But before we look at this, passage, John 6. I want to go completely off topic by quickly talking about something else. I want to talk about… Star Wars.
I’m sure everyone here has seen a Star Wars film, and if you haven’t, I’m sure you have at least heard of it. It think it would be pretty much impossible to have never heard about Star Wars before.
It was a once a cultural, movie, revolution. And as long as there is money to be made they will keep spitting out new films no matter how rubbish they may be.
Now whilst I’m having a knock at how bad the latest movies have been, I am a true Star Wars fan. Just in recent weeks, I have been re-watching the films and reading the new books, preparing myself for what will hopefully be the final in the Skywalker sage just next month
But I mention Star Wars, because whilst I’m a true fan, having watched every film many times. I’m nothing compared to some of the more dedicated fans out there.
See Star Wars, like many shows and movies in the Sci-fi, fantasy genre… Start Trek. Game of Thrones. These kind of Shows and movies get a cult following. People who can quote whole scenes word for word. People who can give you extensive character profiles on everyone in the film.
They are fanatics in the extreme sense of the word. And when they are not watching or reading up on it, they are busy theorizing about what is going to happen next and arguing with each other about who knowns more and why everyone else is wrong.
It is sad how people can become so obsessed about a fun fantasy story that they end up treating it like a religion. And yes… people do put Jedi for religious beliefs on the national census. But often when they are arguing about who is going to do what next, and what this scene represents, and how they think it all links together. Usually the writers and the directors have to come out to set the record straight. They make it clear what they were going for. That the theories are wrong and fans have assumed too much. Filling in the gaps with what you they to see, and not what the story is actually telling them.
See, I mention Star Wars this morning, because it’s a good example of how people will often try to take a few facts and then… try to fill in the gaps. They create a framework in their head or what they think is true, and then they argue it out with anyone who disagrees.
Same issue here
So if you can picture in your head, that kind of obsessed fanatic… the one who argues over every little point of their favourite sci-fi series, Then you can probably imagine what is going on here.
Because such a imagine helps to show the climate of discourse. How heated the arguments could get when it came to the question of who Jesus is in our passage today.
Because like a bunch of Star Wars fans arguing about who this character is, and what this scene represents. People back then had a theory. They had their own ideas. They had a framework in their mind about how the things of God are, and they would argue their points day after day without end.
But unlike Star Wars, that merely gets treated like a religion by its more obsessed fans. This actually is a matter of religion. This is as hot and uncompromising as conversation gets. This is what controls people’s lives. This is what people are willing to die, and kill for. People have their framework in their mind. Their view of God and life that they live. And they don’t like that being challenged.
But that is exactly what is happening here. And just like the writers, The director, of a fiction movie coming out and explaining what the story is about. Explaining who this charter is, and what they are trying to do in the story. Here we see the director, The author of life. Coming out to these people and saying your theory is wrong. You have assumed too much. Let me explain to you what the real story is.
And that is what we are going to be looking at now. Jesus correcting the misunderstandings of the people back then who thought they knew God. Who thought they understood the goal of life. Who thought they knew who Jesus was, and who thought they knew what the messiah would look like.
So as we go through this passage now, we are going to see Jesus correct three misconceptions. Three mistakes that the people back then made when it came to Jesus himself, and the ways of God.
Those three things are,
- Who He is,
- What He has come to do,
- And how people are to respond to him.
And this is important for us to think about today. Because we need to hear what Jesus says about himself here, and let that shape our view of him. Otherwise like a bunch of Star Wars fanatics trying to fill in the blanks as to what is going on in the films, we too can find ourselves trying to fill in the blanks of who, we think Jesus is. And if we do that we won’t really know Him for who he really is, and we won’t respond to him properly, as our Lord, and Saviour.
Who is Jesus?
So as I said a moment ago, There are three things we are going to look at this morning. 3 points that Jesus makes clear here about who he is, and how we are to relate to him. And the first of these points to look at today, is in regards to who Jesus really is. And the thing we need to be clear on. The fact that is not up for debate is that whoever Jesus is… That, is who he is.
It’s don’t matter who the world says he is. Doesn’t matter who we may think he is. Or who we may want him to be. Jesus is who he is, and who he has revealed himself to be.
And when we look at this passage. What Jesus makes clear to the people who were there listening to him that day. What he makes clear to us today who are reading that record of events now. What Jesus makes clear is that He has come from heaven, And that he is the son of God. Look at the start of our passage now.
The first verse of the passage… verse 41 says:
“I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
And then a bit further along in verse 46:
“No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.”
And then in verse 57:
“Just as the living Father sent me”
Where Jesus comes from… The special and unique relationship he Has with the Father in heaven. The very reason why he is here before them. All of this is made clear to the people standing there that day, and therefore to us as well. Jesus is the Son of God. He is God himself. And whilst born as a man on this earth, He himself. Who he is…. That predates anything on this world. This is God, the creator of all things among us.
Now this fact should come as no surprise to us. This theme of who Jesus is. This is very much made clear throughout the gospel of John.
If you have read through this book of John before, cast your mind back to the start of this book. Back in chapter 1 it is right there very clearly stated who Jesus is. Verses 1 to 3 says;
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
And we see that same point being made throughout that chapter.
So in Verse 9:
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world”
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”
And Just in case you weren’t getting the message. Just in case it hadn’t been made clear enough.
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
This is the big theme running through the book of John. The big declaration of just who Jesus is. And all those verses I just read out, all those verses are from only the first third of chapter 1. We will see again and again this point coming out, about just where Jesus has come from, and who he really is. Hence why it yet again comes up in our passage today.
But the people here that day. These people who are grumbling amongst themselves. They don’t get that point. For we see them say here…
“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
See they see Jesus as nothing but a man. A special man perhaps. That is after all why they are there to see him. But they don’t see Him as the son of God. They see Him as some man from the hills of Nazareth. They believe they know who he is, and where he has come from, and they don’t believe it could possibly be from heaven.
That was the big issue at that time. That is why Jesus was rejected by the people he revealed himself to. This is why he was eventually killed by the people who had waited centuries for Him to come. They just didn’t see or believe that He was the Son of God who has come from heaven to save them.
Now, we need to be fair to the people in our passage here, and realize that unlike them, we have the benefit of hindsight. We have the entire book of John before us. We have the complete and sufficient word of God to tell us exactly who Jesus is. And that means that none of us have any excuse today for not knowing that Jesus is the Son of God. Everyone in this room. All of us here today. When we walk out to leave this morning. None of us can say…“Jesus is the Son of God? No one told me that!” “How was I to know?” No one here this morning can say that now. Because I just told you. And it’s not me declaring that as a fact, but it comes from God himself. The true nature of Jesus has been revealed to us in the Bible.
So we have to be careful not to be too quick to judge those standing there that day. They haven’t had this this laid out to them the same way we do now. But let’s be clear that even these people are still without excuse. They cannot pretend that the signs were not there. Afterall, just in this chapter, Jesus had done the impossible! He fed the masses. thousands of people despite having nowhere near enough food to do such a thing.
In fact, this is why these people are now here. These same people have followed him all the way to this place. They have looked for him after he left them the day before. They have looked for him in the hope that he would do more miracles. So they have had all that they need in order to know just who he is yet they still don’t see it. Hence why he said to them just before our passage today;
“you have seen me and still you do not believe.”
They had all that they needed in order to know who Jesus is. The problem is it clashed with their views of who they think he is.
Like some fanatic Star Wars fans who have made up their mind as to the true canon of the story. The fanatics who will argue their point out until the end of the internet. The same with these people here. They don’t want to listen. They don’t want to hear. Who they think Jesus is, and who Jesus says he is; These two things simply will not fit together in their mind. So they reject him outright.
And there is a serious warning to each of us in that. We need to listen, look, and believe. We need to see who Jesus really is. Because there is no excuse if we claim not to know. Jesus is the Son of God who has come from heaven to save us. Jesus is not just a wise man. He is not just a nice man. But he is the divine man. The son of God. That is what has been revealed to us.
What does he do?
So having looked at who Jesus is, that takes us onto our next point this morning. What Jesus has done.
What does the fact that he is the son of God. the one who has come from heaven…What does that mean for us today?
And there actually isn’t a great deal that needs to be said on this point. So I’m not going to spend too much time now dealing with it. This point will be a lot shorter than the first section, because what Jesus does is made pretty clear.
The way to heaven
The first thing to know is that Jesus is the way to the father. He is the key to heaven. The one who saves and gives eternal life to those who follow him.
He claims that right here in verse 47
“truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.”
So right there is the first thing to know. Clear and simple. We all die at some point on this world. None of us live for ever. We are not immortal. We all know that. We have probably all had tragic events in our lives that has made us very aware of that fact. But if we believe in Jesus. If we are saved in him. Then after Death, there will be the resurrection. That’s why he says at the end of verse 44
“I will raise them up at the last day.”
And then says the exact same thing again at the end of verse 45. So there can be no misunderstanding here. Jesus is very clear. For those who believe in Him, death in this life is only a temporary thing. We will be raised back to life, and we will then live for ever.
So that’s the first thing to know. That’s what Jesus does. He conquers death through his own resurrection. So we can be resurrected as well. So we can be saved from death.
The only way to heaven
But just as important to that point is the next one. And that is…That Jesus is the only way for this to happen. The only way to have eternal life.
Jesus makes the exclusive claim, that only he has this special relationship with the Father, that enables this saving act to happen. So in verse 44 we read;
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them”
So we see that there is a work of the father in this saving act.
He brings people to Jesus, the Son, so that these people can be saved. But it is only to the son that he brings them. There are no other people that the father directs us to. Hence why we read in read 46;
“No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.”
We see here the special relationship the son has with the father. The father works through the Son, alone. So Jesus is not one of a group of people who have seen the father and therefore have this key to heaven. Heaven, is not like a large sporting event, or some huge concerts where you can buy tickets off this company or that company. For many big events, there can be multiple venders selling tickets to the same event. Regularly offering sales or discounts to get you to go through them. But it is not the case when it comes to eternal life and knowing God. Jesus is the only way. And this is another one of those areas where we have the benefit of Hindsight. We know everything that comes after this event in chapter 6.
Because later on in this very book. In john 14:6, Jesus declares this fact in a way that leaves no room for misunderstanding; He says;
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Many religions will claim to offer a way to God. Many people will claim to have the power to save. But the only way to come to God, is to go through God himself. If we look at heaven as a big event and what could be a bigger event than eternal life in paradise? If we see heaven as an event, and that it is God’s event, then the only one who can give you a ticket to His event is God himself.
It is a simple, common-sense, fact, really. I can’t invite people to your birthday party. I can’t invite people to your wedding. Only the one hosting the party is the one who gets to give the invites out. Eternal life in Heaven. That is God’s party, and it is only him who gives out the invites. You want in? Speak to the Son. Because he is the only way you will enter this event of God’s.
And that’s why we have that slide on the screen. Up here the one that says… The son is the one. Because it he alone who is the one who brings salvation. The one who can give us eternal life. And he is the only one who can do this. There are no other ways to be saved, except for going through Him.
How do we respond to him?
So that brings us to our last point this morning. Having looked at who Jesus is and seeing that he is God himself. And having looked at how it can only be through Jesus that we can come to the father in heaven. The last thing to look at is… how do we respond to Him? What is going to be our response to that fact? The fact that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and eternal life?
And there are going to be two things we need to be thinking of. There are two main aspects of our response to him. The immediate... and the ongoing.
The first response; The immediate. This has to be the opposite of what these people in our passage failed to realize. Simply put, you need to believe in Jesus. You need to follow him. And you need to do it immediately.
Now the reasons for that should be obvious, because we have already spent a lot of time this morning looking at why. But the main thing to know is, don’t look elsewhere to get to God. And don’t look to yourself to get to Him either. We have already seen that all other roads are dead ends. Jesus is the only way. He alone saves us and we cannot save ourselves.
That’s an important point that can easily get overlooked. I mentioned before the idea of tickets, and invites. How the only way to the big event is to have a pass to enter. But let’s clarify this a bit now. There is a difference between a ticket and an invite. A ticket is something you buy. An invite is something you are given. You can buy tickets to a sporting event. You pay money and they will let you in. You usually can’t buy tickets to a birthday party, or a wedding, or a family dinner. You need to be invited by the host. You need to be invited by the one having the celebration of some sort. You need that connection and that personal relationship to get the invite. And that is not something that can be earned.
If we go back to chapter 1 again, I quoted a few verses from that chapter before, because that chapter lays the foundation of what is to come afterwards. Especially for our passage today. But back there in verse 12 of chapter 1, we read;
“to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”
Children! It is establishing the relationship right there. The invite is to family members only. Heaven is not a festival. It’s not something you can buy tickets to. You don’t need to know the organizer of a concert to buy tickets to their event. You don’t need that personal relationship. Just money. But heaven is not like that. Instead, Heaven is a family dinner. And you need to know a family member if you want a seat at the table.
People will give vast amounts money to charities to do good for the world. People will go to church each week, and give vast amounts of money to the church. They will help those who are sick and needy. They will avoid getting drunk or watching inappropriate movies to keep themselves pure. They will do these things to be right with God. And whilst all things are good in themselves, and it’s not wrong to do these things. Thinking that through these things that you can be saved, that is wrong. That is not the way to get to God! That is just like trying to buy a ticket to a family dinner of people you don’t even know. Trying to buy tickets to a stranger’s family dinner… That would be offensive to the host. The seats are not for sale. It is invitation only.
We cannot get to God by doing something good. We cannot buy a place in heaven. As we have seen a few times this morning. We get there by knowing Jesus. It is through the Son that we get eternal life. Only the ones that he knows gets the personal invitation from him.
Now that was the first of two responses to what we are seeing here. That’s the immediate response. Once we come to see Jesus as our saviour, how we respond to him. But, the next thing to think about in how we respond to Jesus. This turning to him and only him for salvation… The next thing we need to know is that this is an ongoing process.
It is not a one-off event, but instead, it takes a real commitment. It must result in a change in our life, and how we are to live. It is in many ways hard work.
Now at first, that may almost seem like a contradiction. We just looked at how salvation and Eternal life is not by what we do, and yet we are expected to do something. We are expected to live this out. How does that all fit together?
Well it fits together because what we do will be a result and a reflection of that relationship we have been given.
I’m not married. But I know a lot of people who are. And I know this about marriage. The wedding day is the easiest part. Now of course the day itself has a lot to do. Venues to book before hand and guest to greet. There is stuff that takes genuine effort. But the day itself. The taking the vows. That’s not hard. Its the living to those promises that is the hard part. It’s the commitment over years, and even many decades, that’s the part that takes real effort. A marriage cannot be limited to only the wedding day alone, but instead, it is the beginning of the ongoing relationship. The bride and groom do not part ways after the reception and wish each other a good life. To do so would make the vows meaningless. There is no lifetime commitment is doing such a thing.
And there is something similar at work here when it comes to the relationship we have with Jesus. When we come to know and follow Jesus, we start on a new path in life. You don’t become a Christian one day and then just return to your old life like nothing happened the next. Like marriage, it’s a lifetime commitment. The beginning of something new. And that is another one of those themes running through this book. The idea of being born again and starting fresh. That makes it clear that this is talking about a new beginning to life that is to be an ongoing change of life. Not a one-off event that you can move on from like it never happened.
Now we see here in our passage the language being used by Jesus. This whole passage is full of him saying… Eat my flesh. Drink my blood. It’s obvious the connection going on here with what will be the Lord’s Supper. The eating the bread. The drinking the wine. We see that being reflected here.
Now I’m not going to spend anytime talking about, communion; The lord’s supper. What Jesus means by his flesh and blood and how these things are not literal. That’s not the thing to focus on this morning other than to say; There is a reason why we take communion regularly, and a reason why we are baptised only once.
Baptism is the immediate response. We are born again in Christ. A new beginning from that point. And communion is the ongoing response. It is the living out that new life commitment. Remembering how it is that we have come to have this new life in the first place.
Because we have been saved through Jesus. Through the Son. That is why he says;
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
That Salvation. Eternal life. It is a gift through the Son, that like a marriage, it is something that you live out each day. It is not something that happens one day, and then gets forgotten the next. Having been given the invite to God’s family dinner, our response is in preparing ourselves to sit at the table.
When we reflect on what we have looked at, we see that there are three possible responses from what we have seen today. Everyone here has one of three ways to respond to what we have looked at in this passage.
The first possible response; The one you could have if you have never heard of this salvation in Jesus before. If you had never heard that he is the Son of God, and the only way to eternal life… Well now you have.
That message has been made known this morning. And today might be that wedding day for you. Taking seriously his words where he said;
“Truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life”
For some today, that may be one response to this passage.
For others; For those of us who may have known these things before. For those who came to know Jesus a long time ago. The response to this passage has to be the encouragement to keep going strong.
Like a married couple remembering those vows they had taken all those years ago. Remembering the life commitment made back then. Same deal here. Remembering the salvation given in Jesus and the invitation to the family dinner we have secured through him. That has to be the response of those who have been made new in the past. Staying strong and committed in that relationship.
But the last possible response; The one warned about here, is to ignore it altogether. The grumblers here refused to see Jesus for who he really was. They couldn’t hear his message, because they didn’t want to listen. Like a know it all sci-fi fanatic that has the movie all worked out. The one with the locked in framework in their head, and they won’t change it They won’t change their beliefs, even when the writer them self explains the true story to them. The warning here is don’t respond like the grumblers in this passage. Don’t ignore the message because it might not fit with your expectations. Instead, hear it, believe it, and then live it. Make sure, that unlike these people, you don’t ignore what Jesus is saying.