meet a person through the Scriptures, so Jesus will meet us through the Lord’s Supper as we receive him in faith. Mere participation in a church ritual is of little benefit. The ritual points us to the reality of Christ in us through faith.
I don’t know about you, but I find joy in reading the Scripture. I am encouraged by reading the Scripture. My faith is strengthened as I read the Scripture. Through the Scripture I draw near to God. The same is true in the Lord’s Supper. We find joy, encouragement, strength for living as we draw near to Jesus and receive from him. Amen
We are going to sing a hymn to prepare our hearts and minds to come to the Lord’s Table.