Lord, to who can we go?

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Lord, to whom can we go?

John 6:56-69 - Sermon 12 Question Mark?

 

End of the bread of life, feeding of 5,000 discourse

Jesus has given the crowd what they needed

He has fed them – miraculously using the simple 5 loaves and 2 fish of the picnic lunch

He has worked with his 12 disciples to be compassionate for the crowd – because they were like sheep without a shepherd

He has been followed round by many more than the 12 – disciples whose names we do not know

They have followed him into the equivalent of the church building of today – the synagogue in Capernaum – and the ruins are still there if you go to the Holy Land

He has tried to explain to them all that this miracle was a sign –

it was not just about making tummies full, or showing off to the crowds

But a sign that pointed to something beyond the physical

Jesus himself is the bread of life – is what he is saying – he is not just the one who can get what they need – he himself is the one they need – for eternal life

But despite his kindness

Despite his generosity

Despite his compassion – not everyone will take what he offers at any more than the surface level

 

People are grumbling about what he is saying.

It is too hard – they are offended.

 

So he says to them, if you are offended by THIS, what will you make of the time when I leave this physical earth to return to my father – will you believe in me then? This made me check out that account – Matthew, the writer, he described the later time when Jesus, met the disciples on the mountain after the resurrection, in Galilee again. When they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted…

 

So Jesus has done all he can – but some grumble – some doubt – and some believe

Because of Jesus perceived as being offensive,

v 66 – many of his disciples (these are not the 12) many of these disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.

 

Oops. Hard teaching. But they are not prepared to push through. How difficult that must have been for Jesus himself. He had compassion on the crowd because they were like sheep without a shepherd. But they were offended in HIM, and many turned back and no longer went about with him.

 

It was their own free choice.

 

 

Jesus asks the 12:do you ALSO wish to go away?

Based on the response of the disciples Simon Peter. Here are the 2 key points for today based on one verse in John 6.

 

(1)      Lord, to whom can we go? (v 68a)

 

(2)      You have the words of eternal life (v 68b)

 

I am going to begin with the second part

You have the words of eternal life

How many of us have explored all sorts of other beliefs in our lifetime. Our experience today is like a spiritual supermarket. Every variety of religious experience is on offer. Christianity is just one.

 

Not all faiths are the same. Some do not believe in Almighty God at all. Some believe that everything is god, including the earth and all nature.

 

Some believe in the power of ourselves, within ourselves, psychological power, of positive thinking, and this alone is the source of a good life. There is no other life beyond this one. No other activity worth engaging except not doing harm or trying to make the world a better place. Is this sufficient do you think?

 

Some believe in multiple gods, and make statues and shrines, offer gifts, to improve their own life, or that of their neighbour, to make the weather good, or for fertility, or ask for family help or work help.

 

Some believe that living the righteous way will win an eternal future of bliss, and that only by doing particular things and praying in a particular way, will this be possible.

 

Some believe in an eternal cycle of moving from one life to another, if the person lives well, they move to a higher level of existence, if badly they move down. Reincarnation.

 

Many live in fear of punishment or being struck off. They are motivated by the judgment that is due for their lives, and work always to win the approval of the deity or higher being. Good and bad deeds will be weighed at the end of life, and the accumulated record will be assessed. People live in fear of not making the grade.

 

Even violence to stop an alternative belief is seen as righteous and the right way to live. This seems to motivate some of the most controversial actions in the name of religion, even in our 21C.

 

I wonder if you would agree with me that tolerance of all belief is a ground rule in our 21C society? The whole topic of different beliefs is a challenging one. People are seen as judgmental if the view of another person is not respected. Have you ever felt judged for not believing something the same as someone else? That they were more holy than you? How did you feel about that?

 

Jesus was not respected by the whole crowd.

But some did recognise him as the source of truth

 

Stories abound of those raised in a culture where Jesus was never mentioned – who have met with him and found eternal life:

 

Mimosa, (story told by Amy Carmichael), responded to a mystical experience of the loving Lord Jesus, in her Indian culture which did not mention him – and later had her ‘ah-ha’ moment when she found out who he was when Christian missionaries taught about him.

 

People I have met in the underground church, met with the saving Jesus, but were not taught about him – he came to them in dreams. This is how they found out about his saving power and eternal life, not fear, not death.

 

‘To whom can we go’ – there is nowhere else to turn, says Simon Peter – ‘You have the words of eternal life…’

The words of Jesus

The life of Jesus

The death of Jesus

are absolutely unique in offering eternal life – is the record of St John (the evangelist, our patron saint)

 

What is unique about the Christian faith?

It does not depend on us – but on the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. There is no way any of us can make the grade of ‘good enough’ – but Jesus can do it for us.

 

What is unique about the Christian faith?

It is based on GRACE – God’s riches at Christ’s expense; there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, or love us less. Check it out – the Parable of the Banquet, the parable of the workers in the vineyard, the parable of the Prodigal Son, parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin. God’s grace for each of us.

 

What is unique about the Christian faith?

Jesus has done it all for us, and we are to live in gratitude and with humility.

Yes, we are ‘to be perfect, as your father is perfect’ but only in the power of the Holy Spirit

Yes, we are to ‘work out our salvation’ (which we have been given) with all seriousness – not to take the gift of God lightly, and treat the generosity of God with disrespect in our lives

Yes, we are to say sorry when we fail. Jesus was the one who taught us to say: Father, forgive us our sins, as we forgive others who sin against us’

Yes, we are to live up to God’s way of living.

But we believe that it is purely, solely and absolutely on the basis of the work of God in creation, and Jesus in salvation, and the Holy Spirit in sanctification (making us like Jesus) – that we are confident and stand before God clean, accepted, empowered, with victory over sin, over the devil, over the past, and into the future

 

Outrageous?

Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. And so finally, my first point.

 

LORD, to whom can we go?

It is THE LORD to whom we answer.

Not in terrified fear, but in respectful awe.

We are saved to the Kingdom of Light, the King of light is the real King, we are to live in his kingdom, under his kingly rule, and under his Lordship

Lord to whom can we go? Not to anyone else!

To you alone belongs the highest praise

To you alone is all honour and glory and power and majesty and dominion and might

To you alone can we bow in worship!

Not in our power of positive thinking!

But in your real power over sin, evil, death, sickness, shame, and power to bring eternal life

Even to us

 

Brothers and sisters – don’t go to anyone else

Jesus, Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the World, and he loves you – and me.

Jesus, you have the words of eternal life. For us today. Thank you. Hallelujah!  Amen.

 

Marion de Quidt, St John the Evangelist Hook, Hampshire, 23rd August 2015