Brookdale Baptist
January 9th AM Service
  • There Is Power In The Blood
  • Are You Washed In The Blood
  • Jesus Thank You
  • I Believe In A Hill Called Mount Calvary
  • Some teachers are better at communicating than others.

    One can make a difficult biology lesson or calculus formula clearer and easier to understand when another only makes these subjects feel more complicated and confusing.
    Yet sometimes even the best of teachers will say things that are hard to understand – to stimulate thinking and challenge the best of minds. Christ, whom even secular thinkers recognize as an effective teacher, did this sometimes. Sometimes he said things that were hard to understand to get people thinking closely about an important spiritual truth they would otherwise ignore or misunderstand.
    One of the most intelligent business and scientific minds in the world today, Elon Musk, sat down for an interview with the Babylon Bee. Near the end of the interview, he recalled memories of “having the blood and body of Christ” as a kid in church, which he said was, “kind of weird because they gave you some kind of weird-tasting biscuit and wine.” As a young child he thought this was strange. “Is this some kind of weird metaphor for cannibalism or something? I don’t get it.” He said, “I remember thinking that was just crazy…Even as a metaphor, it was kind of odd.”
    Perhaps you’ve thought similar things. Why do we eat bread and drink juice together as a church? To partially answer this question, let’s turn our attention to something Jesus said near the end of his teaching ministry. He said these things to a large crowd of people who were listening to his teaching outdoors (John 6:22-71).
    “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no spiritual life in you” (v. 53)
    “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (v. 54)
    “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (v. 55)
    “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him” (v. 56)
    “He who feeds on me will live” (v. 57)
    After he said these things, Jesus received some critical feedback and negative results.
    Many of his followers were confused and said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” (v. 60).
    Some of them even “complained” about what he said (v. 61).
    What’s more, many of them stopped following him altogether; “many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more” (v. 66).
    The negative fallout from this one awkward and difficult moment of teaching would prompt many of us to conclude that Jesus had failed, that his teaching methods or, worse yet, his message was insensitive and ill-advised. What was Christ teaching when he said these things? And why did he say it this way?

    Many people followed Christ for the wrong reasons. (John 6:22-30)

    At that point in time, Jesus was so popular that he couldn’t get rid of the crowds. He tried to shake them by leaving the packed urban center of Jerusalem to the rural, out-of-the-way region by the Sea of Galilee, but a crowd of 10,000-20,000 people followed him there.
    He taught them patiently and then fed the entire crowd by miraculously multiplying 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. By doing this, he taught them that whatever they needed when they followed him, he could meet that need. They should never worry. In fact, he was the one who had sent bread to the nation of Israel in the wilderness when Moses led them.
    After this, he dismissed the crowd and disappeared to the other side of the sea, but the crowds searched for him and followed him there. They had wanted to make him their king so he would solve their political problems, but he wanted nothing to do with a political revolution.
    Beyond this political motive, why else did the crowds chase Jesus around? There are at least three additional reasons.

    They followed him for the food. (John 6:26)

    This reason is somewhat surprising. Jesus said, “You are not following me merely because I performed some miracles. You’re following for a far simpler reason – I gave you food, and you want me to give you more.”
    Do we have this problem? We do. We may follow Jesus because he’s done good things for us in a material or financial way, so we want him to do more things like that.
    He provided a pay raise, so we want another one.
    He provided a successful business deal, so we want another one.
    He provided a nice job, so we want another one.
    He provided a nice house, so we want a nice car, too.
    He provided food, so we want even more.
    But following Jesus for reasons like this do not impress him. In this chapter we see that Jesus is patient with people like this but eventually does or says things to get them off his tail. He wants them to stop following him. Stop chasing him. Stop grabbing after him like some kind of genie in the bottle or a religious insurance plan.
    People who follow Jesus for reasons like this do not understand what it means to be a disciple. Consider when God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt. Before that happened, he allowed them to be in slavery for a couple hundred years. After he delivered them, he led them into a wilderness for 3 months and fed them nothing but bread from the sky, the same stuff every day. And sometimes they ran out of water.
    Why did God allow this? To teach them that the true quality of life for any person does not come from meeting material needs and feeding our stomachs. It comes from Jesus.
    That’s why he said, “Don’t spend your life laboring for the kind of food that perishes and expires” (John 6:27). This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work a job, earn money, and buy groceries. It means that though you will do those things, you should not live as though groceries, bills, and material comforts are the focus and purpose of your life. Why? Because these things never satisfy your deepest most significant appetite and longing – your desire for God. They never truly raise the quality of your inner life, and they certainly give you no confidence about your life after death.

    They followed him to get religious teaching. (John 6:28)

    The crowd could tell that Jesus does not appreciate how they wanted more bread from him. As a result, they asked another question, “So what should we labor for then? What should we work for then? What can we do to do the kind of work that you want us to do? That God wants us to do?”
    This first seems like an excellent question. They are saying, “So what do you want us to do?” But they still don’t understand what Jesus had been explaining to them for hours and days. He said (my expanded paraphrase), “Rather than doing certain things, you need to believe on me and on God who sent me. We are one and the same. I am God, and God the Father is God. Stop trying to reform yourself. Stop trying to conform yourself. Stop trying to do any number of things to get your life in line with God. Believe on me instead.”
    We have this problem, too. We want to know what to do to please Jesus and to be on his side of things. What can we do to follow Jesus?
    We must believe on him. Trust him alone. Depend on him completely. But that’s not what we want to hear. We want a list of religious things to do, steps to take, and so on.
    A few decades later, Paul the apostle explained the same truth this way (Rom. 6:23), “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We cannot work our way to God. We can only receive the gift of God’s Son as the salvation we need.
    Well, the disciples ask what they seem to think is a religious and intelligent question. They apparently wanted to see more…

    They followed him to see more miracles. (John 6:30-31)

    They said, “Well, our ancestors followed Moses into the wilderness because bread rained down from heaven. Can you do the same thing for us so that we can follow you with confidence, have a similar experience to our ancestors, and know that we are following someone great like Moses?”
    Once again, the crowd seemed to think they really knew their stuff. They thought that because they knew the basic facts about Moses, the Exodus, and the manna from the sky, then they knew what Jesus was saying to them.
    Yet Jesus had been teaching them for hours and days and what did they hear? Apparently not much. They heard him but they weren’t truly listening. They were hearing the sound of his voice, but they were only looking for more miracles, food, and political deliverance, but those things are not what Jesus came to give them.
    Jesus told them yet again, that they are looking for the wrong thing (John 6:32-34). The bread they are looking for is actually himself. But they don’t understand. So, they say something that sounds pious. They say, “Well, then do something better than Moses. Don’t just give us bread for a little while, give us this bread always.”
    This seems to imply that they believed they had caught the meaning Jesus was trying to teach them. Moses gave bread from heaven for several years, but they believed Jesus could do this forever. They believed that bread from heaven that never stops will give life that never stops, but that’s not true. There’s another kind of life and it’s spiritual. Bread only meets our present, temporary physical needs, but Jesus meets our need for true life that lasts forever.
    Today, so many people follow Jesus for these reasons. We want more food and material things. We want religious instruction. We want exciting miracles. And we often want political deliverance. Jesus may or may not give us some of those things. But if he does, it is something that he does to point us to the greater reality of eternal life and freedom from sin that lasts forever. A relationship with God that transcends physical, temporal things. A relationship with God that is better than bread and miracles.
    But if you keep expecting more and more food, more and more miracles and so on, then at some point you need to realize that you are missing the point of following Christ.

    Jesus gave a surprising answer. (John 6:30-59)

    You would think Jesus would be pleased. This crowd of 10,000-20,000 people had followed him from one side of the sea to the other, and back again, though he never told them to do it. They just did it and were very glad to do so.
    But Jesus knew better. He knew that for all his teaching, miracles, and meeting of their physical needs, they were not really listening to what he was teaching. He had nothing new to say. There were no more miracles to perform. So, he doubled down on what he he’d been teaching them, but he said it in a way that would make them listen. And it made them reveal what they really thought about Jesus. They wanted deliverance, but they didn’t want the kind of deliverance he was offering. They wanted satisfaction, but not the kind that Christ was offering to them.

    He is the bread of life.

    Jesus doubled down on what he was saying – that he is the bread of life. Hadn’t come to give them miraculous or material bread. He came to give them himself. He is the bread that they needed. He is what will satisfy them and give them the quality of life that will last forever in a close relationship with God.
    “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35)
    “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:41)
    “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48)
    “I am the living bread. (John 6:51)
    By saying this, Jesus went even farther. He made sure that what he said would weed out the curious followers from the crowd who weren’t really listening. Those who were following him for selfish, temporal reasons and not in faith. You see, Jesus isn’t impressed with large crowds. He is seeking genuine followers with genuine faith in him.

    We need to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

    “The bread that I give is my flesh” (John 6:51).
    So, the Jews began to argue with each other, trying to figure out what Jesus was saying. How in the world can we eat his flesh? What could he possibly mean by this?
    Did Jesus answer this question for them? Yes, he did. But he did it in such a way that challenged them even more.
    “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no spiritual life in you” (v. 53)
    “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (v. 54)
    “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (v. 55)
    “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him” (v. 56)
    “He who feeds on me will live” (v. 57)
    Now this is an interesting point. One mark of a good teacher is that he makes what he says clear and easy to understand. But that is not the only mark of a good teacher. A good teacher also teaches people to listen to what he is saying.
    A good teacher is more concerned about a few number of people truly understanding what he says and less concerned about having a large crowd following him because they like him or because he’s popular.
    To ensure real learning and to prevent merely becoming popular with a crowd, a good teacher sometimes says things that are hard to understand. This teaching technique requires students to listen closely if they want to learn.
    The people in the crowd said, “Wow, this is a hard saying. Who can understand it?” (John 6:60).
    Jesus gave the key for them to understand (John 6:63). He said (my expanded paraphrase), “I am talking about spiritual things. Physical food doesn’t deliver a person from her sins. I’ve already told you that. But you are so infatuated with your physical needs and desires that you are interpreting anything I say as a reference to physical food. You are so disoriented in your thinking that no matter what I say or do, you will not understand. For instance, I just told you to eat my flesh and drink my blood. And what is your reaction? We need to eat Jesus like a cannibal would, and that’s ridiculous! It is not physical food of any kind, even if it were my body, that would save you. It is spiritual food that you need, and I am that spiritual food. I am telling you how to receive true, everlasting life. But some of you refuse to believe.”
    With these words, Christ was not telling his followers to eat him in any physical or material sense for this is an entirely nonsensical conclusion. The only sensible conclusion is that he was teaching them to follow him so closely, identify with him so closely, and trust in him so closely that his life would become their life, that his death would become their death, that his blood would become the covering for their sins.
    Have you identified with Christ this closely? Have you believed on him by faith alone? Have you trust in his death and life as the payment for your sins? Or do you remain in the curious crowd who has only followed him for material blessings, religious knowledge, and exciting miracles?

    His followers responded in various ways. (John 6:60-71)

    How did the people respond to this unusual teaching? Did they say, “Aha! Now I see it! I need you spiritually. I do not need you to give me bread. I need you to give me eternal life.” They did not.

    Many people stopped following him. (John 6:66)

    From that point forward, many actually stopped following him. They chased him around the countryside no more. They went home and returned to ordinary life. They went on looking for another Messiah, one who would deliver them from Rome, give them food to eat, and perform some more exciting miracles. They didn’t want to have a spiritual conversation. They just wanted help in this material, temporal life, that’s all.

    A few people stayed with him. (John 6:67)

    As Jesus watched the crowds disperse, he turned to his 12 disciples. He turned to them and asked, “Would you like to go away from me now, too?”
    But Peter spoke for the group and said, “No. We know you are speaking the true words of life. And we believe that you are the Son of God who came to save us from our sins.”
    Becoming a disciple of Jesus requires you to set aside your preoccupation with meeting material needs and achieving worldly success to listen to the teaching of Jesus with all your heart, looking past the carnal, physical understanding to the spiritual truth that God is teaching you. The kind of truth that is more important than worldly wisdom.
    When we observe the Lord’s Table together, it is helpful to remember this teaching of Christ. We know that eating the bread and drinking the juice has nothing to do with being or becoming the body and blood of Christ. But we also know that it provides us with a physical and sensory object lesson that reminds us of our close connection to and identification with Christ.
    As we participate in the Lord’s Table together with our church, we must ask the question, “Are we part of the curious onlooking crowds or are we genuine followers of Christ who have trusted in his death as the forgiveness for our sins and in his life as the source of our own eternal life with God?
  • Behold the Lamb
  • When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
  • Blest Be the Tie That Binds

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