Bread of Life: Vision Improving
What did he just say?
The crowd looked around. Mouths were agape in shock. Brows were frumpled in confusion. Eyes were darting about in disbelief.
Did he just say he was the Bread from Heaven?
Yeah, it was pretty cool when he healed an aunt from her paralysis and a brother from deadly leprosy. And it certainly was awesome to get a belly full of free food from that magic, Mary Poppins-like basket he had. But…Bread from Heaven? Eternal Life? Never going hungry again? Now Jesus just sounded like he was off his rocker.
Looking around, it appeared as if everyone in the crowd was in agreement. Everyone…besides the disciples. There they stood a rag tag, group of fishermen, accountants, and political zealots misguided by this Jesus.
What did they see in Jesus?
Have you ever asked the same question? Have you ever wondered why Christian folk get so involved in church? Have you ever wondered why so many people change their lives, follow the rules of an ancient book, and bank their eternity on some guy who lived and died 2000 years ago?
Have you ever doubted yourself and wondered why you are doing it?
Today we’re taking a look at the next part of our sermon series – It’s called Vision Improving – and we’re gonna let the words of Jesus in John 6 help us to see the truth behind Jesus.
I. See the Real Problem
By the time Jesus finishes his discourse in John 6, the crowd leaves him. Many refuse to believe that he is the Bread of Life. This isn't so different from today. According to Barna research, the fastest growing religious movement in American is the “nones.” No, there hasn’t been an increase in long black headdresses in the Sears catalog. Not NUNS, but NONES – as in “My faith affiliation is none.” My faith in religion is none. My faith in God is none. My faith in Jesus is none.
Maybe you know someone like that. Maybe you are someone like that.
If Jesus is supposed to be the the Savior of the world, why then are there so many Americans that don’t believe?
In America, it probably isn’t for lack of information.
To test out this theory close your eyes the next time you are driving up and down Falls of Neuse. (OK, make sure you are a passenger in the car, not the drive). Close your eyes. Then, wait a bit. Open your eyes and look right. Chances that you see a cross, stained glass windows or some kind of church are pretty high.
If the information is there and Jesus is this great Savior, why don’t more people see him as Savior?
Fair or not, you might blame Jesus. It’s like when you’re searching for a Thai restaurant to go to and you Google restaurants in Raleigh and the first one that pops up has a ½ star rating with over 50 reviews. This probably isn’t the place to take your wife on a date; you probably aren’t going to try it. Because so many people disapprove of the restaurant, it's fair to assume that the restaurant is no good.
My fear is that so many people disapprove of Jesus it has become cyclical, negative, peer pressure. People disapprove of Jesus. Other people disapprove of Jesus because the first group of people disapproved of him. As a result, more people disapprove of Him and more people believe that group only to disapprove of him too.
Is there really a problem with Jesus?
Check out Jn. 6:35. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Last week we said that isn’t a reference to physical food, but it’s a reference to spiritual food. The spiritual food Jesus has to offer lasts. It’s always there for you. You never hunger and never thirst.
Verse 36 is similar. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
It almost sounds like a commercial for a really high rate credit lender. “No credit? No worries. We never drive anyone away. No matter how bad you’ve messed up in the past –we’ll loan to you! (At the low, low rate of 39.99%)
Jesus’ promise is similar. Are you a porn addict? Are you an adulteress? Are you a drunkard, a thief, an outspoken atheist? Did you spend time in the slammer? Have you been divorced? Did you live a homosexual lifestyle?
Guess what? It doesn’t matter what you did. All those the Father gives to Jesus will come to Jesus, and whoever comes to Jesus he will never drive away!
The problem, then, isn’t Jesus.
Look at verse 36 and see the real problem. Jesus said, “But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.” He told them He was the bread of Life. Jesus told them He was the Savior. Jesus told them he would lead them to eternal life. Jesus proved his authority to do this by feeding over 5000 of them with a basket full of a few food items.
But still they did not believe.
If you don't believe in Jesus, the problem isn't Jesus. It's you. You don't believe.
This happens to me. Tell me if it happens to you. I go to Whole Foods. I’m feeling especially healthy. I pick up some Asparagus stalks, a bunch of apples, some broccoli, and even a Cole Robby – even though I’m not sure what it is. I’m just excited for all the healthy food. Then, I go home and put it in the veggie drawer in our fridge.
2 and a half weeks later I stumble across them again on accident—rotten. The problem wasn’t he veggies….it was the person who didn’t eat them.
The same thing is true with Jesus. If you don’t eat of the Bread of Life – the problem is not that the Bread of Life didn’t have the nutrients you need, the problem is you. If you don’t believe in Jesus, the problem is you.
Whether you can’t see that you need saving OR you can’t see that you’re sinful OR you can’t see how Jesus could possibly save you OR you can’t see how Jesus could help you defeat your worst sin – the real problem is not Jesus…it’s you!
II. The Father’s Will
Of course, once we’ve established that – you might begin to wonder why Jesus is even bringing it up? Apparently things are just fine between Him and God. Why does he have to bring up how spiritually depraved and far apart from God we are on our own? Is He just gloating? Does he get a kick out of seeing us squirm? Does he want everyone to “believe in Him” because it gives his ego a big ole boost?
8 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. This wasn’t Jesus’ plan. This was his Father’s plan. He wasn’t doing this for some egomaniac thrill. He was doing this because this was exactly what he had been commissioned by his Heavenly Father to do.
Which (and this is pretty neat) gives us the unique opportunity to see something far beyond our meek human 20/20 vision. It enables us to see into the Divine Eternity/Eternity vision of God. Look at verse 39: And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me… 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life…
Notice what God’s will is. It isn’t that you have a million dollars. It isn’t that you get a nice home in North Raleigh. It isn’t that you send your kids to Ravenscroft. It isn’t that you retire in style with an NC State Red Ford Mustang in your garage.
God’s will is that you be with Him.
God is not your boyfriend who uses you for a sex and dumps you.
God is not your boss who uses you for a few good years then dumps you.
God is not your friend who uses you to listen to her problems, but when you need help, dumps you.
God is not your former spouse who uses you until something ‘better’ comes along, then dumps you.
God wants to be with you forever. He doesn’t want to ever dump you! Not even when you dump him.
The only way that this happens is through Jesus. So God the Father, who wants this eternity spent with you to with all of his Divine heart, sent Jesus.
III. See Who this Jesus is
Of course, this leads us back to where we started. Why Jesus? What’s so special about Jesus?
The people didn’t get it. Look at verse 41 “The Jews there began to grumble about him…“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? Didn’t he go to school with my boy, Avram? Didn’t he play on the soccer team with your nephew? Didn’t he help install the furniture at your Sea of Galilee House? We know who he is. We saw him grow up. How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
To fully grasp their confusion – think for a moment of the last kid that your kid spent time with. What if an angel came to you and said, “That kid is the Savior.” Do you believe it? Not so much?
Listen to Jesus’ response. 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them." Which means the Father is actively involved in this belief in Jesus process. Stop and think. Why is it that God is so actively invested in this Jesus? Why are they working in such close conjunction? It isn’t just a figment of Jesus’ own imagination either. If it was, how could Jesus walk on water? How could he heal the sick? How could he stop storms and feed 5,000 some people with only a few loaves of bread?
Jesus continues, 45 It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Jesus is claiming that He is the fulfillment of that Old Testament prophecy from Isaiah 54:13. He’s also claiming that his teachings, again, are from God. Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.
How did Jesus know the Father’s teachings? Read verse 46 and be amazed at the implied answer: 46 No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only He has seen the Father.
“He” is Jesus.
Do you see it? Jesus has this special connection to God not because he is crazy. Not because he lived a good life. Not because he’s really good at meditating or because he climbed a tall mountain. Jesus had a special connection to God because He was from God. Because He had seen God. Because He was of God.
Because He was (and is) God’s Son.
This is huge. Because it means that the author of your salvation is God’s divine Son. It means that Jesus is a part of the holiest, most perfect, all powerful, all knowing, all wise, all present, all loving family of heaven.
It means that he did not fail in his mission. He lived perfectly, he died innocently and he rose triumphantly for the forgiveness of all your sins! Your salvation is accomplished. You are saved by Him. No matter who you are and what you’ve gone through, by faith, I want to see yourself in a brand new way – you are God’s child!
There was a woman who stopped by my office a while back. She was very sad. She had been struggling with sexual sin and had also just gotten out of trouble with the police. When she went to her church, the basic message she was told was "You did bad. Do better. Amen."
After sitting down, God improved her spiritual vision. She saw the real problem was her sin. She saw God's will was to be with her forever. She saw that God sent his Son to be her Savior.
She smiled. She believed. She saw herself differently too. She saw herself as God's dear daughter.
If you haven’t before, put your faith in Jesus.
If you haven't before, be baptized into his name.
If you haven’t before, be baptized and wash your sins away.
If you haven’t before, confess your sins and he will forgive you all your sins.
If you haven’t before, dig deeper into God's Word. Immerse yourself in his love. Ingest the Bread of Life.
May God bless you as you do this. Amen.
People of God: Spiritual House
Last week, we heard that God wants his people to hungry for his Word. That’s why we issued the Gospel of Mark challenge. If you took part, great! Keep it up and choose another part of God’s Word for this upcoming week. If not, go ahead and read through Mark this upcoming week.
Today we ask the question: Why? Why does God want us to feed our faith with his Word? What’s his endgame? What’s he getting at?
I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention outside next to the Preschool fence, but a couple of months ago big pieces of wood started to appear. Heavy beams. 2x4s and 2x6s. Even some OSB Plankwood. Maybe if you saw it, you thought: “What’s that for? What are they going to do with that stuff?”
If you look outside now, you’ll get your answer. Those pieces of wood – all different sizes, different types – have become a shed for the kids to put their toys in.
Today God’s Word tells us that God is interested in building something, too. It’s why He is so interested in you growing your faith through his Word. Today we’ll learn about God’s special building project as it is described in 1 Peter 2 beginning at verse 4, “As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him-- you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
1. The Builder
First things, first we’ve gotta identify is who it is that is building the house described in verses 4-5. Take a look at verse 4. It tells us that in this pile of materials is a "Living Stone…Chosen by God.” Again in verse 5 “living stones are being built through Jesus Christ.”
These verses are kind of like one of those signs that is posted on the corner of a construction site. It tells you who it is that’s at work just in case you ever want to hire them for business. It also tells you if you think you’re gonna like what they are building. “The Professional Mansion Building Lawfirm” is a more reliable name than “CheapoHouseRUs.”
Listen to who is at work in those verses. It’s God! The divine Lord of heaven and earth. The Creator who creator the heavens and the earth in 6 days—forming the deepest seas on one day and the highest mountains on another. There is no greater and more reliable construction company on earth.
God’s in charge – so you know it’ll be good.
2. The Materials
Especially considering his resources! He could use some the shiniest gold and gorgeous silver. He could use diamonds and rubies. The rays of the sun. The glistening surface of a waterfall. The nearly perfect colors of a rainbow. With all of those materials at his disposal in unlimited quantity, it’s bound to be beautiful!
So what kind of materials did he use?
…as in, you believers, as in you people gathered at this Lutheran church here in Raleigh, NC, you "…are being built into a spiritual house.”
Are you impressed with God’s choice in materials?
Now maybe you are a pessimist and maybe you are thinking, “Really God? Us? We are a mismatched bunch here. We are sinners who, while we believe we are saved through Jesus our Savior, we still struggle with sin. We struggle with addiction, greed, and lust. We gossip, betray, and struggle to forgive. Sometimes we are lazy. Other times we are fearful. Personally, I’m not feeling like I’m that great of a speaker or that good at telling people about Jesus. God, there are probably better people to build your house with. Shouldn’t you go use them?”
God – you may have made a foolish choice in materials.
But is God foolish? Doesn’t he know what he’s doing? Didn’t we just get done saying He is an awesome builder? Yes, sin ruins things. Yes, we are sinners. But didn’t Jesus die for our sins? And haven’t you heard this message to make you believers in the truth?
And having heard the truth, aren’t you a part of his building?
Look at what Scripture says. He calls you “All those who have come to him, believers, are like living stones.” Stones are powerful and sturdy, but aren’t alive. Living things are personal and breathing, but they eventually die.
Living stones? How cool is that? It’s the best of both worlds.
Think about things that are living. We were dead in our sins, but God made us alive with Christ! He forgave us all our sins. Now we live because of him.
And we live, not to be carbon copies of each other, but we have variety. We have character. We have personalities. One that is outgoing. One that is introspective. One that is musical. Another that is athletic. Still another that is artistic, right along one that is creative.
God’s building materials are living. Each one alive with its own personality!
And they are stones. Isn’t that an interesting choice? God doesn’t call us bricks. Bricks would each be the same size. The same color. They are made to match, a uniform house or wall perfect for a very specific subdivision.
God calls us stone. Stones are always different. Some bumpy. Some lumpy. Some long. Some short. Darker, lighter, jagged, rough around the edges.
Doesn’t that describe this collection of human beings right here? We are so very different. Different ages, different cultures, different backgrounds – yet together, we make up God’s beautiful spiritual house!
3. The Purpose
Now God didn’t just build us into a wall just for kicks. There is a purpose to what He has built just like any building has purpose.
The new Walgreens that just went up on Falls of Neuse is so that people can quickly and easily gets prescription medications at all times of the day. North on Six Forks there are a bunch of new apartments that just went up. The purpose of those buildings are to house people. There’s a Fitness Center being put in just south of 540. The purpose of that building is to provide a place to get in shape – or --- if you’re like me – a place to buy an expensive membership to that you will never use.
God has given his spiritual house purpose too. Take a look at verse 5 "to offer spiritual sacrifices to God.”
In the Old Testament, the building that offered people a chance to do this was the Temple. Beautiful too. Whether it was the first gold enlaced building of Solomon’s or the rebuild at the hands of the Remnant, the temple was beautiful.
But it wasn’t long after Peter wrote this very letter that the second building was torn down. Another Jewish temple was never to be built again. There is no building there anymore.
No matter. God’s temple for offering spiritual sacrifices is right here. He also isn’t asking you to go and grab a farm animal and give it up for him.
No. God wants you to give up your very self to him. To worship him in all you do. To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Now, you might be concerned right about now. Because maybe you haven’t done a good job worshipping Christ in every aspect of your life. Perhaps you think, “I didn’t know I was apart of this spiritual house.” There are certain things I do that definitely wouldn’t qualify me for being part of that house.
But take a look at verse 5. Peter reminds us that our sacrifices are acceptable to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. (v.5)
Do you sing a little off key in church? Do you lack the organizational skills to become a member on the Council? Do you give only a few dollars a week to the Lord? Do you prepare a Sunday School lesson that falls l a little flat? Do you struggle to get the kids to come to church and struggle even more to get them to stay in church? Do you struggle to find the right words to say when you speak up for Jesus among your friends?
You may not wow the crowds of people here at Gethsemane. But done with faith in Jesus, you’ve wowed God.
You see God looks at your lives kind of like a dad who just got a coloring picture from his kids. The house is five different colors, there are scribbles all over it, and sometimes it goes outside the lines. Yet God is thrilled. With you as a believer in his spiritual house, he is pleased with all of your Christian living done for him!
4. The Foundation
But that doesn’t mean it won’t get hard. That doesn’t mean that as a congregation we won’t struggle to do God’s Will. It doesn’t mean that sin won’t rear it’s ugly head. It doesn’t mean that jealousies won’t infect our work together. It doesn’t mean that the outside world won’t make life hard for Bible abiding Christians.
That’s when it’s important to remember who our foundation is.
Look at verse 6, “I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.”
There are two words for stones in those verses. The first is a cornerstone. The cornerstone is the first stone laid by the mason. It needs to be set just right, because all of the other walls and every other brick will be based off of the measurements of that stone.
The cornerstone is important it keeps everything straight.
Then you see the Word “capstone.” The capstone was used in building arches. Back in Roman times, you’d build the archways using a wooden frame and then carefully building up the arch using bricks lined up next to the frame. When you reached the top, there’d be that stone. Curved. Placed directly in the middle. It counteracts the wait of both sides and holds the walls up.
The cornerstone is important because it holds everything up!
Who is the cornerstone in this house? Did you figure out who this cornerstone is? It’s not the pastor. It’s the elders. It’s not the "guy who's been here the longest.” It’s not Martin Luther OR Peter OR Paul.
It’s none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter calls Jesus "rejected by men…" In verse 7 he calls Jesus, “rejected.” Isn’t that exactly what the Pharisees and teachers of the law did? They despised this Jewish carpenter who was telling them what to do? They hated being told they were wrong. They couldn’t believe he could be the Messiah without the Pharisaical upbringing that they had so…
They rejected him. Like the builder who tosses aside a dusty, crumbling old stone as a terrible choice for the foundation, they tossed Jesus aside as worthless.
Some people still do that today: “Jesus is a myth.” “He’s not real.” “He’s archaic.” “His teachings are bigoted.” “His stuff doesn’t matter enough for me to build my life on him!”
Rejected. Rejected then. Rejected now.
But though humans reject Him, God chose him. God – remember – the One who is awesome at building eternal building – He chose Jesus.
In fact, God found him precious. He didn’t look at the exterior. He didn’t see some meek carpenter.
Instead, he saw his holy and perfect Son. He saw Jesus Christ a Mighty Lord and Savior. He saw one who did not sin. He saw one whose innocent death would be the foundation and very reason that we are built into God’s spiritual house. He is the one who died, but could not remain destroyed. He went down into the fires of hell laughing at the Devil for his failed attempts at defeating him. He rose from the dead –eternal, incredible, Victorious!
And Jesus saves the rest of God’s house from shame. Take a look at verse 6 again, “I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
It’s as if God’s cornerstone is so incredible, so beautiful, so glorious and majestic that the other less majestic, less beautiful, less glorious pieces – us – can’t even be spoken against!
This is huge. Because people will mock you. For belonging to a church, they will make fun of you. They will call you a bigot, a fool, and an arrogant person.
But you’ve got Jesus on your side. When people oppose you, they oppose Him. And when they oppose him, well, listen to verse 8, "A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for."
You see no one can topple Jesus. No one can make him crumble. With him as our foundation, our cornerstone, our capstone, we will not fall either. Not to people. Not to the devil. Not to our own sinful natures. Not even to death.
Until one day. One day we enter the gates of heaven. A spiritual house. No longer temporal, but eternal. No longer sin ridden, but perfect. No longer opposed, but glorified.
Sometimes buildings have plaques of dedication. Built in 1995 by “so and so.” Dedicated to “So and So.” Even church buildings have plaques, “Dedicated to the Lord.”
Brothers and sister, may this spiritual house – not the building – our fellowship of believers – be dedicated to the Lord. May we serve him in all that we do. May we offer spiritual sacrifices in Jesus. May we continue to be build on this foundation.– stone by stone—brick by brick—person by person—believer by believer.
If you are musical, join in singing praises at our worship service.
If you are mechanical, join in helping to build the shed or maintaining the lawn.
If you are outgoing, help us with outreach at Duke and inviting people to Back2Church Sunday.
If you are caring, please keep us in your prayers.
If you are good with kids, please help teach Sunday School.
If you aren't in a church, join one and work together with your fellow stones to keep serve the Lord!
If you are something – use it to build God’s house! Join believers and work together for the Lord!
It is a privilege to be built into God’s spiritual house. To you God, the ultimate builder, may this building be dedicated! Amen.