John Message #21, “Conversation with Followers” Ed Miller, May 1, 2024

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As we come to look into the word of the Lord, we remember the indispensable principle which is total reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit. I want to share just an expression from Acts 17:3, right at the end, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” Isn’t that a wonderful verse? “This Jesus that I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” Let’s bow together.

Father, we thank You for the revelation of our Lord Jesus as Messiah, as the Christ. Lord, as we are so privileged to proclaim Him, time after time, session after session, I just ask that the indwelling Holy Spirit would unveil the Lord Jesus in a fresh and living way to our hearts. Lord, we do want to behold the Lord Jesus. We commit our time unto You and we thank You that we don’t need to trust human wisdom, but we can just trust Your Holy Spirit. Protect, I pray, your people from anything I might say that is not from You. Pluck up what You don’t plant. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Welcome again to our continual focus on our Lord Jesus in the gospel of John. We don’t want to make the same error that the Jews made. Listen to John 5:39, “You search the scriptures because you think in them you have eternal life, and it’s these that testify about Me. You are unwilling to come to Me, that you might have life.” Their error was that they were Bible scholars, they were experts on the scripture, but they missed the Lord Jesus. In my thinking that would be like studying a cookbook and never getting to eat what was in there. You can’t eat a recipe; you have to have the meal.

In our meditation, we’ve come to the end of John 6. When we looked at it, we divided it into four sections. The first fifteen verses were the miracle of the loaves and the fish and the feeding of the five thousand plus women and children. And then God tested that, verses 16-21, the stormy sea, where He wanted to find out if they learned the incident of the loaves. And then we’ve been for the last couple of weeks on verses 22-59, the discourse on the bread of life. After Jesus fed the five thousand and tested them, then He gave this long discourse explaining the real meaning of the miracle, that He indeed is the real food and drink of life. Then at the end is chapter 6 and verses 60-71, and that’s where we are now. We’ve come to that final section in chapter 6.
For those of you who were here last week you know that we addressed sort of a doctrinal controversy in some places, and it was suggested by this discourse on the bread of life. John 6:41, “’No one can come to Me,’ Jesus said, ‘unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I’ll draw him up on the last day.’” Some have taken those words and other words, as well, and formulated a doctrine that they love, and they refer to as “election”. I’m not going to go into that again this morning. If you missed it, of course, the CD is available or else you can get it online.

What I’d like to do this morning, then, is to finish our discussion of chapter 6, and then we’ll have time to just to introduce chapter 7 and the Feast of Tabernacles, but it will only be a brief introduction. So, we come to verse 60-71 and this is the clincher of that discourse on the bread of life. This ending sort of demonstrates the responses that we can expect if we have discovered Jesus as the Bread of life. If you have that by revelation, not just academics, but if the Holy Spirit has shown you and you’ve embraced Christ as the Bread of Life, the same responses He got from that discourse you will get in your life. That response was true when He lived in His first body, His incarnation body, given to Him through Mary. The responses He got when He revealed Himself as the Bread of Life, now He has another body, and you know what that is; that’s you and that’s me; we are His body. He lives in us and if He reveals Himself as the Bread of Life, we can expect the same responses that He got when He ministered in His first body.

There are three responses listed here. I’ll mention them and then sort of develop a couple of them. When Jesus is revealed as the Bread of Life, I can expect what I see in verse 66, “As a result of this, many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” I can expect rejection. Jesus was rejected after He gave that discourse. Just a note that in the gospel of John, at this point the theme of rejection is going to be developed as you go through the gospel of John. Chapter 5:10, this was the early picture of rejection, “The Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It’s the Sabbath; it’s not permissible for you to carry your palette.” Verse 16, “For this reason, the Jews were persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.” We know as far as the gospel is concerned, rejection is in the first chapter, “He came to His own, and His own received Him not.” As far as an illustration of it, it starts in chapter 5 and then listen to 5:18, “For this reason, therefore, the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him because He was not only breaking the Sabbath, but was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” So, now they’re out to kill Him. John 6:66, every now and then I try to get a memory device, and I just like this “666”, and you know how that registers in your mind? John 6:66 says, “As a result of this, many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” I’m not going to read these verses, but in 7:19, “Why do you seek to kill Me?”, in 7:30, “They were seeking to seize Him,” in 8:59, “They picked up stones to stone Him,” in 11:53, “They planned from that day on to kill Him.” The note of rejection starts here, and as you go through John it builds and builds until you get to the cross, the climax of the rejection.
The more Christ is revealed in your heart as the Bread of Life, you are going to be rejected. As we go on in the Lord and see more and more of the Lord, there are going to be those that take a strong stand against us.

Those closing verses also show a second response, and it’s the opposite of rejection. Chapter 6:67, “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.’” This is the opposite of rejection; this is acceptance. When you think what took place during the discourse, and the tremendous emotion, like I said, it wasn’t a sermon; He wasn’t standing behind a pulpit. They were back and forth; it was a debate. All of the protest and all of the scorn and the indignation that took place, and there was so much confusion and unanswered questions and an atmosphere of resistance, and even so, there were those that said, “To whom are we going to go? You have the words of eternal life.” So, there’s going to be rejection and there’s going to be acceptance.

There’s a third group, a third response we can expect, and it’s not so easily seen, but it’s here illustrated by Judas, John 6:70, “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil.’ Now, He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.” Judas represents the third response, which is hypocrisy. He’s not going to follow, but He’s going to pretend to follow. He’ll be numbered with the disciples, but in his heart he’s a rejector. The hypocrite can fool the eleven disciples but they can’t fool the Lord Jesus. I love John 6:64, “There are some of you who do not believe, for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe and who it was who would betray Him.” He knew from the beginning. I hope that there is no hypocrisy in your heart, but if you are trying to fake it, remember that you can’t fake it before the Lord. Listen to Hebrews 4:13, “There’s no creature hidden from His sight; all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”

As you go on in the Lord, He’s going to give you liberty to be honest before Him. If you are having a controversy with the Lord, tell Him; don’t pretend you have rest if you don’t; don’t pretend you have victory if you don’t. If you’re struggling, let Him know; He already knows your heart. This honesty before the Lord is so very important, and I hope the Lord works that in us. The whole point of this as we come to the end of the discourse, God gives us representative responses to the revelation of Christ as the Bread of Life; there’ll be those who outright reject, and there will be those that accept because they have found in Him the words of life eternal, and there will be those who fake it, who pretend they’re following, but they’re not really.

Let me say one thing about this idea that Jesus called Judas a devil in verse 70, “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil,’ and He was referring to Judas.” One comment, in the gospel of John we’re to see many miracles, but you’ll never see Jesus casting out a demon, not in John. That’s in the other gospels, but John doesn’t mention it. The only time He refers to the devil is in terms of hypocrites, and so on, but the word here, “One of them IS a devil,” and the word “is”, this is very early in the ministry of Christ. I had the idea that Judas sort of fell off the rails at the end when it was getting closer and closer, but he didn’t fall off the rails at the end; he was always a devil. John 12:6, “Now, he said this not that He was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to pilfer what was put into it.” I had to smile when I read this because if someone is going to pilfer, put their hand in the drawer and takes some money, I know they’re going to look around to make sure nobody is watching; they’re going to try to do this secretly. When you pilfer, you’re looking up and down and all around, and then you try to sneak it so nobody knows. This is so interesting because I know Judas took great pains to be private in his pilfering, but he made the Bible; the whole world knows that he was a thief, and that he was a pilferer. Many times most pilferers, after they’ve been exposed, after a while it dies out. Not Judas; he’s a pilferer and he’ll live in Bible history forever; everybody knows who he was. Like I said, this was all the way from the beginning.

In John 6:67 Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away, also, do you?” What I want to share is not evident in my translation, in the New American Standard, but Wuest in his Expanded Translation takes us to the Greek, and I’m going to quote him now, “As the result of this, many of His pupils went away from the things that they had left.” Literally, it’s, “…the things behind.” KJV came close to having that Greek idea, “They went back to what they used to have.” Jesus, in John 6:67, “You don’t want to go away back to the old cisterns that hold no water, do you?” That’s the idea, that they went back to the old things because they didn’t discover Christ as the satisfaction, the water of life, the bread of life, and because they didn’t find Him that way, then they went back to trying to find satisfaction somewhere else. So, those are the three responses: increasing rejection, also, thank the Lord, acceptance and a lot of hypocrisy.

I want to read John 6:60-63 and make two observations, “Therefore, many of His disciples when they heard this said, ‘This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, ‘Does this cause you to stumble? What, then, if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I’ve spoken to you are spirit and are life.’”

My first observations comes from verse 63, “’It’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I’ve spoken to you, they are spirit, and they are life.’” That is one of those verses, one of those passages you can just dip in your Bible, take it out and take it to a store and say, “Make a plaque. I want to put this on my wall, and I want this in my study.” “It’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words I’ve spoken to you are spirit and are life.” If that were in Romans, if that were in Ephesians or Colossians, we would say, “I know what that means; it means that spiritual life is the reality and the flesh profits nothing; we want spiritual life.” That is the general truth of that verse, and as a plaque, that’s what it means. But it’s slightly different in the context of the discourse on the Bread of Life. We need to tie it into what He’s saying and what He’s talking about.
We pointed out all through the discourse that there was a contrast; they were looking at things through these eyes and not these eyes; they didn’t have the spiritual understanding, and all the way through the discourse Jesus would say something spiritual and they would interpret it on the low level of earth. He was talking about living bread from heaven, and they said, “Oh yeah, Moses; he gave us manna.” They didn’t get it. He spoke about His origin, “I’m from heaven; My Father sent Me.” They said, “Oh, we know Your origin; You’re from Nazareth and we know Your mother and we know Your father and we know Your family.” He said in verse 54, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, I’ll raise him on the last day.” They also heard that literally, and so in verse 52, “The Jews began to argue with one another saying, ‘How can this man give us His flesh to eat? We’re not cannibals, we’re not vampires, and we don’t eat human flesh, and we don’t drink blood.” It’s that last statement that blew their mind, verse 60, “Therefore, many of His disciples when they heard this said, ‘This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?’” It was that one spiritual truth, “You’ve got to eat My flesh,” which was a difficult statement and some said, “That’s it; I’m leaving.”

When that wonderful verse 63, He’s not only addressing the danger of seeing everything with these eyes, but that comment, “The flesh profits nothing; it’s the Spirit that gives life,” when He said that the flesh profits nothing, in the context, He was talking about His own flesh. In other words, “You must eat My flesh,” and they said, “Oh, you can’t eat flesh,” and He said, “The flesh profits nothing,” but He’s talking about His own flesh when He said that. If you could literally eat flesh, His flesh, it still wouldn’t profit; what good would that do? It would do absolutely no good. He said that same kind of an idea to Nicodemus in John 3:4, “Nicodemus said, ‘How can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’” Just think of that if it actually happened. Of course, you who have been mothers, you don’t want it to happen when they’re adults, but what a miracle that would be if somebody could go after they were adults back into their mother’s womb and be born again. What a miracle! What would it profit? You would still die in your sin; it’s not going to help you, even a miracle like that, and that’s what Jesus is saying, “I’m not talking about eating My flesh; you can’t eat My flesh. I’m talking about something spiritual,” and He was trying to say that.
That was the first comment; I wanted to show the context of that verse. The second comment has to do with verse 61 & 62, “Jesus conscious that His disciples grumbled at this,” and that is eat My flesh, that’s what they grumbled at, “He said, ‘Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?’” What’s His point? Why does He bring up the ascension? This is the first mention of the ascension in the gospel of John; it’s going to come up a lot after this. At first, if you just read it, it looks like He’s saying something like this, “Were you offended when I said that you’ve got to eat My flesh? Well, if that offends you, how are you going to feel when I ascend to heaven and you behold that? You want to talk offense, that’s going to be offense.” That’s not what He’s saying, that’s not why He brought up the ascension and that’s not the heart of our Lord Jesus. He’s not saying, “Does this offend you? Well, I’ll offend you more.” He’s not saying that; that’s not Him. They were struggling to understand with the heart; they were struggling to understand to see with spiritual eyes. They were constantly looking at things literal and they were so confused.

I showed you that when Jesus talked about His heavenly origin. John 6:41, “The Jews were grumbling. He said, ‘I’m the bread that came down out of heaven.’ They were saying, ‘Is this not Jesus, son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, “I’ve come down now out of heaven?”’” And then later Jesus said, “Not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.” He’s making some pretty big claims here. But they’re saying, “Come on, we know your human origin. You’re talking about coming out of heaven and being sent by the Father? We have eyes; we’re not ignorant and we know your origin, Nazareth. We know your mother and we know your father and we know your family.” When Jesus brought up the ascension, He’s not giving them something that will burden them more or further offend them. The fact is that He’s dealing tenderly with them, and there’s a great principle involved. He was encouraging faith and not discouraging it. He brought up the ascension to assure them. “You struggle with the idea that I came from heaven? And you are interpreting everything with these eyes? What if,” says Jesus, “since you are always using these eyes, if I showed you a spiritual truth that you could see with these eyes? What if you saw me ascend to heaven with these eyes? What if you beheld Me ascending to heaven? Would that help you to believe? You’re struggling because you keep looking with these eyes, but what if I actually let you see with your eyes some spiritual truth? Then would you be believing, rather than unbelieving?” Jesus was accommodating His greatness to their weakness, as He often does. He said, “I’m going to show you a spiritual reality that you can see with these eyes.”
That’s the same thing, you remember, that He did for Thomas. We call him doubting Thomas but he takes the rap; they all doubted at that time. John 20:25, “The other disciples were saying to Him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ He said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the imprint of the nails, put my finger into the place of the nails, put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’” So, Jesus, because he was needing sight, He accommodated him. Verse 27, “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here your finger, and see my hands, and reach here your hand, and put it into my side; do not be unbelieving but believing.’” He let him see by sight in order to encourage his faith, to be seeing with these eyes. He followed that up in verse 29, “Jesus said to him, ‘Because you’ve seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are those who did not see and yet believe.’” So, Jesus brings up, in my understanding, the ascension to encourage their faith. They had been looking with the eyes of the flesh, carnal reasoning, and He says, “There will be a day,” and we notice that had happened even with his own family, “after the resurrection and the ascension.” And then they turned to the Lord, and they believed.

The first time in the New Testament that the ascension is referred to is actually in John 3:13, He was talking to Nicodemus, “You don’t understand things spiritual; you’re on the low level of earth. Unless you are born again you can’t see things spiritual.” And then He gave an example and He said, “I’m going to give an example, a heavenly thing,” and He brought up the ascension, that you can’t see, “The One who speaks to you is also in heaven at the same time.” Try to put your mind around that! That’s what He said to Nicodemus.

The next mention of the ascension is right here in verse 62, “What then if you see the Son of Man ascending where He was before?” The principle of the ascension is designed to give assurance and encourage faith. Every time you see the ascension in the Bible, it’s to increase your assurance and to develop/strengthen your faith. This mention of the ascension in John 6 laid down that wonderful spiritual principle; that’s the contribution of the ascension, but since it came up here, like election came up in this text, I want to spend a couple of minutes and say a couple of words about the ascension, just because it’s such a precious truth. We know that it’s part of are creed. We are believers, and we believe Jesus died, we believe He was buried, we believe He rose again, and we believe He ascended to heaven. But I think most Christians find it easier to identify with the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ, and not as much on the ascension of Christ.

What contribution has the death of Christ made in your life? If I open that up, I know we’ll get some testimony, “I was identified with Christ, I was crucified with Christ, and His death means everything; my sins are forgiven,” and so on. If I say, “What about the resurrection? What contribution has the resurrection of Christ made in your life? And I think I’d get a lot answers, “It tells me about the spiritual, the risen life, and about the hope I have for the future, that I’m not going stay dead and stay buried. I’m going to rise again,” and so on. But let me ask you this, “What contribution, and it’s a serious question, has the ascension of Christ made in your life?” Think about that.

I think some Christians would be taken back if you ask them, “Alright, share with me all the ascension has meant to you,” because I think for some Christians, they haven’t entered into the wonder of it. Let me put it this way. What if Jesus died and rose again and never ascended? What would you know for sure? I know He died, I know He rose but He never ascended. And then, I’ll follow it up with this question, “What additional truth is added because He did ascend? What are you missing if you don’t enter into the ascension?

If all I had was His death and resurrection, this is me personally, you might get more than that out of this, but I would know for 100% sure that my sins have been dealt with; I would know that I’m forgiven, that He took my place and He was my substitute and He forgave, and His blood washes away all my sin. I would know that it’s a wonderful truth, that I am not going to hell. That’s what I know by His death and resurrection; I am not going to be judged, I’m not going to be condemned, I’m not going to the lake of fire, I’m not going to be separated from God for all eternity.” How do I know? He died and then He rose again, and God gave with that resurrection the assurance, because if He didn’t pay for every sin, He’d still be dead because the wages of sin is death. The fact that He rose is the guarantee He paid every sin; that’s what I would know. But I think that’s all I’d know. I know I’m forgiven and I’m not going to go to hell when I die.
But the ascension of Christ is gospel; it’s more good news. The ascension of Christ not only tells me that I will not go to hell, but it tells me that I’m welcome in heaven, because I was crucified with Him, I was buried with Him and now I can ascend into the presence of God. I wouldn’t have that great assurance. I’d know I’d never go to hell, but I wouldn’t know for sure that I’m welcome in heaven. “And he suffered Him and Jesus was baptized and went straight up from the water; and the heavens were open unto Him and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove coming upon Him; and, lo, a voice out of the heaven saying, ‘This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.’” His ascension, that great reality, the assurance that I’m also ascended with our Lord Jesus Christ; it’s not enough to just know that you’re crucified with Christ and that you’re risen with Him, but you need to know that when He ascended, you ascended in Him. You are not only saved from hell, you are also saved unto heaven.
We have celebration on Good Friday, and we remember His death. We have a celebration on Easter and we remember His resurrection. I grew up in a Lutheran church and it was very traditional and there was a lot of liturgy involved, and since Easter always falls on Sunday, ascension always falls on Thursday, because it’s forty days after Easter. In our church, the liturgy, since we didn’t have a meeting on Thursday, they called that next Sunday “Ascension Sunday”. So, in the church calendar we celebrate ascension. In my heart growing up, there was no significance. We got a message on Jesus ascending, and that’s about all I knew about it. I’m not suggesting that we have a holiday or a feast or a fast on ascension. I’m just encouraging you to ask God to make real in your heart what was included in the ascension.

There’s a second mention on ascension that’s developed and that’s in Ephesians 4, and I want to spend a moment there and then come back to John. In John 16:7 Jesus said, “It’s expedient, it’s good for you that I go away because if I don’t go, I can’t send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.” So, with the ascension, I’ve got to go, or you would never have the Holy Spirit; you’d never have the indwelling Christ. When Jesus offered life, “If you believe in Me, you have life,” “If you drink, I’ll give you life.” That’s not some kind of a feeling in your heart; that’s not nirvana; that’s not the place passionless peace; that’s not just goose bumps that you get in your heart. When He talked about life, He talked about a Person. When He promised eternal life, He was promising the life of the eternal One, which He would give when He ascended, and He would send life; He would send Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:7, “Each one of us, grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says when He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives and gave gifts to men.” In the context of spiritual gifts, right in the middle of that, He throws in the ascension; He ascended to give gifts. Then He talks about, “According to the measure of Christ’s gifts.” He goes on in verse 11-13 and He gives representative gifts; “He gave some apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.” He begins with the measure, and He ends with the measure, verse 7, “to each one of us, grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” And then in 4:8, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”

I told you the contribution of the ascension is to give you assurance and to encourage your faith. Now, in terms of spiritual gifts, He mentioned the ascension to give you assurance and to encourage your faith. When Jesus ascended, of course He gave the Holy Spirit; that’s the gift. But He also gave spiritual gifts. In some circles you’re going to hear, “You ought to know what your spiritual gift is. So, go on a gift hunt and discover your spiritual gift. Talk to others and find out your gift, and once you find out, then develop your spiritual gift. Then after you’ve developed your spiritual gift, apply it in terms of ministry to build up the body of Christ. Some would confuse a natural talent with a spiritual gift, but that’s another thing. My suggestion to everybody here, do not search for your spiritual gift, do not. Any gift or gifts that you have from the Lord are automatic when you look to Christ. If you keep your eyes on Christ, any gift that He’s given you will be used. Others will probably know more about your gift than you do.

Without the ascension I wouldn’t know that I’m welcome in heaven, and listen to Ephesians 2:5&6, “When we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Christ. By grace you’ve been saved, and raised us up with Him, seated us with Him in heavenly place in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you would know the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. Every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come, He put things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as a head over all things, to the church, His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
As I was preparing for this, I asked my Lillian, I don’t want to embarrass her now, but I asked my Lillian, “Do you have a spiritual gift?” She didn’t hesitate. She said, “No, I don’t have a spiritual gift. Others have gifts but I don’t have a gift.” I heard one person say, “I found my place in the body; I’m the appendix.” Dear Christian, here is what the Bible teaches; you have a gift, and maybe more. Everyone has a spiritual gift or more, and I might not tell you what that gift is because God doesn’t tell me, but He tells me to tell you how to measure your gift. You don’t know what it is but how can I measure it? How large is my gift? How big is my gift? If you read this carefully, you are going to see that the measure of your gift is the ascension of Christ; that’s how large your gift is. What did it take to raise Him up? What did it take to seat Him at the Father’s right hand? What did it take to put Him over all rule and all authority and all power and all dominion and every name that’s named, not only in this age but the age to come, and to put all things in subjection under His feet, and to make Him head over all things, for the church? How much power did that take? That’s why in Ephesians 1 he said, “I pray that God would open your eyes, and give you the Spirit of revelation so you could see the power that it took to raise Him up and seated Him there.” According to Ephesians, that’s the measure of your gift. Do you want to know how great your gift is? It’s as great as the ascension of Christ. If you can measure that, you can measure your gift.

I said that everything about the ascension is designed to give you assurance. The first assurance is, “Don’t you dare say, ‘I don’t have a spiritual gift.’” You do and you can’t believe how great it is and how big it is, and in the day of rewards you’re going to be flabbergasted; your eyes are going to be like garbage can covers when you see how God has used your gift to build up the body of Christ. You are gifted and you have many gifts, and every one is just as great as the ascension of our Lord Jesus. Because chapter 6 mentioned ascension, and these truths are there, I had to go there. So, let’s get back to chapter 6. There’s more, of course, that can be said about gifts, but we’re not teaching 1 Corinthians; we’re in John. I got off because of my understanding of the importance of the ascension.

John has been describing what has been called “the Galilean ministry of Christ”, the ministry in Galilee. He ends it here, but that doesn’t mean that the Galilean ministry ends here. Matthew picks it up, Mark picks it up, and Luke picks it up. John stopped here, and now he’s going to begin His Judean ministry. Later on, we’re going to go into His Perean ministry. John breaks up the ministry of our Lord Jesus, but from now on for quite a while we’ll be in His Judean ministry.

As we conclude this record of John 6 and his explanation of the feeding of the five thousand, we need to rehearse the message is Jesus is the food and drink of life; Jesus is the bread of life. He closes with Peter’s wonderful confession. Notice verse 67, “Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” In John 6:63, Jesus had said, “It’s the Spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I’ve spoken are Spirit, and they’re life.” Usually, when we think of Peter’s confession, we don’t think about John 6; we don’t come here. Usually, we think about Matthew 16 at Caesarea Philippi, verse 15, “He said to them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’” In verse 17, “Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you Simon Barjona because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’”

There’s only one way that you can know Jesus as the bread of life, the food and drink of life, and that’s if the Holy Spirit reveals Him that way. Then you’ll get those responses we talked about; some will reject, some will accept, and some will fake it, and so on. Peter’s comment in verse 68, “You have the words of eternal life.” God had discovered to him by the Holy Spirit that Jesus was the bread of life, and He quickened him to that truth. What he was saying is, “We have nowhere else to go. Where are we going to go? The Holy Spirit has shown me that You are it, You are satisfaction; everything is You.”

Once the Holy Spirit shows you in your heart that Jesus is the bread of life and that you just feed on Him, that’s your life, Christ, “For me to live is Christ,” once you see that, then you’re not going to do what I did in my early Christian life and say, “Oh, there’s got to be more than this. It starts off good; there’s got to be more.” So, I went on a hunt for the “more”. I ran after a second blessing and a baptism and spiritual gifts and I ran after mysticism, and I got into the German mystics, and I thought, “There has to be more. There’s got to be something else, some experience.” I went after signs and I went after wonders, “If only there is some experience. Maybe it’s in science, maybe it’s in art, maybe it’s in law, maybe it’s in education,” but I wasn’t satisfied with Christ alone, and I kept feeling, “There’s got to be more,” until one day the Holy Spirit showed me that it’s Christ. In God’s revelation of Himself to man, He’s made Christ central in the Godhead. Since 1965 God has put my eyes on Christ. It’s only Him, and to seek anything else now, after I find the truth, to seek something else is to seek a lie. There is nothing out there except cisterns that constantly run dry.

I don’t know if you are familiar with Clara Tearee, but she wrote that wonderful hymn called “Satisfied.” I’ll quote her hymn:

  1. All my life I had a longing
    For a drink from some clear spring,
    That I hoped would quench the burning
    Of the thirst I felt within.
    o Refrain:
    Hallelujah! I have found Him
    Whom my soul so long has craved!
    Jesus satisfies my longings,
    Through His blood I now am saved.
  2. Feeding on the husks around me,
    Till my strength was almost gone,
    Longed my soul for something better,
    Only still to hunger on.
  3. Poor I was, and sought for riches,
    Something that would satisfy,
    But the dust I gathered round me
    Only mocked my soul’s sad cry.
  4. Well of water, ever springing,
    Bread of life so rich and free,
    Untold wealth that never faileth,
    My Redeemer is to me.
    If you don’t know that experience, may God open your eyes to Jesus as the bread of life, because that’s where He wants us.

Let me introduce chapter 7. It begins in John 7:1&2, “After these things, Jesus was walking in Galilee. He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now, the Feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths was near.” That’s also called the Feast of the Ingathering, and it’s also called the Feast of Tabernacles. Verse 1 begins, “After these things,” and so the question comes, how long after these things, chapter 6, “After these things.” John 6:4 says, “Now, the Passover, the Feast of the Jews was near.” So, in chapter 6 you have the Feast of the Passover, and in chapter 7 the Feast of Tabernacles, and we know that the Feast of Passover was a spring feast, and the Feast of Tabernacles was the last of the feasts, a fall feast, and so “after these things”, at least six months has gone by. That whole point was to tell you that we’re not just taking one step, but time has gone by, about six months.

It’s interesting that this chapter mentions the Feast of Booths, but it doesn’t mention any of the ceremonies that took place. It’s amazing for me to read how much has been written on the Feast of Tabernacles. We know from verse 37 that there is a final day, “On the last day, the great day of the feast,” and we know that’s the eighth day, “Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink,” but all the details we have, and we’ll look at that a little bit more next time, come from the Old Testament or from Rabbi tradition, and almost everything you read, that whole ceremony, most of that is from tradition and it’s not from the Bible. So, we’re going to focus next time, what exactly does the Bible say. Maybe the tradition is true, but we’ll talk about that next time.

You know that there were three times a year that they were commanded, all the males were commanded to go to Jerusalem. There were three spring feasts; there was one summer feast and there were three feasts in the fall. Exodus 23:14, “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast.” Verse 17, “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.” The women and children were not commanded to go; they were allowed to go, but they weren’t commanded. Josephus, the historian, says that during the feasts the population of Jerusalem swelled to over a million people, so there were a lot of people in town.

I want to make a closing comment about Joseph’s brothers here. John 7:3, “Therefore, his brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also will see Your works which You are doing. No one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world,’ for not even His brothers were believing in Him.” Matthew 13 names His brothers: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas, and also that He had sisters, as well. Some say the Greek word is not necessarily “brothers” and that it could be relatives; it could be cousins or something like that. That would be true except for Matthew 27:56 which talks about, “James and Joseph,” and calls them, “the sons of Mary,” that Mary was their mother. Here is the question.

Why would unbelieving brothers, we know they don’t yet believe, urge Jesus to go to Jerusalem and make Himself known, if they’re unbelieving? John 7:1 says, “After these things, Jesus was walking in Galilee, and He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.” I actually have commentaries who suggest that his brothers hated Him and wanted Him to go to Jerusalem because they wanted Him dead. I don’t accept that; I don’t think that’s at all what was in their mind. Here is the reason they gave in verse 3, “Leave here and go to Judea so that Your disciples may see the works which you are doing.” Well, that could be a bit of a problem because the Bible tells us they weren’t believers, and that sounds like they were believers, “We’ve seen Your testimony and we’ve seen Your miracles, so go make it public, and go let everybody see it.” It sounds like they were believers and they wanted everybody else to believe, but we know they were not believers. But there are unbelievers and there are unbelievers, and what I mean by that is that there are unbelievers like Pharaoh and like Herod who are stubborn and refuse, “I don’t want it; I’m rejecting it,” and there are unbelievers who are unbelievers because they haven’t become believers, yet. They just aren’t there, yet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be there, as is true of His brothers. If fact, the book of James that we have was written by the brother of our Lord Jesus.

I incline to think that this was, this is a guess but it’s the best I can do, the brothers saying, “I’ve seen Your miracles, and you’re claiming to be Messiah, I’m having a hard time, we grew up together, and are you Messiah? I don’t know. Why don’t you go to Jerusalem. There will be thousands of people there, and that’s where the professionals are, that’s where the religious leaders are. Test it; let’s see what they say about Your Messiahship.” I think the brothers were wanting to know for sure, and were just encouraging Him to go up there and make Himself known.
John 7:6, “My time is not yet here; your time is always opportune.” We know that Jesus never did anything on His own initiative; He was living His life on the clock of His Father, and whatever His Father said, He said that wherever the Father sent Him, He went. He was constantly on dependence upon His Father.

In John 7:6 He says to them, and now I’m going to bring it altogether, “You’re not believing. You’re part of the world, and therefore, your time is always opportune.” I think what He was saying is, “You don’t have the problem I have; I’ve got to wait for My Father. I’ve got to wait until He tells Me, ‘You can go, and You can go here and You go there and You do this.’” That’s the same thing when He turned the water into wine, “My hour has not yet come.” He often talked about “His hour”, and so on. If you’re not saved, your hour, your time is always opportune, “I’m going because I want to go, and I’m going to stay because I want to stay and I’ll return when I want to return, and I make my own decision.” But Jesus didn’t have that luxury; He lived by His Father’s time schedule. Now He lives in Me and now He lives in you. There’s a time schedule; He still lives by the Father’s. See, you’re dead, and I’m dead, and now it’s His hour.

Let me close with an old testimony. It goes back to 1958. I like to say that when the Lord accepted me as his own personal son, when I got saved in 1958, the group that God used as an instrument in my life was called Youth for Christ. We had a chapter of Youth for Christ in our High School and they would meet on Wednesday afternoons. After class we would stay behind, and we would have a Youth for Christ meeting. I’d only been a Christian for about a week. I say I grew up in a Lutheran church, but I was as blind as a bat. I didn’t even know there were two testaments in the Bible, and I didn’t even own a Bible. After that meeting, and now they’re encouraging me to come to the meeting, the leader said, “Your homework for next week is to bring your life verse and share it with everybody. I had been saved about a week. I had no Bible, and all I had was a gospel of John that they gave me when I received the Lord. I had this little gospel of John, and now I was suppose to come up with a life verse, and I didn’t want to be embarrassed and say, “I don’t know what you are talking about, so I’m going to dig into this little book and find a life verse.

The gospel that I had, I think it was printed by the American Bible Society, and it was stapled in John 12, so when I opened it, it opened right to the staple. The publisher had already underlined certain verses. This was for new Christians. I opened it and it fell open to John 12 and underlined were these verses, 27-28, “Now my soul has become troubled. What shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? For this purpose, I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.”

I stood up the next Wednesday and said, “My life verse is, and I gave that verse,” but I’ll tell you, I’m 100% certain the Lord guided me in the decision of that verse because that is my life verse. Every hour my life is on His schedule. Every hour that comes into my life, I don’t care what is in that hour, whether it’s good or bad or happy or sad, I don’t care, that hour what am I going to say, “Father, deliver me from this hour?” No, “For this cause came I to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name.” I hope to live every hour of my life… I fear nothing that is in an hour that’s future in my life. In fact, it makes me excited. I can’t wait for the next hour because I don’t know what is coming, but now my prayer is, “My Father, glorify Thy name.”

That’s how Jesus lived and that’s how He lives in me.

Our heavenly Father, we thank You that You know all about Riley; You created her and You know all about the body and You know all about Your high purposes, and, Lord, we just pray for her that she would know Your presence, and if it is Your plan at this time to heal and lift her up, we pray that You would do it. We pray for all those who will attend her. We pray for her doctors and nurses, and we just thank You for Psalm 119:31, “All things are Your servant,” and that includes medical technology. We just commit her unto You and thank You in advance, and because You’ve guided Bill into this burden and us to pray, You will move and You will act. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege to come and fellowship around Your word and we pray that Christ would be preeminent. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.