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Introduction to John 6

April 17th, 2018
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We are now coming to a new chapter in the book of John. In every chapter we are facing the questions of why people did not believe Jesus is the Son of God and could not see his glory and what true belief is that leads to eternal life.

Some questions to reflect on as you read John 6:

What is the significance of the Passover being near?

What is the lesson of the vast crowd being feed by such meagre resources?

Why do you think John mentions the boy as the source of the loaves and fishes?

Is there a message with the excess bread and fish?

Why did Jesus leave the crowd to be alone?

Why did Jesus walk on water to his disciples and why is it included in a story which is primarily about bread?

What is the work of God?

What is the primary difference between Moses and Jesus?

Why did Jesus offend many of his disciples?

Why did his closest disciples believe?

John 6

1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing those who were ill. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

7 Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’

8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’

10 Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
Jesus walks on the water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[b] they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’ 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realised that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realised that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
Jesus the bread of life

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, ‘Rabbi, when did you get here?’

26 Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’

28 Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’

29 Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’

30 So they asked him, ‘What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”[c]’

32 Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’

34 ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘always give us this bread.’

35 Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’

41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 42 They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I came down from heaven”?’

43 ‘Stop grumbling among yourselves,’ Jesus answered. 44 ‘No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God.”[d] Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live for ever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’

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 day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live for ever.’ 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Many disciples desert Jesus

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[e] 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.)

Message for the Day ,

Light and Conscience

April 10th, 2018
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There are many images of the Christian Life.

One is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Another image is light compared to darkness. Christians live in the light.(as we heard from 1 John)

These metaphors mean those born from above are new. They do not live as before. They have a new life that comes from above – where God is free from sin, dwelling in light.

In this message I want to describe a key insight into living this new life.

The key insight is conscience.

One of the most upsetting encounters we can have is to actually deal with a person who has no conscience – - they have no guilt and take no responsibility for their actions.

They can be serial liars, con men, people who see other people as objects to be used or hurt. We can have terms like psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists.

It is almost impossible for the ordinary person to even grasp that there are such people. And they can even be charming when they want to get you on side. But woe betide if you cross them.

And yet all of us to one degree or another reflected a world that Paul described as evil, disobedient and filled with darkness. A strange mixture of some awareness of the intent of God’s law and values opposed to God’s will.

Before the light of Christ shines fully into our lives, we can have some awareness of hurting others or of breaking the standards of the community we belong to. We hope that most people do.

Sometimes religion, a political cause, war, even business can dehumanize the other person into an object of no value. We can justify doing things to them that we would never want done to ourselves or those we love.

It is not easy to admit, as it wasn’t for the religious leader’s of Jesus day, that a lot of what the world thinks is OK is actually opposed to God and has as its source another spirit working in us.

Remember what Jesus said to them In John 5:

1. Verse 38: You don’t have God’s word in you. You don’t believe the one whom he has sent.
2. Verse 40: You don’t want to come to me.
3. Verse 42: You don’t have the love of God in you.
4. Verse 43: You don’t believe me.
5. Verse 44: You cannot believe.
6. Verse 45: You don’t believe Moses, and you don’t believe me.

It is hard to admit that spiritually that the human family is a dysfunctional consequence of one who is a liar and murderer from the beginning. The world thinks evil is normal. In fact goodness is seen as boring, and evil as exciting. Movies reflect this.

But we only have to look around us or even just study some history to be aware that something is seriously wrong with humanity – especially with those who rise to the top.

The Old Testament chronicles the sad human story using Israel as a major example of this – despite their privileges. It is a spiral into darkness. And ironically that darkness was its greatest when Israel was its most faithful in its eyes to the Torah. That was when it crucified Jesus.

That in itself is a warning about trusting our religious practices even when they seem to be biblical. Hypocrisy is a leaven that the Temple authorities were guilty of and which can easily enter the lives of those claiming to be doing the right thing as compared to others. We can justify anything by comparing to others. War is a primary example of this. Religion can be marshalled to support horrible atrocities.

Too often religion can be reduced to a straining at gnats to swallow camels. Whiten sepulchres with dead mens bones inside. This can make religious people very unpleasant to be around.

Human nature actually doesn’t like to see who we we really are.

As Jesus said in John 3:19-21

19 This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

So human nature lives a lie of believing I am OK or if am not it is because others are at fault.

Human nature can’t seem to face that we are not OK and what we think is OK is more often than not is contrary to God.

The NT gives us some various descriptions of consciences – defiled, weak, seared, evil. This is what comes in to the church. Upon all of us Jesus must shine his light.

And unless those consciences are put right even the good news can be quickly distorted or manipulated into something contrary to is meaning. More often than not it will become about us and how well we are doing. Not about God and his graciousness.

Everyone has been a partner with the fruitless deeds of darkness in some form or another. Think of how Christians collaborated with slavery and other forms of racism, until members of the church began to stop and allowed the Holy Spirit to actually have Christ shine on their conscience and expose the evil they were compromising with.

Jesus described another type of person

John 3:21

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
(0r done in God or done by God’s help.)

Notice where the focus is. Always on God: it is God centred and God dependent.

It would be wonderful if we could share Paul’s confidence in

Romans 9:1

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit

How does this happen?

Read more…

Message for the Day

The Resurrection and the Kindness of Christ

April 7th, 2018
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The resurrection wasn’t something that one would say “Oh that’s what I expected!” There is a range of emotions at first. Mostly negative as we will see.

Luke’s account of the women at the tomb.

Luke24:5-11

5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men(Angels) said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”’
8 And they remembered His words. 9 Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.

What didn’t they believe? The couldn’t believe what Jesus had said. Something had happened that never before had taken place.

The firstfruits of the resurrection had occurred. The new creation had begun.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible:

The allusion is to the firstfruits of the earth, which were offered to the Lord: and especially to the sheaf of the firstfruits, which was waved by the priest before him, ( Deuteronomy 26:2 ) ( Leviticus 23:10 Leviticus 23:11 ) and to which Christ, in his resurrection from the dead, is here compared.

The firstfruits were what first sprung out of the earth, were soonest ripe, and were first reaped and gathered in, and then offered unto the Lord; so Christ first rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, and presented himself to God; as the representative of his people;
for though there were others that were raised before him, as the widow of Sarepta’s son by Elijah, the Shunammite’s son by Elisha, and the man that touched the prophet’s bones when put into his grave, and Jairus’s daughter, the widow of Naam’s son, and Lazarus by Christ; yet as these did not rise by their own power, so only to a mortal life: but Christ, as he raised himself by his own power, so he rose again to an immortal life, and was the first that ever did so; he was the first to whom God showed, and who first trod this path of life.

Luke24:12,22-24

12 But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

He was astonished, wondering what it meant. He really had nothing to understand what it meant. It was brand new in human existence.

Later we read about the despair on the road to Emmaus.

Discouraged disciple said this to the resurrected Christ

22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find his body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.”

Not real – just silly women talk – they are hysterical about an empty tomb.

This chapter flows into Acts 1:1-8

1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.
3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.

That statement alone tells us that it wasn’t immediately believed as we will see.

He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

That’s an extended time to complete their understanding about himself and the kingdom of God.

4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them,

That is very physical. Again we are seeing something that is radically new yet continuous with who Jesus was.

he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptised with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptised with[b] the Holy Spirit.’
6 Then they gathered round him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
7 He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’

A witness is not someone who argues about a possibility but gives the facts about an event. It is not a matter of debating what has occurred. They are stating they were there and saw it.

Remember what we heard in 1 John 1:1-4

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

We realize from all of this that the resurrection is too vast to be celebrated in one day. In fact, over the centuries it has been called the great 50 days period leading up to Pentecost. From the wave sheath offering to Pentecost. A week of weeks.

We will look at the significance of the 50 days and see some highlights of the period which twas used by Jesus to make sure these witnesses knew what they had experienced.

As we heard After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.

This was over a period of 40 days.

When Jesus appeared he had to reassure them he was real – the dead man was alive in their midst, walking with them, eating with them. It really was him – the same Jesus.

Lets see some of these encounters.

Read more…

Message for the Day