Saturday, January 16, 2010
1/16/10 John 6 Deserting Our Source of Life
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them." 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God." 70 Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
Calvin abridged: 65- “No one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him”- Faith is an uncommon and remarkable gift of the Spirit of God. Jesus noted this so that we may not be astonished that the Gospel is not received in every place and by all people. No one, however wise, can ever arrive at faith by their own wisdom- for all are blind until they are illuminated by the Spirit of God. 66- “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” It is a dreadful and monstrous thing that so kind and gracious an invitation of Christ could have alienate so many- even those who professed to be followers of him. We should be careful that none fall away because of our own fault. Yet, we should not be afraid to preach the true doctrine of Christ, even if it offends many (Isa. 8:14). If many are offended because of God’s word, we should not be disgusted at the word of God, but let us rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15), and advance boldly in the midst of those who are offended. 67- “You do not want to leave too?” As they were likely to be discouraged by such a great number leaving, and only a small remnant remaining, Jesus turned his attention to them. In asking this, Jesus was exhorting them to not be the companions of the apostates. If faith is founded on Christ, it will not be dependent on the response of people. Every believer should seek to follow God though they should not have a companion. 68- “To whom shall we go- you have the words of life”- Peter answered that his doctrine was good and life-giving and that if they left Christ there remained for them nothing but death.
Thoughts: Today in America, there is an avalanche of people turning away from faith- as I have said before (10% in 10 years). Turning away (apostasy) is nothing new (see passage above). I disagree with those who say it is healthy that people leave because now we see the true Church. Christ was obviously disheartened that people turned away- yet he still would not dilute God’s Word for them. He also noted that the Church was not still pure- one would still betray them (vs. 71). I went to Cuba in 1993 on a trip to visit the Presbyterian Churches there on their 100th anniversary. There had been a great turning away after Fidel Castro started taking names of those who attended church and said they could not send their children to college or buy new houses or cars, or get the best promotions. Church attendance dwindled to 10-20%. In our passage above, many were willing to follow Christ when he fed the 5,000 and 4,000 (which occurred in John right before this falling away). But when he started teaching the deep truths that he was their source of spiritual nourishment and life- they turned away. The narrow claims of Christ offend many in a day of wickedness and total tolerance. Large crowds will follow Christ if they believe he will do something for them now. The mistake was made in the seeker-friendly churches of trying to make discipleship easy to attract people- taking down crosses (lest they offend), speaking only of the appealing parts of the gospel. Yet. Jesus was continually talking of the cost of discipleship (Mt. 8,10; Lk. 9, 14). In Mainline churches there is a danger in seeking to only meet the physical and mental hunger (food, education) and not the deep spiritual hunger. In Pentecostal churches there is a danger to only heal the body and not the soul. Jesus was concerned about the whole person- all of their life that God have created and given them- physical (he healed), mental (he healed and taught), and spiritual (his sacrifice and boldness in proclaiming truth). In a day in which the Christian faith is losing its popularity in America, we should focus on Jesus- the author and perfector of our faith- who has the words of life for us.
Prayer: Though all fall away, help me to remain close to you. Though times are tough, help me to keep my soul, Lord. Use me today as an anchor to those who are drifting away into the depths of sin.