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John6(2b)

May 6th, 2018
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It said there are two sides to an issue. Two ways to look at a subject. Sometimes at first they may appear to contradict. Yet together they can give us a more complete picture.

This is true in John 6:30–40

It has two parts: verses 30–36 and verses 37–40.

In these verses we can see what’s happening in the world with regard to faith and salvation from two sides — from the side of man and his responsibility to receive what God offers, and from the side of God and his rule to accomplish his saving purposes.

In verses 30–36, we are looking at things from the side of man’s responsibility.

In verses 37–40 we are looking at things from the side of God’s rule.

In these verses Jesus is still talking to the crowd in the synagogue that followed him across the lake because he had filled their stomachs with food (verse 26). He has directed their attention away form the food that perishes to the “bread that endures to eternal life” (verse 27). Then in verse 29, he said that the way to “work” for this eternal food is to believe in the one God has sent — Jesus the Messiah.

So the crowd questions him again:

John6:30-40

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.”

Even though they had seen him feed five thousand, this was another day, and their stomachs were not full any more. They remembered that in the wilderness Moses gave God’s manna every day.(The Friday was twice as much so as to rest on the Sabbath). They didn’t just have miracle bread one day. But every day, for forty years.

So Jesus, if you want us to see and believe, keep on working. Keep on doing your signs.

32 Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven,

Moses did not give you bread from heaven.

but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.

The bread God gave through Moses was not the main point of the miracle. It pointed to something bigger. The point was that there is a “true bread from heaven,” namely, Jesus (as we will see in just three verses). All things point to their fulfillment in Jesus.

Remember we are looking at things from the side of God’s offer and human responsibility.

Don’t miss the word “you.” Most of them are not going to receive it. But Jesus says, God is giving it. This is the way we go to the world. God has given you the bread of life. That is, he offers it to you. It is free. Take it. Eat it.

33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’

It is the “bread of God,” and it is offered here, not just to a few, but now for the life of the world. Here we have a global offer and the responsibility of man rises even higher — the responsibility to see and believe and eat the bread of God.

Their response to this is similar to the woman at the well in

Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water. (John 4:15 )

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

Be like Moses — just keep on giving us the bread of God, the manna that fills our stomachs.

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.

Jesus — Jesus himself and all that God is for us in him — is what we hunger for and thirst for -even though this world doesn’t know this as it chases everything else to fill the void. He has been merciful to us to come and offer himself as the supreme Treasure of our lives.

That doesn’t mean hunger and thirst in our souls does not rise up every day. It means now we know what it’s for. Now we know where to turn. Now we know what to drink and what to eat. We drink down Jesus. We swallow the glory of Jesus.

And there is a never-ending supply. This is what we were made for. All other treasures, all other pleasures point to this. Jesus is the all-satisfying end of every longing.

Saving faith is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus.

This changes everything.

We never read our Bible the same again. We never think about the obedience that flows from faith the same again. We never fight for purity and holiness the same again.

When we see that saving faith is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, we understand what Paul wrote in the “good fight of faith” becomes a fight for joy. And from then on, everything is different.

And the fight for joy is doing whatever we must to see Jesus for who he is, and to delight in Jesus above all things. He is our good news. He is our assurance.

He is the one who reveals and leads us to the Father, and sends to us the Holy Spirit from the Father.

But notice the human response of many in that synagogue:

36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.

Seeing they didn’t see. And they didn’t believe. That is, they didn’t come and eat to their soul’s satisfaction.

So, the first section of the text ends with the gift of God rejected. God offers his bread — his Son — to his own people, and his own did not receive him. This is the way the saving purpose of God looks from the side of man and his responsibility.

God offers his Son, and man is responsible to see.

Did God fail with that generation? If not, why not?

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Message for the Day

John6(2)

April 26th, 2018
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We have a strange break between the story of the loaves and fishes and Jesus being the bread from heaven.
We read of an intensively private experience with the disciples. The public is not involved.

John6:16-29

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.

Jesus seems to have deliberately chosen not to be with them for a purpose.

18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.

So here is a picture of the disciples in the dark, in a storm, without Jesus—right after a miracle whose obscured spiritual point will be revealed later to be : I am the bread from heaven, and if you feed on me, you will live forever (6:50).

But now their life is imperilled, not by hunger, but by wind.

19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened.

Being superstitious they probably were terrified that this was a ghost or spirit apparition. It would have been a shocking sight. Even today people mock the idea of a man walking on water.

This time he doesn’t give them twelve baskets of miracle bread. He gives them the miracle of his presence when they thought there is no way he could be with them.

The focus is on Jesus’ personal presence – not the stilling of the storm.

20 But he said to them, ‘It is I; don’t be afraid.’

What John says is not: O look he has authority over wind and waves, what an all-providing king he would make! That’s true. He would, and he is. But what John says is: Jesus himself came to them. He identified himself, “It is I.”

21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

And with that, the story within the story is immediately over. They are at their desired haven.

One of the remarkable things about this miracle of Jesus walking on the water, and the disciples being rescued from the wind and landing strangely safe at their desired haven, is that nothing is made of it in the rest of the Gospel.

We are in the middle of chapter 6, and the entire chapter is devoted to unfolding the implications of the miracle of the feeding of the 5 thousand. So that miracle gets a whole chapter of attention and explanation. This miracle gets none.

So John is not telling this miracle as a way of setting the stage for a long dialogue about Jesus’ ability to walk on water. Instead this miracle is embedded in the story of the feeding of the 5 thousand. This miracle in John’s mind served that story. John is telling the short and amazing incident of Jesus’ walking on the water to clarify or underline something in the story about the loaves and fish.

Here’s a clue what that might be. So far as we know, the people that Jesus walked away from in verse 15 and some of whom he will now spend of the rest of this chapter talking to—they never hear about this miracle. Jesus doesn’t talk about it.

The disciples don’t talk about it. So who is it for?

Let see .

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.

In the morning, the crowd can’t find Jesus and so, according to verse 24, they cross the sea to Capernaum looking for him.

And they find him in the synagogue. We know that because verse 59 says, “Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.”

They were excited about bread as their pleasure, not Christ as their Treasure.

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

How did he get here? There was only one boat and Jesus wasn’t on it. But Jesus doesn’t explain to them that he walked across over the water.

This event was for the disciples and us. Jesus is showing something to the disciples that underlines the point of the feeding of the 5 thousand.

One of the minor points that we didn’t develop about last time was that when the 5 thousand had eaten their fill, Jesus said to his disciples in

John 6:12(b)

Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.

Then verse 13 says something that surely has more meaning than mere mathematics.

“So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.”

Why twelve? Surely it’s no mere coincidence that there are twelve. Jesus calls his disciples “the Twelve” in verses 67 and 70.

Jesus could be saying:

I did a miracle for you on the land, and gave each of you an extra basket of bread. I showed you that I will be your personal bread—each one of you. If you have an overwhelming ministry in front of you—to feed 5 thousand—and you feel totally inadequate, not only will I give you resources to feed them, I will be there for you when it is all over. I will not just give you bread; I will be your bread.

When you serve me and you give and give and give until you think you can give no more, I will take care of you. I will always be enough for you. If you pour out your life to give bread to the world, I will be your all-satisfying bread. The more you satisfy others, the more I will be your satisfaction. The more you give life to others, the more I will be life to you.

This was true for each of the twelve.

After the miracle of loaves and fishes I have done another miracle for you. I have shown you that in the dark, in the storm, I will let nothing separate me from you. I may seem as distant and as inaccessible as a well-meaning, helpless friend on shore while you are about to drown three miles out to sea.

But there is a difference. I will be there for you. Nothing can stop me. I will walk on water to be with you. And when you take me into your boat with joy, we will arrive at our desired haven.

Knowing Jesus is with us is what life is about.

So whether the story is about being rescued from hunger by making bread, or being rescued from wind by walking on water, the point is: I don’t just give bread; I am bread. I don’t just make the wind stop; I get into the boat with you.

Then Jesus  publicly confronts why they are following him.

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.

They are living on a purely physical level. Jesus knows our true motivations. He cannot be fooled.

Now we come to a key scripture.

As we will see, the context for all this talk will be Israel’s exodus from Egypt and God’s faithfulness in providing manna.

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Message for the Day

John6(1)

April 23rd, 2018
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As you heard from the reading John 6 has its context in the meaning of Passover. We have referred to this story before. Let us revisit a very simple lesson we looked at previously before moving deeper into the chapter.

Gary Deddo wrote:

How did this happen? We could simply say Jesus performed a miracle. Of course, but how did he go about it? Was it with great fanfare, a spectacular Hollywood magic show complete with light, mirrors and smoke by which the amazing Jesus impressed us again with his phenomenal powers?

Not at all. Jesus did not multiply the loaves and fish by himself. In fact, he drew very little attention to himself. In lifting the food to heaven and saying a blessing, Jesus understood himself as dependent on his Father. This situation was like all the others he encountered in his earthly life: Jesus only did what he saw his Father doing.

This is a constant theme throughout the book of John. Jesus is the perfectly obedient human son of God.

Jesus participated in the actions of his Father. Further, Jesus had said to the disciples, “You feed them,” and they did. Jesus (with his Father) not only could have provided the loaves and fishes, but he could have had the disciples stand back, saying “Watch this, boys!” and sent those loaves and fishes flying instantly right into the laps of all 5,000.

What an amazing magical moment that would have been! But he didn’t go about it that way at all. He involved his disciples. They participated with him in feeding the hungry.

I am not suggesting that Jesus needed the disciples—or even their fish and loaves. That would be a serious misrepresentation of the truth. But rather, Jesus delighted to find ways for his disciples to get involved in the very things he and his Father were doing. Did these disciples have the understanding or the resources needed for the task? Not at all. But Jesus found a wonderful way for them to participate in his humble exhibition of the divine compassion of his heavenly Father.

The disciples got to be involved in the very thing Jesus (and his Father) was doing. I’m sure they were astounded—not just that all the people got fed, but that he took what was theirs, made it his own, and then gave it back to them to serve the people in his name. Can you imagine the joy and wonder of being involved in God’s feeding of 5,000?

Our Christian service is not a necessity to God but a privilege for us. God could quite easily do anything without us. But he has chosen to work through the weakness and foolishness of human beings. He wants to see if we share his commitment to his purpose to gather the human race into one family united in love.

This Gospel story illustrates Christian life and ministry. What is needed, good and right, is always overwhelming, even seemingly impossible. We hear a word from Jesus that sounds like “You feed them,” and we quickly become aware that we have so little. It’s humiliating, at least to our pride, to admit how meager our resources are compared to the compassionate aims of God.

At that point the question becomes, Will we act in faith, trusting in the character of the one calling for our action and obedience? Will we give him what we have so we can see what he will do with what little we really offer to him?
We can be so overwhelmed we do nothing and just worry about our needs and survival. I think of the vast task Kalengule Kaoma has in Africa. It would be easier just to play safe and so it is all too hard. I think that is also true in Nepal, Bangladesh, even PNG.

As I said we serve as a privilege. God knows what he is going to do. We don’t have to panic about the impossibility of bringing the kingdom of God to this earth. That is God’s ultimate responsibility. That’s why we pray “Thy Kingdom come”.

But to be invited to share the character of that kingdom in our daily lives and to be brother to whom we can is something we rejoice over.

We may offer to him our failures and our sin in confession, or offer our resources, action plans and obedience with thanksgiving. Will we trust him to do with our meager action just as he did with those first disciples? Will we marvel at the miracle of participating in Christ’s own obedience to the Father in his continuing ministry to his neighbors and his world?

That’s the wonder of Christ’s Lordship—he always makes room for our participation, though we never really have what it takes. It is only in partnership with him, in fellowship and communion, in union with him, that we reflect the glory of God as his children.

This to me is what we are all about wherever we go. We have the life of Jesus in us as living waters to flow out as a blessing to others. And we should do good where we have opportunity.

All the gospel writers include this story but only John refers to a unnamed boy.

John 6:5-9

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 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?’

There are two points I would like to add here:

Firstly Jesus knew all along what he was going to do.

Secondly a most insignificant person, a small boy, is the means by which Jesus will feed the masses.

So we should never underestimate with whom Jesus will work.

This helps us to understand how we can be motivated to actively participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Too often we can focus on ourselves, our resources, our obedience.

Gary Deddo:

When we focus on our own obedience, we are in the habit of thinking that our individual will is the key to our behavior and actions. If something is going to get done, then we tend to depend on one of two things: 1) the strength of our own wills, or 2) the effectiveness of our natural or learned skills, and their use in the programs, plans, techniques or formulas available.

But if we lack both these, we may simply conclude that we have no responsibility at all. It must be someone else’s calling.

The boy with the five loaves and two fishes was not qualified on any front. In fact as if to emphasise this he is left unnamed.

Children represent in the NT the marginal, the invisible, the vulnerable.

It is like the lesson the apostle Paul learned:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
9 But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

On that front we are all more than qualified. And the longer we live the more qualified we seem to be.

We are more likely through the realities and unpredictability of life to see ourselves as that unknown little boy bringing his small lunch to the disciples.

Not much to boast about. Even as a church group we are more like this little boy. And that seems to be truer every year. And yet how amazing has been the reach of such a small group.

Now let us begin a series going deeper into this chapter.

John 6:1-3

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.

They were following him because of the signs they saw him doing. He was healing the sick, and they were amazed and desired more of the benefits of this power.

But this is not encouraging. We have seen this before: “because they saw the signs he had performed.”

John2:23-24

23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.
24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.

Something is wrong with their hearts. They are excited by Jesus’ signs. They believe he is a genuine miracle-worker. But!

People want to follow the one who seems powerful.

John wants us to believe that Jesus is the son of God, but it has to be according to the way Jesus lives with his Father as we will see.

John6:4

 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

The context to this whole chapter is important. It will become the reference point to what follows throughout the chapter.

But something is wrong. The response to Jesus would satisfy most human leaders but not Jesus.

Lets jump to the end of the story of the feeding of the five thousand in

John 6:14–15,

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.

The reference to the Prophet points back to Deuteronomy 18:15 where Moses prophesied, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers — it is to him you shall listen.”

These people believed that Jesus was the predicted Prophet and the long expected King of Israel. Wasn’t that a correct conclusion? Yes it was.

So why did Jesus withdraw? By himself!

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Message for the Day