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John 6:60-71 Sermon Notes

When Franklin Roosevelt was married to Elanor, her uncle, President Teddy Roosevelt attended the wedding in NY.

At the reception…for Franklin and his new bride, the President talked nonstop for an hour and half…he made the event about himself.

The newlyweds were largely forgotten at their own wedding.

Teddy’s oldest daughter, who had little respect for her dad once said:

“My dad wants to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral, and the baby at every christening.”

She was a bitter daughter, but she’s not far off in her angry assessment of her famous dad.

This is not to say that Teddy Roosevelt didn’t do good and that he was an evil man.

He did, and he wasn’t.

He was a man of enormous gifting, and drive.

He is the youngest man to become president, 42.

He remembered virtually everything he read, and he read a lot.

He led troops in battle

Pushed through the completion of the Panama Canal…many had failed before him.

Won the Nobel peace prize.

I mean, how could he not be confident…everything WAS about him everywhere he went.

But his gifting, his physical and mental abilities…became a stumbling block for him.

That fooled him into thinking he was more than just a man.

He was not.

He was a fast burner to the top and he fell from that height even faster that he rose.

In his final year, at only 60 years of age…discontent, living on the sidelines of life…he was dreaming of a return to power and national prominence…instead he died, looking much older than his years.

You don’t have to be a human of Teddy Roosevelts gifting and fame to lose sight of who you are and how much we are in utter and desperate need of God.

We don’t have Roosevelt’s enormous mental and physical capacity…but we all have his capacity to believe life is about us…and to try to live in line with that belief…to make demands of God and others.

When we do this, when I do this…when we nurture a demanding heart…

We are living life outside the freedom of the truth.

Truth is:

I exist for God

Without Christ, I am hopelessly separated from God.

God does not meet my demands; I must meet his if I hope to live in freedom.

We are in the last few verses of John 6, I’ll read starting in verse 60.

John 6:60 Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?” 61 Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, asked them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. 64 But there are some among you who don’t believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning those who did not believe and the one who would betray him.) 65 He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.” 66 From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”, 70 Jesus replied to them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray him.

This passage depicts an exchange between Jesus and some deciding, but not decided disciples at the Passover feast one year before the Passover at which he will die.

John distinguishes between “disciples” and “the twelve”.

Back in John 2 we saw that there is “faith” then there is “faith”

-Some “believed” in him because of signs…it was a kind of faith.

But Jesus knew it was not the real deal.

-It was not saving faith.

Likewise, there are “disciples” and then there are “disciples”.

The word disciple means learner, trainee.

It was applied to the 12, THE Disciples, and it came to be a key description of Christians in their essential position to Christ…life-long learners, followers, Matthew 28, “Make disciples…teaching them to obey my words.”

But generally speaking, during this time in the Lord’s earthly ministry…it was anyone who regarded Jesus as an authoritative teacher for even a short time.

You could be a disciple(student) of this guy, then switch and follow that one…that’s what they didn.

They had not “savingly” trusted Jesus…because this is more than a mere human decision, it is a work of God in a human heart.

They were following him because he was trending on first century social media…not because they were ready to recognize him as Lord.

Later in John 8 we will see that only those who continue in the Lord’s word (keep following him) are truly his disciples.

So, the key sign of a true disciple is TWT…time will tell.

The most important character quality of a disciple of Jesus in the NT is love, but the ultimate sign of a true disciple is longevity…disciples last.

They may stumble…but they do endure.

So…our focus ought to be on: Love God and people, and endurance.

Some here don’t continue to follow the Lord, because they find his teaching “hard.”

The word used for “hard”  doesn’t mean hard to understand, it means “offensive.”

Now they did find his words hard to understand at time…but they didn’t walk away because of intellectual problems with his teaching.

What did they find offensive about it?

We have already seen they were more interested in having a food providing, miracle performing, political champion than a Lord and Savior.

At the root of it, the offense seems to be tied to their realization that he had not come to meet their demands but to be their Lord…and they failed to realize, only as their Lord  would he meet their greatest actual need…to be saved.

So, they couldn’t get their minds around his teaching…because they were focused on their demands rather than their actual needs.

He didn’t come to meet their demands.

They had to meet his, if he would meet their greatest need.

Many today reject the Lord’s teaching…I’ve seen it mocked it as simplistic, outdated, silly.

It is, of course, none of that.

There are those who believe it is only the naive and uneducated and gullible who think the gospel is true.

This is, of course, a naive belief…in itself.

In this church alone there are many brilliant and highly educated followers of Christ, many more who are street smart and intuitive…far from naive.

Belief has nothing to do with IQ or education…any more than disbelief does.

It is, at its root, an issue of whether we will submit to the Lordship of Jesus.

Who will be the center of our lives?

He asks them, “Does my teaching offend you?  What if you were to see me ascending to where I was before?”

John has already indicated, in chapter 3, that the way Jesus will be exalted (ascend to where he was before) was by going through the cross.

The path to glory was to be through the shame of the cross.

If they are bothered by his claims so far just wait until they see how he is going to prove his authority and meet their greatest need.

It will be through the scandal and the shame of the cross…there, even the twelve will desert him.

Paul calls the cross “A stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” 1 Cor. 1:23

Yet the shame of the cross is the very moment of his greatest glory.

Listen to his prayer on the night he was betrayed.

Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with that glory I had with you before the world existed. John 17:5

How was he to be glorified?  By a brutal death on a cross.

John leaves this question open because how people respond to the cross of Christ determines their destiny.

“What will you do with the cross?” Jesus is asking them in his question…

“What if you were to see me ascending to where I was before?”

They remain spiritually dense…unable to make sense out of his words because they are relying on their own ability to understand…they have too much confidence in their own “flesh”.

Jesus tells them…

The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn’t help at all.

“Flesh” in the NT can mean sinful human nature or it can mean, as it does here, human physical capacity…probably a hint of both.

This is not about abandoning reason for an irrational leap of faith.

We don’t leap into the unknown…God isn’t asking us to do that.

We hear, we understand, and we believe the Gospel.

God isn’t going to answer every question we may have…he has given us adequate not exhaustive understanding…enough to make a good decision.

God gave you a mind…he expects you to use it.

BUT

GOD gave you a mind…don’t think too highly of that mind that he gave you.

So, faith is not an irrational leap…it is a choice to transfer trust from self to God.

This is a more rational choice than the choice to continue to trust self.

A long-time friend was in town this week and dropped by…he had received some bad news and wanted to talk.

One of the things we spoke about was the reality that he, like most of us, had lived with the illusion of being in control of his life…until the point where he encountered  circumstances that are out of his control.

These circumstances did not suddenly make his life outside the realm of his ability to control …they revealed that this has always been true.

Don’t misunderstand what I am saying…God has given us agency…we are responsible to choose…our choices matter.

But we are not ultimately in control.

As Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life.”

Trusting Jesus is not an irrational leap of faith…it actually makes perfect sense…it is a “rational” choice in the truest sense of the word.

But it’s not “rational” in that we rely on our own reason.

This is about a good and wise decision to live with humility, dependence…we cannot, by our own intelligence and effort, be saved.

What we most need is the work of God’s Spirit in our lives.

Jesus said, The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

Again, this is no irrational leap of faith…this is hearing, understanding, and responding to the actual words and the content of those words that come from Jesus.

A hallmark of the postmodern world, where objective truth has been abandoned and anything that resembles a metanarrative…a grand story which overarching authority…is dismissed.

And the gospel is THE metanarrative…it is the story that makes sense of every story…this really bothers people.

Postmodern thought has touched virtually everyone you come in contact with day to day.

So, for most people, words and their meaning have become fluid…the author’s intent isn’t relevant…what matters is what those words mean to the reader or hearer…what they mean to “me”.

So, who cares what the Bible meant…it only matters what it means to me…it is fluid, changeable…like we are.

But no, it is not…the words of the Lord are not fluid and changing, even as God himself is not.

We don’t chase emotional responses to the Bible…we don’t read looking for a “tingle” or a “feeling” or for “what it means to me”…what it means “today” in line with our new thinking.

Who cares if you feel something as you read the Bible…that can be more a component of coffee at work in your bloodstream than the Spirit at work in your heart.

We must do the work to apply the Bible to our life circumstances…but it tells us what we are seeing in the world…the world doesn’t tell us how to understand the Bible.

We read and ask God to help us understand the truth of his Word…we want to know what it means.

So, we can conform our lives to it.

We respond to that truth with obedience in our very lives…and then we are changed by that truth.

“If you hold to my teaching” Jesus will say later in John, “Then you will know the truth”…then, and only then…”will the truth make you free.”

The starting point is a commitment to obey…living with a ready “yes”.

If we ask, “What do you want, then I will decide if I like it”…we will not understand truth.

If we go looking for a feeling and equate a feeling with God’s work in our lives, “…then we will get off track.

We must say, “I will obey you, whatever you want and regardless of what I feel or don’t feel.”…then we are positioned to understand and be set free by truth.

Some among them didn’t obey, they wanted Jesus to conform to their demands, versus them conforming to his.

Jesus already knew who they were…there were no surprises for the Lord.

64 But there are some among you who don’t believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning those who did not believe and the one who would betray him.) 65 He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”

There is no room for human arrogance in our salvation.

Unless God had granted you faith you would not have become a Christian.

But as we discussed last week…John has no trouble holding to the tension of both God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.

After the Lord’s challenge to their pride…”You can’t come to me unless the Father grants it…you are utterly dependent beings.”

All but the twelve, who were present there…walked away

Jesus then looked at the twelve and said, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”

Here is John, again, holding the two sides of the tension in place.

Like a guitar string…if it is in proper tension, it makes beautiful sounds, if the tension is lost then it makes only noise.

  1. You won’t come to Jesus unless the Father grants it.
  2. So, are you going to follow me or not?

God chooses you…don’t be proud.

Now, you must choose…don’t be passive…decide.

If you let go of one side you have arrogance…human effort and no salvation.

If you let go of the other side you have apathy…a lack of decision and obedience to respond to the call of Jesus to believe.

We are to hear, understand and obey the Words of Jesus.

If you maintain this balance…of grace and grit…there is music not noise.Let’s step back and look at this narrative in summary fashion.

John 6 started with a huge crowd following Jesus…upwards of 20,000 people.

He crossed the Lake, went to Capernaum and was, we find in verse 59, teaching his “bread of life” sermon in the synagogue there.

So, there was a much smaller group of people now…probably the more serious, religiously minded folks.

These were the still deciding disciples, mingled with his core 12.

Jesus, looks at that group and says, “You won’t come to me unless it is granted by my Father”

At that moment…all but the 12 walked away.

Their pride would not accept the Lord’s teaching.

The whole “eat my flesh and drink my blood” was confusing and disturbing enough.

Now, “Your human effort and ability…means nothing.”

Lead most of them to walk away.

FF Bruce

“What they wanted, he would not give; what he offered, they would not receive.”

Now, it’s just the 12 standing there…and Jesus says…

“You don’t want to go away too, do you?”

This is not Jesus being insecure or begging them to stay.

It is a challenge…it was for their sake not his that he wanted them to answer the question.

“What about you guys?”

As usual, Peter speaks his mind…which is neither good nor bad.

Sometimes Peter gets a bad rap because he is quick to speak his mind.

Biblically we should be slow to speak, but at least he speaks when others won’t.

He is a work in progress but his sometimes little “r” big “A” is not worse than the others who sometimes have “R” and little “a”

There is at least a hint of hubris in Peter’s words…we will see this again in about a year when he will confidently say right before Jesus goes to the Cross “Even if everyone abandons you, I won’t!”

Of course, shortly after that, to his shame, he denied Christ.

But here on this day Peter answers the Lord’s question with a proper response.

“Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”,

Good answer Peter.

But again Jesus will allow no room for human pretension…no bravado is tolerated.

70 Jesus replied to them, “Didn’t I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray him.

You are right, Peter.

I am the Holy One of God…and there is nowhere else to go to find life.

But I choose you…don’t forget it.

And even one of you will walk away from me…one of you animated by the enemy”

Long after Jesus made that statement, John is writing this gospel and he identifies that it is Judas.

But at the time, from the perspective of the 12…it could be any one of them.

The Lord wasn’t trying to evoke fear in them but rather to eliminate any hint of self-reliance and pride.

You are not the cool kids, the 12 special ones.

He has one year to get these guys ready…they were his strategy to reach the world.

They had to learn what it means to trust him and not rely on their own “flesh”

The flesh, the human heart…is a demanding thing.

A demanding heart is devasting to human thriving…and relationship with God and others.

It ruins relationships between people.

When we have a heart that demands that others understand us, love us, defer to us, meet our needs, obey us…whatever it is, we will drive a wedge between us and them.

It is not that it’s wrong to want to be loved, understood…the problem is in that “demanding heart.”

A demanding heart is the self-centered and rebellious force that moves us through life making life about us.

Some are subtle in this; some are more overt.

Some are loud and demanding, some are quiet and passively demanding.

We all have this struggle…and we will all do what Paul wrote, “Put to death the things of the flesh”…or the things of the flesh will dominate our lives.

It is even more devastating when we approach God with a demanding heart.

Apart from being absurd (he is God), how can we presume to demand anything from him?

It is going to keep us from trusting him as Lord…and living in the freedom of his truth.

He will not submit to our demands.

If we don’t continually repent of our demanding hearts, we will not live in the freedom of the truth.

If we keep his commands, then we will know the truth, and the truth will make us free.

We don’t demand anything from the Lord…he demands everything from us.

In return for our obedience to him…we get to live in the freedom of the truth.

God hasn’t met your demands, has he?

He may have answered some prayers…but he meets no human demands.

There is a big difference between those things.

You have struggles, unmet desires, people around you who won’t change, health issues, job struggles, disappointments…so many things that you need and want God to do.

But what if he doesn’t…what are you going to do?

Where you going to go?

Trust him?

Or will you walk away and take your demands elsewhere?

Often those who walk away, do so because they had not understood…Jesus does not meet our demands, we meet his.

And we meet his demands and die to our demands, he meets our greatest need…and we are able to live in the freedom of the truth.

“Lord Jesus…Where else can I go, you have the words of eternal life, you are the Holy One of God.”

“You have, you are…what I most need…I submit to you, I will follow you.”