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Jesus' teachings were often considered radical, shocking, and even offensive. When He said that only those who ate His flesh and drank His blood had life, the crowds who had been following Him left in disgust. However, the disciples realized that only Jesus had the words of life, and they continued to believe in Him. Likewise, we must satisfy our spiritual hunger and thirst by believing in Jesus alone, even when it is difficult.
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We're going to dive into John 6. If you have a Bible, open up to John 6. We're going to finish this chapter tonight. I think you will find it very instructive to you as I have to me throughout this week and throughout the last weeks that we've been in it. Let me pray for us and we'll get going.
Father, thank you for the privilege of taking these next few minutes now just training our hearts toward your Word to be attentive to this great section of truth that you have preserved for us that we might be enlightened by it. I thank you for what you've done in our lives to direct us here. Maybe a friend invited us, maybe brokenness, or pain or a wall we've run into has made us consider you again and we have stumbled into this house tonight, or possibly you've just captured our hearts now for many years.
It's our great delight to be gathered here to celebrate who you are through song and to corporately look at your Word that we might be reminded of the greatness of who you are and remember a right response to it. Wherever we're coming from, I pray you would teach us now and sharpen us. Make us more useful to you, more a source of glory and light to a world that needs to see glory and that needs light just like us. So help us, even as Gary prayed, in our imperfection be attentive before your perfect truth. In Christ's name, amen.
Well, let's start by reading John 6:51-71 together. Then we're going to come back and we'll take it apart. This is a great little piece of Scripture that Jesus spent a lot of time explaining this metaphor that he has used where he said, "I am the bread of life…" We have touched on it for several weeks, but we're going to focus on it and wrap it up tonight. So here we go. In verse 51. I'll read it down all the way through the end. Follow along with me.
"'I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.' Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, 'How can this man give us His flesh to eat?' So Jesus said to them, '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.'
These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, 'This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?' But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, 'Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And [Jesus] 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.'
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, 'You do not want to go away also, do you?' Simon Peter answered Him, '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.' Jesus answered them, 'Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?' Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him."
All right. Look. This is some crazy stuff. It makes you stop and kind of go, "What in the world?" It's a very scandalous way to teach, especially to a group of people who have been trained since their earliest days to handle food in a very specific way. God was reminding the Jewish people that he was holy and that the wages of sin was death and that life was in the blood.
They could never eat meat without the blood thoroughly drained from it. Then here comes this guy. Jesus, in the gospel of John… John never really talks about any of the parables that Jesus taught in. In John, Jesus reveals who he is through signs (we might call them miracle, but seven primary signs) and seven primary, "I am" statements.
This is the first one where he says, "I am the bread of life…" Now what's wild is that Jesus goes on to say not just, "I am the bread of life…" but he goes on to say this. He says " [You have to eat My flesh and [drink] My blood…" That is some crazy stuff when you hear it. It makes you stop and go, "Well, is this cannibalism? Is that what this guy is into?"
Like I said, not only is it offensive just to a Jew, this is offensive stuff to all of us unless you're from Transylvania. Then it's like, "Bring your blood, man. We'll drink it." But we're not from Transylvania, and the Jews certainly weren't. So they're like, "What in the world is he talking about?" What I want to do is I'm going to show you that this is very easy to follow if you want to follow it, but if you're looking to have a hard time with Jesus, you will have no problem running to John 6 and having a hard time with Jesus.
Jesus was not really, though, concerned about doing anything other than being graphic in his illustrations. You guys have maybe heard me say this before. When I communicate, I try and do it in a way that you are entertained. Now be careful. What I mean by that is I try and say some things that hold your attention.
That's literally what the word entertained means. It means to hold your attention. That entertains me, keeps me focused. I don't ever try and teach in a way that amuses you. Right? I say this every now and then. To muse is to think, so amuse is to do anything but think. I don't ever want to amuse you.
That's why you go to Six Flags, right? To be amused. You don't have to think there. You wouldn't go to Six Flags if you thought, because who wants to pay that much money to stand in line for 12 hours, sweat to death, and see an abnormal number of halter tops and tattoos? I don't know. I do think it's important that your attention is held. Jesus is using parables at a certain point for two reasons.
One, because it was a way to teach. We all love stories. Stories are a way to illustrate truth. Also, it was a way, not just to reveal truth, but also to, in a sense, conceal it. People who wanted to dismiss what he was going to say could go, "Ah, that guy is just a storyteller. Ah, that guy is just…" Then blow it off.
What you're going to find here is even in these metaphors when he starts talking like this, some folks locked so much in to what he was saying that they didn't listen like you normally listen to somebody who speaks illustratively, creatively, powerfully. They just go, "Why does he want us to eat his flesh? That's crazy!"
Now look, it was the people who were not spiritually apprised. It was people who were not able to judge the value of what he said who had a problem with what he said. Even for folks who understood who he was, it was difficult. Do you remember the progression here? I talked about this last week. The people grumbled, they argued, they found it difficult, and they withdrew.
In fact, if you were going to study John 6, you would not come up with a Charlie Sheen definition of what's going on in the ministry of Jesus Christ. You would not start with the feeding of the 5,000, which by all accounts it was more like 12,000 to 20,000 people because they just counted adult males, so you figure children, families, and women. So anywhere… Think American Airlines Center crowd.
That's the beginning of John 6. Now you get to the end of John 6, and then he is down to 11. Okay? This is not winning. This is very much a narrowing of this guy's ministry. I mean, mark this. Jesus was not concerned with amassing a great following. He wasn't trying to make it big. He was committed to making disciples. He wasn't committed to, if you will, reveling in popularity. He was committed to revealing truth.
He wasn't trying to trend on Twitter. All he was trying to do is just be faithful to deliver messages that could change people forever. Jesus came, and he says it very clearly in John 8, "… [so that] you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.""Specifically, that you would know why I came and what I've done and how much you need me."
What happens when you teach with that kind of clarity? It narrows your audience. At Watermark, we've said from the very beginning our goal is not make it big. Our goal is to make disciples. Like Jesus, all I want to do is make it clear what truth is and what you are to do with truth. My concern is not to be politically correct, but to be theologically sound.
What Jesus says is theologically sound. If you want to write him off as a madman, you can do it. You can pick little snippets and just say, "You know what? I'm out of here." If you understand who he is, you'll stay tuned and you'll track and you'll listen. Really this text, what's really interesting…
You can make a great case that what this text is trying to tell you to do as a believer is just relax. God has it all under control. He is firmly aware of who is going to receive what he has to say and who is not so he is never caught up in moving from multitudes down to 11. In fact, he knows that that's probably what the odds are going to do.
So when you go to share truth, don't be concerned that you aren't going to be embraced. Don't be unnecessarily offensive, but make sure that you would rather offend people with truth than curry their favor with compromise. Now let's take a look at what he was doing here. Let's pick it up specifically in verse 52.
It says, "Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, 'How can this man give us His flesh to eat?'" They weren't locking in. They weren't listening. I'm going to show you that Jesus was already very clear about what he meant. I'm going to make that abundantly clear tonight, and I'm going to show you the trouble with not listening with a spiritually informed heart and ear.
"Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, 'How can this man give us His flesh to eat?' So Jesus said to them…" Two things. First, he is going to say something emphasizing the negative, and then he is going to say the same thing in a positive way. He says, "…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves."
Then he says it positively. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." He is saying the exact same thing in verses 53 and 54. They go, "How in the world is this guy telling us to eat his flesh and drink his blood?" Jesus says, "Well, if you don't do that, you're not going to have life. If you do do that, you will have life."
Now let me say this. Let's just say Jesus never taught on this anywhere else. John, who wrote this gospel, later wrote three more books. First, second, and third John. The guy was not very creative in the way he titled his books, but nonetheless, there they were. John. Well…1 John, 2 John, 3 John. First John, chapter 5, verse 11 and 12. See if this doesn't look very familiar. See if he doesn't state something and then something in a positive way and why he does it.
He said, "And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." Now watch verse 12. "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." What's that sound like? That sounds just like verses 53 and 54. All he is saying is, John right here is saying, "If you have a relationship with Jesus, you have life. You've been reconciled to God who is the creator and the author of life.
If you don't have a relationship with Jesus, you don't have life. You're not spiritually connected to life. You're not spiritually connected to God. You are not spiritually apprised." So John is making it clear that what Jesus meant when he said, "You have to eat my flesh, drink my blood," is you have to follow him. You have to believe in him. Commit to him. Become one with him.
Ingest him, saying, "You are my Lord and King. I will follow you." Now watch, we're going to pick it back up in verse 55. In verse 55, he says, "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."
Jesus is saying in verse 55 here, "It's not the kind of food that you eat and then eventually you get hungry with a little bit later. It's the food that you're looking for, food maybe you don't even know you need. Food that there is nothing in this world that can satisfy you in the way that I can satisfy you."
Remember a quote by C.S. Lewis I used where he said, "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." Jesus is there saying, "I'm what you're looking for. You want me." Now watch, in verse 56, he says, "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him."
In other words, you will be renewed to life. You'll be brought back to me when you connect with me. If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you're going to be one with me. You will be satisfied in my provision for you, and all that you're looking for will be taken care of. Now watch. This little text can be confusing because it's so symbolic and it's so offensive when somebody says, "Eat my flesh. Drink my blood," but I want to walk you back through.
I'm going to show you verses 56, 54, 40, and 35, and show you that if you wanted to listen, it's very clear what Jesus is saying. It's not nearly as offensive as it needs to be. I'm going to show you the incredible relevance to your own life and how people, even today in large denominations, misunderstand this text to their own destruction and the destruction of those who follow them.
It leads to great error. To some, they move away from Jesus altogether. To others, it moves them away from an orthodox and correct and biblical and Christlike understanding of how you can be rightly related to God. I'm going to explain that to you. Let's start with this. Look at this with me. We'll look at verse 56. Here's the most cryptic one, right?
He says, "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." What's that mean? Well, let's go to verse 54. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." If you eat his flesh and drink his blood, you are one with him and you will have eternal life. Verse 54 says he "…will raise him up on the last day." Jesus, before he said that, had already made it clear what he meant by that.
Look at verse 40. "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." Doesn't that look just like verse 54? What Jesus is doing in verse 54 is he is just, in an illustrative way, communicating, "You have to take me. You have to personally appropriate me to your life. You have to ingest me. You have to become, by faith, completely knitted to who I am and have it be one with their innermost being."
That's all he is saying here. He doesn't really think you should take a bite from his forearm. Look at verse 35. "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.'" So we see right here, "Look, if you want to know how to be satisfied by me, it's through belief. If you want to know how to abide with me, it's through belief."
There was never a physical partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Now why is that so important? Well, in AD 1213 there was a guy by the name of Pope Innocent III, who I don't think was innocent. At the Fourth Council of the Lateran, himself and about 900 other bishops and leaders within Roman Catholicism…
Let me just remind you this. Catholic means universal. Roman Catholicism means the universal church which meets in Rome. Because Rome was such an epicenter of world politics and economics at the time it became a very influential church. The reach of Rome politically was very tied to the reach of the Roman expression of the church.
There was a lot of corruption because it was so wed to so much of what was happening in the evolution of institutions that were associated with man and not just God's church. There were evolutions throughout the Roman church in history that corrupted the initial and perfect message of Jesus Christ.
In 1213, there was an edict that was put forth at this Fourth Council of the Lateran, which is a place in Rome where the pope lived at the time. He called a lot of folks to come in, and they would make different rulings on a number of different things. It's where the Fifth Crusade was initiated, at this particular council, and other things like this.
Suffice it to say that it was there that they introduced as dogma in the church the concept of what is called transubstantiation. Now what is transubstantiation? Transubstantiation is a practice that is still believed today within Roman Catholicism. There is a reason when you go into a Roman church you'll see a crucifix.
Now how is a crucifix different from a cross? Does anybody know? Jesus is on the cross, which is what makes it a crucifix. It's in a Catholic church because they believe that you have to go to mass where you will receive the holy sacrament, the Eucharist, where you can partake of the elements that become the literal body and the literal blood of Jesus Christ. They transubstantiate.
In other words, they cross over from one substance to another. While they materially, in one sense, look like bread, taste like bread, look like wine or grape juice, they become something else in their specificity. They become the actual blood and body of Christ. This, by the way, is why priests have to estimate how many folks are coming to Holy Communion.
When they go through the Divine Liturgy and they bless the wine, they believe it becomes the literal blood of Christ, and so you're not allowed just to pour that blood down the sink. You have to polish it off when you're done. Good things don't happen when men go back in rooms and imbibe an unhealthy amount of leftover transubstantiated wine.
I don't mean that to be humorous. I just look at that and just go, "Well, of course." When you have some of the other dogma that came out which because there wasn't appropriate morality within the priesthood, they said you can no longer marry and now you can only have two concubines. That didn't work out so now you have to be celibate and married to the church.
You combine that with an understanding that the wine is now the blood of Christ. You can't waste it. It's run into some serious, significant troubles and issues. It comes out of this idea that the blood and the body are to be physically ingested. Luther, during the Reformation, moved it from transubstantiation to consubstantiation. In other words, along with it being actual bread, spiritually it actually becomes the blood of Christ.
Later, guys like Zwingli and Calvin, if you're into the Reformation, said, "No, no, no, no, no, no. This is to be done as a remembrance." That's exactly what Paul said when he was teaching on Communion. He said it is a memorial. It's not a holy sacrament. There's not a re-massacre. There is not a mass that you need to go to where through Divine Liturgy, through the priesthood, that you now have something that will give you the grace that you need.
No, Christ gave you all the grace you need on the cross. Your job is to believe in the work of the cross. You don't need any other mediator between God and man except Jesus Christ. If you get this dogma twisted, it's a way to control people. It's a way to have individuals have to come and be present at this thing otherwise you sacrifice the opportunity to be rightly reconciled to God.
That is not spiritually apprised. When you don't accurately divide the word of truth, it leads to great trouble and trauma. Let me just say this. Why does this have relevance to you? The presence of the liturgical church with the traditional church in all of our lives still has great relevance.
I know there are a lot of folks who come in here and go, "I just really miss some of the liturgy that I grew up around." Some folks would even say, "I miss the fact that we don't do Communion every week. I think it's important that churches do Communion every week." I'm going to do you one better. I think it's important you do Communion three times a day, but you don't need me there to take the elements that you have and go through some divine liturgy as a vicar of God that will allow things to move from one order of existence to another.
In fact, let me just tell you this. There is no transubstantiation that is ever indicated anywhere in Scripture. There is a transformation in the believer who understands who Jesus was, and the substance that changes is you. You are moved out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. What changes is you are no longer informed by a fallen spirit in the course of the ways of this world or the spirit of this age, but you are now informed by a Holy Spirit.
The idea that you would need to go somewhere and take some little wafer or some little drink and that that would be something that would give you this renewed intimacy with God and forgiveness cannot be supported in the Bible. Neither can it be supported that you need to come here to do Communion. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul talks about these things called love feasts. He says when you go to receive or celebrate together and remember Christ, when you break bread and when you drink wine, he said don't do it in an unworthy way.
In other words, what was happening is when folks were going there, they were using their power and their privilege and their position. They were, in effect, going through the buffet in a way that when some other folks would come to eat a little bit later at these love feasts, when the saints would gather together, they would come and they would gluttonize.
They would have so much food that it denied others of eating at the table with them. It didn't look very loving. It was the powerful in the positions of the privilege who got there first and kind of had everything they wanted and what was left over later was like, "You get to it." Because the church was compressed of a broad number of folks from socioeconomic classes, but they weren't loving each other well.
Paul said, "Look, that's crazy. Before you come and eat at this love feast, if you can't control your appetites, then eat at home so you're already full when you get there and you don't embarrass yourself in the way that you gather with other believers." He says, "Look, when you eat, every time you eat together, remember Christ. Remember him."
When you break bread at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if you're not living a holy life that's consistent with the God who called you out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, stop. Do you remember Matthew 5? Jesus says, "Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering."
Every time you eat a meal, what God says to you is this. "Hey believer, before you feed your face again, before you take care of your fleshly appetites, let the waffle, let the burrito, let the pizza, let the dinner remind you of God's broken body and whatever drink you're having (and I mean this), the tea, the water, the Coke, the wine, remind you of the blood of Christ and that you need something out of you to come inside of you or you will die."
That physical reality is a sign of a greater spiritual truth. When you're reminded three times a day, every time you physically hunger, of God's great love for you, stop. Remember Christ. Before you just dive in to feed your face, if you've not loved your wife, if you've been all about yourself, then reconcile with her.
Say, "You know what, sweetie? Before we just go further here, let me say this. I have not loved you as Christ loved the church and I'm reminded here that Christ loves the church. He left all the comfort and glory of heaven to come and live on this earth and identify with my sin and to bear my sin on the cross. He did '…nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves…'
There is nothing in my life these last three hours that would suggest to you that I've lived the same way. I want to repent before God and seek your forgiveness." Do you think marriages would be better if before you ate every meal you didn't just throw out some culturalized prayer? "O God, we thank you for this food and we ask that you bless the hands that prepared it. Strengthen our bodies that we may serve you."
There's nothing wrong with that, but there's more in mind here. "God is great, God is good, and we thank him for our food. By his hand we must be fed. Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen." There's nothing wrong with that, but I want to tell you, I believe that every time you eat as a believer, you're to be reminded of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, body broken for you that you might be reconciled to him.
You would think about your relationship with your kids, your relationship with your employers, your relationship with the poor and the oppressed, your relationship with God himself and sin, your relationship with your spouse, and you reconcile and get right. If you did that three, four, five times a day, do you think you'd have a higher quality of spiritual life? Do you think your marriages and relationships would be better? I do.
I'm going to tell you that's exactly what the Scriptures admonish you toward. There doesn't need to be a constant re-sacrificing of Jesus Christ. He is off the cross. The tomb is empty. It is finished, but if you have come into relationship with him, it should change you. There should be a satisfaction and a completion and a transformation in you that is substantial and consistent. If you're not spiritually apprised, you can make this some little event that you go to once a day or once a week or once a month, and you're going to miss it. You're going to miss it.
Jesus goes on to say, "Listen." In verse 58, he said, " [I am] the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever." He is saying, "Look, you guys are all fired about Moses, but the bread that he gave you, you had to keep gathering every morning and keep eating.
For me, I am not your daily bread. I am your once-and-for-all perfect and completed bread. Abide with me, stay with me continually. I am the bread which God brought down to ultimately satisfy you. I'm not one of a long list of prophets. I am the prophet that Moses talked about in Deuteronomy 18." Verse 59: "These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum."
"Here I am." This is what he said in the synagogue. "I am the all-satisfying source of true life that you've been looking for." Now look, I've been in this synagogue in Capernaum right there in the city of Galilee. I've read John 6 sitting in the synagogue that Jesus initially gave these words in. That's all fine and dandy.
I say that not to impress you, because I don't think it's that impressive. I say that because it's one thing to be there and read John 6, but I want to say even better than being in the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus initially said this is being in Dallas and understanding what Jesus said, is being here tonight and getting your arms around this text.
It reminds me of this story of a guy who was flipping through a little travel magazine and he saw this tour through the Holy Land and a little one-day side trip over to Egypt where Sinai is. He said to his wife, "Wouldn't this be awesome? Wouldn't this be great if we could go on this trip and we could go and stand on Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments?" Which you can't do, by the way.
She goes, "Wouldn't it be better if we stayed here and obeyed them?" Right? The answer is, "Yes." Here's what I want to get with you guys. We're about to move now as I jump over to verse 60 as the spiritually unapprised begin to leave him, he is going to turn now and start to focus on a smaller group.
These are people who supposedly are still saying, "I'm going to follow you." It's wonderful that you're here tonight studying John 6 with me. The question is will you walk out of here ingesting John 6, living with the Lord of life, following him in every way that he intends? Let me set you up for this little meditation we're about to do as we go through these last 11 verses by asking you to watch this.
Laura: Hey, Lord.
God: How did it go with Kat? Did you talk to her?
Laura: Oh, well, Lord, not exactly.
God: Well, did you forgive her?
Laura: Well, Lord, I mean, I was just thinking, "Why should I forgive her?"
God: Because I asked you to.
Laura: Well, yeah, I know you did, Lord, but why?
God: You shouldn't have to know why. Just that I asked you to do it.
Laura: Well, that doesn't make any sense, Lord. I mean, you don't understand the situation. Kathleen has an attitude problem.
God: Laura, do you believe that I know what is best for you and for Kat?
Laura: Well, yeah, Lord.
God: Then you'll do this.
Laura: But Lord!
God: This is no different than when I've asked you to do anything else.
Laura: Yes this is, Lord. This is way different.
God: When I asked you to quit your job, you quit.
Laura: Well of course, Lord, but I didn't like my job so I was happy to leave. This is way different. Okay, Lord, you know what? I have an idea. How about we give it a week and I'll pray about it.
God: Uh, I'll give you my answer now.
Laura: But Lord!
God: Kat is coming by here very soon.
Laura: She's coming by here? Well, let's go!
God: Now is your chance to talk to her. I want you to forgive her.
Laura: Lord, you don't understand! [To Kat] Hey!
Kat: Hey, Laura, hi! It's been like two weeks since we've had coffee!
Laura: Oh, it has.
Kat: We should totally get together this week!
Laura: Wow, I can't do that. I am so busy!
Kat: Oh, well how about next week?
Laura: Well, you know, actually I don't think it's going to happen for a while.
Kat: Oh. Well, is everything okay?
Laura: Oh yeah, everything is great.
Kat: Uh-huh. All right. Um, I guess I'll just see you later then.
Laura: Bye! [To God] Lord, did you hear that attitude?
God: I thought you were going to forgive her!
Laura: I thought you said we could wait a week, Lord!
God: No, you said that!
Laura: Okay Lord, you're being unreasonable, okay? Why don't you just go talk to Kathleen and have her come to me and ask for my forgiveness?
God: Laura, you need to obey. I want you to forgive Kat.
Laura: But Lord!
God: Why do you keep calling me Lord? You won't even do what I ask.
[End of video]
Todd Wagner: All right. So now we've gone from preaching to meddling right there. We can say all day, "He is our bread of life," but the question is, "Have you found your satisfaction in him and are you listening to him?" Because if you think it's difficult to look at his analogies, it is really difficult to follow him when he doesn't make sense to you.
You don't feel like forgiving. You don't feel like saying no to your impulses. If you're already satisfied in him and you know he is the provision for you and that he offered his life for you, don't you also know that everything he asks you is for your own benefit? Is he your Lord? Is he who you think he is? Is he the bread which has come down out of heaven?
It's one thing to say, "He is Lord." It's another thing to acknowledge him as Lord. Let me just say this. I got a letter this week from somebody, and she asked me a good question. "Todd, you said this statement. If you have eaten the bread of God, if you have ingested it, then you are satisfied. The glory of bread is that it satisfies. You're no longer hungry.
If you are still wondering where life is, if you're still looking for something to direct you, it seems to be an indication that you maybe have not taken all the bread of life that you think you have. Were you talking about satisfaction or about salvation?"
I told her in my response, I said, "Yes. And I don't know. All I know is that what God has called me to do is to remind you who he is and to continue to spur you on to the fullness of surrender to this one who is the perfect provision for your soul." When I find somebody who is having a hard time walking with the Lord and responding to him and obeying him, it's not my job (I'll say it this way) to see through you to find out if you've really, really believed.
God says, "I know who is mine. I don't need Todd Wagner to give me an opinion. Now Todd, you can and should rightly observe what is consistent with my Spirit and what is not, what behavior manifests joy and peace in the midst of every circumstance and what does not, but comfort those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men," but at the end of the day, it's not my job to see through you. It's my job to see you through.
In fact, Jesus tells a whole parable about this in Matthew 13. He said, "Hey, Todd and church and leaders, you don't need to go through and pull out weeds and say, 'This one is wheat and this one is a tare.' At the end of the day, the divine harvest will send his divine harvesters through and he'll do that. Until then, just sow truth. When you see the weeds of sin, acknowledge that, but don't try and at the end of the day declare…"
It does say some point you treat people like a nonbeliever, but how do you treat a nonbeliever? You love them. You speak truth to them. You pray for them and you call them to repentance. Is it repentance that leads to life or is it repentance that wins them back to a place of intimacy with the Father?
I can tell you that the normal expectation of Scripture is when you come into relationship with Christ…remember, not perfection but direction…there is a practice of holiness and loving the things of God and a hatred for sin. Not being caught in sin, but you just don't find satisfaction in anything anymore other than the true life that comes in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we all need to be encouraged and reminded and brought back to that.
If your life is a consistent drift toward other things to find life, it does seem to suggest that you have not eaten that which satisfies. What am I going to do? I'm going to call you back. There is a difference between a professed faith and a possession of the Spirit of God. There is a difference between a said faith ("Lord, Lord") and a saving faith where you follow him. "Why do you call me Lord?" "I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME…""You did what you wanted to do when you wanted to do it."
Now watch. This is what goes on in John 6. Verse 60: "Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, 'This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?' But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, 'Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?"
In other words, "Hey, you're going to see a lot of stuff that goes down with me that's really going to blow your categories. One of these days, you're going to see me be right there before you and ascend to heaven. Where is that going to fit? That's going to really cause you to stumble. By the way, I'm going to ascend after the grave that I'm put in when I'm crucified and left for dead is empty.
You just need to be ready for some things to come your way that are really going to blow your categories and are not going to fit into your neat little boxes. It's going to start right now with me telling you who I am. I'm not the kind of Messiah that you thought. I'm going to disappoint you in one sense. I'm not here to clean Caesar's clock.
I am here to drive sin out of your life and to make a provision for that which is a tyrant over you which is your flesh and your rebellion against me, not Caesar. Caesar is just a manifestation of what rules in all of our hearts that is a claim to sovereignty apart from God." He goes on to say in verse 63: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life."
"They're not sweet and likable. My goal when I communicate to you is that you hear me speak words of Spirit and life." Verse 64: "But there are some of you who do not believe." John comments then, "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.'"
"God is sovereignly in control, and I'm okay with that. My job is just to communicate to you truth, to reveal to you who need revelation, truth. To enlighten those of you who need enlightenment, light." Then he goes on. At verse 66 he says this, "As a result of this…" You want to ask yourself, "As a result of what?"
As a result of truth, of declaration that God is sovereign and gracious and draws whom he draws and calls whom he calls. A declaration of the exclusivity of a way to be reconciled to God only being through Jesus. A declaration of the necessity that you acknowledge your infinite need and find that that need can only be met through God's infinite provision in Jesus. That salvation and life are only found in him.
I said this last week. If there are multiple roads to heaven and multiple ways to find satisfaction in this life, multiple ways to appease God, then somebody should've told narrow-minded Jesus, because he sure didn't think so. What happens is that a lot of folks began to withdraw as a result of these things. They were not walking with him anymore.
So what's Jesus do? He grabs the Twelve. He says, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Then Simon, I love Simon's answer. He goes, "You know, Lord, frankly we have considered it. This has been a point of discussion with us. As a matter of fact, we have. Here's the problem. When the Twelve of us get together and go, 'Look, this guy, not only is he doing some amazing things, but he is stirring it up everywhere we go.
He is now telling us these things that we can't fully understand and you, frankly Lord, do some things that we're not really sure about, but here's the problem. None of us can think of anybody else who can walk on water. As of now, none of us have seen anybody else walk into a dead girl's room and bring her back to life.
As of yet, nobody has seen anybody calm the waves and blow away the storm. Nobody here has seen folks speak truth and reveal to us things we can't otherwise see. We don't know where else we'd go." This is key. Verse 69: "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."
"It doesn't really matter what's difficult for us or us arguing about what you meant by something, we just have to stay attentive to you. Why? Because we know that you are God and apart from you, we're going to be hungry forever. Apart from you, we can't find peace. Apart from you, we can't find life. Where else are we going to go?"
What's interesting is that there's a group before this who thought they really knew what Jesus meant and they bailed on him because they rejected who he said he was. Let me say that again. There's a multitude who rejected his claim to divinity and being the one who was one with the Father, and they thought they understood him and said, "We're out of here."
There's another group who could not get their arms around him, who found what he said to be difficult and what he called them to to be overwhelming, but because they made a decision, "This is God," they didn't care. Let me just say this. This is key to your life. You have to make your mind up. Who is Jesus? Who is God? What's his Word? Is it the infinite revelation of God, infallible and perfect and true?
Once you make your mind up on that, then it doesn't matter how difficult it is. It doesn't matter how overwhelming it is. It doesn't matter what you think of Kat anymore. You just begin to obey because there is life there. It changes everything when you finally say, "You're Lord, and I'm not. Where else am I going to go? What else am I going to do?"
By the way, this is why you hear me go so hard on people who try and find other things as a means to which they can find life and acceptance. I go after the things in Dallas that we love. We love material success. We love our left finger having a circle of metal on it. We love cars. We obsess over our football team having a higher ranking than your football team, our baseball team being that which brings us joy and satisfaction.
Look, they're all fleeting things. None of them really work. We have so many problems in our lives. Some of the folks, they leave God and they go to alcohol. Does alcohol work? Does alcohol give you peace? Say, "Yes." It does, for a very short period of time. Do narcotics work? Say, "Yes." For a very short period of time. Does sex and relationships work?
Yes, for a very short period of time, but they always bring you back to something that leaves you wanting and hungry again. Jesus is the only thing that when you go to him again and again and you stay there and you sit at his feet who satisfies and who gives you a peace that passes understanding.
I was talking to my friend, Ann. I've shared with you, she has lost her husband and been diagnosed with cancer all in the last several weeks. I'm so glad. I had a chance just to be a part of calling her last Monday and just saying, "Hey, I want you to go to the World Series with your oldest son, Max. Go."
How many folks are like, "Man, if I could just go to one World Series game, if I could just go." This was game five, by the way. Do you remember game five? It was that late-inning comeback by the Rangers where we win 4-2, right, and you have this incredible feeling and you're just, you left that.
She said, "We looked forward to it all day. It was tremendous. We won. The city was on a buzz." You know what the problem is? Anything like that, after, you know what happens after game five? Game six, that's what happens. Game six happens. Oh yeah, but what if you're in Saint Louis for game six? How awesome would that be if you're a Cardinals fan in St. Louis for game six? But look, there's a World Series next year.
There's a game seven. Okay they won that one, but hey, the buzz is going to go. The parade is already over in St. Louis. By the way, Ann got to go to game five, and guess what happened after game five? Not game six. She walks into game five. Traffic. She walks out of the traffic, she goes home, there's still an empty spot in the bed next to her.
She wakes up the next morning. There are still two boys without a daddy. There's still a body fighting against the potential of cancer. There's still one of her boys who has handicaps and life struggles. So what would you recommend? I don't know. Percocet? What would you recommend? Valium? What would you recommend? A new relationship, some dating service?
Look, none of those things are ever going to satisfy all that Ann has. There's only one thing. "I will raise you up on the last day, and until then I'll give you a perspective on a broken world that nothing else can. I alone can satisfy the longings of your heart. I'll tell you why you're here, why there is sin, what I've done about it, why there's evil, what I've done about it, and where you're going. That alone can give you peace. Don't go anywhere else."
Enjoy baseball. If you're blessed to get a new car, enjoy it. If you find a relationship, enjoy it, but don't make them gods. They are all lousy gods. If you have a refreshing drink on your lips, enjoy it. Don't try and get lost in it, because you're going to sober up, have to apologize for what you did while you disappeared for a while, and then get drunk again. Don't do it.
Here's what I want to say. It's one thing when the world obsesses over baseball and football and cars and relationships, but how are we doing, fed ones? How are we doing? Are we just as caught up in that as everybody else? The world looks at us and goes, "I thought you were the fed people. You look just as hungry as me. You look just as dependent upon that making you happy as me."
That's not as it should be. You are to be people who live as aliens and strangers. "What do you mean you don't live and die with the stupid Cowboys? What do you mean you don't live and die with Aggies football? What do you mean you don't live and die with the Rangers? What do you mean you don't live and die with income? What do you mean you don't live and die with spouses?"
You're to say, "Let me explain to you why. I enjoy food. I enjoy wine. I enjoy women in the context of how God says I should enjoy a relationship with another person, but it's not life to me. Jesus alone satisfies and I can love my wife. I don't need my wife. I can love my Rangers. I don't need my Rangers." By the way, I'm a Cardinals fan. Game six was spectacular. I grew up in St. Louis, but you know what? I didn't care. I just didn't care. Enjoyed it and didn't care. Watch this. Let me end with this.
Verses 70 and 71: "Jesus answered them, 'Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?'" You look at this and you go, "What? What are you doing? You mean there are only Twelve of us left and you have a mole in this Twelve, and you picked him? One of us is a devil? We're already down from 20,000 to 12, and you just told us we're down to 11.
This doesn't make sense. Why would you do this, God? Look, I mean listen, we thought it was difficult the way you taught out there, but your whole program seems a little odd." There are a number of times the way Jesus is doing things that you step back and you just go. Literally, he was accused of being beside himself. They thought he was crazy. Do you know what? Here's what his disciples did, though.
They just go, "Okay, look, Lord. We don't know what you're doing, but we've already decided who you are. We're not going to freak out when we thought this was really going to be great, that we were going to trend and we were going to be your vice-regents and all of a sudden the multitudes leave. We're still with you. You tell us that somebody in here is going to betray you?"
Jesus says, "Yes, and he is going to do what I want him to do when I want him to do it for the purposes that I want him to do it. I chose him. I know exactly who he is. I am sovereign over all of this. You can trust me. This is my devil, and I will redeem what he does, even though it will look like he is the one who will turn me in. No.
He is my pawn who I will move to declare who I am so I can go to my cross that nobody puts me on, but I will lay my life down. Guess what? I will take my life back up again." How about this? "This is my cancer in your life. This is my unfaithful spouse in your life. This is my terrorist in that plane. I know exactly what's going on. I know it's difficult for you to get your arms around my sovereignty, but you need to know who I am. There is nothing I miss, and you can trust me."
Now folks, let me just tell you something. This is the pivot point of your faith. If you have to understand everything about God, then he is not God. You are. He can't pour his infinite sovereign goodwill into your little pea finite mind.
You have to figure out who he is and be okay with his program and say, "Lord, look. This is really difficult right now. I don't know why this is happening economically, emotionally, spiritually, physically to me, but I know who is behind everything, and you haven't missed this. I'm not going to go anywhere else. I'm not going to get bitter. I'm not going to get drunk. I'm not going to even get depressed because you're God and you love me and you've come to die for me. I'm satisfied in you."
Father, I pray that this room would be filled with satisfied people. I pray that we would be individuals who would come to know you so that we could say what faithful saints have always said, that though we don't like the valley of death and darkness, we will walk through it if you want us to.
I pray, Lord, that we would be individuals who get to enjoy fleeting things because we can take for what they are, just inns along the way to refresh us, but we never look for them to be our home. We don't need anything else here on this earth except a deep awareness of who you are and your perfect provision for us.
Father, we trust you. I pray that we could sing like Jenny when we leave here, that you are good and you are to be trusted. Even though I don't like the script you've written for me, I will play my part if you want me to because you are God and I am not. Would you teach us the fullness of the satisfaction of knowing you, Lord, in the person of your Son Jesus Christ? Amen.
Jenny wrote that song when she graduated from college and was looking for a job and couldn't find work. She had a stellar resume and wanted to be a high school choir teacher. They said, "Come in. We want to interview you." She'd get in there and she'd just…time after time wasn't hired. She goes, "Why aren't you going to hire me?"
They obviously didn't tell her the probably the main reason, and she was wondering, "God, what do you want from me? What am I supposed to do?" Then she said, "Look Lord, all I know is that you've given me darkness as it relates to human sight, but you've given me great clarity that you are good and you love me."
He turned that little heart to start writing songs and start singing songs in a way and made some relationships. I don't know all the reasons why God has done this, but one of them was for me. So I could be in this room with Jenny tonight and watch somebody who has eaten the bread of life sing a song that he wants me to sing as I go out into my world as a little chorale leader for folks who don't even know there's a choir worth being a part of. That's you who are charged with the same thing.
If you're here tonight and maybe you're part of those folks who have never learned to sing like that, then tonight is your night to understand that Jesus is the one who gives you that song. Come. Those of you who say he is Lord, would you go and sing that way? Not loving fleeting things, not loving only eyes that see or teams that win or rings that fit or bankrolls that are thick, but one who satisfies. His name is Jesus. Declare him. Sit at his feet. Remember him at breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and all day in between. Honor him. Follow him. Worship him.
Have a great week of worship. We'll see you.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.