Summary: The story of salvation is really a simply one, and yet many people refuse to accept it. Is this because it is free, would they feel better if it were earned?
This sermon was delivered Gordon McCulloch to the congregation at Holy Trinity in Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 5th August 2018; Holy Trinity is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen. (Ps. 19:14)
How many times have we missed God’s blessings because they are not packaged the way we expect? … And how many times have we rejected a gift because we do not understand how exactly it helps us? Well today’s sermon looks at the gift of eternal salvation, and discusses why many reject it, even though it is free to everyone.
2. The gift is offered to the crowd
So we will start with John 6: 25 & 26 which says, “When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here? … and Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill”.
I found this to be a very strange reply, I also find it very rude, because this verse suggest that we have people desperately seeking Jesus, and when they find him he dismisses them, with a nasty put down, bluntly replying … "You are only are looking for me for more food”.
So we have to ask, “Where did this come from”? … Well to give the story a wee bit of background, we read at the beginning of Chapter 6 the account of when Jesus fed the 5000 … and after this we read of him withdrawing from that crowd to be alone, and pray … later we read that during the night Jesus walked on the water, and later we find that he had crossed the lake. … Then, the very next morning, the crowd that had been fed by Jesus the night before, went in search of Him … and that is when says … “You are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill”.
However Jesus in verse 27 qualifies this reply by saying … “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." … In other words he telling them not to seek or work for food that spoils or rots … but to look for those things “that endures to eternal life”, those things that are spiritual … and in particular, their eternal salvation.
And it is easy for us to see this in the bible, with hindsight, but to put this into context or perspective … if we assume we as a church, were to go into the middle of the High Street here in Ayr, and miraculously conjure up free food and drink, and then invite whoever is passing by to help themselves, I am sure they will indulge, particularly if the food is good. … Now, if we were then to say to them while eating, “come to our church, Holy Trinity, tomorrow and hear about the Lord”, I am sure many would come … but … how many of them would be there for more free food and more drink? … I thought about that for that myself for a while, and I am sorry to say … I would be looking for more food also. … That’s terrible … but you can see where Jesus is coming from, can you see what he is getting at?
He was saying that all of us at times, struggle in life to find a meaning … to find purpose and value … but that is because God created us to be like that, to seek for a meaning, and to seek a relationship with Him … but we all miss that relationship in the beginning because of Sin … not our present sins, but the Sin of mankind descended from Adam, which we inherited at birth.
And it was Saint Augustine away back in the 5th century who highlighted this … that every single person has within them a god-shaped vacuum in their soul that is impossible to fill … but everyone, and I mean everyone has tried to fill this vacuum one way or another … with a whole host of things. … But we all know, they only work for us for a while.
So we can see what Jesus was trying to tell them … to stop thinking about the temporal, and start thinking about the eternal. … Stop thinking about food that satisfies an empty stomach, and start thinking about spiritual food that satisfies an empty soul.