Spirit and Life

535073_10153827963698630_9010444508728389184_nSermon Notes and Audio

Scripture Focus- John 6:60-71

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As Jesus ministered, crowds followed Him, but many were motivated by earthly motivations and selfish desires and reasons for doing so. In John 6, we come to the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. He had performed many wonderful miracles and taught the people. Jesus turned water into wine, healed the nobleman’s son, and fed the hungry crowd. Each of the miracles revealed and confirmed who Jesus was.

Jesus identified Himself as the Bread of Life-

Jesus said, v35 I am the bread of life. . .v47 Anyone who believes has eternal life. V51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever.  

 The bread of life is eternal food- this contrasts the temporal and the eternal, the material and the spiritual.

The bread of life is received by faith- faith does not offer anything to God. Faith comes to God to receive from Him.

The bread of life satisfies spiritual hunger- He is the source of eternal life and the sustainer of life for all who come to Him.

God opens the hearts of people, under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, so they will believe in Jesus and accept Him as the Bread of Life.

At the beginning of John 6, there are as many as 20,000 people excited about Jesus after He fed them with the loaves and fish. By the end of John 6, He has 12 following Him and one of them is a traitor. This is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. Many had started out following Him but then fell away. Jesus had concluded His message on being the Bread of Life and many were disturbed by His words and grumbled about it.

Jesus taught people about His true origin, true identity, and His true mission.

The main focus is on v63 The Spirit is the One who gives life. . .The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

 Three groups are represented in this passage-

The first group is made up of those who were interested in Jesus and followed Him until He began to teach things they didn’t like. They fell away. It is not uncommon for people to respond with a temporary or shallow faith. These false disciples are the curiosity seekers who are superficially attracted to Jesus. But when He makes demands on them, and makes it clear there is a cost to be paid for following Him, many disappear, not willing to let go of the world.

The second group is made up of those who seem fully committed like Judas, yet ultimately turn and reject Jesus. John described them as, “those who went out from us, but they were not really of us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:19

The third group is made up of those who submit to the difficult teachings of Jesus, and believe and follow Him. This small nucleus of disciples is the “little flock” to whom the Father has gladly chosen to give the kingdom, having drawn them to His Son. These are all who believe in Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah.

There are most likely representatives of these three groups in every congregation.

 

Truth comes through the Spirit who gives Life.

The crowd saw what Jesus was capable of doing when He multiplied the boy’s lunch and fed thousands of people with food left over. So they went looking for Jesus when He went back to Capernaum, but they did so for the wrong reasons. They wanted the Messiah to be a political deliverer who would rescue them from Rome and bring prosperity.

Jesus was known to them as the one who had grown up in Nazareth, the Son of Joseph and Mary. They had difficulty grasping what He meant when He said He was the bread of life. Jesus made it clear they could not come to Him unless God the Father drew them, and He told them again that He was the Bread of Life. He followed that by telling them He would give His flesh for the life of the world, that they would have to drink His blood to have eternal life.

 v60 “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, ‘This teaching is hard! Who can accept it?’”

These people are introduced as disciples but this does not imply they were true followers of Jesus. The word refers to someone who attaches himself to a teacher as a student or learner, but does not necessarily indicate sincerity or devotion. They thought their Jewish heritage was enough to commend them to God. They didn’t see their need for a Savior who would die for their sins. The people were not coming with seeking hearts, they were complaining about what Jesus was teaching. According to v61 Jesus knew they were complaining.

People are like that a lot of times- they aren’t really seeking the truth, they just don’t like what they are hearing. They aren’t willing to submit to the Word of God because of selfishness and the hardness of their heart and when they don’t like what they hear they leave. It is not unusual for people to take offense at difficult truths. I’ve seen many people drop out of church through the years because they didn’t like the difficult truths of the Bible.

Whether or not you understand, or like what you learn from the Word of God, does not determine its truthfulness. If you pick and choose which parts of the Bible you like or don’t like, you are not surrendering to Jesus as Lord, you are following self as lord and that is dangerous and ultimately leads to judgment.

Jesus asked them v62 What if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?

The words of Jesus are truth about life. If you miss them, if you follow the lies of the world and think you have wisdom of your own to work out the difficulties of life, you will be removed from reality. Anything other than the words of Jesus is of the flesh and profits nothing. Those who fall away are the ones who have not really believed. Jesus knew from the beginning who it was that would not believe and who would betray Him.

V63 The Spirit is the One who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

We must be born of the Spirit. Flesh points us to the will that is opposed to God. The Spirit points to the truth and gives life.  The people complained about the teaching of Jesus. They didn’t try to refute what He taught, they just grumbled. Grumbling seeks to put the blame elsewhere, to avoid personal responsibility.

In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis envisions hell as a dismal town where people live. They can create houses at a whim, but the people there are so disagreeable that everyone keeps moving farther and farther away. He tells about one person in hell who wanted to see someone famous, but all the famous sinners had moved hundreds of miles away from anyone else. So, this person figured out where Napoleon lived and spent months traveling there. When he got there he found a huge mansion. Napoleon was marching up and down the halls muttering- It was Josephine’s fault. It was Wellington’s fault. It was Lafayette’s fault.

People grumble and make all sorts of excuses, but it won’t work with God.

Truth reveals who has the Spirit and Life.

Jesus stated the obvious- v64 But there are some among you who don’t believe.

Jesus hit the core of the problem- the complainers had not been born again. Jesus told Nicodemus– John 3:3 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. V6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

The Holy Spirit gives life to sinners who are dead in their trespasses and sins. The flesh, human effort, cannot make a person right with God. Apart from being born again, we cannot understand the words of Jesus. They had not been born again, they did not have the Spirit and Life, and so they didn’t believe.

A.W. Pink- Exposition of John pointed out the balance in 6:63-64- “It is the Spirit who gives life” points to God’s sovereignty. Then, “the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” are addressed to human responsibility: we must believe Jesus’ words.

John added that Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. The human heart is hard and desperately in need of the Spirit and Life. Yet God is sovereign even over evil and unbelief.

Jesus said, in response to their unbelief- v65 This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father. Each time Jesus made this point, it was in response to unbelief or skepticism. Even when people saw Jesus’ power, and heard His teaching, and rejected Him, it did not stop the sovereign plan of God.

In the face of widespread defection, Jesus turned to the 12 disciples and said v67 You don’t want to go away too, do you? Jesus was testing their faith.

Truth overcomes all alternatives that are contrary to the Spirit and Life.

As on may other occasions, Simon Peter acted as the spokesman for the Twelve.

Peter- vv68-69 Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God! This confession is similar to Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah in Caesarea Philippi.

Jesus asked, who do you say that I am? Matthew 16:16ff Simon Peter answered, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God! Jesus responded, Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

There are two key marks here of true disciples- faith (we have believed), this is a mark of spiritual birth, and faithfulness (Lord, to whom shall we go?) which marks their character. The perfect tense of the verbs translated ‘have believed and have come to know’ conveys the idea of an act completed in the past, but with ongoing results.

We have come to believe and know- First we believe, and then we know.

The world would try to convince us that seeing is believing. The Bible says believing is seeing. When we obey the truth we see, then are taught more truth. If we resist the truth, then we lose the capacity to see and understand.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

Faith brings understanding. The main reason people do not believe is not intellectual dissent to the truth. The main reason people do not believe is because they love their sin, they love darkness, and their eyes are blinded by the god of this age. The initial faith of true disciples results in continued commitment and loyalty to Jesus. There are many options of what and whom you will follow in the world, but not viable ones.

Cultural religion always leads to disappointment.

 The fair weather disciples leaned on their religion and national heritage. They thought being the physical descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and following rules and ceremonies, was enough. In this, they were looking for deliverance from Roman rule and an age of peace and prosperity. When they heard what Jesus had to say, they turned back to a more comfortable option.

Worldly religion always leads to disappointment.

 John mentions Judas twice in the context of the disciples who turned away from Jesus (v64, vv70-71). Later on John would explain that Judas was in charge of the disciples’ money box and that he stole from it. Perhaps Judas thought, if Jesus was the promised Messiah who would conquer Israel’s enemies and reign on David’s throne, then being in on the inner circle could be lucrative. When Judas heard Jesus talking about giving His life for the world, Judas started to back up. He wasn’t prepared for that. He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas was the devil in their midst. Money, and power, can never bring us into the right standing with God. They will always fail if we trust in them for satisfaction.

Easy street religion always leads to disappointment.

Peter summed it all up- vv68-69 Simon Peter answered, Lord, who will we go to?

You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God!

Peter is saying, we have watched you Jesus, and recognized who you are. You have drawn us and compelled us. You are incomparable, there is nowhere else to go. Nobody else can measure up to Jesus.

Only Jesus has the words of eternal life-

Life is temporary and uncertain. Eternity is forever and certain. Nobody else has come from heaven to earth to tell us how we can be right with God and go to Heaven when our time on this earth is done.

If not Jesus, where will we turn?

Only Jesus is the Holy One of God-

This designation of Jesus occurs only one other time in the New Testament, when a demon-possessed man in the synagogue in Capernaum addressed Jesus with this title. In the Old Testament, it is used of Aaron. “Your Holy One” is used of Messiah (Psalm 16:10). Isaiah refers to the Lord as “the Holy One of Israel.”

Leon Morris- The Gospel According to John- There can be not the slightest doubt that the title is meant to assign to Jesus the highest possible place. It stresses His consecration and His purity. It sets Him with God and not man.

Faith is only as good as where it is focused.

Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?