March 25, 2020: 5th Wednesday in Lent


TEXT:  John 6: 66-68  “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.  ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.  Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          Far too many divorces occur in our land.  They start out pledging undying love for each other, promising to remain together “for better or worse.”  But then come disagreements, arguments, disgust over personal habits, alcohol abuse, mental abuse and unfaithfulness.  What causes “wow” to turn into “ugh”?  Jesus inspired much “wow” in His ministry, so what turned it into “ugh” as outlined in our lesson? 


          It was the 3rd and final year of His ministry.  For two years, crowds had followed, watched, and listened to Him.  Shortly after feeding the  5000+ with the loaves and fishes, the people got the idea that they should make Him a King!  Free food for all!  We never have to work again!  They were even going to force Him to be their “Bread King”!  They all knew that God had promised them a Savior and they thought Jesus was that Savior—a Savior from earthly work and earthly woes.  They were blinded by the “free stuff” Jesus handed out, blinded to His real gift of bread—spiritual soul food.  Or, total forgiveness for all sins.  Yes, the enemy was at work.  Satan is the prince of this world,  but Christ is about the world to come, He’s the Prince giving out eternal peace with God.

          Jesus resisted their efforts.  He withdrew from them.  The next day they found Him and had questions.  They naturally turned to bread and Jesus then told them: “I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

          Whoa!  They had in mind human bread.  But Jesus had in mind spiritual bread.  His bread would satisfy and save the soul.  He would even raise them up at the Last Day.  There excitement turned to disappointment.  To many the “moment” had been lost.  And even some disciples went with them.  They could relate the human food, but going out and relying on spiritual food was just too much.  Giving out eternal food was beyond their thinking. There was no immediate benefit that they could see.   “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it’”  And they turned back and  no  longer followed Him.   

          They divorced Him.  Their “wow” turned to “ugh.”  Claiming to be God’s Son and possessing the ability to forgive sins was too much to handle. It meant too great a commitment from them. The awe they had clanked off the rim and fell with a thud.  That’s always been the stumbling block to following Jesus—even to his day.  If you, by God’s grace, accept the divine nature of Christ and wed yourself to Him by God’s grace through faith, you’ll be happy and blest. It’s basic Christianity 101.  But if the devil undermines your faith and gets you to reject that truth, well, you’ll walk away, too. 

          You’ve heard me say: “There are only 2 religions in the world—faith and works.”  Faith is Christianity where God does all the giving of salvation, and works is all the other religions where we have to do something (works) to gain God’s favor.  That way we can take some credit for our future.  Here we see that played out.  They wanted free food and a carefree life.  They wanted God on their terms.  But Christ was about accepting real freedom on God’s terms.   Likewise, earthly stuff (which they could see and enjoy) was much more important to them than spiritual stuff—eternal life  (which they could not see).  Satan, the terrorist, planted this in their hearts.  And today, how many erstwhile believers put more “faith” in technology and human ability than they do in prayer?  How many view Christ as a magic rabbit’s foot only there to supply earthly wants and needs, rather than the eternal Son of God Who heals our wounded spirit and restores our soul?  Ask yourself: “Which part of me is more important? My body or my soul?”  And then when we hit a physically rough patch, how many people also walk away?  “Do you also want to go away?”  Do you want to give up on God, as well?


          Simon Peter was never better than when he answered for the Twelve: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  God’s Word is powerful.  It created the universe.  It forgives sins.  It promises heaven.  It creates faith.  Yes, it can be resisted and rejected, as we see here.  And that’s why we need to expose ourselves to it daily and weekly.  For it also uplifts, comforts, and protects us from Satan’s onslaughts.  That’s also why Paul says in Romans 10: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” 

          Satan and his minions have many ideas about how to run your life.  They all promise you happiness and fulfillment if you do just one thing: Give up on God.  Walk away.  Don’t worry about what happens when you die, don’t concern yourself with moral accountability in your work life or your personal one.  God’s love is a fable.  Christ’s guidance and grace is a fable.  You’ll never achieve fame or fortune by following Him.  But Peter says it rightly: “You have the words of eternal life.”  Human life goes on about 80 or 90 years and then you die. But eternal, yes, eternal life, lasts forever. 

          My friends, one positive to the pandemic we’re going through is this:  It’s giving time for people to do some soul-searching and hopefully to re-prioritize their lives.  Christianity isn’t an “ugh.”  It’s a “wow” all the time.  The “ugh” is placing materialism and consumerism first—for if you don’t deem that you “have enough” you’ll always be disappointed because earthly stuff always decays into nothingness.  But the “wow” of our faith is renewed daily and forever because appreciation, thankfulness, and contentment with blessings renew us daily in this life and the one to come.  The Holy One of God hands us those gifts via the cross and via faith.  If you start looking at life that way, I trust you’ll conclude with St. Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go, for You have the words of eternal life!  And we believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”  Amen  


Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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