Biblical Foundations 24: God’s Character 12: Responses to Jesus 4…
As we continue to wade into some of the more difficult to accept passages on the character of God, we must realize the danger—
- either ignoring those Scripture passages (like ignoring/covering up certain body parts of a spouse–see how healthy the marriage will be then!), thus we really don’t know God at all! or
- changing those Scripture passages so that they agree with us (thus creating God in our image, which is idolatry).
Most of the people who physically met Jesus were immediately or eventually appalled at Him or offended by Him because of this very issue; they liked CERTAIN things about Jesus but not ALL of Him, and so they eventually walked away from Him. Many of us today, however, don’t explicitly walk away from Jesus to another organized religion; we simply move to another church that teaches the safe parts of Jesus that we already agree with, a place that doesn’t really challenge us/confront us with the power & holiness of God. We desperately need God’s help to NOT treat Him the same way…
This staying on the beach, the shallow end, just hearing the easy Truth from the Bible is what Paul warned against in 2 Timothy 4: “In the last days people will gather around them teachers who tell them what their itching ears want to hear”—that is, people will flock to teachers who teach them what they already approve of! This is like a six year old being in charge of a family’s weekly menu: ice cream, candy, French fries, soda, and mac & cheese will be the constant fare! But such a diet will not make us healthy…and this is the danger, loved ones–being unhealthy/malnourished Christians. We must hear & feast on ALL of God’s Word, not part of it. Can part of a key open a lock? Can you shave down sides of a key and still be set free? Can part of the ingredients of medicine make you better?
Loved ones, though I am making this post on June 30th, 2016, I am also making this post with a view of eternity. Whether your time on earth ends later today or in 60 years, I want you to stand before Jesus with deep soil all over your hands and feet and faces, with the deep soil of God’s Word black underneath your finger nails, not just lightly dusted on the bottoms of your feet (thin soil).
- Like bakers who makes delicious treats—the flour is all over their faces and clothes because they have been working HARD to create delicious desserts from scratch (not just neatly popping pre-made dough in the oven where they will keep their outfits looking nice)!
- Like expert mechanics have grease almost permanently stained into their hands and fingers and arms from being elbow-deep, neck deep under a hood; this is a beautiful picture, because it shows mechanics who are dedicated to their craft, it shows a mechanic who can truly repair and fix an engine, a mechanic who goes DEEP under the hood to both diagnose the real problem and fix it (not just slapping on some duct tape) and isn’t worried about getting a little messy.
Just like that, I want us to go so deep in God’s Word—not ONLY with our minds but also eventually with our attitudes and desires and actions!—that it gets all over and in our minds and souls and words and thoughts and plans, so that when we stand before Jesus someday we stand like little children with the deep soil of His Word all over us—by His grace we have gone DEEP to seek Him through His Word—and by His grace we FOUND Him! And that is why I will continue to post on this subject. 🙂
Continuing from the last post: John 6
We paused last week in John 6:40 when Jesus said that “all who look to the Son [Jesus] will receive eternal life, and I [Jesus] will raise them up on the last day.” We began talking about what it means to look Jesus in surrender, in faith, and not just glance at Him or high-five Him every once in a while, to treat Him as our life and not just a portion of it, to follow Jesus as King and not treat Him like a hobby, mascot, or lucky rabbit’s foot. Let’s look at a few more Bible verses to more fully understand what Jesus means by “looking to Him.”
- Hebrews 12:1-2: FIX EYES on Jesus…throw off anything that you get tangled up in, that hinders you, that stops you from fixing your eyes on Jesus…LOOK TO THE SON!
- Hebrews 12:3: CONSIDER HIM who endured such opposition from sinful men…if you buy a car you don’t (hopefully!) just quickly look at the color & the rims & buy it! You consider it, check it out, analyze it, under the hood, etc. Do the same to Christ—LOOK TO THE SON and His suffering for you…
- Romans 121-2:: IN VIEW OF GOD’S MERCY, keep in view of the cross which reveals our awful sin & reveals the Savior’s awesome love…offer your bodies as living sacrifices…so you don’t copy the pattern of the world which is to only follow Jesus when it’s easy, to only believe what we & others—the culture—approve of…LOOK TO THE SON!
This is what Isaac Watts meant, in 1707, at the beginning of his famous hymn:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Not just glance at the cross, but survey it…fix eyes on it, not glance. Unglue our eyes from t.v./social media & super-glue them onto Jesus. Keep in view of God’s mercy thru the cross, consider for long periods of time what Jesus did for us. Spend long hours, not quick moments, in the Bible with Jesus—He spent long hours on the cross for you. This is what Jesus means by looking to the Son…map-makers SURVEY land in detail so they can create accurate maps. We are to do the same to the Lord.
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
[Situation is escalating—those listening to Jesus begin to argue about His teaching, His Word, His Truth, His identity. They were only looking for earthly blessings, more earthly free meals, physical healing, when Jesus is offering them SPIRITUAL food, spiritual new life, forgiveness of sins, etc. They wanted to sunbathe on the beach and Jesus is inviting them to Scuba dive in the deep waters of knowing Him. They are simply looking at Jesus from a human perspective—son of Joseph, not Son of God—just as many today are happy to look at Jesus as a wise teacher but not as God Himself. Up to this point they were somewhat comfortable with Jesus, but now His character is confronting them.
- Just like today—most non-Christians have no problem when we tell them about Jesus’ command to love and serve others—they are happy to agree to that! But when we start to teach them other Truth that Jesus said—needing to look to Him alone for eternal life, Jesus as God, as Savior, us as rebellious sinners—that is where they often start to get offended.
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-16: 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Christians look at Jesus differently—may God help us!!!
Back to John 6:
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’[d] Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
[These disciples of Jesus move from
- excitement over free meals & miracles,
- to confusion over deep teaching,
- to grumbling over Jesus’ Word,
- to arguing sharply over His Truth.
There’s more trouble for Jesus, more arguing with His teaching, His Word! Some today might have advised Jesus, “That’s enough, Man! Just stick to miracles and free meals and don’t go so deep in your teaching…the people are starting to get upset when you focus more on heavenly Truth and less on earthly situations! Attendance might start to go down!” But Jesus draws the line in the sand even deeper…He is not interested in attendance but in faithfulness to His Father…]
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”
[Now He begins to diagnose their situation, now He gets personal…unless YOU, He says…Not only is Jesus offering them eternal life as a gift, but He is also showing them that they are spiritually dead without Him, that they have no life in them if they don’t believe in Jesus as the Son of God, if they don’t eat His flesh and drink His blood, if they don’t receive Him as a gift. In all of this Jesus is loving the people perfectly, but His definition of love is different from theirs; His definition of love includes pointing out their need, their sin, their hopelessness without faith in Him. Many today would call preaching like this unloving, intolerant, uninclusive; some church-attenders would leave a church that preached Truth like this. That is EXACTLY what happens to Jesus Himself as will see in a few verses.
The Lord Jesus is also making a distinction here—He is getting very specific. Many today, we love to live in generalities: Many believe in some kind of higher power, many will call that power God in a general sense, and many will also believe that such a power is forgiving, is loving. This can be a starting point that leads to faith in Jesus, but it must eventually get to faith in Jesus, it must eventually move from the general to the specific. Jesus does not say that eternal life comes to those who believe in a vague/general forgiveness from some higher power “up there.” Jesus specifically says that we must feed, by faith, on the flesh of JESUS CHRIST, we must believe & trust in His death on the cross and empty tomb not just for a general feeling of love, not just as an inspiring example to be kind to others, but for a literal and legal wiping clean of our specific sins, our very detailed criminal record of sin against God. Jesus is getting very specific here, He is drawing a line in the sand which we must cross to receive eternal life…and it causes people to walk away.]
59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
[The people had no problem, so far, with the actions of Jesus, just as many people today have no trouble with Christians when we serve the poor and do deeds of love. But the people hear begin to get angry at Jesus’ teaching, at Jesus’ Word, at Jesus’ Truth. Many people today have this same problem with Jesus. They were, and are, offended by Jesus’ bold proclamations of absolute Truth. Regarding accepting ALL of Jesus’ words, look at what Jesus will later pray to the Father in John 17:
- 6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them.
By agreeing with and accepting ALL of Jesus’ Word (Genesis—Revelation), we are showing that we know/believe with certainty that Jesus came from the Father and was sent by the Father. Oh loved ones, dare I say that all of us need the Holy Spirit’s help today and everyday to submit ourselves to all of the Bible, to accept all of Jesus’ Word, both the sweet and the salty, both the easy and the difficult! Let us cry out to Him in repentance and ask for help to respond to Him like little children: “Increase our faith!”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
[DISCIPLES of Jesus were offended by His teaching, those who were initially excited by Christ and began following after Him! Jesus is saying here, “If this Truth offends you (that you need to receive My torturous death on the Cross as the forgiveness of your terrible sins), what about the Truth that I am Lord & King of all, that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2), that everything—including you and your bank accounts and time and bodies and dreams and Friday nights!—belongs to Me!? That life isn’t AT ALL about us…all of that is beautifully offensive to our sinful natures…this is the original sin, the root of all sin, from the devil and Adam & Eve—being offended that God alone is God & we are not, that only the LORD & His Truth matters…not our opinions.
To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the Lord is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it.
Back to John 6
63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 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. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
[Wow. Many of Jesus’ DISCIPLES—those already following Him and associated with Him—LEFT JESUS because they couldn’t/wouldn’t accept His teaching, His Word, His Truth. If Jesus were a pastor of a church today He probably would be let-go: His congregation went from thousands (built up through miracles and good deeds) to a couple dozen (thinned out through preaching the Truth of God’s Word). Wow.
Now I don’t believe these actually received Jesus as Savior, were reborn through faith in Him, and THEN walked away (but that’s another topic for another post!). But they were close enough to hang out with Jesus, get a little familiar with Him & get a few earthly benefits. They were so close to eternal life and yet so far.
- Are you? Have you by faith alone feasted on the grace alone of Jesus alone through the cross & empty tomb to reverse the starvation of your soul through sin? Have you surrendered to Christ? Or are you starting to walk/drift away…on the beach, or wading into the deep with Jesus?
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
[Oh what a powerful question of Jesus to all His people, to all His “fans,” to all His followers. Do you want to leave Him as you read more in Scripture about His Word, His Truth, His actions, His claims over your life, His diagnosis of your deep need for all of Him?
But please remember, loved ones, that while some leave Jesus for another organized religion, that is not the only way to leave Him, in fact that is probably not the way most leave Him; many leave Him subtly over time by simply staying comfortable with Him, by believing in a portion of Him (good teacher, prophet only, etc.), by having a caricature of Him based on a few verses of the Bible cut & pasted together, by going to a church that preaches a safe jesus, a jesus we and the culture approve of. But look back to verse 63: Jesus’ spoken WORDS are full of the Spirit and life and are necessary for us to have life—yet there are many who do not believe His Words, so they don’t believe Him.
Does this mean you have to first agree with everything the Bible teaches before you can receive Jesus as your Savior?
But it does mean that after we receive Jesus as our Savior—for the forgiveness of our sins not just the improvement of our behavior—we seek Him & know Him more and more through a thorough reading of, agreeing with, submission to, and obedience to the Bible, and as we come to verses/passages that rub us (or others!) the wrong way, that we submit ourselves to God & ask Him to change us to line up with His Word, that we ask God to iron out the wrinkles (false beliefs & actions) in our souls to agree more and more with His Word, that if we are ever offended by God’s Word that we realize and repent that the problem is with us, not Him, that WE need to be changed, not His Word.
This process of being changed by God hurts, loved ones, and perhaps it is one of the main reasons why various research shows that many if not most church-attenders are not growing, are not maturing in Christ. Jesus experienced the pain of death to bring us to heaven; we will experience the pain of growth on the way to heaven. Death has lost its sting…but pruning/growth has not! It will hurt you to grow more like Jesus, the True God of love & grace & Truth, because we are not naturally loving, gracious, or truthful…The love of God hurts us AND heals us, and like a surgeon, God will hurt us first in order to heal us if that’s what it takes…He loves us that much…
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
[Peter rightly understood that to leave Jesus is to then go somewhere else to get your truth, your beliefs, your opinions, your view of the world, your perspective, your identity, your basis for making decisions, etc. We cannot leave Jesus and go nowhere…everyone has faith in something, everyone worships someone or something…Christians, by the grace of God, have faith in Someone—Jesus. May we go to Him & His Word to know Him, the Father & the Holy Spirit, to know ourselves, to get our Truth for ALL areas of life. May we take Jesus in the inside, His flesh & blood for the forgiveness of our sins…may we not just wear Jesus on the outside like an accessory to our wardrobe…may we receive Jesus on the inside to kill the guilty-us and rebirth the forgiven-us, not an improved old-us but an entirely new-us…
Loved ones, my point in teaching through these different responses to Jesus over the past 5 posts is so that we WON’T respond to Jesus in these ways! All of these people, in rejecting Jesus as He really is (not who they think He is), are rejecting the amazing benefits that we learned about a few posts ago in Colossians 1 & 2—they are rejecting
- being qualified by God to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light
- being rescued by God from judgment/wrath & being redeemed from destruction
- being chosen by God to agree with, submit to & understand the mystery of the Gospel
- being reconciled by God from being His enemy to being one of His children
- being circumcised by Jesus Himself, Jesus making a mark on our souls that shows the universe that we belong to Him, that He claims us no matter how nasty our sins are!
- being made alive in Christ when we were dead in our sins
These people that we’ve looked at over the last month or so rejected Jesus AND ALL THESE AMAZING DETAILS OF HIS GRACE! They walked away from Him because His teaching—His Word!—offended them! But please don’t miss this: they didn’t walk away from Jesus right away…they started out excited and passionate about Jesus in an earthly sense but first they started arguing about His teaching, they grumbled, they didn’t like what He said, they just wanted miracles and free stuff, they didn’t want doctrine and repentance and new birth and submission to Christ, eating His flesh and drinking His blood, they didn’t like that what He taught went against how they were raised culturally, went against the opinions of their neighbors. Jesus confronted them with His character & Truth in order to eventually comfort them with His love, but they argued with Him, and then ultimately walked away from Him. And loved ones, many today in local churches all around the United States are in the arguing process with God, we only like parts of His Word and twist Scripture so we don’t offend the culture, how we were raised—or we go find another church that teaches what our itching ears want to hear. We want to be citizens of heaven AND citizens of this fallen world, accepted by God AND accepted by society at large. We only accept parts of the Bible and we are in danger, if we don’t repent and ask God for help, we are in danger of doing to Jesus what these disciples did in John 6—walking away from Him entirely to worship someone/something else.
By the grace of God may we say, celebrate and live the following Truth like Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that You are the Holy One of God.”
Been thinking about tea this week, and specifically how tea is a slow type of beverage…it must be a difficult process to gather leaves & herbs to make tea, most people sip tea instead of chug it, and to even make tea the bag has to soak, has to steep, in the hot water for an extended period of time, so that
- the flavor,
- the appearance and
- the identity of the water changes.
You don’t get tea by quickly dipping the bag into the water and pulling it out again. To do that is to basically leave the water unchanged, the same as it was before. But many of us do this with God’s Word—dip quickly and don’t steep—and so we too stay the same as we always have been…
Loved ones, that is what we have been doing since the last Sunday in December—we have been steeping in the Word of God to understand the foundation of this local church, we have been soaking slowly in the Bible to understand what it means to elevate God, elevate community, and elevate others. By God’s grace we will continue to do this together!
And not just on Sunday mornings—may the Holy Spirit, throughout the week, help us to have all of the Word of God STEEP DEEP IN US…in our minds & hearts so that Jesus’ grace & Truth, like tea, transforms our flavor, our appearance and our identity…