Friday, May 8, 2020

Where would we go? You hold the words of life.

Read John 6

It’s Mother’s Day today.  And because school has been out and your kids couldn’t make a Mother’s Day gift at school, many Dads had to order a Mother’s Day gift online.  That means many of you mothers got power tool attachments.  So happy Mother’s Day.

Last Sunday would have been our Senior Recognition Sunday followed by Baccalaureate.  We will still recognize our graduating seniors in a few weeks when we have some more people gathered to celebrate this special occasion, perhaps with a fellowship meal.  That’s something we have missed as well.

One day a long time from now, you graduates will be talking with your children or grandchildren about their high school graduation, and they will ask you what yours was like.  Make sure that you keep these words handy:  unique, unmatched in the history of the school or America, one of a kind.

Your kids will not believe you when you tell them that back in your day, you blew all over your birthday cake and then shared it with everyone.  Your kids will only know that the birthday boy or girl got a slice of cake with candles and blew only on their own slice.

Your kids will not believe you when you tell them that once upon a time you could make it through an entire day and only wash your hands twice, and that could be from the same water hose that your parents drank from on occasion.

You can tell your kids that the year you graduated people walked around with guns and were masked but nobody robbed a train. 

This has been quite a year so far.  I can hardly wait to see what happens when we break out the fireworks in July.

They were having quite a year two millennia ago.  Jesus turned water to wine.  He healed a man’s son without having to make a house call.  I don’t think he even had to use Zoom.  He fed a multitude with five loaves of bread and two fish and then he walked on water.

The people who had been fed with the loaves and fishes followed Jesus to Capernaum.  Jesus scolded them that they just wanted another free meal and were not really interested in being his disciples.

Jesus told them that there was a huge difference in working for food to feed the body and seeking after the Bread of Life.  Jesus said, I am the bread of life.

The people wanted another miracle.  Really?  What had transpired over the past day wasn’t enough? 

The people still clung to the rules of the world and didn’t want to let go.  Jesus challenged them to let him be their true sustenance.  The Manna that their ancestors received in the dessert was just a foreshadowing of the true bread that had now come and was before them.

Instead of receiving Jesus as the Son of God, the Christ, the Anointed One that they had been waiting for, they asked instead:  Just who is this guy?  Isn’t he the son of Joseph?  How can he say he is from heaven?

And now we come to the last part of this chapter.

Many Jews deserted Jesus.  His teachings were too hard.  He was asking too much.  He was talking about the Spirit which gives life and so many who had followed him amazed at what he did, just wanted to satisfy their human flesh.

They just wanted the free lunch.

Jesus told them that the words he had spoken were words of life.  Life was standing right before them.  Life was in the believing but many would not believe.  We could be critical.  We can’t really put ourselves in their shoes.  It was a different time.  We have always known the whole story.

Even a Pharisee named Nicodemus that we remember from chapter 3 had trouble with this born of the Spirit business.  People had a different perspective on the other side of the cross, and that perspective was that many were not yet ready to come to Jesus.  They left.  This was too hard for them.

Jesus then turned to the twelve and asked:  You guys want to bug out too?
He was very much to the point with those he had chosen to follow him.  Is this too hard for you? Do you want to quit now? 

It was Peter who answered for all.  Sometimes we give Peter a hard time thinking his mouth wouldn’t wait for his brain to kick in.  Peter takes a lot of flak but his time he nailed it.

Peter said, “We’re all in.  You have the words of life.  You are sent by God.  You are God’s Son.  You are the Holy One of God.”

The disciples didn’t always understand the teachings of their Master right away.  They barely passed their parables course.  At one point, Jesus called them dull. None of these men turned down an academic scholarship to follow Jesus.  None of them were going to be brain surgeons or rocket scientists.

But they knew to follow Jesus.  They knew that life was in him.  They knew that he was from God and he had chosen them.

What else could they do?  Where could they go?

Sure, they could have gone back to their old jobs.  Catching fish is a noble trade, but it would never be the same for them once they had been claimed by the Master.  Once they had taken on his yoke as his disciples, there was nothing else.

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back!

The road forward would now have much controversy.  The Jews, especially their leaders, would want to trap or discredit Jesus.  Jesus had come to turn the world right-side up and too many were vested in the upside-down world.

This Messiah surely couldn’t be the real thing.  He didn’t fit the mold.  He said he came from heaven but he had earthly parents.  His teachings were about the Spirit and life and the rules were subordinated to him.  This guy didn’t fit into their religious box and many deserted him.

Others were plotting to get rid of him by any means necessary, but Peter knew that Jesus had the words of life.  Jesus was life.  Jesus was their sustenance.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

There were going to be some rough spots in the road ahead.  Now let’s jump to present day.  Everyone here grew up in a time where you could worship the Lord freely.  If worship services were canceled, it was probably an ice storm and you were back the next week.

I am going to be political, not partisan, but political, just for a moment.  Regardless of what the next few months look like, you will have given up some liberty.  You may or may not agree with it, but it will happen. 

Whatever the new normal is, it will be less than you grew up with.  It may or may not have a significant impact or your lives.  That all remains to be seen.

But if there comes a time where the secular authorities disassemble the religious liberties that you have always known, are you ready to tell your Master that you will follow him wherever he leads.

Will your life say, “Where would we go?  You have the words of life?”

Up until now, most have never been forced to make the hard choice, at least not in this country.  Christians around the world are persecuted every day.  Here, we have been blessed to have wrestled with the world mostly in our hearts and minds.

In the first century world into which Jesus came as a child, the reigning government of the time had declared that Caesar was god.  After the cross, the followers of The Way would first face persecution by the Jewish religious hierarchy then the mass persecutions conducted by the secular government of the time. 

We have always lived in a sheltered time and place.  Our decisions to claim Jesus as Lord might have received a few unkind comments or snide remarks.  That decision might have involved some old-fashioned social distancing from the in crowd, but we have never known persecution.

Are you ready if the days ahead see many deserting the church because its views are deemed antiquated?

Are you ready if the days ahead see many disowning Jesus because his teachings seem hard and very much contrary to the mantra of the modern world?

Are you ready to follow Jesus when the world tells you that you can’t say he is the way, the truth, and the life?

Why would I ask you these questions?  We have been so sheltered in our Christianity over the past century, I don’t know if we are ready for what is to come.

I would love for my children’s children to know the blessings of liberty that I have known, but we must be certain that they know the one who holds the words of life and life eternal.

I don’t know if we are a few years or a few hundred years from the Great Tribulation period, but I know that the signs of the times  tell us we must be ready.  The signs of the times tell us that we will see many desert the church because the teachings of Jesus are too hard.

We must prepare ourselves to strengthen what remains and make sure that our families, friends, and those whom we do not want to see lost know that Jesus alone holds the words of life.

I don’t want to scare you.  I don’t want to worry you.  I don’t want you to be afraid.  My prayer is that in some way I may help to prepare you.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Sometime today, while it’s just you and the Lord, affirm to him that you will never desert him.  Acknowledge that you know he has the words of life.  

Proclaim that you follow the Holy One of God.

Be prepared for whatever is to come.

Jesus is LifeJesus is Lord.  Know who holds the words of life and be ready to stand by him when the rest of the world deserts him.

Jesus is life.  Jesus is Lord. 


Read John 7

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