TEXT: JOHN 6:51-69; EPHESIANS 5:6-21; PROVERBS 9:1-10
THE GIFT OF JESUS IS BEYOND ALL THAT YOU CAN DESIRE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To the saints who are at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center and are faithful in Christ Jesus, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Christians: If you want political or economic or emotional advice to pick you up this morning – you are in the wrong place.  If you want assurance that your daily bread will remain secure – that our country will remain strong and free – that your earthly future will be brighter than it is now – you will be disappointed in this house of worship today.  These are often central desires in our hearts (and they are not inherently evil).  

It is not wrong to seek physical help from Jesus.  In His visible public ministry He healed and helped many.  It is not wrong to pour out your heart to the Lord – asking Him – for physical help – for patience in suffering - for blessing in your daily vocation - for healing and growth in relationships - for relief from lingering pain – for daily bread.  

These desires of our hearts easily take over, however, similar to the desires of the people in our text.  They intended to make Jesus king by force.  They wanted a secular Messiah – a bread king – an Obama – a Romney – or that other nearly perfect person you longed for (who won’t be on the November ballot).  They wanted Jesus to straighten this mess out – at least in their corner of the world. 






 

TEXT: JOHN 6:51-69; EPHESIANS 5:6-21; PROVERBS 9:1-10
THE GIFT OF JESUS IS BEYOND ALL THAT YOU CAN DESIRE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

To the saints who are at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center and are faithful in Christ Jesus, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear Christians: If you want political or economic or emotional advice to pick you up this morning – you are in the wrong place.  If you want assurance that your daily bread will remain secure – that our country will remain strong and free – that your earthly future will be brighter than it is now – you will be disappointed in this house of worship today.  These are often central desires in our hearts (and they are not inherently evil).  

It is not wrong to seek physical help from Jesus.  In His visible public ministry He healed and helped many.  It is not wrong to pour out your heart to the Lord – asking Him – for physical help – for patience in suffering - for blessing in your daily vocation - for healing and growth in relationships - for relief from lingering pain – for daily bread.  

These desires of our hearts easily take over, however, similar to the desires of the people in our text.  They intended to make Jesus king by force.  They wanted a secular Messiah – a bread king – an Obama – a Romney – or that other nearly perfect person you longed for (who won’t be on the November ballot).  They wanted Jesus to straighten this mess out – at least in their corner of the world. 

The people who pursued Jesus had many hopes for an improved lot in life.  Here was someone who could take care of their needs – take care of them.  Yet, He couldn’t be described as “big business” for He had no place to lay his head.  Nor could He be described as “big government” for they wanted Him to throw off the big government of Rome with its heavy taxation.  Whether described as the goose that laid the golden egg or the pot at the end of the rainbow or one’s ship coming in or the perfect target with big pockets to sue – they had never seen anyone with such potential to please them and to provide for them as this Jesus from Nazareth.  The question was and is – “would He live up to His obvious potential?

After feeding the 5000 Jesus had just finished teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. In this single time of teaching (John 6:22-69) there are over 30 clear allusions or direct statements to eternity.  Words and phrases such as these fell on their ears and now fall on our ears – “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” – “I will raise him up on the last day” – “Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever” – “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh”.

As they pursued Him and plied Him with questions, Jesus did not change His mission in order to meet their desires.  Rather, He restated His mission.  “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”  

Yet on this day some depart - indeed almost everyone left Him - because of His words of spirit and life.  After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.  This miracle, one of His most magnificent, becomes the occasion for this multitudinous migration away from Him! Thousands just walked away from Jesus – no doubt – shaking their heads. “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (v. 60)  It is as if Jesus had no business sense – no political savvy – no compromising skills – no Wisconsin wisdom. Good heavens – common sense would say – tone it down a bit – stifle some of your words for awhile.  It was obvious to them that Jesus was not living up to His earthly, political, provide-for-us, potential – as judged by their hearts.

In this whole event Jesus had been proclaiming Himself to be God in the flesh.  “I AM the living bread that came down from heaven…” His words were spoken and were heard as Him being the great “I AM” of the Old Testament – the Holy One who revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush.  

In addition He speaks of His flesh and blood in a way that would be appalling to their ears. “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (v. 56).  In the Old Testament world to eat the flesh of another indicated a hostile and warlike action toward them.  Also, drinking blood was forbidden in God’s law as having the life of the person in it. What caused the Jews to argue and led thousands of those pursuing Jesus to turn back were these words of Jesus about Himself.  His offensive words claimed that He is God in the flesh and that His flesh and blood is holy food.  

How can this man give us His flesh to eat?
As true man – His hands had the same calluses as any wood or masonry carpenter. His feet walked in the same dust of Galilee as any man, woman or child. He hungered – he thirsted – His brow bore beads of sweat like those of any man.  How can this man give us His flesh to eat?

Fellow-redeemed, it is clear that the scandal here is not the Law – do this – don’t’ do that! People are not easily offended by a system of laws – 10 steps to a better life – resolutions to improve your attitude and your actions – a pattern of prayers to pray – disciplined service to perform to please God. In some pagan religions ladder climbing a litany of imagined incarnations is the foundational belief.  But ladder climbing by way of the law also tempts the hearts of Christians. The law is in us by nature and it tempts us to compare and compete and convince ourselves that we’re not all that bad before the holiness of God (if indeed there is a God who is holy).

It is clear in John 6 that the scandal is not the Law but the Gospel – who Jesus is!  This one Jewish man – is He really the Bread of Life who gives life to the world?  This one human being – this flesh and blood person whose voice you could hear – whose hand you could shake is He really the great “I AM” – God in human flesh? The scandal is the Gospel – the Word of God – who Jesus is – and what Jesus does – including the resurrection – Are you scandalized at this? What therefore if you were to see the Son of Man ascending where He was before?”  

So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”  A profound and defining question from the lips of the Savior of the world!  While a person dead in unbelief cannot decide to believe in Jesus or open their heart to accept Him, those whom He calls can turn back in unbelief.  Jesus makes clear that not all will believe and that even some who followed Him will draw back and depart from Him.  

As He has given Quinn and Harper the new life of faith today – so He has gifted you with the miracle of faith.  Baptism now saves you – Scripture trumpets (1 Peter 1:21). It is a miracle, but it is not magic.  For all those clothed in Christ and forgiven by his grace the question still stands this morning (this evening). Do you want to go away as well? In this year of 2012; in this time when Christianity is marginalized; in view of the numerical decline for Christianity in the United States; in a culture where respected elitist voices in entertainment and education mock those who confess Christ and His Word; in view of the doubts of your own sinful nature; Do you want to go away as well? Jesus asks a question even of you the faithful – as you behold many others leaving – “Do you also desire to go away?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”  

The Holy One of God!  The Holy One of God!  Hallowed be Thy Name He teaches us to pray aloud every day as the matter of first importance.  Hallowed be Thy Name – on earth as it is in heaven – the Greek text indicates.  So let us apply this question directly to the Holy One of God in human flesh!

Do you want to go away as well – Jesus?
As people turn away from Your proclamation of Your person and Your work – as they desert you by the thousands - do you want to go away from it all?  Fellow-Redeemed – you must never try to protect Jesus from the temptations that assault you.  He was tempted in every way – every way – as you are – yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

In the days of His flesh (His visible earthly ministry), Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of His reverence (Hebrews 5:7). You know very well one of His loud cries from the Garden of Gethsemane – “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me… Being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:42-44).

Do you want to go away as well – Jesus? “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done. The will of the Father was gracious toward us! The will of the Father was for His Son to drink the cup of His wrath for us! The will of the Father has been done for you in the perfect life and sacrificial death of Christ Jesus.  The will of God has also been done in you in your washing of rebirth as it was done for Quinn and Harper today.  God will never forsake the gift He has given you there.  It is His will that you also never forsake His steadfast and forgiving love for you and go away from Him.

Jesus as a model to emulate won’t save you! Jesus as the Bread of Life who gives life to the world does save you! The church who is the Bride of Christ does not present herself pure and holy to her bridegroom.  Rather the Holy One of God loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

That is your standing before God right now in Christ – without spot or wrinkle or any such thing – but holy and without blemish.  That is nothing to go away from but everything to rejoice in and continue receiving with thanksgiving!  Your risen Lord is in your midst today and His mission has not changed! “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

In His Holy Name – who is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.  

The Peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus – Amen.

 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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