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Harambee Church

John 6:59-71 The Hard Sayings of Jesus Pt. 2

John 6:59-71 “The Hard Sayings of Jesus Pt. 2”

 

Preached @ Harambee Church by Pastor Michael Gunn on February 11, 2007

 

 

I believe in order to know

 

Augustine

 

 

Intro

 

Last week we saw Jesus delivering one of His hardest messages in the synagogue. It was a message that confused the people and enraged the religious leaders. Why? What kind of message frustrates so many people? As humans, we are most often frustrated by a message that cuts against the grain of our primary assumptions. As humans, that foundation is autonomy and the desire to create our own paths to spiritual enlightenment. As Christians, that comes out of our belief that we are in control and it is purely our own choices that brings forth salvation. Jesus cuts against that grain and declares that salvation is of the Lord only, and that joy in this world comes from His people feeding off of Him alone. When we are struggling as a mom, dad, teacher, lawyer, doctor, religious leader, or transient, we struggle because we are setting our sights on the problems before us, instead of the God of our problems. Our biggest need is not to become better people, but our greatest need is to see Christ as the, “Bread of life!” When He says He is the bread of life, He is saying that He alone is our sustenance and source of joy and abundant life. To feed off Him is to listen to and obey His words through bible intake, prayer and fasting.

 

 

Jesus finishes up this important discourse by turning His attention to those who are following Him. The same people who wanted to make Him king in verse 15 are now questioning whether they want to follow Him at all. But there are some who realize who He is, the only true God who has the only keys to eternal, abundant, joyful life.

 

 

From the Head…

 

Verse 59 reminds us that this took place in Capernaum in the synagogue (cf. v. 24). This tells us that the dialogue most likely was in response to the scripture reading (see Exodus 16 and Isaiah 54) and was a form of Midrash (a style of dialogue and debate that could get heated, and was intended to work out the truth of the text). Jesus then turn to His followers (the term “disciples” mathaton, can mean “follower” and not necessarily the twelve that Christ chose).

 

 

General Followers

 

His disciples were grumbling and complaining that the words were too “hard” (“sklaros” hard, offensive, harsh). Christ asks them, “Does this offend you?” The word He used for offend is “skandalizo” (we get our word “scandalous” from this Greek root) and means stumbling block. Jesus isn’t afraid to offend humanity. Many people have a South Park image of Jesus being a weak guy getting His rear kicked by Satan. Christ is not a weak push over even in His incarnational form as a man. He is also God, with eyes that blaze with fire, a robe dipped in blood, a sword that will, “Strike down the nations,” and a leg with tattoos declaring Him to be “King of Kings and Lord of Lords (see Revelation 19:11-16).” Jesus’ words are given in love for these people, but sometimes the words we need to speak appear harsh, but are done with the motivation of love (See Proverbs 27:6; Ephesians ).

 

 

Jesus’ next question in verse 62 is puzzling and begs the question as to whether He is expecting a negative or positive response. First it helps to understand what He most likely means. John and 17:5 (see too Isaiah 52:13) can help us understand that He is talking about the reason He came: to die on the cross to display God’s glory through the scandal of the cross. Subsequently the answer to His question depends on our perspective. Verses 63 and 64 reveal the conditions to responding to this realty in the positive. First, it’s an act of the Spirit, and second that act results in our will to be shaped by belief (faith) in Christ. When this isn’t true, a correct understanding of Jesus’ teaching results in the same way we see people here responding, in disdain. It’s a stumbling block and utter foolishness (1 Corinthians ). How you respond matters! But it is the Spirit that regenerates your heart before you respond.  Verse 65 reminds us what He has been saying. We can only make this “decision” if the Father has “enabled” (“dido”, literally “given” written in the perfect passive, which tells us it is something being done to us, and the results are ongoing) us to do it. There are many following Jesus because they are looking to get something from Him, or they believe that they can add Him to their lives without submitting to Him as our cherished spouse. Jesus is demanding that we come to Him as our cherished end, and not use Him as a means to that end. As a result the followers, “Turned back and no longer followed Him.”

 

 

Then the Twelve

 

Jesus turns to His 12 and asks, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Peter acts as the spokesmen for his guys and says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” This had to have been a hard time for Peter and the fellas, especially Judas, who was the money keeper. He was the admin guy looking to Christ to be his political deliverer. He was one who didn’t believe that Jesus was the messiah for anything else than meeting his immediate needs. He had to have been frustrated as the entire congregation of followers left. They had been having an incredible run of church growth, and in one sermon the crowds disappeared. In the end, Jesus had a church after three years of about 120 people. In short, He was a poor church planter. What’s important here is Peter’s answer to Christ in verse 69. “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Note the progression, “believe and know.” Augustine once said that he, believed and then knew. This is foreign to a western rational mind that is taught to believe only what we see, taste, touch, hear or smell. In the West it is, I know then I believe. Jesus says it is not your reason that brings you to this reality; it is faith that will lead you to knowledge. The problem is that we have used our reason to build a God that looks more like ourselves and western theologians than it does the God of the bible. This is true of stay at home moms, those that leave the home to work, philosophers, and pragmatists alike. We are all victims of our idolatrous minds, and we are all in need of repentance and belief.

 

 

…to the Heart

 

Someone once asked a group of men at a men’s retreat if their marriages were truly affair proof. He said, “Is your marriage immune to an extra-marital affair because your marriage is rock solid, or because you haven’t had an opportunity to sin?” (This retreat took place before the regular use of the internet.) That often struck me as a reality. Too often we think that we are immune to sins because they haven’t reared their ugly heads. The question I have in light of our passage is, “Is your marriage to Christ immune to an idolatrous affair because your relationship with Him is rock solid, or because you haven’t had any reason to question your faith lately?” Basically is your “Faith” in Jesus as the Bread of Life, or is it in another version of a Jesus that you are hoping for? Is our faith ready for a barrage of life and its many forms of fiery darts? The horror of a tragedy? The slow death of the mundane? The slick arguments of a skeptic? Are we still trying to please our God with daily offerings, or are we coming to Him in a daily gratitude for the love and acceptance by which He saved us? I pray that we, like Paul, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you unless, of course, you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

 

 

 

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