Letters to the Prison - Week 64

Hello, everyone.  We are so grateful for this chance to look carefully at God’s word together.  We’re considering John 6 and have been for many weeks.  Last week, we saw that the Jews in Capernaum just still don’t get what Jesus is saying.  That might seem strange to us, since Jesus’ meaning seems to be so plainly obvious.  Why do they have such a hard time understanding it?  There are numerous reasons, and we should briefly consider some of them:
1.For one thing, as we have been seeing, the Jews just simply don’t believe that Jesus is who he says he is.  Their “blindness” was a spiritual blindness.
2.We have the advantage of perspective.  “Hindsight is 20/20,” as they say.  We have the report that sometime after this conversation, Jesus died, was buried, and rose again to life on the third day.  The testimony of numerous witnesses explain Jesus’ meaning at this moment from a perspective that looks back on his work on the cross.  So, the Jews were blinded by a lack of perspective.  They hadn’t seen or heard of these events yet.
3.They didn’t want to understand it.  The Jews didn’t want to believe.  They had lots of ideas about what the Messiah should do for them… free food, freedom from the tyranny of Rome, victory over their earthly enemies… etc.  If Jesus wasn’t going to provide those things, they weren’t willing to follow him.  This meant that they were willfully blind.
4.Because the Jews were willfully rejecting Jesus, their hearts were hardened against him. Therefore, the Jews’ blindness was also a judicial blindness.  To see a clear example of how this process works, read what happened to Pharaoh in Exodus chapters 7-12.  Pay close attention to when Pharaoh’s heart is hardened and who does the hardening.  This should be a dire warning to us about our own choices about belief.  
5.It was part of God’s plan that the Jews deny, reject, revile, and crucify Jesus.  It was for our benefit –yours and ours.  Today.  Right now.  See Acts 4:11, Luke 20:17 and numerous other references to the “cornerstone.”  Their blindness was a providential blindness.  That the Jews’ choice to not believe was part of God’s plan might be hard to understand.  Paul explains this very well in his letter to the Romans.  Read chapters 9-11.
So, the Jews didn’t get what Jesus meant when he said, “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51b).  Sadly, many of them never would get it and would deny and abandon Jesus, as we are about to see.  Here’s how they responded:
•The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”-John 6:52
Rather than see the spiritual significance of what Jesus was saying, they chose to take him literally.  Earlier in our study, we saw Nicodemus do a similar thing (John 3:1-10).  During that conversation, Jesus made it plain that he was speaking of spiritual things and still Nicodemus left the conversation confused.  This conversation with the Jews in Capernaum is will eventually end the same way, as we will see.  
But first, we need to look at the stunning things Jesus says about himself.  Look how he responds:
•So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.-John 6:53
There’s the 11th “truly truly” statement from Jesus and it’s about as blunt and dire as any statement could be.  Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man.  This is not new to us.  It is his favorite way of showing how he is at once both a human being and God, the eternal Messiah-King predicted by the Old Testament.  We also know that when Jesus speaks here of “eating” and “drinking,” he is talking about belief –taking in what he says about himself, believing it, and letting that belief transform our lives.  “Flesh” refers to the belief that Jesus, being God, came to earth as a literal physical human being.  “Blood” refers to the sacrifice Jesus is going to make for our sake –his death on the cross to atone for our sins.  He gave up his physical life so that we could have eternal life with him.  He died for us.  Lastly, unless we believe what Jesus is saying here, we’re as good as dead.  We “have no life in us.”  
And, just in case anyone missed the point, Jesus immediately makes it even more plain:
•Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.-John 6:54-55
Again, “feeding” and “drinking” refers to belief.  And whoever believes has eternal life.  And, just in case anyone is still confused, Jesus adds that he will raise whoever believes up on the last day.  This is at once a beautiful promise and a clear statement that yes indeed believers will still physically die.  Otherwise, there would be no need for them to be raised on the last day.  The Truth about Jesus coming in the flesh to die for our sins is the true sustenance for eternal life.  It is as true and reliable as God Himself.  Look what Jesus says next:
•Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.    -John 6:56
Whoever believes Jesus abides in him.  “Abide,” as we’ve seen, means to “dwell.”  It is a constant present-tense state of existence.  Moment by moment, those who believe in Jesus live in him and because of him.  And vice versa.  How?  Spiritually.  Jesus dwells in us as the Holy Spirit.  Moment by moment.  Constantly.  Forever.  Believers, if you are discouraged today… if you are injured today…  if you have sorrow today… if you need strength today…right now…  know this:  Jesus is in you.  The entirety of God –all his power and wisdom, mercy and love—exists in you.  Eternally.  Rest for a moment in that amazing truth… and let it fill your heart to overflowing with love and praise for our great God and Savior. And let it transform your life.
These are amazing words.  Powerful words.  Stunning words coming from Jesus.  And, in case there’s any doubt whatsoever, Jesus invokes an oath like no other.  Look what he says:
• As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.-John 6:57
The Father, of course, is God the Father.  But he is also the living Father.  Eternally Living.  Jesus here is making a promise on the very life of God… and, therefore, on his own life.  As God, who sent Jesus lives eternally, so will those who believe in Jesus.  They too will live eternally because of Jesus.  This is a staggering reality about the existence of God and about the existence of those who believe that Jesus is who he says he is.  We encourage you today, dear brothers and sisters, take courage in the promises of God.  We love you!  Keep reading John 6!

Dean A.

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