Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Words of Eternal Life 8/26/2012
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our text of meditation is from John's Gospel, the fourth Gospel of the New Testament and the one that was written at a later date than the first three, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It was written by John, the one who in his writings refers to himself as the "one whom Jesus loves." It is generally agreed that John also wrote the three Epistles of John and the book of Revelation. Of the 12 apostles chosen by Jesus, John was the only one who died a natural death, and of the remaining 11 apostles, 10 were martyred and Judas committed suicide after betraying our Lord.

One could give the entire Gospel of John an outline in three words: Life, Light and Love, for this gospel begins from eternity (Life), proceeds to describe the entry of Jesus into the world (Light), and then through the actions and words of the Light of the world, (Love) is demonstrated to the world, love which is demonstrated in power through the act of sacrifice on the cross. Instead of punishing us, He took our sins on Himself, took the punishment of death, but on the third day arose again from the dead! It is worth noting that Jesus did not begin to speak much concerning love until after He had demonstrated His humility through the washing of his disciples feet in chapter 13 of John's Gospel

It is interesting to note as to how John was affected by being with Jesus, as he was brought from his old understanding to the new understanding that Jesus brought forth. John grew in his understanding, knowledge and expression of love. Like all of us, John believed that which he had been taught by those who came before him. As a Jewish boy, he knew the Old Testament stories very well, so when they were traveling with Jesus one day, his reaction to situations in life were understandable. Jesus used some teachable moments to bring change to John's existing understandings. We go to the Gospel of Luke for our reference concerning this teachable moment, which means that it is an opportunity to evaluate that which we believe based on new information and make adjustments accordingly in our thinking. It is called repentance.

Luke 9:46 Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest.
47 And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,
48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

John was challenged in two of his ways of thinking: If others were doing things in the name of Jesus, but were not together with Jesus and his disciples, John was now told that they were not to stop them, for they were not against them, but for them. Secondly, John knowing the story of Elijah and how he called fire down from heaven to destroy those who were against the Lord, asked the Lord for permission to destroy those who were opposed to them going through their land. He was given correction by the Lord, and thereby given insight into the gracious heart of God through the words of Jesus. He came not to destroy, but to save men's lives.

We all have our beginnings, we are molded into thought and life patterns by environment and experiences, and as we spend time with Jesus in His Word, in prayer and in fellowship, we pray that we will be challenged in the areas that we are living according to self and be transformed into that which God has intended that we would be as His offspring. That is certainly what happened in John's life, for extra bibical tradition tells us that in his last days when he could no longer walk anymore, he was carried around on a cot so that he could continue his preaching. His sermons were very short, consisting of a few words, but words which received by faith were powerful and life changing: "My little children, love one another"..........

With that introduction, let us now get to our text, which is from the sixth chapter of this gospel. Jesus is doing what He has done to this point in this Gospel, using the common everyday things of this life to bring forth the spiritual meaning, with the goal of bringing them to a place of faith in Him as the Saviour and Messiah of the world. It is worthwhile to place three of those encounters here for easy reference:

John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

KJV John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. {again: or, from above}
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

In all three cases, Jesus uses the same approach: Arrange a meeting place and time, use that which people were familiar with in everyday life and through communicating with them bring them to a place of experiencing life in Him, which is eternal. Now we are ready to approach our text and we do so with excitement as we wait to see how Jesus is going to continue to challenge old ways of thinking and reveal the new: Himself.

He did it again!! He began the 6th chapter by "arranging" a huge meeting with people who had been following Him in order to hear Him speak. At the end of the day when the physical needs of hunger were growing strong, He spoke to some of His disciples in this manner:

KJV John 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.
5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.
8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

Let us note that the multitude was following Him because they saw the miracles that He had performed on them that were diseased. They saw His great works, that were designed to point to a greater healing, the healing of the sin sick soul.

The disciples had great doubts as to how they were going to feed so many with so little, for the amount of bread only amounted to 8 months wages for one man. How could that feed 5,000 men plus the women and children that were there too? What will Jesus do now? Let us see what He does next.....for He knew what He would do....

10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.
12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.
14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.
15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

Jesus had them all sit down in orderly fashion, took the loaves, thanked His Father for them and gave them to His disciples who then in turn distributed the bread to the multitudes and every had all that they wanted to eat. After gathering up the leftovers, there was enough to fill 12 baskets.....

There were those, seeing this miracle, spoke from their knowledge and wanted to king Jesus right then and there, but Jesus knowing that they did not yet understand the nature of His kingship, slipped away and went up into a mountain alone. According to other references, there He was in communion with His Father. There He waited and watched....

16 And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.

Meanwhile the disciples headed back to Capernaum, which was across the lake. As they rowed in the dark and Jesus was no where to be found, a storm came upon them. Have you ever been out on Lake Superior when a storm suddenly came upon you? I have and it is no fun, for when the waves are higher than the boat all the way around, one has the sense that one's life is in the hands of the Lord. So the disciples are rowing like crazy, the waves are high, and wind is blowing and there is no Jesus with them. What must have they been thinking? They had just seen a great miracle, but wow how things changed quickly for them. One moment they were distributing bread from the Master's hand, with the supply never ending. Jesus just kept handing it to them, and they kept handing it out. But that was all past now, for what good did bread do them now? All the bread in the world could not save them from perishing now, so what were they to do? Another teachable moment was developing.......

Remember Jesus is waiting and watching, He is not sleeping. Soon He comes walking, but they feared when the saw Him walking on the water. He spoke to them: It is I, Don't be afraid.....Wow, their fears went away and they received Him into their boat. Jesus had just demonstrated that He was everywhere, for His presence was with them even if He was not physcially there with them. He is always with us, for He knows our need, He sees us in our need and always comes to us in His time and in His way for His purposes in order to bring assurance, encouragement and hope to us.

22 The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone;
23 (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)
24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. {Labour not: or, Work not}
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

As Jesus moves across the sea without a boat, people are wondering what happened to Him. They want to find Him, but what is their motivation to find Him? Do they see Him as the One who came to save them from their sin? Do they see Him as John described Him in John 1:29, as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? It does not appear that they do, for they are not seeking Him for the miracles that He did, but because He had fed them abundantly with physical food. They missed the meaning and the purpose of the miracle, and now they are seeing only with their natural eyes and their possibly now empty stomachs. They are seeking to fill their hunger.

He now has their attention, as we said earlier that perhaps now their stomachs were growling and so when He talked about food their ears most likely perked up. He now begins move from the physical to the spiritual, vaguely alluding to Himself as the one who gives everlasting life unto them. This provoked a question from them, for they asked how they would work the works of God. They did not seem to hear the part about the One who would do the giving, but they only thought about what they could do to receive it. At this point, Jesus pointed to faith as the only means by which any of this would make sense to them, telling them that it is the work of God, that they believe on Him whom He has sent.

They then returned to their past experiences, drawing upon that which they knew and understood, but also which is a typical characteristic of our human behavior: We want to be able to see how things are going to be worked out and we tend to use our past experiences to minister to us in our time today. That works in some instances, but not in a way that it would limit the power of the Spirit to bring renewal into our lives through freshness and creativity of the Holy Spirit. They remembered how their forefathers had eaten manna in the wilderness, and quoted scripture in reference to that provision. Jesus continues to form the link between natural bread and Himself and between the manna and Himself. He is drawing a noose around this conversation, and the result of Jesus being more direct with the people to whom He is speaking, the crowd will greatly thin our from thousands to twelve. He wants to give them something much better than what their forefathers had. Moses was only a prophet who pointed to Jesus, the Saviour....

After Jesus speaks very directly, they yet not hearing, have a very good request from Jesus: "Lord, always give us this bread." Then Jesus gets very direct with them......telling them that things will never satisfy, but He will....He tells them that they have seen Him, but their problem is that they do not believe. And so, they are going to murmur and ask questions as to how can these things be? Just like those who wondered how the temple was going to be rebuilt in 3 days, just like Nicodemus who wondered how he was going to go again into his mother's womb, just like the woman who wondered how Jesus was going to give water when he had no dipper and the well was deep, just like the disciples who looked at the meager amount of food as opposed to the huge multitude and just like us who look at Jesus as a physical provider only and forget that He has given His life for us on the cross!!!!!

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
48 I am that bread of life.
49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

Jesus repeats Himself over and over. He is bringing the message forth that all that has come before has been pointing to Himself as something much better than they had before. Eat me and live. Naturally thinking we would think this is nuts, who wants to eat another human being, for that is cannibalism? He is not saying that, but He is saying in essence, believe in me and live. In the same way that when we eat of natural bread, that which we eat becomes assimilated into our body. There is no other way. So now He continues with much repetition yet......and there are more questions, more murmuring and the group gets smaller.....

John 6: 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

Now even His own disciples, (not of the twelve) begin to murmur at these "hard sayings, and after this some left off following Jesus.....

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? {offend: or, scandalize, or, cause you to stumble}

62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

Then John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit brings to application this current discourse of Jesus. At this point in the discussion, the mulititude has dwindled down to the 12, which includes Judas, and now Jesus asks a question of those who remained. Now before we hear Jesus' question, it is good to think this through as to what could have been their mindset at this point. They had seen the mulititude fed with only five loaves and two fishes, they had experienced their fear on the water, had seen Jesus draw nigh to them, and but now had seen the crowd melt away to nearly nothing as they listened to the exchange of words between their Jesus and the Jews and their fellow disciples......They must have trembled in their hearts as to how is it going to go with them, for how are they going to stick with Jesus if so many are going away from him? How can they be be any different than those who left the Master? They could have thought: "What is going to stop me from being offended at Jesus when so many of my friends were offended and walked away from Him? It is one thing for the religious leaders to grumble and murmur against Jesus, but what what about when my friends with whom I have followed Jesus together walks away? Now the question comes from Jesus:

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

Now we leave thinking on what they might have thought and move to our own personal thoughts and response.

We first think on what does He mean by going away. It certainly means that one could throw up his or her hands at what Jesus has said and simply not have anything to do with Him anymore, going into the world of unbelief which then leads to all kinds of pathways that are not good for the soul.

It seems that the overall point would be that of which Paul spoke of in one of his writings: 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. {words: or, speech}
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Peter, most likely not understanding much at this point, nevertheless understood enough to give the proper response to the question, followed by a statement of faith, which again is likened unto Apostle Paul's writings..

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

2 Timothy 1:12.... for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.1

70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

The response that Jesus gives is interesting....I am not sure, but is the Holy Spirit using this to demonstrate the grace of God toward Judas here? Is this being done so that Judas will be challenged to change his intended action of betrayal of His Lord? Or is this placed here as a reminder to us of the blessing that is ours because of the gift of faith? Is is here to show us that outwardly we could appear to be one of Jesus' disciples but inwardly we could be something else? May the the life giving Word bring us to repentance if we find ourselves aligned at all with the type of thinking that controlled Judas.

May this meditation be that which whets your appetite in a greater way so that you will find more and more pleasure in being with the Lord in His Word so that together we will say with Peter and Paul and the saints of all time: We know in whom we have believed, and we are convinced that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to us, even our faith which is a gift of God.

Here are two hymns to enhance your fellowship in His Word today.

Wonderful Words of Life

This is a classic gospel hymn by Philip P. Bliss. In Ira Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos, Jn 6:63 is quoted: “..the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
Lyrics and Music: Philip P. Bliss
Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life,
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Christ, the blessed One, gives to all wonderful words of life;
Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life;
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven.
Sweetly echo the Gospel call, wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify us forever.
May the words of the Lord Jesus speak to us.

To the Methodists, Charles Wesley is known as the co-founder of the Methodist Church. To other Christian religions, however, his name may not be known, but his works are well known. He is the author of some 6,000 hymns which after more than 200 years are showing little sign of losing their appeal. His belief was that the hymns were a means of teaching theology; the subject matters of his hymns cover every area of theology and every season of the liturgical year. Each week he would write three hymns.
I went very unwillingly to a Society in Aldersgate Street where one was reading about Luther's preface to The Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine whilst he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that He had taken my sin, even mine."
One year later, Charles wrote the hymn O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing and recommended that everyone sing it "on the anniversary of one's conversion."
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of his grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.

To Him be all glory and honor, now and forever. Amen!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 26 Aug 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns