Summary: The greatest benefit we have from Jesus’ death is our eternal life.
John 8. John Griffith lived in Oklahoma in 1929 and lost all he had in the stock market crash. So he moved to Mississippi where he took a job as bridge tender for a R/R trestle. One day his 8 year-old son, Greg, spent the day with him at work. A ship came through and John opened up the draw bridge. After a moment or two he realized his son wasn’t in the office and as he looked around, to his horror, he saw him climbing on the gears of the draw bridge. He hurried outside to rescue his son but just then he heard what he knew was a fast approaching passenger train, the Memphis Express, filled with 400 people. He yelled to his son, but the noise of the oncoming train made it impossible for the boy to hear him. And all of a sudden John Griffith realized his horrible dilemma. If he took the time to rescue his son the train would crash killing all aboard, but if he closed the bridge, his son would die. He made the horrible decision, pulled the lever and closed the bridge, and his own son died that day. Unlike this story, the sending of Jesus to the cross was not a panic move, it was planned before the creation of the world. But just like this story, God could not spare us and spare His Son. When Jesus was on the cross the people taunted Him, saying “He saved others, Himself He cannot save” which was true. He could not at the same time save others and Himself. So God closed the jaws of death around His own Son, and because of that, anyone who keeps Christ’s Word will never see death. You can see that in verse 51: “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." Won’t even see it, much less experience it. My sermon title this morning is, Jesus Christ purchased eternal life for us.
In vss. 42-47 Jesus had proved that these Jews were children of the devil because they were murderers and liars, the devil was a murderer and liar. Like father like son. In vs. 48 resort to ad hominem and in essence say “oh yeah? Well you’re a demon-possessed Samaritan.” So in vss. 49-51 Jesus makes some statements that no demon could ever make. He says “I honor my Father”, referring back to the 5th commandment, I don’t seek glory for myself and finally, “if anyone keeps my Word he will never see death.”
1.So far we have seen 3 heart-searching “ifs”. We have seen the “if” of discipleship in vs. 31 Jesus says “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples”. You know it is hard to watch people stop studying their Bibles, and shortly thereafter they stop coming to church. They can go to work, and the store and the doctor’s office and their family. But they are not in the Word at home and so they don’t want the conviction. Listen, be careful not to get out of this Book. Don’t let the distractions of life choke out the Word, don’t let the deceitfulness of wealth keep you from God’s Word. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
2.And then we saw the “if” of freedom in vs. 36 “If the son sets you free you will be free indeed.” Freedom from the curse of the law, the guilt of sin and the kingdom of Satan.
3. and last week we saw the “if” of sonship in vs. 42 where Jesus said, “If God were your father, you would love me” so that the distinguishing characteristic of God’s children is that they love Jesus. They love the Head, Christ, and they love the body, the church.
4.Today, notice the “heart-searching if” of eternal life, in vs. 51 Jesus says “If anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." This is, quite frankly a shocking statement that if someone lives in obedience to the Word of Jesus Christ they will never taste death. In vs. 53 the Jews say, “Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
And in one sense the Jews were right. Every human being on this earth will die, so what did Jesus mean if we keep His Word, we will never see death? Well what is death? If you ask 10 people on the street what death is, every one of them will give an answer in relation to our physical bodies. But Jesus called that sleep. Jesus said Lazarus who had been dead 4 days, and was rotting and stinking, was merely sleeping.
What we call death, Jesus called sleep. Death must be something much more horrible, much more terrible and horrific than mere sleep. Death is eternal separation from God, it is being under the wrath of God, it is literally being God-forsaken, it is living in outer darkness, it is us paying the penalty for our sins. That’s what death is. No believer will ever face that. A genuine follower of Christ will never experience death nor see death, will never know death nor taste death…