June 11, 2010 David Balzer

John 6:41-71: Flesh and B.lood

Do you remember Mr Squiggle? His nose was a large crayon. And the SONG said he was the man from the moon. But when I was growing up, I KNEW he was just a puppet!

I remember, as a kid, he used to FASCINATE me. Kids used to send in pictures – squiggles –random doodling of lines and shapes. And when Miss Veronica used to put the picture up on Blackboard, who used to say, “Hurry up, hurry up!”, Mr Squiggle would GO TO WORK.

He’d add a line here, and a triangle there. Then he’d join up two boxes. Add a moustache and a curly tail. Finish with a big circle around the whole lot.

And you’d STILL have no idea what he’d drawn. Until he’d say “UPSIDE DOWN Miss Veronica”. And then she’d turn it over, and suddenly you’d see it – a chicken wearing a flower on its head, riding a unicycle / would suddenly appear before your eyes.

Mr Squiggle could see it all along. And eventually, as he added enough detail, all of us were able to see it as well.

And there’s a similar situation going on here. Jesus is TEACHING. And there’s a group of people hanging around.

Jesus begins with A PUZZLE. A baffling assortment of lines and squiggles. Enough to bamboozle EVERYONE. And then he starts to fill in the gaps. Slowly but surely. A few circles here, a box there. A line and a few dots.

There’s questions. And answers. Misunderstandings. Accusations.

And confusion becomes understanding. Dark becomes light. Unbelief becomes belief.

And by the end of the chapter, he’s explained what it means to BELIEVE in Him. To FEED ON HIM. How someone can be guaranteed resurrection from the , and eternal life – the life of HEAVEN, by trusting him, and by trusting the One who sent him.

The problem is Jesus is the one whose come down from heaven. He’s got inside information on things we can’t even IMAGINE – let alone understand.

And he’s trying to communicate heavenly puzzles with HUMAN words. Heavenly TRUTHS with earthly pictures. He can see it clearly, but no-one else can.

And so OUR challenge is to try to work out the puzzle. To see the picture.

Jesus has been comparing himself to Moses. The one who feeds his people in the desert (that’s from v1) – just like MOSES provided manna. And the one who controls the water – walks on it (from v16) –just like Moses parted the sea.

And then from v25, Jesus compares himself to MANNA. Bread from heaven. But bread that lasts FOREVER, rather than manna that just lasts for THE DAY. Until he says down in v35

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

Like PHYSICAL bread satisfies your PHYSICAL hunger. So, Jesus satisfies your REAL hunger.

We hunger and thirst after all sorts of things. Acceptance. Love. Comfort. Passion. Money. Things. Success. Influence.

But when you come to Jesus, your hunger and thirst is over.

COMING to Jesus. BELIEVING in him. That’s the way to LIFE. REAL life. When you do THAT, your searching is over. Your reason for living is to follow Jesus. It’s why God made you. And when you FIND him, your appetite for anything else is filled. Your THIRST is QUENCHED.

Is that the way it is with YOU? If you’ve found Jesus, does everything else leave you with an empty feeling? Does it all just FAIL TO SATISFY?

And when you DO all these things WITH Jesus. Work, marriage, friends, His way. With him walking with you, in gratitude to the one who’s given it all to you, do you find that there’s a new freshness about life?

Work has a GOAL. Spending time with family has a new RICHNESS to it. Possessions take on a whole greater purpose. Decision-making suddenly becomes much easier. Priorities much clearer.

If that’s NOT your experience, maybe you need to ask yourself whether you really HAVE come to Jesus. Whether you HAVE trusted him with your eternity.

He DOES offer/ that those who come to him will never hunger, and those who believe in him will never thirst.

(pause) And not only does God provide the food and drink – but he makes sure that we TAKE it. That we COME to Jesus, and that we TRUST him. He doesn’t just OFFER us the food, but makes sure it gets to us, and we receive its benefit.

Imagine a mother who provides food for her baby. She sits him in his high-chair, goes to the cupboard, gets out a jar of baby food. Pulls a spoon from the drawer. And places them both in front of the baby. “There you go! Eat up! Enjoy!”

NO! Mum prepares it. She opens the jar, heats it up, then carefully spoons it into the baby’s mouth.

God does the same. He doesn’t just leave Jesus there – the food and drink which satisfy us. But then abandon us to find him on our own. Look what v37 says.

(John 6:37 NIV)  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

God provides Jesus as the food and drink we need. But then he leads us TO him. He opens our eyes to understand the puzzle. He gives us the very gift of faith we need to TRUST Jesus.

EVERYONE the Father calls, COMES to Jesus. A 100% success rate. It’s what Presbyterians call the doctrine of IRRESISTABLE GRACE. EVERYONE God draws/ RESPONDS with FAITH.

But that’s not all. Look at the second part of that verse. “whoever comes to me I will never drive away”. Anyone who COMES to Jesus, he will KEEP. He will NEVER let go of them. EVERYONE who comes to Jesus in faith, everyone the Father draws, will be KEPT a follower of Jesus by Jesus himself.

And that’s ANOTHER of the doctrines Presbyterians cherish. It’s called the doctrine of the PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS. Jesus will cause every true Christian to persevere to the end. Once a Christian, always a Christian. Because Jesus holds them fast. Look at how he puts it down in v39

(John 6:39 NIV)  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I SHALL LOSE NONE OF ALL THAT HE HAS GIVEN ME, BUT RAISE THEM UP AT THE LAST DAY.

It’s a wonderful comfort to those who DOUBT their salvation. If we’ve truly turned from ignoring God, accept his gift of salvation, and are following and listening to Jesus, then we can have REAL AND CERTAIN ASSURANCE that we are Christ’s. And always will be.

(pause) And yet, while Jesus has been saying these things to ENCOURAGE. It only seems to have made things MORE confusing. Look at v41. “Who does Jesus think he is? Came down from heaven INDEED!”

Jesus’ answer is that his authority comes from God. From v43. He’s not saying things on his own. He doesn’t do ANYTHING unless the Father is behind it. There’s NO-ONE who has the inside running on the Father like JESUS does.

And just to PROVE it, he lets us in on a BIT MORE of the puzzle. V51.

(John 6:51 NIV)  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is MY FLESH, which I WILL GIVE FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD.”

We already know what it means to eat the living bread. Back up in v35. It means to COME to Jesus, and BELIEVE in him.

But now Jesus changes tack. Bread becomes FLESH.  By flesh Jesus means his physical body. Given as a sacrifice for the life of the world. He’s looking to his on the cross.

And he’s using the language of the Passover Lamb. Remember it’s nearly Passover? And the Passover Lamb was sacrificed in place of the people. The was over the doorposts in obedience of God’s command. To protect the household from God’s judgment.

And the flesh was eaten in gratitude to God who’d passed them over. Who’d SAVED them.

That’s the background against which Jesus talks about flesh being GIVEN for the life of the world.

And when the people ask the expected question, “How can we eat his flesh?” Jesus explains it even FURTHER. V54

{54} Whoever eats my flesh and DRINKS MY has ETERNAL LIFE, and I will raise him up at the last day. {55} For my flesh is real food and my is real drink.

Like a lamb to the slaughter, Jesus obediently endured the cross. For those who come to him. Who FOLLOW him. Who trust that work as satisfying the wrath of God. Jesus promises eternal life. Resurrection on the last day.

That’s the puzzle Jesus has been explaining. It’s there for all to see.

(pause) Have YOU seen it? Have you COME to Jesus? Do you TRUST him? Have you found the food and drink that truly SATISFIES?

If you haven’t, today is a great day to do it.

If you have, then REJOICE in the gift of Jesus – who satisfies all our hunger and thirst for living.

(pause) Jesus has given us ONE OTHER piece to the puzzle. To make it even CLEARER.

The Lord’s Supper is a PICTURE. An IMAGE that helps us to understand the truths Jesus is explaining in this chapter. We eat some bread, and are encouraged to remember Jesus’ BODY – hanging on a cross, punished in our place.

And as we remember, we THANK him. And confess the sin in our lives which made that act necessary.

And then we drink some grape juice, and we remember Jesus’ . Weeping from the whip scourges on his back. Dripping down his forehead from the crown of thorns. Pouring from the hole in his side, pierced by the spear.

And as the Father heaps his wrath onto his Son, instead of on us. He FORGIVES us. And we stand in his presence CLEAN, PURE. Without sin or blemish.

And so we THANK God for providing Jesus. And we thank Jesus for standing in our place.

And as we savour the PHYSICAL food and drink, feel its goodness moving into our stomachs, we’re reminded of the good JESUS does for us – the way he satisfies our DEEPEST longings. And we go into the week strengthened, and refreshed. Just as if we’d had a wonderful meal.

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

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