Online Text Sermon - The Gift of the Son of Man, John ch.6 vv.26-27
|Preacher||Dr. Murdoch Murchison, Strathpeffer|
|Sermon Title||The Gift of the Son of Man|
|Text||John ch.6 vv.26-27|
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"Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6, 26-27).
The Gospel according to John is accepted by evangelical Christians as having been written by the disciple John: the disciple whom Jesus loved. This disciple wrote this Gospel in his old age. It's worth noting that some modern critics have suggested that it wasn't written by John at all, but by some unknown Jew, about the middle of the second century. You will get modern critics who will say that sort of thing. However, the discovery of what is known as Ryland's Papyrus - a manuscript dated about AD 125 - contains verses from John. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls confirms - and now the most liberal of Biblical scholars has to confess - that this Gospel was indeed written by John. I mention that merely because you get people who are wise in their own conceit and will criticise the accepted Biblical version of events. However, the Word of God doesn't need human validation. The Word of God is itself it's own validation, and it does not need the help of man. The Word of God is its own proof as to its reality, and when this claims to be written by John, it was indeed written by him.
The author himself describes his purpose for writing the Gospel. In John 20:31 he says that he wrote this "That ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing (that great truth) ye might have life through his name.' That was his purpose and that is why we read this, this day. That is the purpose of this Gospel: 'that you might believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and believing that, you might have life through His name'. That indeed is the great purpose of all Scripture and certainly the main purpose of our reading the Word of God today. We do so in the knowledge that it is only the Holy Spirit himself, who can convince you or me, of the truth of God's Word. It requires more that mere human logic, and more than mere human reasoning to give you or me the complete conviction that this is the Word of God. It is the work of God's Holy Spirit, and God's Holy Spirit alone, that can lead you and me to know that this is God's revelation; that God gave us this Word to lead us and to guide us.
So much then for the Gospel as a whole - let us look more closely - as the Spirit may enable us - at the words of our text. "Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6, 26-27).
Let us note four things out of that text.
1. WHAT KNOWLEDGE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST POSSESSES OF MANS HEART. He knows our natures; He knows us intimately.
2. WHAT THE LORD JESUS EXPRESSLY FORBIDS: He forbids you and He forbids me to 'labour for the meat which perisheth'.
3. WHAT THE LORD JESUS EXPLICITLY URGES: He tells you and me to'labour for that meat which endureth'.
4. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF, VERY CLEARLY PROMISES 'EVERLASTING LIFE'.
Let us go through each of these four points briefly this Sabbath morning. May the Holy Spirit convince us of the truth of these matters.
1. THE KNOWLEDGE CHRIST POSSESSES OF MANS HEART
This people, we read, have followed the Lord Jesus Christ by boat, from Tiberius to Capernaum. They left behind their day-to-day matters; they had given up their time; they had gone to very considerable trouble to be with Him, to follow Him, and to hear Him. An outward observer would have said, "These people are really interested. Look at them following Him. He's left them but they have gone all the way round: taken boats and with great difficulty, gone to be with Him. They must be really keen on Christianity." If you saw people following a preacher to that extent, you would say, "They are really keen." They certainly appeared at first sight, ready to believe in Him, and to honour Him. We should ever note that the Lord Jesus Christ had and still has an absolute knowledge of mans heart. He had no hesitation at all in exposing the false motives of those who were following Him.
This is what He had to say about them: He said, "Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles." They weren't even following for their curiosity. We read of others who wanted miracles, and that wasn't enough, but Jesus is here saying, "You weren't even seeking Me because of the miracles. You are seeking me because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled." They followed Him not as the Son of God, but out of mere temporal expediency. Jesus knew it, and He knew that at the very first sign of difficulty, they would prove unfaithful. This is rather a long chapter; we didn't read it all, but at the end of that chapter you find that what Jesus said was absolutely true - for in verse sixty-six we read, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6, 66). Many of those, who He was even calling His disciples, turned back and went no more with Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ is still the same. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He saw straight into the hearts of these false professors of religion, and He can see straight into your heart and straight into mine. He knows the exact motive of everyone who is even giving a semblance of following the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows exactly why you do these things, and He knows exactly what I do. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 6, 9), we read earlier on.
The saintly Rutherford said that "The root of hypocrisy is in every one of us." Even the best of us, and very few of us could emulate Rutherford in any way, had the root of hypocrisy in our hearts, and we have to fight against it. You and I have to examine our motives in every matter of Christianity, that it is not done for outward show, that it is not done for any other reason, but thou Lord Jesus knowest me. You can search my heart, you can try my ways; whatever else You know about me, You know that my motives are sincere and honest before You. That's what matters! It matters not a whit, not one whit, what one man thinks of you, or what another man thinks of you. However, it matters supremely what the Lord God Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ, knows about you. He knows you. He knows you far better than you know yourself. If the saintly Rutherford had to guard against hypocrisy, you and I have to do so too.
Bishop Ryle, on his commentary on this passage, says - and I quote, "Let us be real. Let us be true and sincere in our religion, whatever else we are. The sinfulness of hypocrisy," says Ryle, "is very great, but its folly is greater still. It is not hard to deceive ministers, relatives, and friends. A little decent outward profession will often go a long way. But," he concludes, "it is impossible to deceive Christ." We read in Revelation that His eyes are as a flame of fire, and happy are those who can say, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee" (John 21, 17).
Matthew Henry comments in a similar vein; "Many follow Jesus for loaves and not for love. These people complimented Christ by calling Him Rabbi, yet He told them faithfully of their hypocrisy. His ministers must henceforth learn not to flatter. Ministers are not here to flatter you. They must learn not to flatter those who flatter them. But," he says, "to give them faithful reproofs, where there is cause for them." If you have a faithful minister who is prepared to do that, thank God for him! Let us be sincere and true because, "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1st Samuel 16, 7). Let us remember that the Lord Jesus Christ possesses an absolute knowledge of mans heart. To be more specific, He possesses an absolute knowledge of your heart, and of mine.
2. WHAT CHRIST EXPRESSLY FORBIDS
We should notice secondly what the Lord Jesus Christ expressly forbids. We are told that He told the crowds that followed Him, who seemed to go to great trouble to be with Him, that they were doing it for the wrong motives; and He told them "not to labour for the meat that perisheth". We can be quite sure that the Lord had no intention of encouraging idleness. He Himself had worked in the carpenter shop at Nazareth, and He had known the experience of honest toil. The Word of God makes it quite clear, that if a man will not work, neither should he eat. We do know from the Word of God that the true follower of Christ should be conscientious and entirely reliable in his or her everyday duties. A professing Christian who is lazy or unreliable is a bad witness. There is no place for people who claim, under the guise of spirituality, to do a slipshod job.
What Jesus was rebuking here, was not honest labour, but the all too common practice of labouring only for the things of this passing world, and neglecting the well-being of their eternal souls. That is the sort of thing that is even more relevant in our day and age: this materialistic society in which we live, which, to quote a phrase, 'knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing'. To quote Matthew Henry again, he says, "We must not make the things of this world our chief care and our chief concern. The things of this world are the things that perish: worldly wealth, and honour, and pleasure are the meat; they feed the fancy, and many times that's all that they do. They fill the belly, but" he says, "those that have the largest share of them, are not sure to have them while they live, and they are certainly sure to lose them and to leave them when they die. It is therefore folly," he says, "for us inordinately to labour after them. We must not make these perishing things our chief goal." Hendrickson says very succinctly, "Realise," he says, "that this food perishes and has no abiding value."
There is a lesson here which requires to be repeated again and again, and nowhere more than in this day and age which is materialistic and hedonistic. We live in a day which is largely governed by materialism on the one hand, and pleasure seeking on the other. Much of our present day society resembles in many respects the Vanity Fair of Pilgrim's Progress. The sad thing is that many professing Christians seem to accept this as the norm. They don't seem to be concerned that the world as such, is going headlong to destruction. The Word of God tells us: by all means enjoy the beauty of God's creation; by all means enjoy family life; and by all means be a reliable and conscientious colleague at work; but in all of that, do not forget the respective values of your soul and of your body, and don't labour, as Christ said, "for the meat that perisheth." "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6, 33).
3. WHAT CHRIST EXPLICITLY URGES
Let us note thirdly then, what the Lord Jesus Christ, especially urges and especially advises. He tells you not to labour for the meat that perisheth; He tells you to labour instead, for the meat that endureth unto everlasting life. The term 'labour' implies diligence. We know that the Christian is 'saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that not of himself: it is the gift of God' (Ephesians 2, 8). That is a glorious truth. We rejoice in it. We would have confidence in no other truth. If your salvation or mine depended one whit on you or on me, we could have no confidence in it. It is God's work, and yet it is also true that the Christian is called upon to labour; that implies exertion, it implies diligence, it implies dedication, it implies effort, it implies industry, it even implies struggle and fighting. We live in a day of an easy Gospel, and an easy profession that doesn't change ones life significantly if at all. That is not what Christ said. If we are true Christians, we are to labour for the meat that endureth to everlasting life.
We are to use the appointed means. Christians who don't come to church - we hear of them; "Oh! he's a good Christian but he doesn't believe in the established church, he doesn't come to a church at all sometimes; he's got other things to do." We are to use the appointed means. We are to use God's Word. Christians say, "Och, I know my Bible so well I don't need to read it any more." "I go to other books now because I've gone beyond that" - we hear of them too. We are to use God's Word as men digging for treasure; it should be our daily bread. We should be praying, by God's grace, like soldiers in battle. The Word of God says to pray without ceasing. We should endeavour by the help of God's Spirit, to develop an outlook that enables us to pray in every circumstance. We should be, by God's grace, fighting daily against sin, the world, and the devil, and that is indeed labouring. If you labour in the field or the workplace, you will be tired physically. If the true Christian is labouring, he may from time-to-time become tired spiritually, but God is his strength. We are told, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 41, 31). The world may think you are extreme and fanatical; they may call you a fundamentalist; they may call you a hardliner, or whatever, but so what! if your eternal life and welfare depends on it. It's a small price to pay.
It's strange how you can be enthusiastic about almost anything, delight as far as society is concerned, but not about Christ. You can spend your time and money on football, or music, or archaeology (I'm not running these down specifically) and be devoted to these, and the world will think it is normal and natural; but of you spend your time on Christianity they think it's fanatical.
I had a landlady once when I was a young student, and I tried to speak to her about Christianity and she concluded - and I remember this very well - a little Christianity was all right, but everything in moderation, was her comment. In other words, a little was nice, but too much was overdoing it. Whatever man may say, Christ calls on you and on me to labour, to exert ourselves in the pursuance of this meat that endures unto everlasting life.
It is the violent who take the kingdom (Matthew 11, 12). You won't become an inheritor of this kingdom if you take a laid back and easy way of life. I say again, it is a glorious truth that we are saved by grace through faith, on the finished work of Christ on Calvary, where Christ himself made it clear in this Word that the Christian is expected to labour spiritually, and to strive spiritually, and you can't expect to freewheel as it were, into paradise. Every one of us has an inescapable duty, to use every means of grace to press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
4. THE VERY CLEAR PROMISES OF CHRIST
Finally, and perhaps briefly, let us look at what the Lord Jesus Christ very clearly promises. He promises that He himself will give eternal food to those who seek it. He promises this on the authority of God the Father. It is not a priest who will give it to you, as some people think; it's not even a faithful minister, and it's not even a faithful church; these may be avenues that may be used in God's good providence, but it is Christ, and Christ alone, who is the source of the meat that shall endure unto everlasting life.
Matthew Henry comments, "Who gives the meat? The Son of man, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power to give eternal life with all the means of it." He goes on to say, "We are told to labour for it, as if we were to get it by our own industry, as if it were sowed upon that valuable consideration." But then he goes on to say, "When we have laboured over it ever so much, we have not merited it as our hire, but the Son of man gives it; and what more free than the gift?" Henrickson points out, "Which food the Son of Man will give you, in effect means, I will give myself for those among you who believe on Me."
So here, we have Christ giving himself. Christ giving himself for you or for me implies firstly, the mercy or forgiveness of redemption. Your soul and mine is lost apart from Christ; lost because of your sins and my sins. Our sins deserve God's wrath, both in this life and in that which is to come. But if we are in Christ Jesus, "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8, 1), because the "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5, 17). Christ has paid the price; He has paid it in full. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.
So that is what this implies first of all. If you have the food that endures unto everlasting life, you have Christ Jesus as your Saviour; you have Christ as the One who paid the full penalty for your sins upon His death on Calvary. But it also implies grace, and peace with God.
By nature, you and I are at enmity with God; you and I have sinned against Him and deserve His condemnation. However, if we are in Christ Jesus, there is no such condemnation, and we know peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. A peace that the world cannot give you, but thank God, the world cannot take away either. We are reconciled to Him for time and for eternity. We no longer need to fear an angry God, because God is no longer angry with us; we are reconciled to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. If we have the presence of Christ with us, then by His grace, we have strength for the road ahead. The young Christian may well feel, "I cannot continue in the Christian way and I will soon fall back"; but if Christ is with us we will not fall back because, "He is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (Jude, 24). That is what you and I need, when we are weak in ourselves and when we realise our own weakness, then as the Apostle Paul said, we can be strong (2 Corinthians 12, 9). "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall" (Corinthians 10, 12). If we think we are standing in our own strength, we wont stand very long. It's God's grace, and God's grace alone, that will enable us to stand.
If you and I have the eternal food which the Lord Jesus Christ has promised, then we have Him with us, and He is our guarantee of mercy, He is our guarantee of grace and He is our guarantee of strength. It is sealed with the seal of Almighty God. We read these words, "For Him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6, 27). God has, as it were, set His seal of authority over the whole glorious plan of redemption. That is what Christ is saying here: that God the Father has accepted this: that everlasting life is through faith in Christ, for Christ hath been sealed by God. It's signed up by Him, sealed by Him, has been delivered to Him by the finished work of Christ on Calvary.
If you have the promise of the royal seal on a document, then it is an important document that will stand any testing in any legal court. If you have by God's grace the seal of God Almighty upon the plan of redemption for you, then when the day comes when we shall stand before the judgement seat of Christ, we can point to that seal and say that is your seal. Christ died for my sins and You accepted it, and that is Your royal seal, and there is no condemnation for me because of Him. This is the seal of the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and no one, but no one, can challenge it. Satan himself, the power of evil, cannot challenge it. He may challenge you through life; he will tempt you and he will try you, "Because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5, 8). If you can point to the seal of God and the plan of redemption, you can tell him to forget it, because that is the seal that will endure at the judgement seat. That is what we are hearing here; "For him hath God the Father sealed." This promise has the royal seal: the seal of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
As we close then let us remember what we have been considering today. We have been considering, first of all, that the Lord Jesus Christ knows your heart and He knows mine, for all things are naked and open before the God with whom we have to deal. The Lord Jesus knew that those who were following Him, who appeared to be so good followers, were worthless at the end of the day. He even told them that they would depart from Him, and they did. Sadly, there are many, far, far too many, who outwardly have the appearance of true followers, but come the day of testing and the day of trying, they disappear like snow off a dyke.
>From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Will you also go away?" Simon Peter answered and said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6, 68). We have no one else to go to; Christ alone has the words of eternal life. That is the first point. Jesus knows your heart, He know my heart, better than we know it ourselves.
Secondly, He forbids us to waste our time and our energies sowing the things of this passing world, because these things have no lasting value. He says, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth." He doesn't leave it there. He tells us on the one hand what we shouldn't do, then He tells us what we should do. He says, labour instead "for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life." I would ask you as I would ask myself, have we been labouring, or have we been freewheeling through our spiritual life? We should be labouring; we should be earnest and we should be sincere.
Finally, He gives us the promise that this everlasting life is based on Him, on the sacrifice of Calvary, and that it has been authenticated, the royal seal of the King himself is on the whole plan of redemption: "For him hath God the Father sealed."
What is your position with relation to these great questions? We shall soon all stand before the judgement seat of Christ. May God grant that we shall all have made our calling and our election sure, through faith in the only Redeemer of God's elect, the Lord Jesus Christ himself.
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