Biblical Foundations 23: God’s Character 11: Responses to Jesus 3

Following Jesus (6-21-16)

Oh the beautiful burden of preaching. May the Holy Spirit help all pastors not to do surgery when all that is needed is a hug; and may the Holy Spirit help all pastors not to just give a pat on the back when amputation is needed to save the person’s life.

Two of the last three posts, in order to know the character of God more clearly, we have been looking at the responses people had to meeting Jesus face-to-face. We have seen that Jesus often confronts people with His perfect character as well as comforts them with His perfect character. We saw that people:

  1. Said, “Get away from us (don’t torture us); send us away from You!” (Luke 8:26-33);
  2. Said, “Leave us now (your Presence has already cost us much and we just want to get back to our lives BEFORE You got here)” (Luke 8:34-37);
  3. Laughed at Him b/c they “knew better”/relied on their knowledge over Jesus’ Word (Luke 8:48-56).
  4. Did Not Welcome Him (because He declared them wrong): Luke 9:51-53
  5. Walked Away From Him Sadly (when Jesus pointed out his idol): Mark 10:17-31
  6. Sneered At Him when He pointed out their sin: Luke 16:13-15

This post we will look at John 6 to see that some DISCIPLES

  1. Left Jesus Because Of His Difficult Teaching

John 6:25-68 NIV

Jesus the Bread of Life

 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

[On some level they were just following Jesus for earthly blessings, for more free meals, for more delicious earthly wine. They still viewed Him as a genie in a bottle, as a lucky rabbit’s foot, as a means to get what they wanted in life. Jesus flips that on its head and lovingly calls them out on that point…in the following verses He discusses the need of the spiritual blessing of forgiveness &new life that only Jesus can provide. Earthly blessings & needs aren’t unimportant, but they are always of secondary importance. Salvation & eternal life are always more important than situations of earthly needs. This is why God can put His people through intense suffering on earth and still be a loving God—because He is using the intense suffering that He allows us to go through to bless us spiritually, to grow us closer to Him, to teach us of our need to rely on Him EVERY MOMENT of every day and not only to just get to heaven. As one pastor has said, “God cares more about our character than our comfort,” and to refine our character for eternity He will often take away the earthly comforts (IDOLS!) that we rely on instead of Him.]

  • 2 Corinthians 4:8-17 (NIV) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus [our sufferings remind us of HIS sufferings, that Jesus’ forgive came to us at great cost to Him, and that our spiritual growth will come as great cost to us], so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

[Oh loved ones, the character & love of God is THAT! To put His people through suffering to ween us off our addiction to sin & self…all Christians are recovering sin-addicts, and there is no painless process for Him to free us from such an addiction.

Is your Christianity just about God blessing you with more bonuses, more money, a bigger house, more blessings, more answers to YOUR prayers?

Is your Christianity ever simply about the glory and fame of God, regardless of what you get out of it?

Is your Christianity ever about you learning to literally die to yourself, to die to your own earthly dreams and plans, to carry your cross each day and to learn to submit to and humble yourself under the Father’s eternal plans?

Is Jesus teaching you to forget yourself and put Him first, all others second, and yourself a distant third?

Is Jesus teaching you to give to Him & others til it hurts?

  • To share with the greedy,
  • to forgive the unforgivable,
  • to respect the disrespectful,
  • to bless those who curse,
  • to honor the dishonorable,
  • to forgive those who aren’t sorry,
  • to share Jesus with those who don’t want to hear about Him,
  • to give up your rights instead of always fighting for them?

This is deep water, deep soil Christianity, and when He leads you there you will know Him more fully, He will give you a heavenly joy that makes earthly happiness look like pain. But not just good deeds for the sake of good deeds; we will talk more about this in a few weeks. Non-Christians can do good deeds of a sort, but not for the reason Christians can—to honor our King, to point others to Jesus, to introduce non-Christians to Jesus so they can receive His death on the cross & empty tomb for the forgiveness of their wicked sins. That’s why God puts us through suffering in order to refine our character—so that when people look at us they see more of Him!

Oh loved ones Christianity is not about us…it’s about Him. It’s not ME-ianity…it’s not BLESSING-ianity…it’s not COMFORTABLE-ianity…it’s not SUCCESS-ianity…it’s CHRIST-ianity.

  • Paul continues in 2 Corinthians 4:13 13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, [we tell others about Jesus! Our belief is lived out through our words & actions!] 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this [SUFFERING!] is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.16 Therefore we do not lose heart [b/c with God the Father there can be an eternal purpose to our earthly suffering!]. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

And as we go back to John 6, Jesus is teaching this to those following Him: don’t just follow Me for EARTHLY blessings, earthly food…surrender to Me & follow Me for ETERNAL LIFE, for spiritual rebirth, for total transformation that will go thru suffering on the way to heaven…that is the character of God…He loves us enough to comfort and confront us with His love & grace & Truth…

Back to John 6 

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

[Belief! Really, faith in Jesus! Do you believe that you are a sinner, that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on a cross in your place, that He died the death that you deserve? Do you believe that the tomb is empty and that Jesus came back to life three days later? Not symbolically but literally!? Do you have faith not just that it all happened, but that it happened for you? Have you with the faith of a child applied all of that Truth to you, so that you stand innocent in the sight of God the Father? That is the work of God, my friends—not just to believe, but to have faith, not just to have faith that it happened, but also that it happened for you and that now He has made and is making you NEW because He has blessed you to believe that great Truth!

Do you live as if you are just a sinner or are you learning to live out your new identity—son or daughter of God through faith in Jesus!? That is faith in Christ, that is the foundational work of God…a butterfly used to be a caterpillar that could only crawl…but now a butterfly, it doesn’t crawl anymore—it flies because that is its new identity: not a condemned crawler but a forgiven flier! Oh cry out to Jesus for faith to believe in Who He is and what He has done!!!! Don’t try to crawl back into your old caterpillar skin of beliefs and actions before Jesus…FLY for Him now & forever!!!]

So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

[PROVE IT to us, they are saying! These are disciples, but still they are asking for more proof, more signs. But Jesus would say in another Gospel (Matthew 12:28-30) that a wicked & adulterous generation asks for signs & wonders, asks for miracles BEFORE they will believe, asks for God to do something unique & “new” in order for them to believe. The “old” cross is enough—no updates/improvements are possible anyways! The people in John 6 are just like us in the 21st century where we only believe what we see—some things never change!]

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

[Oh the importance of looking to the Son, not only believing in Him. Looking to Him for forgiveness, new life, adoption, mercy, grace; looking to Him, not quickly glancing, crying out to Him as Master, not just high-fiving Him as buddy, focusing on Him as your life, not treating Him as a hobby or mascot or good luck charm. Jesus asks, “What do you want from Me, what do you want Me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32)” WHAT A POWERFUL QUESTION! What do you want from Jesus? A nice feeling/experience, earthly blessings, or new life, forgiveness, total transformation/new birth, learning to submit to Him & follow Him, believing all of His Word so that others hate you like they hated Him? Learning to praise Him even in suffering? Learning to carry your cross & follow Him? That’s Jesus’ package, loved ones—it’s all-inclusive not ala carte. Have you looked to the Son for eternal life?]

In the next post we will continue digging into John 6, and we will see that most followers of Jesus at that time left Him as He transitioned His ministry from just handing out free meals/performing miracles to also teaching deep Truth from God’s Word. We will see that the crowds shrank as Jesus comforted AND confronted people with His love, grace & Truth, as Jesus not only offered His cure but also diagnosed our sin, sickness & selfishness, our resistance to & our rebellion against God…