Summary: Power of God’s Word
Dear Fellow Redeemed:
How many of you have ever been told something that you found hard to believe? Perhaps it was so difficult to believe that no matter what the proof offered to support it, or no matter how credible the person telling you the information, you simply refused to accept it. I am confident that most of us have had this type of experience. It is in our nature to question what is hard for us to understand whether it is concerning earthly matters or spiritual matters.
In our Gospel lesson for today, we see a prime example of this concerning spiritual matters. Last Sunday, we heard our Savior telling the people and his disciples that if they eat his flesh and drink his blood they will be raised on the last day and receive the gift of eternal life. The people in the synagogue had difficulty in accepting this teaching from our Savior, because the words of Jesus were hard to understand. Jesus compared himself to the Manna that their fathers had eaten for 40 years in the wilderness. He called himself the Living Bread from heaven. This was too much for the stiff-necked people of Israel to grasp, so they grumbled against Jesus.
This morning St. John records for us the reaction of the Lord’s disciples. As difficult as it was for the common Jew to accept Jesus’ teaching, so also his disciples struggled with these words of life. Recently, the disciples were witnesses to the feeding of the 5000. For the past three years, they had seen Jesus heal the sick and the raise the dead, give sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. These miracles showed that he had the power to do things only God could do. They listened to his teachings and they knew that his words were God’s words. However, there were some on this occasion that refused to accept his words. They failed to realize that GOD’S WORD HAS ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES. For some it brings eternal death, and for others it brings eternal life.
At this point in the ministry of our Savior, many disciples had gathered around him. We have become accustomed to thinking only of just 12 disciples, but there were many more. St. Luke records for us in his Gospel how Jesus sent out 72 disciples with instructions to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near. Jesus told them that there would be some who would accept God’s word and its eternal consequences and there would be some who would not. For the ones who did not accept God’s word, their unbelief brings eternal death. Our Savior said, "But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town" (Luke 10:10-12). Jesus warned his followers that they would encounter people in towns and villages that would not listen to them. You would think as the disciples listened to Jesus’ words that he was the bread of life, they would have believed what Jesus told them. However, St. John tells us in our lesson, "On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”(John 6:60).
There are teachings in the Bible that are very difficult to understand. But, where there are difficult teachings there are also explanations. Jesus in love for his disciples explained to them just what his words meant. He was speaking of spiritual things and they must hear with spiritual ears and not with ears of the flesh. Jesus said, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63). The words Jesus spoke were filled with the Holy Spirit and give eternal life. Jesus told his disciples that they needed to understand them through faith and not through the flesh, which by its nature is hostile to God.
But as some of Jesus’ disciples did not accept his words, so today there are some Christians who do not accept them either. They find the words of God to be objectionable, offensive, and impossible to accept. Are we any different from the disciples? In our epistle lesson for this morning, God tell us exactly what he expects in the relationship between husband and wife and many of us refuse to accept these words. We push the word of God aside and try to explain it to ourselves as having been written for a people who lived 2000 years ago. We say, "Times are different now. Surely, God did not mean that for us today." Instead of trusting the word of God as the truth, and using it as the guiding principal in our lives, we try to go our own way; a way that may lead to death and eternal destruction. In the Book of Proverbs God tells us, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 16:25). Sometimes we do not live according to the statement: "God said it, I believe it, that settles it!"