Summary: This is an ascension sermon in which Jesus told about the life giving words of the SPirit and the reinforcement of the Ascension.
May 8, 2005 John 6:60-69
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
What is the hardest teaching in the Bible for you to swallow? Is it the doctrine of hell - that millions and millions of people burn for an eternity in a lake of fire? (Revelation 20:15) Is it the teaching of predestination - that God has chosen people to believe and be saved even before the creation of the world? (Ephesians 1:4) Is it the fact that God demands perfection and holiness from His people? (Matthew 5:48) Or is it simply the miracles of Christ - the changing of water into wine, the walking on the water, or the resurrection of the dead?
As I was reading the Bible several weeks ago I came across the story of David and the Gibeonites. After a famine of three years David asked the Lord why this was happening. God said, “it was because Saul had tried to kill the Gibeonites and broke the treaty that they had been given.” In response, David went to the Gibeonites and asked them what could be done to “make up” for this wrong. They responded that they wanted seven of Saul’s male descendants put to death. So David chose seven of Saul’s grandsons and handed them over to the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites then proceeded to kill these grandsons and expose their bodies on a hill. After this, the LORD then sent rain on the land and God started answering the Israelites’ prayers once again. (2 Samuel 21) I thought to myself, “wow, that’s pretty harsh stuff.” That story is hard for me to swallow. The story for today is also one of those difficult ones to swallow. It’s where Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life. The question is -
Who Can Stomach Him?
I. The question
Just prior to today’s text, Jesus had given the Jews of Capernaum - considered Jesus’ home city - a different hard teaching to accept. They had followed Jesus across the Sea of Galilee - looking for another miracle from Him. He had just fed the 5,000 - and they wanted Jesus to continue doing this for them for another 40 years, just like Moses had done. Jesus told them that those Israelites who were fed with manna for 40 years still died. He then gave them the hard teaching - that Jesus was Himself the bread who had come down from heaven. He also said that they needed to EAT and to DRINK His body and blood if they wanted to live forever. By eating him, they would never be hungry again.
When you look at the context of what Jesus was saying, this was not that hard to understand. It wasn’t that they thought Jesus actually had to be consumed by them - this was a year prior to the Lord’s Supper. They knew what Jesus was saying SPIRITUALLY. Jesus explained it by saying, “my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn 6:40) He was saying that God had sent HIM - God’s Son - down from heaven to save the world through FAITH - and that HE was the way to the resurrection from the dead. Chew on Him with your heart - digest Him with you soul - and you will live forever. Jesus was proclaiming that eternal life was ONLY FOUND in HIM.
This is repeated throughout the Scriptures.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Romans 3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.