Sunday, April 30, 2017, 9:05 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 6 (select vv. NIV).
Seeking Blessings (vv. 26-27)
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Many people will believe in Jesus Christ with human faith just because of what they perceive will be the benefits of such a faith, such as forgiveness of sins, relief from punishment in hell, and the hope of heaven when they die. Although it is true that these are some of the benefits of faith in Jesus Christ, it is apparent that these people want their resurrection without the cross, i.e. that they want the benefits of salvation from sin without death to sin, submission to Christ and his cross, and obedience to his word. So, it isn’t Jesus they seek, but what they can get out of him. So, they end up worshipping the gifts rather than the creator who gave the gifts.
If we look only to the end game, and what rewards we think we will receive, then we are missing the boat. Jesus didn’t die for our sins just so we could escape hell and have the promise of heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. He commands all people everywhere to repent, i.e. to turn from their lifestyles of sin, to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and to receive new lives in Christ Jesus, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Tit. 2:11-14; Eph. 4:17-24; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Acts 17:30; 26:16-18).
Bread of Life (vv. 35-40)
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
So many people today, especially here in America, are seeking and are following after what will never satisfy the deep longings of their souls. Yet, is God against us having houses, lands, automobiles and possessions? I don’t believe so. I do believe, though, that he is against us having excess (more than we need) while we see those in need and we refuse to help. I believe he is also against us making these things our gods, i.e. to where we worship them rather than the creator; to where we give our hearts, passion, time and energies over to what is going to perish, while we neglect what is eternal.
Many people, including many Christians, are also seeking after self-pleasure and entertainment, idols of men, politicians, preachers, and the like to satisfy them, to give them a sense of security or fulfillment, or to be their saviors. But, they will always come up empty, and always wanting more, and they will often be disappointed, let down, and betrayed by what gives a false sense of hope for joy and peace, because the things of this world and humans can never fill the God-void in our lives, which only HE can fill. They will all wear out like a garment, but the Word of God stands forever!
Jesus Christ is our sustenance and our supply for everything we need. In him we find complete satisfaction, fulfillment, peace and joy. If we come to him, and we find in him all that we need for this life, our hearts will be fully satisfied. Yet, he says that if any would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (for eternity), but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will gain eternal life, i.e. we will find our lives in him (Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Rom. 8:1-14).
Flesh and Blood (vv. 48-58)
I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
Jesus is the bread from heaven; the bread of life. The things of this life to which we look to satisfy us, or to bring us happiness, are temporal. They have no power to impart life. Jesus is the giver of life in creation, and he is the giver of eternal life for all who eat of (partake in) him. Yet, in order to receive this life (eternal) we must eat of his flesh and drink of his blood. So, what does that mean?
Jesus gave his body for us in death to sin on a cross. He also shed his blood for us that we might be reconciled to God. So, to eat of his flesh and to drink of his blood means we partake with him in death to sin so that we might live with him to righteousness, and so we might be reunited in fellowship with God. There can be no resurrection without the cross. There can be no life in the Spirit without death to sin, and not just Jesus’ death to sin, but us being crucified with Christ in death to sin (Rom. 6:1-23; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:24).
In other words, faith in Jesus Christ is so much more than just an escape from hell and the hope of heaven. It is a life, and it is a lifestyle, and it is in Christ, and to be lived in his power and strength, and guided by the Holy Spirit. It is a radical life transformation away from living under the yoke of slavery to sin, to now walking in freedom from the control of sin over our lives, in the Spirit, and in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. It is trusting in Jesus to meet our every need and not looking to the flesh of man or to the things of this world for our provision, hope, healing, or for our deliverance.
This is not to say, obviously, that we don’t have jobs or earn our living or provide for our families or that we just sit around waiting for manna to drop from heaven while we do nothing. But, it is to say that we should trust in Jesus Christ for all things, and that we should not operate in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and that we should look to him for our fulfillment, for our deliverance from evil, and for meaning, purpose and direction for our lives. He is the one who should get our vows of allegiance, our passion, desire, loyalty, devotion, fidelity, worship and praise. He alone should be our God. And, we should feed on him daily via prayer, the study of the Word, and through following him in obedience to whatever he tells us to do and to be.
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
William Williams / John Hughes
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold.
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer
Sin and Satan and the grave,
Sin and Satan and the grave.
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee. Amen.