The Plain, Difficult Truth

Gospel of John #18: an exposition of John 6:22-59. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, March 13, 2011.

They are among the saddest words recording in Scripture, “…after this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”  He was enjoying unrivaled popularity.  Crowds followed Him everywhere.  They hung on His every word.  They were prepared to take Him by force and make Him king!  Now they walked away.  Why?  What awful thing had He done?  He said something they didn’t like.  Something that didn’t set well with them.  It didn’t fit into their theological grid.  That’s the trouble with truth.  It’s unyielding.  It is what it is and you cannot handcraft it to fit your need.  When they asked what it would take to do the work of God…He told them.  He gave them the plain, difficult truth.  Not difficult in the sense that it was beyond understanding.  It’s not that they were unable to unravel the complex formula to get at the truth.  It was difficult because it was understandable.  The difficulty was in accepting the truth.  So they walked away.  The crowd then, much like the crowd today, was fickle.  As long as they got what they wanted they were on board but the minute they are made to feel uncomfortable, or had a thought challenged, or a cherished truth questioned they were gone.  Well what upset them so?  Was it something about moral or ethical standards?  Was Jesus meddling in their personal business?  Was it about money?  Think more foundational.  Think of something essential.  Our text this morning is found in chapter 6 of John’s Gospel.

Text: John 6:22-59

The first 21 verses of chapter 6 lay out three great truths:
The feeding of the 5000 demonstrates the power of God to supply your every need.
Jesus’ walking on the water demonstrates the power of God to calm your every fear.
Jesus’ response to the adoring crowd makes it clear He will not be used.

Jesus and His disciples have again crossed over the Sea of Galilee to escape the crowds.
Yet the crowds have followed.
When the crowd reaches them – they want to know how and when Jesus made the crossing.
They saw the disciples leave and Jesus remained on the other side.
There’s no extra boat – how did you get here?

Jesus ignored their question (I would have said, “I walked”).
Rather than answer their question He launched an offensive – a rebuke (6:26-27).
Though it is not stated here, we could easily insert 6:6 – “…he said this to test them for he knew what he was going to do.”

Truly, truly – a statement without fear of contradiction – a truism.
You seek me out of material desire – you want a free lunch.
You are not motivated by spiritual desire but rather physical want.
Stop wasting your life in pursuit of that which is destined to perish.
Seek that which is eternal.
Seek that which only I can give you.
You know that God has set his seal of approval on me.

Key – 6:28 – “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
What must we do to be saved?
How can we be united with God in His work?

Jesus gives them the short answer – 6:29 – “…this is the work of God, that you believe in him who he has sent.”

The response of the crowd is stunning!  6:30-31
That feeding of the 5000 was impressive but Moses fed a lot more than that for a lot longer.
Let’s see you do something big so we can know this is a “God thing.”

All of this sets up the “Bread of Life” discourse which runs from 6:32 through 6:58.  In which we learn the plain, difficult truth about the biblical doctrine of salvation.

Thesis: The biblical doctrine of salvation is distinctly God-centered.

Our greatest difficulties with the Scripture is not what we do not understand but rather what we do understand.  Some things are just too clear and therefore make us uncomfortable.

I’m convinced that we are all theologians.
We all have our notions of what God is like, what the Bible says, and how we are to live.
I’m also convinced that most people believe in “salvation by death.”
Driven by some sort of works salvation.
It’s about me, my performance…that is not the biblical picture.

I want to point out three truths from our text.

  1. Saving faith is focused on the person of the Lord Jesus.  (6:32-40)
  2. Salvation originates in the heart of the Sovereign God.  (6:43-51)
  3. Eternal security naturally results from a vital union with Christ.  (6:52-59)

Biblical salvation is focused on the person of the Lord Jesus.
It originates in the heart of the Sovereign God.
Eternal security is the result of a vital union with Christ.

That’s good news.
That is the Gospel.

Does it offend you?  Will you walk away?  Where will you go?

6:60 – When many of his disciples heard it, they said, This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?

6:66-69 – After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, Do you want to go away as well?
68 Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,
69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.

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