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Oct 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

October 7, 2012 – John 6:53-71

Why Did Jesus Say That?

As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” John 6:53-66

INTRO: The question we have been asking is, “Why did Jesus say that?”

This episode began with the famous miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish to feed a crowd of five thousand
– immediately afterward, the crowd decided they wanted Jesus
• more accurately, they wanted what he could do for them
– when Jesus saw they intended to “take him by force and make Him king,”
• he escaped,  but they chased him
– when they caught up to him, he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum
• the first words out of his mouth, were that they had come to him for the wrong reason

The dialogue that followed has similarities to Jesus’ dialogue with the Samaritan woman

They were angling for more bread (vv. 30-31)
– “living water” (ch. 4) and “living bread” (here)
– woman, “Sir [kyrie], give me this water …,” “Lord [kyrie], always give us this bread”

She made reference to their “fathers” and Jesus came back with “the Father”
– same here, vv. 31-32, 57-58

But this dialogue has the opposite outcome
– she left Jesus to return with others
– the crowd “withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore”

It is easy to locate the big ideas in Jesus’ responses to them

  1. Believe – “This is the work of God . . .” (28-29)
    – a problem all the way through: “you do not believe” (36, 64)
  2. A person can come to Jesus only if the Father draws him or her
    – (44, 65) the leap is so difficult, it requires God’s help
  3. Eternal life – is a quality of life, God’s life, and enters a person now
    – an add-on to this, “I will raise him up on the last day” (40)
  4. The centerpiece of the dialogue is most shocking statement Jesus ever made
    – vv. 51-60 & 66
    – it wasn’t because they did not understand Jesus, but that they did
    • so the crowd that wanted to make him king, now abandoned him

There are two things we need to keep in mind:

  1. Jesus makes identical statements re: believing and eating and drink
    – have eternal life and he would raise them “on the last day” 40..
    Jerome Nerey, “Whether one ‘eats’ the bread of life or believes that Jesus is that ‘bread come down from heaven,’ the results are the same.” (emphasis mine)
    St. Augustine, “Believe, and you have eaten”

2. Jesus gives the key to interpreting his message – the same pattern we have seen repeatedly
– v. 63 – audience has to make the leap from the literal to the spiritual

The climax of this story is not when crowd left, but when he turned to twelve

This dialogue had evolved into one of the major crises in Jesus’ life and ministry
– it was the greatest challenge he had ever thrown at his followers
• now it has come down to this final moment of tension
• we’re held in suspense, waiting to find out what twelve will do

Peter spoke up for all twelve (v. 69):
– not only would they stick with Jesus, but they had nowhere else to go
– then he added an affirmation of their faith and a strong theological statement
• “we” is emphatic – as opposed to “they,” who withdrew
• score one for the home team – or maybe not

I would think this is exactly what Jesus would want to hear
– if I directed this scene, the camera would close in on Jesus as his eyes tear up
• he would place his hands on Peter’s shoulders and say, “Bless you, Simon bar Jonah, you are a true disciple”

But that’s not what happened

Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil? (v. 70)

For me, it feels like Jesus spoiled this remarkable moment
– he poured cold water over the disciples’ commitment and enthusiasm

Why did Jesus say that?

We are trying to look at the twelve through Jesus’ eyes
– we can only guess what he is thinking
– I imagine that Jesus said this for the following reasons:

  1. Jesus knows he cannot trust Peter’s emphatic statement (cf. Jn. 2:23-25)
    – Peter said, “we,” but that does not include all twelve disciples
  2. He doesn’t exploit critical moments for their emotional potential
    – he never works people up (crowd), if anything, calms them down
    • advertisers work our emotions
    • but emotions don’t go deep enough to effect a transformation
    – Jesus builds on rock-solid truth – about God, himself, and us
  3. He wants their faith and knowledge, but not this certainty
    – Peter will demonstrate this same certainty at the last supper
    “Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You” (Jn. 13:37)
    – Jesus wanted their dependency, not their self-certainty
    • crowd was certain they knew Jesus (42)
    • but they didn’t know everything about Jesus
    – “one of you is a devil” would shake up their certainty
    • it is okay that we stay uncertain about ourselves; certain of him
  4. His primary work with humans is not done with crowds or even small groups
    – Jesus does his work with and  in individuals – one at a time
  5. His response is disappointing, because he is disappointed
    – that he could not win the crowd – not even all of the twelve
    – we share his disappointment
    • why can’t there be more influence for Jesus in politics, the media, corporate board rooms?
  6. He doesn’t want these men with him to be misled by any illusions
    – the crowd thought they wanted Jesus, but only wanted bread
    – what if a person follows Jesus, but only because believe a lie?
    • because they are deceived or deluded?
    • some Christians are so eager to convert others, they offer a false belief or hope
    – Jesus does not misrepresent himself or his promises
    • he doesn’t promise a happy-ever-after that obviously appeals to everyone
    • but an ever-after with himself and the Father and that appeals only to the person who loves him

CONC: There is something else deeply disturbing about “one of you is a devil”

At the last supper, Jesus opened his heart to disciples regarding his betrayal
– John secretly asked him “Who?”

Jesus then answered, ‘That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.’ So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. After the morsel, Satan entered into him (Jn. 13:26-27)

Jesus is the bread of life – eternal life enters the one who eats this bread
• but when Judas ate the morsel Jesus handed him, it was Satan that entered him

How can we be sure that life will enter us (in Communion)?
– we have a Father who is here to help us
• you are not here by accident today – or because someone dragged you here
• you are being drawn to Jesus Christ and it is your heavenly Father who draws you

Jesus is asking you to believe in him
– what he’s looking for, is not a belief that results in certainty, but a belief that results in trust

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