Savior’s Away, My Foes, Savior’s Away (John 8:12-27)

Countdowns are expected in action and adventure films. Most often, it’s a timer on a bomb.

The absolute, hands down, most intense, edge-of-your-seat, I-know-he-won’t-die-but-I’m-still-anxious, defusing was in 1964’s Goldfinger. The bomb was in Fort Knox (where there once was gold).

Bond, James Bond, breaks the lock, opens the lid, exposing a complex device with discs whirling and bundled wires running everywhere.

The digital timer shows 032 seconds. Bond touches this and that, fumbling, making it clear that he has no idea what to do. The never-let-them-see-you-sweat secret agent man is sweating. It’s a great piece of acting by Sean Connery, who seems genuinely shaken…not stirred.

As the seconds count down, he grabs a bundle of wires in both hands. Just as he is going to separate them, hoping for the best, an agent arrives and stops him. The agent then reaches over and flips an On/Off switch. The best part: The timer stops at 007.

Time was running out for the Jews to receive the Lord.

In verse twenty-one we read, “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.’ ”

Jesus would have a similar discussion with His disciples, but with a different outcome.

On the night of His crucifixion, Jesus told them that He would shortly be returning to His Father in Heaven. To them, Jesus said, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

When Jesus ascended into Heaven, Israel missed her opportunity to crown Jesus King of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Not permanently; it was a postponement. We know that Jesus will return in a glorious Second Coming, and when He does, “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

We live in the postponement. Believers say “Time’s up” because we know that the Lord could return at any moment to resurrect and rapture His church from Earth to Heaven. Every heartbeat He waits is just one away from the rapture.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Time’s Up For The Church, and #2 The Time Is Now For The ‘UnChurched.’

#1 – Time’s Up For The Church (v12-21)

We are in the Church Age.

It will be followed by the seven-year Great Tribulation.

At the end of the Great Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return to rule the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth for one thousand years.

When that millennial reign ends, the final resurrection of the human race will occur.

An eternity in Heaven awaits believers. An eternity of conscious torment in the Lake of Fire awaits nonbelievers.

The Church Age ends when Jesus returns to resurrect the dead in Christ, and rapture living believers. This coming is presented in the Bible as imminent. That is why we live as though ‘Time’s up.’

Jesus was talking to Jews about the Kingdom promised to them. He was not addressing the church. The church was a mystery revealed later.

Promises specifically made to and about Israel are not for the church, nor are they applicable to other nations.

We can always discern and discover in the text things that apply to believers of every age. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Gospel message is always the same, with salvation being by grace through faith. But we cannot claim what is not ours. BTW: Our blessings are better anyway!

We last left Jesus in the Temple teaching.

Joh 8:12  Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

I appreciate Boromir’s assessment of Mordor. “One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its Black Gates are guarded by more than just Orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep, and the Great Eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume.”

Is that how you see the world? The reality is much worse. We are born spiritually dead into pitch spiritual darkness.

Jesus came into the darkness and is the “light” source. When you believe Jesus, His “life” that was given for you is given to you. You receive spiritual sight to successfully navigate darkness.

Joh 8:13  The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”

Jesus’ miracles bore witness He was Messiah. Like lawyers in a legal action, they were excluding His works from evidence.

There is SO much evidence that the Bible is true. Critics want to suppress it. The creation vs. evolution debate, for instance. Evolutionists have done a great job in making people think creationism is based on unscientific leaps of faith. Creationism is the only explanation that fits the scientific findings.

Joh 8:14  Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.

The testimony of Jesus would hold greater prominence than that of a mere man because He had been for eternity in Heaven. Jesus isn’t another wise man who established a religion. Guys like Joseph Smith “bore witness of themselves.” Jesus was and is God. We have a Savior Who transforms us, not a usurper who wants to reform us.

Joh 8:15  You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.
Joh 8:16  And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me.

Jesus does judge, but not as they did, in the flesh by human wisdom.

The Pharisees lived “according to the flesh,” entirely by outward rules, rites, diets, and days. Their evaluation was always firmly grounded in fleshly, i.e., human, wisdom. C.S. Lewis said, “You cannot make men good by law.”

The Pharisees started spiritual. They deteriorated to the sad condition we see in the New Testament.

Christians in the Church Age begin in the Spirit but can deteriorate to attempt walking with Jesus in the flesh, i.e., in their strength. John Wesley writes, “If, after having renounced all, we do not watch incessantly, and beseech God to accompany our vigilance with His, we shall be again entangled and overcome.”

“I am with the Father” should read, “I with the Father,” emphasizing working together. Jesus claimed that He did only what His Father told Him to do, and said only what His Father told Him to say. The two of them constitute a single omniscient and omnipotent testimony.

Joh 8:17  It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.
Joh 8:18  I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”

It was God’s Law and there was nothing wrong with it. They had made it theirs by adding and subtracting from it.

The Pharisees became ‘law-bound.’ Jesus one day said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former (Matthew 23:23).

Joh 8:19  Then they said to Him, “Where is Your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.”

Jesus meant His Heavenly Father. Their thoughts could not rise above the flesh. They thought of His earthly father. Their question was peppered with derision. Later in the chapter, we will see them more openly accuse Jesus of being the illegitimate son of Joseph.

The smartest, most articulate, naturally talented religious men, the Pharisees, practicing the one, true religious system on Earth, written by the finger of God, given to the most humble man who ever lived…Did not know God.

For all of their study, and self-righteous discipline, they did not realize that their Scriptures were about Jesus.

Don’t forget Jesus while reading your Bible. It is easier to do than you might think. We discover His promises and principles and precedents. So much so that we are always rushing to the next book with its program to be more spiritual. Hopefully, I won’t hurt anyone’s feelings by saying this, but you do not need to pray The Prayer of Jabez to break through to the ‘blessed life.’ Pray your prayers.

Joh 8:20  These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.

Jesus liked to teach in the treasury. It was there He called attention to the poor widow who put in two mites (Mark 12:43-44). Maybe it had good acoustics. One of the Bible dictionaries notes, “The inner area of the Temple contained three courts. The easternmost court was the Court of the Women, and it contained the Temple treasury where people donated their money.” Jesus taught in a place where women could hear.

The Father protected Jesus from arrest until His hour to be crucified came. This plan of God to redeem and restore creation cannot fail. His future will come to pass.

Joh 8:21  Then Jesus said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come.”

Jesus would return to Heaven, leaving the Jews awaiting their Kingdom.

Is it cruel that they will “seek” Jesus but not find Him? Jesus wasn’t describing a sincere seeking. Once they eliminated Jesus, they would “seek” a Messiah that better fit their desires.

The Jews were like Javert in Les Misérables, merciless in their application of the Law. Jesus has shown us that grace and mercy are not only consistent with the Law, they are governors of the Law to see that it produces the result God intends – Salvation.

The episode in the previous verses of chapter eight about the woman caught in adultery can be a humbling example for us. Yes, of course, she deserved to be stoned, as the Law commanded. Without violating the Law, Jesus extended grace to her. She was saved and sent to “Go and sin no more.”

Christians tend to default to the Law. It’s safe. But is it grace? Law and grace are not incompatible. We divide them, whereas God unites them.

#2 – The Time Is Now For The ‘UnChurched’ (v22-27)

The unchurched nonbelievers. They are not spiritual members of the body of Jesus.

If you are a believer, you are a member of the body of Jesus on Earth. Tragically, it has become popular for believers to quit the local church. We can call them the Forsakers.

The apostle Paul wrote, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling. But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased (First Corinthians 12:15-18).

It is as absurd to think you don’t need to belong to a local church as it is to think you don’t need certain members of your body.

Joh 8:22  So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, because He says, ‘Where I go you cannot come?’ ”

Jews thought that their chosen status meant a free pass into Heaven when they died. When Jesus said He was going where they could not come, they assumed He meant Hades.

He would not take His life by suicide; He would give His life in submission, as a sacrifice, as our substitute.

Suicide is not the unpardonable sin of blaspheming God the Holy Spirit. If your question is, “Can a Christian who commits suicide go to Heaven?”, you’ve answered it by identifying them as Christian.

Joh 8:23  And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
Joh 8:24  Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

No one else has ever, or will ever, be God in human flesh. You understand, don’t you, that you and I will be raised or raptured in a glorified human body? We will never be gods.

You will “die in your sins,” unless you believe Jesus is Who He says He is.

Joh 8:25  Then they said to Him, “Who are You?”

Impossible to hear the inflection in their question. It’s probably safe to say that they were being argumentative. This is a “Who do you think you are.”

Joh 8:25  … And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning.

Author Steven King spends months and even years writing his opening sentences.

Jesus used the phrase, “from the beginning.” There are two great ”beginning” sentences in the Bible, the greatest opening sentences ever written:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jesus wasn’t merely present, at creation, as a spectator. He was not the first thing created. He is the Creator.

Joh 8:26  I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.”

He could have said more, judged more, but He limited Himself to His Father’s will. Don’t get the impression that Jesus wanted to do things that His Father would not allow. They were never in any disagreement.

One of the most asked questions is, “How do I know God’s will for my life?”

God’s will for you is mostly spelled out in His Word.

For instance, the apostle Paul wrote,

1Th 4:3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality

The passages regarding husbands, wives, and children reveal God’s will for marriage and family.

There are passages about your job and your work ethic.

The Bible reveals how to handle your finances.

I mentioned the Forsakers. You find God’s will for them in the Book of Hebrews: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (10:24-25).

Austin Fisher tweeted, “The Bible talks about God’s will a lot. Interestingly, the Bible does not tell us to *seek* God’s will, but to *do* God’s will. Why? Because whereas we often assume we don’t know God’s will & so need to seek it, the Bible mostly assumes we do know God’s will & just need to do it.”

Joh 8:27  They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father.

William MacDonald pointed out, “Previously when the Lord Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, they had realized He was claiming equality with God the Father. But not so anymore.”

The more they rejected Jesus, the more confused they were becoming. Their flesh was getting harder to keep at bay. They wanted to kill Jesus, and by the time they maneuvered His crucifixion, they were wicked and hellish murderers who led the crowds to say, “His blood be on us, and on our children” (Matthew 27:25).

The time is always “now” for nonbelievers. “Today, if only you would hear his voice, Do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:7–8).

Here is one of those quotes, by William Booth, that stabs the heart: “Can we go too fast in saving souls? If anyone still wants a reply, let him ask the lost souls in Hell.”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapon in the Manhattan Project. Two years later they created the Doomsday Clock. It uses the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains. In March 2022, the Science and Security Board released a new statement in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It is 100 seconds to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.

We have the correct view of the future, and of how to count it down.

There is no “Doomsday” in which humans are annihilated. There is what we listed earlier: Great Tribulation, Millennial Kingdom, and Eternity.

We may not have one hundred seconds:

The time is now: Nonbeliever, repent and receive Jesus.

Time’s up: Church, having begun in the Spirit, let us not individually (or corporately) default to our energy. Let us not forsake assembling together. Let us “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

You Don’t Stone Me, I’m Not One of Your Little Ploys (John 8:1-11)

Living on a sail boat docked in a private marina, having a pet alligator named Elvis, driving a Ferrari Daytona Spyder, packing a Bren Ten in a shoulder holster…All while wearing fashionable pastels.

Miami Vice made it seem so cool.

Vice is the arm of the police department concerned with immoral activities, e.g., sex crimes. I’m pretty certain being among that criminal element isn’t as Crockett & Tubbs as it is on film.

The Sex Crimes Task Force of the Scribes & Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus whom they had newly caught in the vice of adultery.

It reads like a sting operation. She was seized at the opportune moment for them to use her against their real target, Jesus.

The woman deserved stoning. Jesus seemed entrapped in a lose-lose situation.

Never go up against the Galilean when salvation is on the line.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Jesus Stooped To Save You, and #2 Jesus Is Sure To Sanctify You.

#1 – Jesus Stooped To Save You (v1-9)

First things first. In your Bible, you most likely have a footnote that says something like, “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts do not have John 7:53-8:11.” Should we therefore ignore them?

There is a long, but ultimately satisfying, answer for those of you who want to dig into how we got our Bible and the scholarly discipline of textual criticism. For our purposes today, two quotes will suffice.

One of the strongest advocates that these verses were not originally part of the Gospel of John is D.A. Carson. After he convincingly shows why they were not, he says, “On the other hand, there is little reason for doubting that the event here described occurred, even if in its written form it did not in the beginning belong to the canonical books.”

R.C. Sproul likewise said, “The overwhelming consensus of textual critics is that it was not [originally] part of the Gospel of John. At the same time, the overwhelming consensus is that this account is authentic, it’s apostolic, and it should be contained in any edition of the New Testament. I believe it is nothing less than the Word of God.”

These verses were not in the original Gospel of John, but they are authentic and apostolic and belong in the Bible.

(Jacob Kelso will be in the Welcome Center to answer your questions. I’ll be doing pastor pours in the Café).

Joh 8:1  But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

The annual Feast of Tabernacles ended. Jesus and His disciples were camping on the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives, or Mount Olivet, has been a Jewish graveyard for the past three thousand years. One resource says that the remains of more than 150,000 are there.

A great deal of biblical action takes place on the Mount of Olives:

It was there that He gave His talk on future events we call the Olivet Discourse.
The Garden of Gethsemane is at the base of the Mount of Olives.
Jesus ascended into Heaven from Olivet.
The Mount of Olives is where Jesus will touch down in His Second Coming.

Charles Spurgeon reminds us, “Possibly, in all Judaea, there was only that one houseless man! Certainly there was no other who was so voluntarily houseless as Himself. He had brought Himself down from the glories of His Father’s court, from the majesty of reigning with His Father in Heaven to become dependent upon the bounty of His own disciples for His daily bread.”

Joh 8:2  Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

It was the custom for the teacher to sit and the disciples to stand. Jesus sat down, signaling that He was going to teach.

Joh 8:3  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery…

“Fornication” is consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other.

When one or more of the partners having consensual sexual intercourse is married, it is “adultery.”

There are sexual sins.

We don’t need to list and describe them. In 1986 The Meese Report was published. It’s official title was the Final Report of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography. Prominent Christian leaders were on the commission. They watched hundreds of hours of porn in order to give informed opinions.

We need only refer to God’s standard for human sexuality. Here is a report in thirty-four words:

God’s gift of sex is to be enjoyed in a biblical marriage between one biological man and one biological woman who are heterosexual and monogamous. Their marriage is a covenant of life-long companionship.

Anything not this…is sin.

“Caught in adultery” means she was caught in the act, or as one paraphrase has it, “caught in bed with.” With who? The man deserved punishment.

This was a sting. They needed one adulterer in order to try to discredit the Lord. They most likely let the man go.

The exploitation of this woman was itself a heinous sin, compounded by the fact it was perpetrated by the religious authorities.

People are not commodities to be exploited. Churches employ professional fundraising organizations. They guarantee that if you follow their methods, you will raise the funds that you need. Trouble is, you have to begin looking at families as, and this is their description, “giving units,” capable of giving more than they already are. It reduces people to commodities that can be tapped.

Joh 8:3  … And when they had set her in the midst,

No need to over-dramatize this by saying she was naked. Disheveled, for sure.

Joh 8:4  they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.

She was guilty and deserved the punishment prescribed by the Law. Notwithstanding that under Roman rule the Jews were powerless to execute.

Joh 8:5  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

Stoning is the biblically prescribed punishment for a betrothed virgin who is sexually unfaithful to her fiancé, a punishment to be meted out upon both transgressors (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Death is prescribed for unfaithful wives and their lovers, but no method is specified (Deuteronomy 22:22).

“What do you say” Jesus? One commentator writes,

“If Jesus disavowed the law of Moses, His credibility would be instantly undermined. If He upheld the law of Moses, He would be supporting a position which would have been hard to square with His well-known compassion.”

Joh 8:6  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him…

What must it have been like in meetings these religious authorities attended trying to come up with ways to undermine the Lord? Give them props for creativity, but they are a lot like cartoon villains whose plans always go awry, e.g., Wile E. Coyote, or Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.

Joh 8:6  … but Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Every commentator starts by correctly pointing out that we cannot know what Jesus “wrote on the ground with His finger.” They then spend page-after-page presenting theories and guesses.

Consider the setting. This takes place in the Temple – meaning they are standing on stone flooring, not dirt. Whatever Jesus “wrote,” He wrote in dirt or dust on stone.

Some suggest Jesus wrote the names of the accusers and, next to their names, their sins.
Others say He wrote out the Ten Commandments as the “finger of God.”

Have you ever tried to write in dust? “Wash Me” takes up about two feet of space.

It is always best to let the Bible comment upon itself. In the Book of Jeremiah we read:

Jer 17:13  O LORD, the hope of Israel, All who forsake You shall be ashamed. “Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the LORD, The fountain of living waters.”

The day before, Jesus had given a talk about rivers (fountains?) of living water.

The religious leaders were forsaking Him; “No living water for you!”

He was writing.

Jesus didn’t need to write in the dust in any intelligible way. In fact, the word can be translated drawing. His mere doodling would send them to the passage that predicted “writing in the Earth.” They were fulfilling its sad prediction.

Joh 8:7  So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

Whether she deserved to be stoned or not, Jesus altered the no-win scenario. Go ahead and stone her, but anyone who picked-up a stone was thereby declaring that they were without sin.

Joh 8:8  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

Jesus was “seated.” It would seem that He bent down while seated. I am struck by His “stooping.”

This was body language. He was stooped low before His Father, in the humbling bow of a servant, handling this situation as commanded.

His doodling is so weird to us that we try to suggest what Jesus wrote in order to make Jesus’ response less odd. God uses the foolish to confound the wise. We are the foolish, and He calls upon us to do things that are foolish. Almost every character in the Bible was tasked to do something that seemed foolish. Just ask Isaiah, whom for three years God had deliver His message naked (Isaiah 20:1-2).

You should be able to think of a time God asked you to do something like doodling in the dirt.

Joh 8:9  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

The Forerunner Bible Commentary says, “Conscience acts as a moral governor.” The apostle Paul writes that even people who are not yet called by God are still equipped with conscience as a moral guide (Romans 2:14-15). Over time your conscience can become violated, seared, or defiled by ignoring it. It must be biblically trained.

Murderous though they were, the Scribes and Pharisees still had a conscience.

No one would declare that they were altogether sinless. Righteous, yes, but not sinless. Jesus was the only one who did not need to leave. Only He could have picked up a stone.

In verse nine, “one by one” meant these Scribes & Pharisees left in order of rank.
They couldn’t go so far as declaring themselves sinless, but they were ranking themselves according to their standard of righteousness.

Two things to point out:

Jesus became the woman’s advocate.
Jesus was without sin.

An advocate represents his client before the judge or judges. Jesus argued her case by suggesting all of them deserved some sort of punishment for sin. Four fingers were pointing back at them.

Jesus exclusively represents guilty sinners deserving of punishment. Because He is a man and sinless, He can do more than advocate. He can take the place of sinners. He can die in your place, substituting Himself for you, in order to satisfy the penalty you deserve for sin.

God thereby remains just for judging sin by His prescribed penalty of death, but He is able to forgive sinners because their debt has been paid in full.

God is both just and the justifier of sinners who believe in Jesus.

#2 – Jesus Is Sure To Sanctify You (v10-11)

Do you believe that “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”?(Philippians 1:6). Hold your answer in mind. We will, as they say, “circle back” to it.

Joh 8:10  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

One-on-one. Notwithstanding the value of stadium evangelism and calling sinners forward, one-on-one is how you and I are commissioned to reach the world for the Lord. Polls show that the people who come to stadiums or churches do so because they were personally invited.

Something is wrong on Earth. The apostle Paul put it this way:

“[Humans are] filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful… (Romans1:29-32).

Sin is what is wrong.

We must reintroduce “sin” as a concept people understand. It needs to once again become a powerful descriptor of human behavior.

Dr Karl Menninger, called the Freud of America, wrote a book in 1973 that shocked his secular colleagues. It was titled, Whatever Became of Sin?

The book was in response to dealing with patients whose mental problems were the direct result of sin. He addressed the idea that we rationalize and glaze over what we used to call sin. The book professes to offer new hope for real emotional health through moral values.

One way to talk about sin is to emphasize God’s absolute holiness. Jesus raised the standard of righteousness to absolute perfection in deed and in thought. That is, of course, impossible for us. It is why we need saving.

Joh 8:11  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

There are a few translations that say, “No man, Lord.” No mere “man” condemns sinners. We are sinners because we fall short of the glory of our thrice-holy God. It is in that fallen condition, that hellish, hopeless state, that you are drawn to “the Lord.” He is a man, like you, but more than a man. He is God in human flesh. He is the unique God-man. He did not come to condemn you, but to save you.

While we are marveling at how much the Bible can say in so few words, we read, “Go, and sin no more.”

Jesus telling her to stop sinning indicates what she had done was sin. Biblical marriage remains in effect regardless what our surrounding culture collapses into.
Telling her to stop sinning was a call for her to repent.
She could turn to God from sin and find in her relationship with Jesus the freedom from continuing in sin.

Think about that. Jesus told her she could be free from sin. She could overcome sexual sin. He told her this before God the Holy Spirit was given to indwell us. How much more can we experience freedom from sin with God the Holy Spirit in us.

Her ordeal was far from over. Forgiven by God, severe consequences awaited her:

Betrothed or married, she would face the possibility of divorce.

She would be shunned in her community.

On top of that, she would be persecuted for believing Jesus.

Hey there, lonely girl, is how we must take our leave of her. Notwithstanding that there is a typically false Roman Catholic tradition that she was none other than Mary Magdalene, we know nothing about her after she met Jesus and went to sin no more.

I asked the question, “Do you believe that ‘He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ’ ”?

The answer is, “Yes,” and that means we can confidently say the woman caught in adultery was saved.

If that doesn’t convince you, consider this. Would Jesus tell a nonbeliever, “Go and sin no more?” No.

Our friends at gotquestions.org go so far as to say the following: “It goes without saying that the woman caught in adultery did not return to her infidelity.
She had met Jesus. She would not be perfect. No one is. But she was forever changed.”

Go, and sin no more,” is a good summary of what we call sanctification. Salvation is a three-step promise:

When you believe Jesus, you are saved.
Everyday thereafter God is working in you to conform you into the image of Jesus. This is your sanctification.
The process is completed when you are resurrected or raptured, which is called being glorified. You will have a heavenly body incapable of sin.

“Go, and sin no more,” is your daily word from the Lord, along with the enabling to obey it that comes from yielding to the indwelling God the Holy Spirit.

You won’t be sinless until you are glorified. But you can sin less in obedience to the Spirit. Bonhoeffer said, “Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

One final question: Are you caught in some sin?

If not a believer, come to Jesus, then “Go, and sin no more.”
If a believer, “Go, and sin no more.”

A River Runs Through You (John 7:37-53)

‘Misinformation’ is the word on everyone’s lips.

It is defined as, “incorrect or misleading information presented as fact.”

Misinformation is unintentional.
Disinformation is intentional.

In the COVID19 era, social media posts are routinely marked as misinformation, then deleted. Entire profiles disappear in the cloud.

It seems as though any information with which a government or Big Tech disagrees can be labeled misinformation. At some point the Bible is going to be deemed misinformation or disinformation.

Free speech is in jeopardy. Not to worry. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is on the job.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security that DHS had created the Disinformation Governance Board.

What could go wrong?

The Jewish authorities constantly waged a misinformation and disinformation campaign against Jesus.

Their tweet might read, “Local Carpenter Continues To Spread Disinformation Deemed Harmful By Religious Experts.”

In our text, they misinformed the nation about where the Lord was from. In verse forty-one they said, “Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee” (v41).

Jonah was from the region of Galilee. So were Nahum, Hosea, Elijah, and Elisha.

Jesus did not correct them by pointing out that He was, in fact, born in Bethlehem according to the Scriptures. He used the occasion to discuss spiritual birth. He spoke of “the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive” (v39).

If you are a believer, you have received God the Holy Spirit.

Receiving God the Holy Spirit will be our point of contact with this text. I’ll organize my comments around two points, #1 Believe Who You Have Received, and #2 Beware You Are Not Deceived.

#1 – Believe Who You Have Received (v37-39)

You can’t believe everything you hear…unless you ‘hear’ it from God.

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19).

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory” (Second Corinthians 1:20 NLT).

The words of Jesus are altogether true. They are not a metaphor, nor are they mystical. They are not for the monastery, but are for mainstream Christian living. He is talking to you.

Believer, believe Him.

Joh 7:37  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

Tabernacles is one of the seven feasts celebrated by the nation of Israel. The pilgrims swelling the population of Jerusalem spent seven nights camping in makeshift booths to commemorate the Exodus generation and God tabernacling with them.

The priests would each morning lead a procession to pour water over the altar that had previously been drawn from the Pool of Siloam. Commentators say it represented the Rock that followed the Israelites, providing abundant water for millions.

Either on the seventh day, right after the water was poured, or on the eighth day when no water was poured, Jesus exclaimed that He was the fulfillment of the ritual. It was a shadow for which He was the substance. He alone could satisfy spiritual thirst moment-by-moment and forever. The apostle Paul would reveal to the church in Corinth, “they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (First Corinthians 10:4).

Joh 7:38  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Loads of verses compare God the Holy Spirit to water. Scholars agree there is no one particular verse Jesus was quoting. The Lord seems to have been speaking in what we might call ‘the volume of the Book.’

The consistent teaching of the Old Testament is that God the Holy Spirit is like a refreshing, inexhaustible torrent of life-giving water.

Without getting bio-mechanical, the believer’s “heart” (belly KJV) would be a constantly overflowing reservoir of life-giving, thirst quenching, living water.
It is an especially apt illustration to desert living people accustomed to digging wells from which to draw water every few hours.

Where do help and hope come from? The Lord. It is in His life-giving flow into and then through you.

This promise is for anyone and everyone, whoever and whosoever, who “believes in” Jesus.

Joh 7:39  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

God the Holy Spirit is like “rivers of living water.” He constantly refreshes and satisfies the believer. He engages the believer as a conduit to serve others.

If you are saved, God the Holy Spirit is present in your heart to maintain and direct this constant source and overflow.

Jesus was “glorified” when He arose from the dead in an eternal body. His resurrection proves that we likewise will be raised (or raptured). Everyone will be raised, but many to face judgment.

The ministry of God the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament did not involve His permanent indwelling.
He was with saints, and came upon saints, filling them for a time, but their bodies were never His Temple as we enjoy today. Jesus said it, not me.

Something we often overlook is that before the Day of Pentecost, Jesus was offering national Israel this promised gift. It was part of the Kingdom:

“I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the LORD’ ” (Ezekiel 37:14).

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

On the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended, the promised gift, the indwelling, came upon the disciples. We call it the birthday of the church. It was, but Jesus was not done offering Israel its Kingdom.

It was a watershed moment for Israel.

For quite a while, maybe a decade, the Gospel was preached predominately to Jews. We interpret this as the Lord continuing to reach out to Israel.
God eventually sent Peter to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile convert to Judaism. A kind of second, ‘Gentile Pentecost’ occurred as God the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Later still the apostle Paul proclaimed that God was postponing His plan for Israel for an unspecified period of time, called ‘the fullness of the Gentiles,’ while the Gospel went out to the Gentile world.

Don’t too quickly criticize Israel. Anyone who hears the Gospel and refuses Jesus Christ is making the same choice the Jews did. They are rejecting citizenship in His Kingdom, and God the Holy Spirit.

God the Holy Spirit is a person. You “receive” Him as a Person, not as a power.

Let’s say there is a knock on your door. You open the door, no one is there, but someone has left a plate of delicious snickerdoodle cookies, because they know those are your favorite. The large, soft, more ‘cake’ kind, not the hard, crispy ones.

You thereby enjoy a gift from the person, but not the person himself.

When God the Holy Spirit comes into your life, it isn’t just to leave snickerdoodle’s on your doorstep. He comes in as a person with the gifts. He lives with you.

Put simply, if you are a believer, Believe you have received God the Holy Spirit in all His fullness; because you have.

#2 – Beware You Are Not Deceived (v40-53)

It was called the Birther Movement.

Its adherents asserted Barack Obama was ineligible to be President of the United States because he was not a natural-born citizen of the United States as required by Article Two of the Constitution.

His birth certificate ought to have solved the problem. It was alleged, however, that it was a forgery.

Jesus had no certified copy of His birth certificate. It wasn’t easy to prove where you were born and where you were from.
It relied largely on word-of-mouth. The rulers would spread misinformation about Jesus’ back story.

Joh 7:40  Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”

Moses predicted that a (capitol ‘P’) Prophet would come to Israel. Some thought he would be the Messiah.

I want to pause and point out that the people were futurists. They understood that Moses was predicting the coming of a person in the future.
This wasn’t an ideology, or an allegory. A real person, the “Prophet,” would come.

Non-futurists want to argue that, in the New Testament, antichrist is an ideology or an allegory – not a person who is coming. There is a so-called “spirit of antichrist,’ but there is the antichrist.

Joh 7:41  Others said, “This is the Christ…”

“Christ” is not a secondary name for Jesus; He would have been known as “Jesus Bar-Joseph,” meaning “Jesus, son of Joseph.”

“Christ” means Anointed One and is a title for the Messiah.

Joh 7:41  … But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee?
Joh 7:42  Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”
Joh 7:43  So there was a division among the people because of Him.

“Yes” to the Messiah being a descendent of David and being born in Bethlehem. Jesus can check those boxes. Why emphasize Galilee?

Jesus never lived in Bethlehem. He may have been there for as little as ten days up to a few years after being born. His family fled to Egypt when Herod started killing babies. Upon their return to Israel, His family settled in Nazareth of Galilee.

I was born in 1955 in Stamford, Connecticut. I lived in San Bernardino for 27yrs, from 1958 until 1985. I’ve lived in Hanford the last 37yrs. Where am I from?

Jesus could be considered to be “from” Galilee. That was the narrative spread by the rulers to discredit Him as the Christ.

Joh 7:44  Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

This is the bad kind of the laying on of hands.

In the earlier part of this chapter we saw that at least two groups in authority wanted to take Jesus into custody. Both were thwarted supernaturally. It was not God’s time for Him to be arrested.

Servants of God can be supernaturally protected so that no one so much as touches a hair on their head. They may be taken hold of. James, the brother of John, is arrested in the Book of Acts. Herod kills him with the sword. Seeing it pleased the Jews, Herod arrested Peter. God freed Peter from prison.

Seriously – Who would you rather be – James or Peter? Be you and face each day with the overflow of God the Holy Spirit.

Joh 7:45  Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?”
Joh 7:46  The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!”
Joh 7:47  Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived?
Joh 7:48  Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?

At CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Olivia Wilde was handed an envelope marked “Personal and Confidential” while she was on stage. It was given to her by a woman in the front row. She was served legal papers during her presentation.

“Officers” of the Temple Police made a decision in the field to not interrupt Jesus mid-talk. As they listened, they must have understood that the Lord was a higher authority than their rulers.

I would venture to say that every Christian will one day face a situation in which they must choose to obey God rather than earthly authorities. Don’t go out looking for a fight; it will come to you. Whether or not the authorities lay hands on you, God overrules for your good and His glory.

Did you see the drawing on social media of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace with a fourth Person, Jesus? It was a new take on, “May the Fourth Be With You.”

Joh 7:49  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

“This rabble,” it could read. The rulers held the people in contempt. They contended that the “crowd” was ignorant of “the law.”

Jesus held the people in compassion. Samuel Chadwick writes, “Compassion costs. It is easy enough to argue, criticize, and condemn, but redemption is costly, and comfort draws from the deep. Brains can argue, but it takes heart to comfort.”

Joh 7:50  Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them,
Joh 7:51  “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”

A lot is made of Nicodemus being cowardly, since he visited the Lord “by night.” Of course he visited by night. Both he and the Lord would have been busy all day.

It took courage to open his mouth to this group. The majority wanted to kill Jesus. Nicodemus could have convinced himself that saying something wouldn’t do any good. He rose above fear to rebuke his peers.

The apostle John’s mention of Nicodemus, whom Jesus told he must be born-again, re-emphasizes the theme of the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit.

Joh 7:52  They answered and said to him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and look, for no prophet has arisen out of Galilee.”

These guys were masters of biting sarcasm.

They ridiculed Nicodemus’ defense of Jesus by suggesting he was acting like an ignorant Galilean rooting for a local boy to become the Christ.

They portrayed themselves as grounded in the Scriptures. “Scripture Alone,” was their defense. Had they been relying on Scripture Alone, they would have received the Lord.

The book of Second Kings indicates that Jonah was from Gath-Hepher, a small border town in Galilee (14:25).

Were they ignorant? Doubtful. Jonah and the other prophets I earlier mentioned were well-known to even unlearned Israelites. This was disinformation. They were intentionally misleading.

I can see them dropping this line, then walking off. Think of a Press Secretary making a claim that turns out to be false, walking away without answering any follow-up.

Joh 7:53  And everyone went to his own house.

The Feast of Tabernacles ended. Everyone went home. How many realized they had been tabernacling with God? Most had been deceived by their leaders.

We can, and we must, believe Jesus – believe God Who cannot lie. Let’s answer a series of questions:

Has Jesus been glorified?

Has God the Holy Spirit been given by Jesus?

Do you believe in Jesus?

If you answered “Yes” to all three, you have received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “out of [your] heart will flow rivers of living water.” It is your birthright as a born-again believer.

There are many reasons why believers do not experience this refreshing flow:

God the Holy Spirit can be grieved (Acts 7:51).
He can be quenched (First Thessalonians 5:19).
He can be neglected as we attempt to be Christ-like in our own energy (Galatians 3:3).

John Calvin is quoted, “There is no worse screen to block out the Spirit than confidence in our own intelligence.”

An anonymous writer said, “How little chance the Holy Spirit has nowadays. The churches and missionary societies have so bound Him in red tape that they practically ask Him to sit in a corner while they do the work themselves.”

One thing is clear: If you have believed the Lord, you have received God the Holy Spirit as a river of living water.

If you are not experiencing a refreshing, empowering relationship with God the Holy Spirit, “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).

Believer, believe Him.

Returned To Sender, Address Unknown (John 7:25-36)

It’s hard to believe that Newsies opened on Broadway as a limited engagement.

The popular musical’s limited engagement became an extended run of more than one thousand performances.

A 2014 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar lasted only 116 performances. One critic thought it clever to title his review, It is Finished.

A musical about the Lord’s first coming might be titled, Thy Kingdom Come.

John the Baptist “came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3).

Jesus “began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

The “Kingdom” offered by John the Baptist and Jesus was the on-Earth, rule-from-Jerusalem, sitting on the historic throne of King David, kingdom.

People will beat swords into plowshares and shields into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4).

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).

You will send your toddlers outside and say, “Go play near the cobra’s den, honey” and “the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest” (Isaiah 11:8).

Many of the conditions predicted to be characteristic of the Kingdom were implemented by Jesus as He went around performing miracles. They were coming attractions. Surely, this was the time Thy Kingdom (would) Come.

But in this exchange Jesus made a startling announcement: He would soon return to Heaven (v33-34). What about the promised Kingdom of Heaven on Earth?

The Kingdom of Heaven was a ‘limited engagement’ because Jesus was rejected.

Jesus would go to the Cross, offering Himself as a sacrifice and taking our places in death so that we might live. He would rise, conquering sin, death, and Satan. But instead of afterward establishing the Kingdom, Jesus would temporarily return to Heaven.

Don’t worry; He’s coming back to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. God cannot fail to keep His unconditional promises to Israel.

The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth will have a one thousand year ‘extended run’.

We live in a glad-You-were-sent but wish-You-never-went age. After Jesus went, and before His Second Coming, is the Church Age. It is a mystery revealed in the New Testament.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Knowing Jesus Was Sent Encourages You About Grace, and #2 Knowing Jesus Went Alerts You To Urgency.

#1 – Knowing Jesus Was Sent Encourages You About Grace (v25-31)

Jesus Christ Superstar follows the predictable secular blasphemies:

Jesus is confused and unsure of Himself.
Mary Magdalene is unbiblically portrayed as a prostitute who wants Jesus to be her baby daddy.
Judas is the antihero who betrays Jesus out of love, to motivate Him to do the right thing.

There is plenty of drama in the biblical account. We are picking up the story with Jesus attending the annual Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.
Joh 7:25  Now some of them from Jerusalem said, “Is this not He whom they seek to kill?

Thousands of pilgrims were there. It was a time to recall God’s faithfulness to the generation of Israelites that wandered in the wilderness forty years.

At this holy feast, with Messianic hopes high, it was openly known that certain groups wanted Jesus dead.

You bump into a friend at the store. You ask them what is going on at the church they attend. “Same-o, same-o,” they answer. “We started a new discipleship study, and we’re making progress trying to murder our pastor.”

Religion is dead, and it spreads death. One of the first things you hear when you get saved is “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.” True, and since it is true, folks ought to be able to see the difference between a walk with God and doing works for God. We were captives but have been freed. We were dead but made alive. We were debtors whose debts have been paid in full.
The one thing we do, that is not a work, is believe.

Joh 7:26  But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?
Joh 7:27  However, we know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.”

“Christ” means anointed one. It is a title for the promised Messiah.

The local Jerusalem guys did not think for a minute that Jesus was truly the Christ. They were mocking their rulers.

Undermining God-ordained, godly leadership, is evidence that grace is not at work. Yes, there are abusive pastors and elders who oversee churches by what the Bible calls “lording over” believers (First Peter 5:3). I don’t think it is as common as the multitude of anti-Church bloggers would have you believe. Abusive churches aside, God does establish government in the local church.

Their teaching in Jerusalem was, “When the Christ [the Messiah] comes, no one knows where He is from.” Scholars argue that this comes from emphasizing a few obscure prophesies about the Messiah. It made them feel superior. To quote Captain Kirk quoting Khan, they believed theirs was “the superior intellect.”

They were not just proud, they were wrong. Thirty years earlier King Herod called upon Jews to tell him where the Messiah would be born. They promptly responded, “in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matthew 2:5).

Joh 7:28  Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.

On the one hand, they “knew him and knew where he was from.” He was Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son.
On the other hand, He was sent by God the Father from Heaven to Earth.

We immediately understand what Jesus was claiming.
He was, at once, a man from Nazareth AND God from Heaven. He was God in human flesh. We like to call Him the God-man.

Jesus boldly stated that these Jews “[did] not know” God the Father. They weren’t saved Jews sincerely waiting for their Messiah.

There were God-fearing Jews. Simeon was an old man who hung around the Temple because God had told him he would see Israel’s Messiah before his death. When young Jesus was brought to the Temple to be dedicated according to the Law of Moses, Simeon said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel” Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon’s words ought to have been internalized by every Jew. He was speaking as the nation could and should have spoken.

For all their ‘superior’ knowledge of the Messiah, the Jerusalemites did not know Him at all.
They could not recognize God tabernacling with them when He was right in front of them.

Don’t lose Jesus while you are looking for Jesus.

Things that are good when overemphasized can cause you to lose Jesus while you are looking for Him. Here are two common examples:

You can never read or study the Bible too much. But what you can do that might distract you is bind yourself to a particular systematic theology. There can never be one system of biblical interpretation that is always correct, simply because they are man-made. It doesn’t stop Christians from becoming so engrossed in their systematic theology that they think themselves superior. They once shared Christ with nonbelievers, but instead share their theology with believers.
Preferring and promoting certain manifestations of God the Holy Spirit is another potential for losing the Lord. The focus shifts from Jesus and on to the worshipper’s behavior.

Joh 7:29  But I know Him, for I am from Him, and He sent Me.”

God promised our parents that He would come to conquer sin, Satan, and death. Centuries passed. God progressively provided more and more detail about His coming among us, and about His mission.

Joh 7:30  Therefore they sought to take Him; but no one laid a hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come.

Jesus must die on the Cross. God the Father would see to it, by what we term providence, that Jesus be protected until He could say, “Mission accomplished.”

President George W. Bush ignited a controversy when he declared. “Mission accomplished.” The President was criticized because the war in Iraq continued for several years thereafter.

Jesus’ mission was accomplished, but spiritual warfare obviously continues. He is criticized.

Jesus’ words from the Cross were, “It is finished.” It was; it is. Sin, Satan, Death are defeated.

Why the wait? God is not willing anyone perish. He is being longsuffering, giving all men everywhere and anywhere the opportunity to be born-again, to be saved and avoid the wrath that is coming.

Joh 7:31  And many of the people believed in Him, and said, “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?”

They saw the signs and believed. A sign communicates more clearly than words, especially if you are dealing with a language unknown to you. Jesus’ miracles were signs God put up to communicate one thing: That He was their promised Messiah. They were unmistakeable, irrefutable, incontrovertible, incontestable, undeniable, unassailable, unquestionable, indisputable.

Unequivocable, unimpeachable, indubitable.

So much so that when Jesus was asked by disciples of John the Baptist if He were the Messiah, instead of saying “Yes,” the Lord said, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Luke 7:22).

Jesus was “sent.” It is a word worthy of our deepest contemplation. It is a word that puts grace into action. J.I. Packer said, “Grace means God sending His only Son to the Cross to descend into [Hades] so that we guilty ones might be reconciled to God and received into Heaven.

Blaise Pascal said, “The Incarnation reveals to man the enormity of his misery through the greatness of the remedy it requires.”

No one asked for God to send. He determined to do it, knowing that adding humanity to His deity, then dying in our place, was the only possible way mankind could be saved.

No one deserved for God to be sent. We don’t merit it, or earn it, or work for it in any way. It is completely independent of us, something God does in spite of us.

It’s one thing to send for help.
It’s another for help to be sent without anyone asking.
It’s yet another when you send help that is unwanted and rejected. “Send Me,” said Jesus, knowing His own would despise and reject Him.

Our God sends. Be ready and able to say to Him, “here I am Lord, send me.”

#2 – Knowing Jesus Went Alerts You To Urgency (v32-36)

gotquestions.org is a site dedicated to answering your Bible questions. According to the counter on their website they have answered nearly 750,000 questions.

Ask them, “Why do most Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah?, and this is part of their answer:

The Jews rejected Jesus because He failed to do what they expected their Messiah to do – establish a kingdom with Israel as the preeminent nation in the world. The Jews believed that the Messiah, the prophet which Moses spoke about, would come and deliver them from Roman bondage and set up a kingdom where they would be the rulers. The people of Jerusalem shouted praises to God for the mighty works they had seen Jesus do and called out, “Hosanna, save us,” when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. They treated Him like a conquering king. Then, when He allowed Himself to be arrested, tried, and crucified on a cursed cross, the people stopped believing that He was the promised prophet. They rejected their Messiah.

Our text shifts from Jesus being sent to Him went. (That is proper English in Riverdale).

Joh 7:32  The Pharisees heard the crowd murmuring these things concerning Him, and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take Him.

The authorities listed “heard… murmuring” that some were believing in Jesus. They used their authority to issue an arrest warrant. The Temple had its own limited power police force. Officers were dispatched to hook-up Jesus.

We won’t see what happens until a future study. They don’t arrest the Lord, stating to their superiors, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (7:46).

Joh 7:33  Then Jesus said to them, “I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me.

DC Talk sang, Time is tickin’ away, Tic Tock tickin’ away. It captures a sense of urgency. In the case of first century Israel, opportunity to accept the Lord was ticking down.

Graciously, their opportunity would continue after Jesus went. It isn’t until some years later that God announced to Israel through the apostle Paul, “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” (Acts 28:28).

Paul would explain in his letter to the churches in Rome that,, “blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (11:25). And then he rejoices saying, “ and all Israel will be saved” (11:26).

Joh 7:34  You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come.”

Adam Clarke writes, “When the Roman armies come against you, you will vainly seek for a deliverer. But you shall be cut off in your sins, because you did not believe in Me.”

Albert Barnes writes, “[Their Messiah] would be in Heaven; and though they would earnestly desire His presence and aid to save the city and nation from the Romans, yet they would not be able to obtain it.”

Joh 7:35  Then the Jews said among themselves, “Where does He intend to go that we shall not find Him? Does He intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks?

Their comments were derogatory. They insinuated that even if He went out to less learned, more liberal Jews, and even idolatrous Gentiles, Jesus would not be received.

They did not realize it, but their comments were prophetic:

The “Dispersion” were Jews living outside the Holy Land.

“Greeks” means Gentiles, all non-Jews.

Jesus would “Go!” to these by commissioning His disciples after Him to Go into the whole world making disciples.

Joh 7:36  What is this thing that He said, ‘You will seek Me and not find Me, and where I am you cannot come?’ ”

Pinky and the Brain. One is a genius; the other’s insane. They’re laboratory mice whose genes have been spliced.

Every episode the Brain asks Pinky some iteration of the question, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Pinky always answers along these lines:

“Uh… yeah, Brain, but where are we going to find rubber pants our size?”
“I think so, Brain, but we’ll never get a monkey to use dental floss.”
“I think so, Brain, but if they called them ‘Sad Meals’ kids wouldn’t buy them!”

Answering their question with the same question is a Pinky-like response.

Thy Kingdom Come the musical would feature a rendition of the classic song, Jerusalem, by Gentle Faith.

Jerusalem, Oh Jerusalem
 Why won’t you believe in Him?
Don’t you know can’t you see
 Your King is this Man from Galilee?
Israel, Oh Israel
 Whose Messiah can’t you tell?
Don’t you know, can’t you see
 Your King is this Man from Galilee?

The lyrics are suggested by something Jesus said, recorded by Matthew in his Gospel. We call it His Lament Over Jerusalem:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “BLESSED is HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!” (23:37-39).

Jesus went, and He is poised to return ever since. There is always a sense of urgency. It might be today.

One of the last things Jesus promised us in His Word was, “I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12).

J.C. Ryle writes, “Let us remember, there is One who daily records all we do for Him, and sees more beauty in His servants’ work than His servants do themselves… And then shall His faithful witnesses discover, to their wonder and surprise, that there never was a word spoken on their Master’s behalf, which does not receive a reward.”

The extended run of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth will give way to the eternal run of new heavens and a new Earth.

Believe Jesus and God and you will be saved.

He Ain’t Heavenly, He’s Our Brother (John 7:1-24)

All I really need to know I learned on Saturday mornings watching The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

• I learned history from Mr. Peabody.
• I was exposed to the Classics from Fractured Fairy Tales.
• Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties provided a moral compass and taught me that ‘character counts.’
• Critical thinking was the purview of Aesop’s Fables.

I later learned that Aesop was a sixth-century Greek storyteller. His fables would illustrate a wise saying. For example, the following is attributed to him:

“Beware that you do not lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.”

We have no way of knowing if Aesop plagiarized the apostle Paul’s first-century letter to the church in Colossae. Paul wrote, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (2:16-17).

Shadow and substance are illustrated during the only recorded conversation between Jesus and His brothers.

The brothers were rushing out the door to attend the annual Feast of Tabernacles. They would join the other pilgrims and erect makeshift shelters, camping outdoors for a week, to remember the Exodus from Egypt and the subsequent forty years in the desert.

God was among them in the wilderness in His own ‘tent.’ His glory was in the Ark of the Covenant housed in the portable tent sanctuary called the Tabernacle.

God tabernacled with Israel.

In the opening chapter of the Gospel of John we were told, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14).

“Dwelt among us” can be translated tabernacled among us.

The brothers of Jesus, and the nation of Israel, were intent on observing a feast commemorating God tabernacling with them when all the while God was tabernacling with them in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The Feast of Tabernacles, and the six additional feasts, were shadows prefiguring the substance, Jesus.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 The Shadows Diminish Jesus, or #2 Jesus Dispels The Shadows.

#1 – The Shadows Diminish Jesus (v1-10)

At the end of the Michael Mann crime story, Heat, cop Al Pacino is chasing crook Robert Di Nero in a gun battle in a field at night between runways at LAX. Di Nero positions himself behind a barrier so he can surprise Pacino and shoot him. The runway lights come on causing Di Nero to cast a shadow, alerting Pacino, who shoots him dead.

He didn’t shoot the shadow. The shadow revealed the substance. We don’t want to mistake shadows for substance in our relationship with Jesus.

Joh 7:1  After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.

Jesus was no coward, but followed His Father’s schedule. It was too soon for Him to be killed, so He remained in Galilee.

He used the time to travel around ministering to folks. His calling was the Cross, but it did not keep Him from serving all along the way to Calvary.

Stay busy serving the Lord. Or get busy. Exhaust yourself. Serve with everything you’ve got. “I am coming quickly,” He promised us in the Revelation.

Joh 7:2  Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.

The Feast of Tabernacles is also called sukkoth, the Hebrew word for “booths” or “tents.” It coincided with the harvest and was intended to be a joyful seven days of National Night’s Out.

Joh 7:3  His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.
Joh 7:4  For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”

Jesus had brothers and sisters (Mark 6:3):

His younger brothers were James, Joses (or Joseph), Judas and Simon.
He had sisters who are unnamed.

His brothers sounded like political pundits or admen with their advice. They told Jesus He needed better promotion. Maybe a manager.

The world has its methods and will always try to impose them upon the church. We must exercise discernment and not fall into the trap of thinking that a spiritual end justifies worldly means.

Joh 7:5  For even His brothers did not believe in Him.

Jesus had been living with them over thirty years.

They did not believe He was God in human flesh, tabernacling among them. It is part of what makes this exchange an intriguing substance/shadow issue.

We are not given much detail about Jesus’ life before He begins His ministry, but I think it is safe to assume that He was unique. He was, after all, without sin. Think about how being sinless might have impacted their family life:

Did His brothers ever get frustrated and say to Jesus, “You think you’re SOO perfect, don’t You?”
Did they try to get Jesus to do something wrong?
Did they blame Him for things He did not do?

Come on. You know how siblings can be.

Joh 7:6  Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready.
Joh 7:7  The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.

His brothers could come and go as they please, attend the Feast or not. They were not rocking the proverbial boat. Jesus was following a prescribed course that brought Him into conflict with the world.

The “works” of the “world” are “evil.”

We are being nuked in a campaign to obliterate biblical marriage, which includes (among other things) God’s roles for men and women; God’s gift of sexuality; and His plan for the home to be the building block of a righteous society.

The apostle Paul says Satan causes spiritual blindness. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (Second Corinthians 4:4).

Satan blinds, then binds, in the sense that he influences nonbelievers to do his will. A kind of spiritual Stockholm Syndrome sets in.

No earthly argument, no human wisdom, not even common sense, can open blinded eyes and set free bound captives. What’s our response?

Satan’s tactics tell us that what he fears most is the preaching of the Gospel.

Spiritual problem; spiritual solution. God opens blind eyes and sets captives free. Let’s keep Him the main thing.

Joh 7:8  You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”
Joh 7:9  When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee.

Jesus refers to “this Feast.” It sounds like He was referring to at least two feasts. One commentator offers this insightful analysis: “What makes this statement remarkable is that the implied other feast is the same feast, the Feast of Tabernacles. The contrast Jesus makes suggests that there is a distinction between the annual Feast of Tabernacles and the true tabernacle – Jesus Himself.”

Joh 7:10  But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.

Jesus did not deceive His brothers. He wasn’t trying to ditch them.

D.A. Carson explains, “He is not going to the Feast when they say He should. The “counsel of the wicked” could not be permitted to set His agenda.”

Sabbatarians are the easy example of diminishing Jesus by living in the shadows. They ‘observe’ the Sabbath on Saturday in conformity with the letter of the fourth commandment. Jesus is our sabbath rest, everyday.

If you go back to the shadow, you end up becoming a Pharisee.

Peter Pan’s is the most famous shadow of all. It seems to have a life of its own, and it is mischievous.

As long as we remain in our current unredeemed bodies, we will be drawn to the shadows.

Watch out for mischievous shadows. The apostle Paul names some of them, saying, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ… Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels” (Colossians 2:8 & 16-18).

It has become popular in the last few years for believers to return to what is called a higher church experience.
Robes and rituals from medieval times seem more spiritual when in reality they are distancing us from Jesus, diminishing Him. Be careful.

#2 – Jesus Dispels The Shadows (v11-24)

We have been saying that Jesus is the substance. If it makes it any easier to understand, we can say that Jesus is the fulfillment of all things that prefigured Him, e.g., the Feasts, foods, holy days, etc. He therefore dispels anything that He has fulfilled. We are not to continue in them, or return to them as if they would make us more spiritual.

Joh 7:11  Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?”

“The Jews” is the term the apostle John uses for the religious authorities. They put out a BOLO for Jesus, pressuring the worshippers to be their CI’s.

Joh 7:12  And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.”

“You are without doubt the worst pirate I’ve ever heard of,” said Norrington. Captain Jack Sparrow replied, “But you have heard of me.”

The name of Jesus was on everyone’s lips. Whether for good or for ill, they were judging Him.

If by judging him we mean evaluating His works, that’s great. Jesus was going about proving He was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

Why did the Jews fail to see Him for who He was? For one, they were evaluating Him by their first century politics. The ‘Jesus’ they were looking for was a military man who would deliver Israel from Rome. They wanted to Make Israel Great Again.

Is my Jesus the One I read about in the Bible? Or am I interpreting Him through some strong bias?

Joh 7:13  However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

Gestapo tactics have no place in the church. Maneuverings and manipulations, guilting and goading, are not Christ-like. Don’t succumb to them.

Joh 7:14  Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.
Joh 7:15  And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?”

The Jews would later likewise marvel at the teaching of the apostles. Today we’d say, “The apostles never went to seminary.”

God gifts His followers as He sees fit. He will often gift you in harmony with your natural abilities, but natural abilities must never be confused with an anointing from God the Holy Spirit. In fact, natural abilities can distract from the Lord.

Joh 7:16  Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.

“Doctrine” is another word for teaching. Jesus’ teaching came directly from God the Father. It was not His rabbinical opinion or interpretation.

Teach verse-by-verse through the inspired Word of God and you can (with humility) say, “My doctrine is not mine, it came from the Father.”

Joh 7:17  If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.
Joh 7:18  He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.

Is someone promoting himself in the ministry? Is someone behaving unrighteously? It isn’t ministry. It is dangerous.

Don’t be overly critical, or overly skeptical. Be discerning and check things out.

The prerequisite for recognizing and receiving the Word of God is that you “will” to “do His will.” Simply put, you have predetermined to be a doer of God’s Word before you hear it. No matter what it says, you will obey it once you hear it.

Dr. Michael Svigel writes, “Obedience is the effect of sanctifying grace, not the cause of it.”

If you are willing to do God’s will, you can do it. His will is presented in His Word, and obedience enabled by God the Holy Spirit.

Nike’s Just Do It ad slogan has been wildly successful. Ours could be, I Read It & Just Do It.

Joh 7:19  Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?”

Jesus will explain what He meant by “none of you keeps the Law” beginning in verse twenty-one. Before He does, He wants to talk about the elephant in the Temple. The authorities wanted Him dead.

Joh 7:20  The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?”

Is it woke to say to someone, “You have a demon,” if it’s true? We can’t say “crazy,” or “insane” anymore.

Joh 7:21  Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel.

We deduce from verse twenty three that the “one work” was the healing of the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath.

These Jewish authorities never missed the opportunity to criticize. They would have loved blogging. Have you noticed how critical everyone is on the Internet? It seems to empower the worst in us.

Joh 7:22  Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
Joh 7:23  If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?

Certain laws overrule others. Jesus offered the command for circumcision as the prime example. The child must be circumcised on the eighth day of life. When the eighth day fell on a Sabbath, the command to circumcise took priority.

It was the Jews who were not “keeping the law” by refusing to do good on the Sabbath.

Joh 7:24  Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Jesus only appeared to be violating the Sabbath. In fact, He was keeping it as it was intended, making people whole.

We are told in the New Testament that Jesus comes “in the volume of the book” (Hebrews 10:7). One of the things that means is that He has dispelled all the shadows of the Old Testament.

One of the problems that the writer of Hebrews was dealing with was Jews returning to Judaism in order to alleviate persecution. Living in the shadows was not the solution. They must embrace the substance and receive the empowering of grace sufficient to endure.

Shadows are a danger to us all. The apostle Paul describes the tendency among believers, all of whom begin in the Spirit, to attempt to live the Christian life in the energy of their flesh.

We retreat to the shadows of legalism or traditions or intellectualism or programs or methods. We trust in material resources rather than spiritual.
We must become convinced that we are complete in Jesus, having all we need for life and godly living. It is our uncertainty about this that makes the shadows so appealing.

Listen to these trustworthy saints:

A.W. Tozer writes, “The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.”

Oswald Chambers writes, “When it is a question of God’s almighty Spirit, never say, ‘I can’t.’ ”

The almighty Spirit; the Spirit-filled life. You have the first, therefore you can live the second.

God’s Almighty Spirit tabernacles in each believer. He tabernacles in our church.
If you are saved, He is in you. He is among us right now, saved or not.

How would your life look if you were walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, with what Christians like to call victory? To paraphrase Aerosmith, “Walk that Way.”

Keep Your Disciples Close, And The Devil Closer (John 6:60-71)

More than 200,000 people volunteered for what some call a ‘suicide mission.’

“We will send humans to Mars in 2023,” Mars One founder Bas Lansdorp told Fox News in 2015.

Ten volunteers would have a one-way ticket to the Red Planet.
Space flight experts said Mars One had no chance of succeeding. It didn’t.

No worries. SpaceX boss Elon Musk has vowed to establish a permanent Mars colony by 2050. He ominously added, “a bunch of people will probably die at the beginning.” It’s amazing what some people are willing to die for.

The Jews in our verses were not willing to die for Jesus.

Jesus told a crowded synagogue, “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world” (v51). That last phrase, about giving His flesh, described a sacrificial death.

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (v66).

These disciples ‘counted the cost’ of following Jesus:

Jesus did not seem to be in any hurry to be their King and establish the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
He was talking about dying. It was Passover, the annual celebration of the Exodus from Egypt. Thousands of lambs would be offered in the Temple. John the Baptist had called Jesus, “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. It wasn’t hard to put two and two together.

Death was too great a cost for the majority.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 When You ‘Count The Cost’ Of Being A Disciple, Consider What You Receive, #2 When You ‘Count The Cost’ Of Being A Disciple, Consider Who You Reveal.

#1 – When You ‘Count The Cost’ Of Being A Disciple, Consider What You Receive (v60-66)

It is trendy to call believers “Christ followers.” I prefer Christian. We might want to start using the name “disciple” more frequently.

The word was loaded with meaning in Jewish culture and custom. Listen to this description:

The best students continued their study in Beth Midrash (secondary school) taught by a rabbi of the community. A very few of the most outstanding Beth Midrash students sought permission to study with a famous rabbi, often leaving home to travel with him for a lengthy period of time. These students were called talmidim in Hebrew, which is translated disciple. There is much more to a talmid than what we call student. A talmid wants to be like the teacher, to become what the teacher is. That meant that students were passionately devoted to their rabbi and noted everything he did or said. The rabbi-talmid relationship was a very intense and personal system of education. As the rabbi lived and taught his understanding of the Scripture his student talmidim listened and watched and imitated so as to become like him.

We are to be talmidim in our thinking.

Joh 6:61  When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?

“Knew in Himself” doesn’t necessarily indicate divine knowledge or a word of knowledge. They had already been complaining earlier in the chapter.

You always have a choice: You can complain, or you can be content in the Lord. If you are not expressing contentment, you’re complaining, and it is sin. We are to “[learn] in whatever state… to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

“Offend” is also translated “stumbling block.”

In Galatians 5:11, the apostle Paul writes, “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.
Paul and the apostle Peter quote from the Old Testament, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE, A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE.”

The “offense of the Cross” is not just the fact that Jesus died on the Cross, but that it convicts human beings as guilty sinners.

The Jews believed they were saved by their self-righteous works according to the Law of Moses. They were therefore offended at the suggestion they were yet in their sins. The thought that their Messiah must die as a sacrifice for their sins stumbled them.

The Cross is an offense because it says to every human being, Jew and Gentile, that you are a sinner in need of a Savior to die as your substitute.

Of all the insults we could level against people, “sinner” is the worst. It describes them as depraved individuals who deserve Hell. You are saying something like, “Do you see Jesus on the Cross? That should be you, beaten, blooded, naked, dying a slow, shameful, agonizing death.”

Joh 6:62  What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before?

Jesus spoke of dying and now ascending into Heaven. He would need to be resurrected.

This is all information readily available to us in the New Testament. It would be mind-boggling for a first century Jew.

Joh 6:63  It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

Think back to when Jesus met with Nicodemus. The Lord said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (3:6). He informed Nicodemus that he must be born again, born spiritually. Same here, only stated differently.

John has a habit of saying the same thing in many different ways. God wants us to “get it” when it comes to spiritual things.

President Ronald Reagan was known as the Great Communicator. Our God is the Greatest Communicator. “At various times and in various ways [He] spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, [and] has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). S.D. Gordon writes, “Jesus was God spelling Himself out in language humanity could understand.”
When you get saved, God the Holy Spirit immerses you into the greater body of Christ, and He comes to live in you. You are so transformed by His presence that you can be described as a new creation. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (Second Corinthians 5:17).

Joh 6:64  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 would betray Him.

“From the beginning” is too much like “In the beginning” to be coincidence. Jesus is God, and He was with the Father and the Spirit forever, with perfect knowledge of the future. He obviously knew “who would betray Him.” More about that in a minute.

We cannot understand the relationship (for lack of a better word) between Jesus’ deity and humanity. Jesus was fully God and fully human. He did not cease to be God while being human. He rose from the dead in a glorified human body and remains the God-man for eternity.

We do know, from His own lips, that while He was on Earth He was 100% subordinate, by choice, to the Father’s will. He did only what His Father told Him to do, and said only what His Father told Him to say. He did it without using His deity but by yielding Himself to the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was the Father’s talmid, the penultimate disciple.

Joh 6:65  And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

“I have said to you” means He was saying the same thing He had earlier when He said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (v44). If this were all the information we had, we might conclude that Jesus died for a select few people. Let me take this opportunity to mention something scholars call “proof texting.” Proof texting uses a verse or verses to prove or justify a theological position without regard for the context of the passage or other verses that clarify.

Jesus will go on to clarify, in chapter twelve, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (12:32-33). Jesus’ death on the Cross draws all men in that whosoever will believe can be saved. Not all who are drawn will be saved – only those who believe.

I came across this quote that you may find comforting: “God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, “O Lord, Thou knowest.” Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.”

Joh 6:66  From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

They identified as disciples until it became clear that Jesus was seeking talmidim. For them, sadly, “the things of Earth grew strangely desirable instead of His glory and grace.”

Counting the cost can focus too much on the potential sacrifices a disciple might have to endure. What about what you will receive?

Here is a quick list of what members of the body of Jesus, the Church, receive:

Eternal life… the permanent forgiveness of past, present, and future sins, including the removal of guilt… the indwelling Holy Spirit enabling us to obey God… gifts of the Holy Spirit… a life of discovering God’s good works… the commission to share the Gospel that can change a person forever… the fellowship of the saints… the promise of being part of the First Resurrection… a glorified human body with no tendencies of sinful flesh… free-will that is like God’s and incapable of disobedience… a place of responsibility in the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth… judging angels… eternal rewards that are secure… mansions in the city, New Jerusalem… reunion with believing loved ones… everlasting life… no more tears… permanent fellowship with the God-head, etc., etc.

Doesn’t it seem silly to use the phrase, “Count the cost?” Charles Spurgeon writes,

Brothers and sisters… See the happiness which is promised to us! Behold the Heaven which awaits us! Forget for awhile your present cares: let all your difficulties and your sorrows vanish for a time; and live for awhile in the future which is so guaranteed by faithful promises that you may rejoice in it even now! The veil which parts us from our great reward is very thin: hope gazes through its gauzy fabric. Faith, with eagle eyes, penetrates the mist which hides eternal delights from longing eyes. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him; but he has revealed them to us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God”; and we, in the power of that Spirit, have known, believed, and anticipated the bliss which every hour is bringing nearer to us.

#2 – When You ‘Count The Cost’ Of Being A Disciple, Consider Who You Reveal (v67-71)

There’s something fun about people doing impressions of others. Pam and I were able to see Rich Little perform. It was entertainment at its best.
The apostle Paul shared his understanding of being a disciple when he said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (First Corinthians 11:1).

Disciples are privileged to reveal the Savior to sinners as we imitate Jesus.

Joh 6:67  Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

The desertion was so substantial that perhaps only the twelve remained. The title “the twelve” is a unique identifier for the twelve apostles of Jesus. It becomes important in the opening chapters of the Book of Acts.

Everything Jesus did, He did for others. He was the servant of all, not to be served but to serve. His question was for the benefit of the twelve.

Joh 6:68  But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

How much time did you spend going somewhere else looking for peace and joy?

What were the things you pursued hoping to fill the emptiness in your heart?

I would like to address any person here who is not a believer. God has placed what he calls eternity in your heart. He alone can satisfy you, both now and forever. Seeking satisfaction from any other source is like putting diesel fuel in a gasoline engine. You don’t get far before you sputter and fail. You were meant for God.

Alan Redpath writes, “So often multitudes of people gather around some broken cistern of this world, trying to satisfy their thirst for they know not what. They grumble about their troubles and complain about their lot, but how few of them run to the One who said, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ ”

Joh 6:69  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Previously in the Gospel of John the twelve indicated their belief Jesus was “the Christ,” meaning the promised Messiah. A better translation of “Son of the living God” is “the Holy One of God.” Jesus spoke of sacrificing Himself. His sacrifice would only be accepted if He was “holy,” without sin, spotless. He had to be man, but more than man. He must be the God-man.

Those who quit following Jesus had ulterior motives, e.g., free food, healings, and the overthrow of Roman domination. A.W. Tozer writes,

Millions call themselves by His name, it is true, and pay some token homage to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choice he makes day after day throughout his life.

The twelve were learning that Jesus is not a means to an end, but the end Himself.

Joh 6:70  Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?”
Joh 6:71  He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.

Just when things were getting good Jesus drops this bomb. It should read, “one of you is the devil.” D. A. Carson writes, “The supreme adversary of God so operates behind failing human beings that his malice becomes theirs. Jesus can discern the source, and labels it appropriately.”

Yesterday Jesus was followed by a multitude of folks who identified as disciples. After delivering one sermon, there were twelve left. Of the twelve, one would turn out to be “the devil.”

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” Do you really want “the devil” on your team? Is that a choice you would make?

I always like to point out the apparent foolishness of God’s plan of salvation. You might call them fragile.

Have you thought about what it would be like for Jesus to have this knowledge? Think of it this way: If you were the leader of a ministry, with twelve assistants, and you knew one of them was going to betray you, could you treat that person the same as all the others? By “betray” we mean betray you to be murdered.

The best in you might want to take him aside and try to avoid betrayal.
The worst in you would justify almost any negative, extreme action you can think of to eliminate the threat.

Reading the Gospels, it doesn’t seem as though the eleven had any indication it was Judas. Jesus didn’t wink, or make gestures towards him. He didn’t say anything like, “One of you will betray me, and his initials are J Udas.”

He didn’t tell the inner circle of Peter, James and John to watch His six. He never sent Judas on a mission that might get him killed or arrested.

John tells of Judas’ betrayal early in the story, and in the context of being a disciple.

One obvious lesson is that not everyone who professes Jesus possesses Jesus. We see that throughout this chapter.

Take another look. Jesus, having set aside the voluntary use of His deity, was the Father’s talmid. He was enabled by God the Holy Spirit to treat Judas the way the Father wanted Him to. He was supplied with sufficient grace. He was able to love Judas.

Are there ‘problem people’ in your life? Jesus can relate. Can you and I treat our Judas’ the way Jesus did? We can’t, but He can through us as we yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Earlier we quoted the apostle Paul, “Imitate me just as I imitate Christ.” Our word “mimic” derives from it. A mimic is a person who copies someone else in behavior and speech, really in every way.

I Love Lucy and Harpo Marx performed what is called the Mirror Routine. Lucy was dressed like the famous Marx Brother.

There was no mirror between them. Lucy matched Harpo’s movements exactly. It goes on for about three hilarious minutes.

Our Mirror Routine is described this way: “But we all… beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (Second Corinthians 3:18).

We are told by James in his epistle that the mirror is the word of God. Read the word in a way to discover Jesus, to see Him reflected in it, revealing to you the nature of God so that you might reveal it to others.

D.L. Moody writes, “A rule I have had for years is: To treat the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal friend. His is not a creed, a mere doctrine, but it is He Himself we have.”

You Are Who You Eat (John 6:41-59)

Against my better judgment, I submitted my 23and Me DNA swab to learn more about my ancestry. I found out that a distant relative of mine in Sicily was a cannibal who ate five people.

It was a lot to digest.

It was no laughing matter the early Christians were accused of cannibalism. Haters took Jesus and His disciples literally when they heard the teaching, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (v53).

Jesus was not advocating cannibalism He was speaking metaphorically.

Jesus came as God in human flesh to offer Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world. We partake of His flesh by believing.

Believing is how you eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Jesus Came As God In Human Flesh To Be Your Suitable Sacrifice, and #2 Jesus Came As God In Human Flesh To Be Your Spiritual Sustainer.

#1 – Jesus Came As God In Human Flesh To Be Your Suitable Sacrifice (v41-51)

Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue expounded his dream to Forrest saying, “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea.”

“You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. There’s shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.”

Hopefully the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt had their own Bubba who could suggest recipes. “The children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan” (Exodus 16:35).

Christian singer/songwriter Keith Green suggested “manna waffles, manna burgers, manna bagels, fillet of manna, manna patty, and everyone’s favorite, bamanna bread.

Jesus had miraculously fed a multitude numbering upwards of ten thousand (including women and children). He walked on the waves, coming to the aid of the twelve who were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee.

It was the next day and some from the multitude He had fed boarded boats to find Jesus in Capernaum. We are picking up in the middle of a dialog about the bread of life that took place as Jesus taught in the synagogue (v59).

Joh 6:41  The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from Heaven.”
Joh 6:42  And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from Heaven’?”

Mr. Incredible thinks a superhero’s identity is the most valuable thing. People are always skeptical when they discover their neighbor or coworker is from Krypton, not Smallville. Jesus had relocated from Nazareth to Capernaum. His neighbors thought they knew Him. They were shocked to hear Him claim He came from Heaven.

Joh 6:43  Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves.”

Murmuring, grumbling, complaining. These indicate a lack of contentment with the Lord. We think it’s our spouse, or our kids, or our fellow workers, and that since they are so lame, it’s OK to murmur, grumble, and complain. It is, in fact, sin.

To quote Tom Hanks, “Are you murmuring? There’s no murmuring in Christianity.”

The apostle Paul wrote, “Do all things without murmurings… Learn… to be content” (Philippians 2:14KJV & 4:11).

“But Pastor Gene, what about the way I’m being treated?” G. Campbell Morgan writes, “If you have no opposition in the place you serve, you’re serving in the wrong place.”

It’s not uncommon for a person to have a heart murmur. It can be an indicator of underlying heart disease. It is always an indicator of spiritual heart disease.

Joh 6:44  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

As far as I can tell, all Christians agree that “no one can come to” God unless they are “drawn.” God must take the initiative in our salvation and do the work.

The question that remains is, “Who does God draw?” We answer by quoting Jesus: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:32-33).

There are theologies that limit the word “all” by saying it is only those predestined to be saved, or only some from all of the world’s people groups. Strong’s Concordance says this word “all” means every, whosoever.

If your theology limits God, maybe it’s time to reevaluate it.

There is no single system of theology that is the correct one. Major Ian W. Thomas writes, “To so many people, the Lord is in danger of being no more than a patron saint of their systematic theology instead of the Christ Who is our life.”

If you are going to adopt a systematic theology, why not adopt one that is an inclusive, “whosoever will” theology, rather than one that condemns the vast majority of human beings to eternal conscious punishment?

“All” are drawn by the influence of Jesus’ death on the Cross. However, you shouldn’t think of being drawn as an irresistible force compelling you against your will.

Dr. Charles Xavier has vast mental powers and can compel others to do his will. God doesn’t draw you by invading your mind and compelling you. It is possible to resist the grace of God. Stephen, moments from martyrdom, told the Jews, “you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you“ (Acts 7:51).

All are drawn, but it does not follow that all will be saved. Those drawn who believe are secure in the Lord with His promise, “I will lift him up [resurrect him] at the last day.”

Joh 6:45  It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT BY GOD.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

Jesus quoted Isaiah from a passage addressing Jews in the future Kingdom of God on Earth. Knowledge of the Lord will be everywhere. There won’t be any resistance to posting the Ten Commandments, or to school prayer. Most of the topics that we discuss ad nauseam, e.g. politics, will be replaced by discussions about the Lord. There will be one political party, the Jesus Party, and no elections. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord.

When the Jews rejected the offer of the Kingdom, it was put on hold. The mystery of the church was revealed. We live in the gap until Jesus comes to resurrect and rapture us.

Joh 6:46  Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father.

Daniel LaRusso got beat-up by the Cobra Kai and told his mom, “I gotta take karate. Not at the Y… a good school.” Mister Myagi stepped in. Daniel could not have asked for a better teacher.

We want to learn from the best. Often there is a long wait list to be taught by the best, or it is simply too expensive. We end up at the Y.

You can only learn about God the Father from one Person, Jesus, who has “seen the Father”

There is no wait list, and He has paid your price. All you do is “come.”

Joh 6:47  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

Could it be any plainer? Believe and you have everlasting life. Jesus didn’t say, “Believe AND eat My flesh and drink My blood.” He didn’t say it because believing is eating.

Beware of those who add anything to believing. Typically we cite baptism as something certain groups believe necessary for salvation. It isn’t.

I came across a list of more subtle things that people add to the Gospel:

Legalism – Seeking to achieve righteousness by following God’s commands through a rigid list of do’s and don’ts.
Formalism – This is the outward show of being a Christian with no inward change. It’s having a form of godliness without power.
Mysticism – Requiring the Gospel to produce dynamic emotional and spiritual experiences.
Activism – Distorting the Gospel by insisting that an important but nonbiblical issue is the ultimate issue.

Joh 6:48  I am the bread of life.
Joh 6:49  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

It came from Heaven, but manna could not impart eternal life. It was meant to be symbolic of the future bread of life from Heaven that would impart eternal life.

Joh 6:50  This is the bread which comes down from Heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.

I like the way one commentator put it: “The manna-bread that came down has been replaced and fulfilled by the Man-bread who has also come down.”

Joh 6:51  I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Jesus summarized, claiming He fulfilled the metaphor. But then He added something new, saying, “I shall give… My flesh.”

What? Who said anything about dying? Dying was the plan all along:

In the Garden of Eden the Lord preached the Gospel to the first human sinners. He would come, the Seed of the woman, and be wounded in a winner-take-all confrontation with the devil.

A few minutes later, the Lord gave them some indication of the seriousness of the wounding when He killed animals to provide covering of their nakedness. It also served to teach them that their sin could only be atoned for by the shedding of blood of an innocent, substitutionary sacrifice.

A few chapters later, you read about the near-sacrifice of Isaac by his father, the father of our faith, Abraham. It was a type, prefiguring the sacrifice of Jesus by His Father on the very spot.

I think you get it. The Lord worked out the plan of salvation progressively in human history.

During the holidays, the Fox Theater requires not money but a donation of food as the ticket price. An expired can of Sufferin’ Succotash won’t get you in the rest of the year. You must always have the suitable form of payment.

God in human flesh voluntarily dying in our place is the one, the only, suitable sacrifice.

#2 – Jesus Came As God In Human Flesh To Be Your Spiritual Sustainer (v52-59)

Did you hear about the cannibal who converted to Roman Catholicism?

He only eats fishermen on Friday’s.

Jesus’ comments about eating His flesh and drinking His blood have caused no small controversy. A Roman Catholic resource says,

Something happened at that last meal that Jesus celebrated with His disciples, something that had never happened before: Ordinary bread and wine were transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. At every Mass, bread and wine become Jesus – His body, blood, soul and divinity.

John Trapp writes,

The Fathers commonly expounded this part of our Saviors sermon as spoken of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper; and so fell into that error, that none but communicants could be saved; wherefore they also gave the sacrament to infants, and put it into the mouths of dead men.

We reject this doctrine, called Transubstantiation. The communion elements have no literal or mystical connection to Jesus’ physical body.

We hold what scholars call a memorial view of the Lord’s Supper that sees its celebration as a remembrance of what Jesus did on the Cross. The apostle Paul quoted Jesus saying to us, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (First Corinthians 11:24&25).

We can’t simply say the elements are metaphorical. We need to show they are. We can do that. One commentator writes,

In John 6:40, Jesus says, “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.” The requirement for eternal life is to behold the Son and to believe in Him. The promised results are that a believer has eternal life and Jesus will raise him up on the last day.

In John 6:54, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” These are exactly the same results as in verse forty, but instead of beholding the Son and believing in Him, Jesus substitutes eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

Since things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood refer to believing personally in His death on the cross as your only hope for eternal life.

Augustine, in the fourth century wrote, Crede, et manducasti, “Believe, and you have eaten.”

He went on to write, “figuratively [Jesus] is in the bread and wine, and spiritually He is in them that worthily eat and drink the bread and wine; but really, carnally, and corporally He is only in Heaven.”

The words ‘eat’ and ‘feed’ are found in verses 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, & 58. They are metaphors, not magic or mysticism.

Joh 6:52  The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”

The Jews were like Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy. They took literally Jesus’ obviously metaphorical statement. Their thoughts drifted to cannibalism.

Joh 6:53  Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.
Joh 6:54  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

This sounds very communion-y, but it isn’t. Jesus did not initiate what we call the Lord’s Supper until at least a year after the events in this chapter.

Joh 6:55  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.

Coca-Cola claims, “It’s the real thing.” Jesus’ flesh and blood, His body, sacrificed for you, is the real “real thing” when it comes to salvation.

Joh 6:56  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

As a kid reading comics I was always fascinated by codes and decoder rings you could purchase. Earlier we said that “eating is believing.” It sounds like an enigma, but what if we use it as a code?

If we did, a paraphrase of verse fifty-six would be, “If you want an intimate, abiding relationship with Me, believe that by the sacrifice of my flesh and blood on the Cross you are saved, and I will abide in you, enabling you to abide with Me.”

Joh 6:57  As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

The word “sent” reminds us that, for the purpose of saving us, Jesus took upon Himself a body of flesh, adding humanity to His deity. He subordinated Himself to His Father and was sent by the Father.

Let’s use our decoder ring again: “The living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who believes on Me will live because of Me.”

Joh 6:58  This is the bread which came down from Heaven – not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”

Jesus claimed to be superior “bread.” Moses and their ancestors all died, but Jesus and His followers “will live forever.”

Manna was a type of Jesus, sent from Heaven to be your sacrifice. “He who believes this bread will live forever.”

Joh 6:59  These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.

It was a more formal dialog. A few commentators point out that earlier in the chapter the hearers are called “the Jews,” which often is a title given to the religious authorities among the Jews.

The Gospel remains the same in any setting. Formal or informal, academic or casual, friend or stranger, it must not be diluted. You can certainly target your audience, be contemporary, but in the end, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and… He was buried, and… He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (First Corinthians 15:3-4).

Speaking of bodies and flesh… Jesus spoke of “the last day” four times in this chapter (v39, 40, 44 & 54). You will be “raised up at the last day.”
For us, the last day is the resurrection and rapture of the Church. You will receive a glorified, resurrection body, suitable for eternity with Jesus.

You can be “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

J. I. Packer writes,

“For the Christian, the best is always yet to be. Our Father’s wealth is immeasurable, and we will inherit the entire estate”

Jesus “abides” in you by the gift of God the Holy Spirit given to you when you believe and are saved. He is your spiritual supply. He is your empowering to endure.

Let’s finish with these words of R. A. Torrey:

The Holy Spirit is the person who imparts to the individual believer the power that belongs to God. This is the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer, to take what belongs to God and make it ours.

The Invite Of The Living Bread (John 6:22-40)

You won’t find these at Panera. They are the world’s four most expensive breads.

The Shepherd Loaf (Great Britain. $21 per loaf).
Harrods Roquefort and Almond Sourdough Bread (Also Great Britain. $24.50 per loaf).
The Royal Bloomer (Yes. Great Britain. $97.34 per loaf).
Gold Leaf Bread ($120.73 per loaf).

Gold Leaf Bread is the creation of master baker Moreno, owner of the Pan Pina Bakery in Spain. The 70 year-old family bakery produces 50 different types of bread. What makes this one so special is that Moreno uses 250mg of edible gold dust in every loaf.

There is a priceless bread.

“I am the bread of life,” He explained. “He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (v35).

Bread & water are basic material needs, which is why we sometimes use them to represent all of our material needs. We call money “bread,” or “dough” and those who earn money “breadwinners.”

Jesus appealed to bread to represent our far more pressing spiritual need for salvation and continued growth. He presented two menus:

There is material bread, we’ll call it the world’s bread, “which perishes” (v27).
There is “the [heavenly bread] which endures to everlasting life” (v27).

It isn’t hard to determine which menu to order from.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 The World’s Bread Can Never Satisfy You, and #2 The Lord Is The Bread Who Always Satisfies You.

#1 – The World’s Bread Can Never Satisfy You (v22-27)

C.S. Lewis wrote, “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.”

All human beings have desires “which nothing in this world can satisfy.” We are more than material boys and girls living in a material world. We were created to be spirit, soul, and body, with our spirit taking the lead. Adam and Eve sinned, died spiritually, and their descendants are born spiritually dead. Our material appetites dominate us.

The crowd was driven by their material appetites to follow Jesus.

It wasn’t only full bellies they were seeking. They were determined to make Jesus King by force. They longed to be free from Roman domination in order to enjoy the material world of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Jesus made a sincere offer to inaugurate the Kingdom, but only after the Jews repented and received Him as their Savior. Their prerequisite need was spiritual.

You remember prerequisites in school, right? Algebra, geometry, and trigonometry need to be taken before calculus. The Jews could not enter the Kingdom of God on Earth without repentance and belief (faith) in Jesus as Savior.

Joh 6:22  On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone –
Joh 6:23  however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks –
The crowd saw the disciples leave on a boat without the Lord, and they watched His solo climb.

Jesus and his disciples were under surveillance. I’m reminded of the song lyrics, I always feel like … Somebody’s watchin’ me. People are watching you, believer. Instead of resenting it, receive it, realizing that you are being used to reveal Jesus. What are you doing that you don’t want anyone to see or hear?

The twelve departed and Jesus seemed settled for the night. The crowd quit paying attention just when it was about to get good.

You never want to miss something the Lord wants you to see or hear. Stay attentive.

Joh 6:24  when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

Estimates of the crowd’s size are upwards of 10,000. Few could fit on the small boats that had come to shore that morning. The rest continued on their annual pilgrimage to the Temple for Passover.
Joh 6:25  And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”

Jesus chose not to reveal how He had come to be in Capernaum. He kept the miracle of walking on water between the disciples and Himself.

If you witnessed a miracle, would you keep it quiet? The Lord might want you to. God likes to mix things up, do things differently, in order for Him to reveal His glory to the watching world.

Joh 6:26  Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
Joh 6:27  Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

Of course we must work to meet material needs. Jesus was establishing priority. Spiritual beings require spiritual food first and foremost.

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Some say, “Yes,” and won’t leave home without it. How much more important to feed on God’s Word. An old slogan put it like this: No Bible, No breakfast.

Physical hunger and thirst, and other appetites, make themselves known. Your stomach starts making awkward, growling noises, for instance.

Spiritual hunger and thirst are not so obvious. They don’t have physical ‘tells.’ That’s why we talk about pursuing spiritual disciplines. We read the Word, pray, fellowship with others, and serve the Lord, to interact with the living bread to receive consistent nutrition.

You want to be sure that spiritual bread is genuine. There is a lot of poison out there masquerading as spiritual food. God thus put His “seal” on Jesus:

John the Baptist attested to the genuineness of Jesus, introducing Him as “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.”

God the Father attested to Jesus, speaking from Heaven that Jesus was His “beloved Son,” in whole He was well pleased.

The miracles Jesus performed attested to His genuineness.

No other ‘religious’ figure bears God’s seal of genuineness and approval.

Captain Barbosa explained the curse that was upon the Caribbean pirates of the Black Pearl by saying, “The drink would not satisfy, food turned to ash in our mouths, nor the company in the world would harm or slake our lust. We are cursed men. Compelled by greed, we were. But now, we are consumed by it.”

An eternal being can never be satisfied by material bread. Rather than consuming it, the material world consumes us.

#2 – The Lord Is The Bread Who Always Satisfies You (v28-40)

There’s a bizarre tradition of weighing each member of the English royal family before and after Christmas dinner. The more weight gain, the merrier.

The bread of life isn’t a matter of taking in the Word of God until we must push away from the table. We don’t build-up spiritual fat. Your spirit won’t weigh more when you leave this morning.

Jesus doesn’t give us the bread of life, He IS the bread of life.

We don’t consume Jesus as a commodity. We are to be consumed with Him and be totally satisfied in life knowing Him.

Joh 6:28  Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

We earn our bread, working hard for the dough as breadwinners. Does it not follow we would work, or do works, for spiritual bread? No, it does not follow.

“What must I do to be saved?” Every religion and philosophy is an attempt to give a satisfactory answer to that question. They all, without exception, require some work or works in order for you to earn and deserve salvation. You cannot ever hope to earn or deserve salvation because you are born dead in trespasses and sins.

Nothing can be done by you. Something must be done for you. It has been done: Jesus came as God in human flesh and took your place on the Cross so that God the Father could declare you righteous by believing in Jesus.

Joh 6:29  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

One commentator writes, “The only ‘work’ that you can do is not to work, but rather to believe in Jesus, the one whom the Father has sent to provide salvation through His death and resurrection.”

Joh 6:30  Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?
Joh 6:31  Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD FROM HEAVEN TO EAT.’ ”

Their argument was not without biblical merit. Jesus seemed lesser than Moses:

Jesus fed a multitude; Moses fed millions.
Jesus did it once; Moses did it for forty years.
Jesus provided ordinary barley bread; Moses gave them “bread out of Heaven.”

Joh 6:32  Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from Heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from Heaven.
Joh 6:33  For the bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.”

Moses did not give them manna. God did.

If I were to ask you, “Which country in the world has sent out the most missionaries?” you’d probably guess Great Britain or the United States. It’s a trick question. Countries do not send out missionaries. The church sends them out.

God must occupy first place in all of our thinking.

Joh 6:34  Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

They were missing the point. The bread was already given; Jesus is the bread.
Joh 6:35  And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

“Comes” and “believes” are interchangeable. Come to Christ, believe in Him, and as Adam Clarke writes, “you shall be perfectly satisfied, and never more feel misery of mind. All the guilt of your sins shall be blotted out, and your soul shall be purified unto God; and, being enabled to love Him with all your heart, you shall rest, fully, supremely, and finally happy, in God.”

Jesus promised you will never hunger or thirst. This doesn’t mean that you will not want to know more and more about Him. It means that you can always be satisfied with Him.

You need never hunger because knowing Jesus satisfies the spirit in any circumstances.

Joh 6:36  But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.

They “did not believe,” largely because of their attention on the material world.
Roman domination and cruelty distracted them from spiritual pursuits. It affected their leaders in particular. The Jewish Supreme Court, called the Sanhedrin, had become worldly rather than remaining consecrated to God. They were mired in politics, not prayer. They were murderers.

Jesus is with us in our difficulties to prove that He, His grace, is sufficient for us. Whether we are delivered from our troubles or through them, in the long run it doesn’t matter. We are delivered with Him in them.

Joh 6:37  All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

We will go astray in our comments unless we identify these people. Who are, “All that the Father gives Me [who] will come to [Jesus]?” We need to take a quick look at a few additional verses in this Gospel. Drop down to verse forty-five:

Joh 6:45  It is written in the prophets, “AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT BY GOD.” Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

The “all” that the Father “gives” Jesus are “everyone who has heard and learned from the Father.” They are people (in this case, Jews) who heard the Gospel and responded favorably. They were saved, otherwise they could not be described as going on to “learn” from God.

In chapter three Jesus said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (v14). He was alluding to the time when a plague of deadly poisonous serpents were in the camp of Israel. The solution God provided a brass serpent on a pole that was lifted up so everyone could see it.

Anyone who looked at it was saved. Looking was believing God to be saved.

In chapter twelve Jesus will say, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die” (v32-33). God provided Jesus on the Cross lifted up so everyone could see it.
Something supernatural happened at the Cross when Jesus was lifted up such that all mankind is described as being “drawn” to Him.

To say that no one can come to Jesus without having been drawn by God the Father is not to say that every person drawn comes to Christ. It is an acknowledgment that all those who do come to Christ will have been drawn.

Look at verse forty: “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life.”

Here is what we know thus far from our brief survey:

Jesus being lifted up on the Cross in your place is how you are saved by a holy God. It solves the problem of sin, overcoming Satan and death, promising a person eternal life.

The Cross exerts a supernatural influence on every man so they can be saved.

Men are saved when they believe in Jesus. Elsewhere in the Bible we are told Jesus “is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (First Timothy 4:10).

OK, now we are ready for verse thirty-seven. “All that the Father gives Me” is describing Jews who repented and believed in preparation for the Kingdom Jesus was offering. For example, multitudes of Jews submitted to being baptized by John the Baptist as a sign of their repentance and belief. “All” these would “come to [Jesus]” and be received by Him forever.

The crowd that followed the Lord to Capernaum was all-about materialism. They would not believe in Him. But many Jews would, and Jesus would receive them and never “cast [them] out.”

Joh 6:38  For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Jesus was on a mission from God. This crowd might mostly reject Him, but God’s plan for Israel could not fail.

In the context of eternal life, what is the will of God?“The Lord is… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (Second Peter 3:9).
Joh 6:39  This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

Believers are safe for eternity. Jesus cannot “lose” you on the way to Heaven. You will enjoy a glorious resurrection.

Joh 6:40  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

“See the Son and believe.” Remember the serpent on the pole? When an Israelite saw it, he was spared. It was equivalent to believing. It is that illustration, that type, Jesus was alluding to.

William MacDonald writes,

To see the Son here means not to see Him with the physical eyes but rather with the eyes of faith. One must see or recognize that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Then, too, he must believe on Him. This means that by a definite act of faith, he must receive the Lord Jesus as his own personal Savior. All who do this receive everlasting life as a present possession and also receive the assurance that they will be raised at the last day.

When is “the last day?” John is talking about the last day in relation to when a person is resurrected from the dead. It is different for different groups of believers. In a previous study we described in-depth the series of resurrections the Bible describes for both believers and nonbelievers.

As far as we are concerned, the “last day” will be when Jesus comes in the air to resurrect the dead in Christ, and rapture living believers. Whether we have died or are alive and remain, we receive our forever glorified bodies.

I want to address a false criticism of the rapture. A criticism, by the way, that comes from Christians who are not futurists when it comes to prophecy. They call it “the secret rapture.” They thereby identify us with all the crazies who set dates and such.

The resurrection and rapture of the church won’t occur in secret. It will be terribly obvious when millions of believers come forth from their graves, or the oceans, and millions more are transformed to be taken into Heaven. There will be global chaos. Millions will die. It will, in fact, be the most terrifying event in history thus far.

Restaurants have different menus, or menu choices, to accommodate your diet and allergies. If you suffer with Coeliac Disease, you really need to avoid the gluten that triggers it.

If you were to write a menu describing your overall worldview and your current spiritual diet, would it prioritize the food that perishes? Or the bread of life?

Would that elderly lady in the Wendy’s commercials say, “Where’s the bread?” Or, “Pastor Gene runs on Jesus?”

Rowing Nowhere Fast (John 6:14-21)

He called himself The Masked Magician.

He was featured in a series of television specials exposing the secrets behind classic magic tricks.

He walked on water across a swimming pool to reveal how Criss Angel might have done it.

The secret was a series of clear and, therefore, unseen plexiglass steps just below the surface.

There are at least two ways a person can walk on water:

I’m quoting from a science article. “Some fluids have enough viscosity to be able to support the weight of a human body under the right conditions. Oobleck is a mixture of corn starch in water. Its viscosity increases if the pressure applied on it increases. The faster we move in this fluid, the harder it is to overcome the friction force. This property of oobleck can easily be exploited if we move over its surface with enough speed. A person walking over it at a brisk pace can easily move through without any fear of sinking, due to the high amount of reaction force from the fluid. However, on the other hand, if a person doesn’t move quick enough, the oobleck will swallow him like quicksand.”

You can stay afloat on water if you move fast enough. You would not be walking on water, however, because you’d be moving at 100ft per second.
Jesus walked on water.

It wasn’t across a small pool but on a raging sea.

Plexiglass was not invented until 1933.

It wasn’t dosed with oobleck.

He wasn’t running 100ft per second.

Jesus came to the aid of His disciples, and simultaneously illustrated how they should live: As rowers.

The New Testament uses athletic illustrations to help us understand our relationship with Jesus. The apostle Paul was a big fan of the Olympics, especially running and boxing.

I would submit that rowing be considered another athletic illustration.

It’s a good one. I read this on the blog of a Christian who is part of a competitive rowing crew: “The rower’s back is toward where they are heading, their eyes are on the coxswain, their ears are open to his voice, and they trust the hand that’s on the rudder. My LORD asks only that I hold firmly but also stroke purposefully my one oar. He’s my coxswain – but much more – who sees what’s ahead. I find stability and strength by the ability to see in my wake God’s past faithfulness to me: His goodness and mercy have followed me.”

To paraphrase Dori, “Just keep rowing, just keep rowing, rowing, rowing.” I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Row, Row, Row Without Any Hesitating, and #2 Row, Row, Row With All Hastening.

#1 – Row, Row, Row Without Any Hesitating (v14-17)

It’s a standard plot device for two or more characters to recall the same events differently. The song Summer Nights in Grease is a good example:

Took her bowling in the Arcade
We went strolling, drank lemonade

We made out under the dock
We stayed up ‘till ten o’clock

Matthew, Mark, and John each recount this miracle. They are all different. Not contradictory, but different.

John’s account is the briefest. One commentator pointed out,

John doesn’t tell us that Jesus sent the multitude away or that He was praying on the mountain. He omits Mark’s comment that Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars or that He intended to pass them by when He came to them on the water. He doesn’t say that the disciples thought that they were seeing a ghost (although he does say that they were frightened). He doesn’t mention Peter’s walking on the water.

As readers of God’s Word, the challenge is to know the entire event without ignoring each author’s unique perspective. These guys were not simply telling a story. There was purpose in the details they included and omitted. God the Holy Spirit inspired John to edit his account and place it exactly where he did in his Gospel.

Joh 6:14  Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
Joh 6:15  Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

They weren’t wrong. Their understanding, however, was incomplete:

Jesus is not a prophet like others in the Bible. We are told in the Revelation, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (19:10). The purpose of prophecy is to testify of Jesus Christ and reveal Him. He is the source and the fulfillment of prophecy.

Jesus is not a king like David or the other men who sat on David’s throne. He is the King, of whom we read in the Revelation, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (11:15).

The crowds did not factor the Cross upon which Jesus must die to deliver them spiritually from Satan. In addition to Prophet and King, the Messiah would be a Priest who offered Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world so that men would not perish but have everlasting life.

You don’t make Jesus King; He is King.

When Joshua was contemplating the Battle of Jericho, “he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” (5:13-14).

The United States of America; “land that I love.” Is Jesus for us or against us? His answer is, “No,” and we respond by worshipping Him as His servants.

It is wonderfully true that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Dialog from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe might help us get a handle on this:

“Is Aslan quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion,” said Susan.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Jesus is “for us,” but in ways that we cannot fully fathom. Whether it is smooth or storm, we worship Him.

Joh 6:16  Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,
Joh 6:17  got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.

The other accounts say that Jesus “compelled them.” It doesn’t mean they argued with Him.

John told this story emphasizing that the disciples did not hesitate but obeyed the Lord, Who “sent them ahead” without Him.

Hesitation can be deadly. Law Enforcement knows that. You can find example after example of an officer or a deputy reluctant to use force when force is necessary for their safety. Fear of an out-of-context iPhone video going viral is costing blue lives.

Adam and Eve were the first to hesitate. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6). She hesitated, and in her hesitation, humanity was lost.

Don’t hesitate when sin is involved.

The apostle Paul refused to hesitate. God had to slam doors of ministry in his face to keep Paul from constantly going forward. He permitted Paul to be arrested and imprisoned to stop him long enough to write a good portion of the New Testament. Paul knew that if he hesitated, people would remain lost.

#2 – Row, Row, Row Your Boat With All Hastening (v18-21)

Their boat could not get over the wave.

I’m talking about the Andrea Gail in the movie, The Perfect Storm. The combined star power of George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and John C. Reilly was not enough to propel the boat. The sea took them.

Joh 6:18  Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing.

Do you ever get overwhelmed in your reading by the mastery of a single sentence or phrase? “The sea arose.” That’s stunning.

Matthew says, “they were tossed by the waves” (14:24). Not bad, but familiar.

Mark says, “the wind was against them” (6:48). A little more descriptive.

John personifies the Sea of Galilee. Like a fell foe, the water rose as if it was conscious of them.

A fishing boat from the 1st century AD was discovered in 1986 on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

They called it, The Jesus Boat, although the only connection between it and the Lord is its first-century date.

It does give us a look at the style of the boat the boys were desperately rowing:

It is 27 feet long, 7½ feet wide, with a maximum height of just over 4 feet. Constructed primarily of cedar planks joined together by pegged mortise and tenon joints and nails, the boat is shallow drafted with a flat bottom, allowing it to get very close to the shore while fishing. However, the boat is composed of ten different wood types, suggesting either a wood shortage or that the boat was made of scrap wood and had undergone extensive and repeated fixes. The boat was row-able, with four staggered rowers, and also had a mast allowing the fishermen to sail the boat.

The boat in our story may have been similarly patched together, barely seaworthy. Think Orca, Quint’s boat in Jaws.

Four men at a time could row. It just happens that there were four fishermen in the crew – Andrew, Peter, James, and John. You’ve got to think they did all the rowing. Would you want Matthew, the tax collector, on an oar in a life-threatening situation?

Joh 6:19  So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid.

Your Bible may use the word “heights” in place of “sea.” One commentator said,

So it is in the Hebrew. It means the “high waves;” that is, He walks upon the waves of the ocean when lifted up by a storm. This is spoken of here as a proof of the greatness of God; and the meaning of all is, that He is seen in the storm, in the heaving ocean, when the heavens are black with tempest, and when the Earth is convulsed. It may be added here, that the Lord Jesus walked amidst the howling winds on the lake, and thus gave evidence that He was God.

Another commentator said, “This is a very impressive image. God not only walks upon the waters, but when the sea runs mountains high, He steps from billow to billow in His almighty and essential majesty.”

We can only wonder if one of the disciples was reminded of these words of Job: “[God]… treads on the waves of the sea” (9:8). It would have been a great comfort, don’t you think?

Believers in Jesus Christ can be comforted by Him through His written Word, the Bible. When believers in the newly formed church in the city of Thessalonica were dying, the apostle Paul didn’t want them to “sorrow as others who have no hope” (First Thessalonians 4:13).

He described the resurrection and rapture of the church to them and said, “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (v18).

If you are in a storm, likely God has already spoken to you through His Word. If not, ask Him to do so, and His living Word will comfort you.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Hope is not a sedative; it is a shot of adrenaline, a blood transfusion. Like an anchor, our hope in Christ stabilizes us in the storms of life, but unlike an anchor, our hope moves us forward, it does not hold us back.”

God’s Word is alive, it is powerful, and it is altogether true. It has been validated by the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. He is God, God in human flesh, the God-Man, Who saves all who believe in Him.

There is no other source of spiritual hope.

Nonbelievers cannot have hope in this life or the next. If they have what they call hope, it is a false hope based on false promises from their false religion or philosophy.

Eulogies for nonbelievers are the epitome of false hope. “He’s in a better place,” or, “Heaven needed her,” or, “One more angel is in Heaven,” or any such declarations are lies, the language of false hope.

Buddhists and most Hindus believe in reincarnation. The physical body dies, but the soul comes back in another body. Who wants to come back?

You may be reincarnated as something other than a person. You might remember the short-lived 1960s television show, My Mother the Car. A man whose deceased mother is reincarnated as an antique car communicates with him through the car radio. Do you find hope in that?

Let’s get back to Jesus’ wave-walking. Think of how waves toss crab boats in The Deadliest Catch. Jesus was in His human body – a body just like yours and mine. The Jesus Boat was three or four miles from shore. The average person takes one hour to walk that distance on flat land. Jesus walked it against the storm. He wasn’t going 100ft per second. It took Him quite a while to get to them. He didn’t hover over the sea. I’m guessing He was wet.

Remember, too, that in the verses which precede, Jesus had gone up into a mountain. He had first to descend. It was night; He’d had a long day of ministry and no sleep.

I’m going to say something that may not be obvious. The way Jesus came to them was romantic.

You probably never heard of the group, The Grass Roots. Their 1969 hit record, I’d Wait a Million Years, goes like this:

I’d wait a million years
Walk a million miles
Cry a million tears
I’d swim the deepest sea
Climb the highest hill
Just to have you near me

How about the iconic The Princess Bride? Westley must rescue his true love Princess Buttercup from the odious Prince Humperdinck. Westley overcomes obstacles such as the flame burst, the snow sand, and the ROUSes (rodents of unusual size).

There were other ways Jesus could have helped:

He could have spoken, and the sea would have become instantly calm.
He could have miraculously transported from the mountain to the boat.

He came to them in the way we would recognize as love conquering any obstacles.

Joh 6:20  But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

John left out them thinking they saw a ghost. He wants us to understand that all of our fears are overcome when we hear Jesus say to us in our storm, “It is I.”

“It is I” could be translated as “I AM” and be a claim of deity and equality with God the Father.

“It is I, I AM.” How’s that for conquering your fears in the storm? You know Jesus, the God-man, Creator of all things.

Joh 6:21  Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

God the Father permitted the storm to reveal things about His Son, our Savior, that could not have otherwise been known. The storm would change the disciples.

Every storm can be a perfect-ing storm.

F.B. Meyer wrote, “Ah, afflicted one, your disabilities were meant to unite with God’s enablings, your weakness to mate His power. God’s grace is at hand – sufficient – and at its best when human weakness is most profound. Appropriate it and learn that those who wait on God are stronger in their weakness than the sons of men in their stoutest health and vigor.”

Jesus didn’t get in the boat until they “received” Him. One reason that we struggle in storms is that we don’t “receive” the truth that in our weakness we are strong. We despise weakness.

“Immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.” It was a miracle during a miracle.

You gain insight by reducing what you’ve read to its minimum. The disciples kept rowing in the storm until Jesus came to them and they supernaturally arrived at their destination.

We are disciples.
We encounter storms in our lives.
We are told in many places to persevere, to endure, to “keep on rowing.”
Jesus comes for us in the resurrection and rapture of the church, at which time we will be immediately safe at our destination – Heaven.

Think of it. One day you will be rowing in the storm when suddenly the Lord takes you home.

The apostle Peter was rowing The Jesus Boat. He says we can “hasten,” accelerate, the Lord’s return in his second letter as we live lives of endurance serving Him. It’s the greatest row on Earth.

The disciples were never alone in the storm. Whether Jesus was on the mountain or the waves, He was with them.

You cannot ever be alone, certainly not in a storm. Quit waiting for Jesus to show up.

A. W. Tozer wrote, “The knowledge that we are never alone calms the troubled sea of our lives and speaks peace to our souls.”

Keep rowing and you’ll see God’s mercy and lovingkindness in your wake.

Wonder Bread (John 6:1-15)

Some call him “Sushi Man.”

German triathlete Jaroslav Bobrowski went to a restaurant that featured an all-you-can-eat buffet. Bobrowski ate one hundred plates of sushi weighing eighteen pounds. The owner banned him from further buffets.

João Carlos Apolonio ate fifteen pasta dishes in a buffet restaurant in São Paulo, Brazil. He called the waiter over and, instead of closing the bill, ordered eight more dishes – four portions of lasagna and four of gnocchi. The manager asked him to leave.

Five thousand men enjoyed an all-you-can-eat buffet of bread and fishes hosted by Jesus and none were turned away.

The miracle presented a teachable moment for Jesus and His disciples. He “test[ed]” them, not to see them fail but teach them a lesson.

Jesus “lifted up His eyes, and [saw] a great multitude.” The lesson for disciples in all ages: Lift up your eyes to see the multitudes the way the Lord sees them.

I’ll organize my comments around two points: #1 Lift Your Eyes & See Your Source, and #2 Lift Your Eyes & Serve With God’s Resource.

#1 – Lift Your Eyes & See Your Source (v1-9)

In the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, Legolas the Elf has better vision than men, dwarves, or wizards. “What do your Elf eyes see?” was a question put to him by Aragorn.

Jesus had better vision than the twelve disciples. Let’s see what Jesus’ eyes see… Or saw.

Joh 6:1  After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.

Passover was approaching (v4), and Jesus was making the pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

We cannot be reminded enough that we are strangers and pilgrims passing through Earth on our way to Heaven. We are looking for the city whose builder and maker is God. In the city, New Jerusalem, we have custom mansions.

Do you camp? Camping is uncomfortable. Our pilgrim journey is like camping.

Or maybe you glamp? That’s OK, but not so much if you are a pilgrim. An example of a believer camping versus glamping is Abraham and Lot. Lot’s glamping in Sodom did not end well.

Joh 6:2  Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.

It almost sounds like Instagram, the word “followed.” Word spread through social contact along the pilgrim road, and soon He was followed by “a great multitude.”

Is there a difference between miracles, signs, and wonders? The Holman Bible Dictionary says,

The words used in the Bible to describe the miraculous include sign, wonder, work, mighty work, and power. In the Old Testament, the two Hebrew words most frequently used for “miracle” are translated “sign” (oth) and “wonder” (mopheth).

Miracles are signs and wonders.

The “sign” aspect of them is to point to God. They engage the mind.
The “wonder” aspect is more a description of engaging the heart.

Joh 6:3  And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.

Jesus was quite the mountaineer. The Mount of Olives and the Mount of Transfiguration come to mind. Matthew mentions Jesus and mountains seven times in his Gospel.

Jesus’ descent from this mountain is part of a typology developing in this passage. We’ll discuss it in a moment.

Joh 6:4  Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.

The Passover celebrated the Exodus from Egypt. It also inspired hope for a deliverer like Moses to free the Jews from Rome. This explains why the multitude will try to make Jesus king (v15).

Joh 6:5  Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
Joh 6:6  But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.

Sometime in the night, the Father and Jesus agreed on a miraculous food distribution. They’d open a sort of pop-up restaurant, the Boonies Bread Buffet, or Barley Bell, or Lord & Loaves. It would be free all-you-can-eat.

At the end of Spider-Man Homecoming, Tony Stark wanted to introduce the webslinger as the newest Avenger. Peter declined the offer, feeling he wasn’t quite ready. As he walked away, he said, “That was a test, right?” It wasn’t to see him fail.

Jesus took the opportunity to “test” His boys. Jesus’ plan had nothing to do with purchasing food from some marketplace. Yet He asked, “Where shall we buy bread?”

Joh 6:7  Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.”

This was an appropriate answer to the question posed. They did not have resources to purchase enough bread. But remember – this was a “test.”

In fifth grade, our teacher passed out a test and told us no one had ever finished it in the allotted time. She kept emphasizing that point. When she said, “Go,” we turned the test over and immediately began answering the twenty-five questions. No one read the directions atop the page which instructed, “Answer only question #25 and turn in your test.”

The disciples had witnessed many miracles. Jesus had catered a wedding by turning water into good wine in large quantities. But when tested, they defaulted to natural thinking.

Helen Keller said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

Part of lifting your eyes is to think supernaturally.

Joh 6:8  One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him,
Joh 6:9  “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

Philip dismissed any possibility of feeding the multitude. Andrew thought they might be able to gather enough to make Stone Soup.

You know the recipe for Stone Soup, right? In one version, three monks come upon a small famine-ridden and war-torn village. They find that everybody is afraid of them and hiding in their homes. The three monks begin to make Stone Soup. The soup starter is water and three round stones. One by one, the monks convince the village people to help them make their soup by sharing their spices, vegetables, and other valuable ingredients. It thus becomes a feast thanks to the generous sharing of resources.

Nice try, Andrew, but No Stone Soup for you.

The disciples did not fail the test. Their responses revealed their need to look beyond resources to the source.

This isn’t the first time Jesus encouraged His disciples to lift up their eyes. In chapter four, He said, “Lift up your eyes and see the fields white for harvest” (v35). He had already taught them to do this, but they did not apply it.

We don’t read that the disciples “lifted their eyes.” No one asked Jesus, “What do your God eyes see?”

Jesus’ question made it sound like it was up to Philip to feed the multitude. We often think that way, as if we could do anything apart from the Lord. We assume that ministry requires resources we do not possess. Mostly money. This is why so many churches and parachurch organizations adopt worldly methods to raise funds.

It was impossible for the disciples to resolve the need. They must throw it back to Jesus, expecting the Lord to tell them what to do.

When Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” a better answer would have been, “You know, Lord.”

Go to the source and wait for His resources. While waiting, remember that the ultimate need of the multitude is living bread. It is salvation.

#2 – Lift Your Eyes & Serve With God’s Resource (v10-15)

Course des garçons de café.

That’s the name of a competition that tests the speed that a waiter can carry a loaded tray without tipping it. It originated in Paris and has spread to fifty-three countries.

The twelve disciples of Jesus got a crash course in waitering at the course des garçons de wilderness.

Joh 6:10  Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

Miracles can create a lot of work!

John, the author of this Gospel, was there. He estimated the multitude as “five thousand men.” More like 5013 men to include the Lord and the twelve.

Numbering only men isn’t a woke way of putting it because there were women and children. O well. Estimates of the total number range up to fifteen thousand. Let’s assume ten thousand.

Each of the twelve disciples would be responsible for a group of nearly nine hundred. That’s a rather large group for one waiter.

Joh 6:11  And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.

Common Core math is a snap compared to God Math. One commentator writes, “These five loaves (by a strange kind of arithmetic) were multiplied by division, and augmented by subtraction.”

When you subtract something from what you have, you end up with less.

Not in God Math, where you get more by giving. Our generosity is treated as an investment in the Kingdom, and the dividends are phenomenal. John Bunyan wrote, “ A man there was, though some did count him mad, the more he cast away the more he had.”

Joh 6:12  So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.”

The gathering of the fragments is a good place for us to reveal the typology in this chapter that we put on hold earlier. A multitude of Israelites was following their Deliverer in the wilderness and had no bread to eat. Sound familiar?

It is typical of the Moses-led Exodus that the Feast of Passover commemorates. Note the following:

Moses came down from a mountain to minister to the Israelites. Jesus came down from a mountain to minister to the Israelites.
Moses miraculously fed the people manna in the wilderness. Jesus miraculously fed the people bread in the wilderness.
The Israelites were given orders to gather the manna. The disciples were given orders to gather the bread.

I came across the following on a Messianic Jewish site:

Both Moses and Messiah are born in a time of national bondage. Both redeemers appear after Israel waits generations for redemption. Both redeemers are destined to break the bondage of Israel and lead her into the promised land. Both perform unparalleled signs and wonders to validate their ministry. Both act in the role of Law-giver and singular authority of Torah. Both fill the role of intercessor between God and the nation. Both do the work of reconciliation, renewing God’s covenant relationship with Israel when that covenant is compromised.

The Israelites were slaves in Egypt some four hundred years before Moses was born. From the last words of the Old Testament until Jesus was born were some four hundred years.

In the Book of Exodus, the first Passover in Egypt was celebrated by sacrificing a lamb and eating unleavened bread with bitter herbs. Moses mentions no other items on the menu.

Passover 2022 will begin the evening of Friday, April 15th, and end the evening of Saturday, April 23rd. Christians enjoy hosting Passover Seders. The word “seder” means order. There is a specific order followed as the Passover meal progresses.

The modern menu includes gefilte fish (poached fish dumplings), matzo ball soup, brisket or roast chicken, potato kugel (somewhat like a casserole), and tzimmes, a stew of carrots and prunes, sometimes including potatoes or sweet potatoes.

A bunch of traditions have been added, too.

My problem with Seders is that no one explains that this was not how Passover was celebrated in the Bible. If you want to commemorate Passover, “eat [the lamb and bitter herbs]: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover” (Exodus 12:11).

The multitude followed after the Lamb of God, who would be sacrificed for them on a subsequent Passover. They mainly ate bread. Did anyone realize the symbolism?

Jesus told them to gather the fragments “so that nothing is lost.” I don’t want to make too much of a single word, but “lost” can be translated as “perish.” It is in the same family of words as “perish” in John 3:16.

Whether intended here or not, Jesus is not willing any perish from the multitude of lost humanity.

Joh 6:13  Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.

The disciples will be called “the twelve” for the first time in verse sixty-seven. It was a special designation.

Each disciple had a basket to carry. Scholars – you gotta love them – can’t agree on the size of the baskets. Some suggest these were huge, heavy baskets that the Lord made them carry to emphasize how wrong they had been. The Lord was showing them that ministry to Jesus and others comes first, but God doesn’t forget your needs.

The twelve had a long, hard day of waitering. People can be difficult, as those of you who have waitered or waitressed know all too well. In 2019 a waiter in Paris was shot dead over slow sandwich service.

A servant is going to be treated like a servant.

Don’t expect advancement, or recognition, or reciprocation serving the Lord. He is the reward.

Servants do what their master tells them. They don’t have job descriptions, unions, or arbitration. They serve at the pleasure of Jesus.

Billy Graham once said, “When we come to Christ, we’re no longer the most important person in the world to us; Christ is. Instead of living only for ourselves, we have a higher goal: to live for Jesus.”
Joh 6:14  Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses wrote, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”

Jews believed the Prophet was a deliverer like Moses. The crowd followed Jesus on account of His miraculous healings. They had experienced a miraculous feeding. He must be the Prophet. It seemed like Go time! for the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Joh 6:15  Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.

Again with the mountain. You might recall that immediately after Jesus was baptized by John God the Holy Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. The devil tempted Jesus for forty days and nights.

One temptation was to take Him up on an exceedingly high mountain and show Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4).

The multitude was tempting the Lord, offering to make Him their King. Jesus understood there could be no crown without the Cross.

On a doctrinal note, verse fifteen establishes that Israelites and Jesus understood the Kingdom to be a rule of God over the nations of Earth from a throne in Jerusalem.

There are, of course, spiritual aspects to the Kingdom of God. It is accurate to say that we are “in the Kingdom.” Nevertheless, the Lord is coming a second time to this Earth to fulfill the unconditional promises of a Kingdom on Earth that will last one thousand years.

Janet Oke said, “Those who choose to be servants know the most about being free.”

You can choose or refuse servanthood. The Lord leaves it up to you. It is an easier choice when you “lift up your eyes” and see the harvest and the hungry and realize that, but for the grace of God, there go I.

I don’t mean to give the impression that if you look to the Lord as your source, He will grant you the physical resources you are asking for. He might; He can.

Most likely, His resources for you will be spiritual. They can be summarized as His sufficient grace.

A word to nonbelievers. Lift up your eyes. See Jesus lifted up on the Cross. He is there for you, instead of you, that you not perish but have everlasting life.