Christ Descended from Heaven to Raise Us Up to Heaven
December 20, 2015 | Andrew Davis
Three Different Kings
Well, as I meditate on Christmas, and I have that privilege of thinking about it every year and thinking about what I want to say to you at this time, and meditate with you on the goodness of God and sending His Son, so many thoughts come to my mind, so many themes. One of the thoughts that hit me this week as I was meditating on Christmas and on the incarnation and the gift is that it's really a tale of Three Kings.
Now, I'm not thinking about that song, "We Three Kings of Orient are... ", and all that, which talks about the Magi, but I mean the account of three different kings and how differently they extended their kingdoms. A history is filled - it's replete - with the decrees and the deeds of kings of mighty men of power and ambition, whose decrees moved armies and changed landscapes and built kingdoms. And most of the time their ambitions were ungodly, they were ambitions of power and greed, and they were written, those deeds and decrees were written in blood. Sometimes there were good kings, who used their positions of power well. Many of those were Christians, believers in Christ, who sought to honor their Lord.
But, as I look at the accounts in Matthew and in Luke, I think about Three Kings, I think about Caesar Augustus, who was the king of the Romans, the most powerful man on earth at the time. And because of his decree, he the mover and shaker, we think about kings being movers and shakers, his decree caused the entire population of the Roman world to move out, it moved Joseph and Mary to leave Nazareth and go down to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, in fulfillment of the prophecy in Micah Chapter 5. So, Caesar Augustus, I think motivated by a desire for taxation money and to control his empire, issued that decree.
And then you've got a second king, King Herod, who was in Jerusalem, and you remember how jealous he was for his throne and how much he yearned to keep his little throne under Caesar Augustus. And how when the Magi came and said to him, "'Where is the one who has been born, King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and we have come to worship Him.'" He was threatened by that. He was threatened by it, and so he decreed that all the boy babies in Bethlehem and its vicinity be murdered so that he could stamp out this threat to his throne.
Now, it's really an amazing thing to meditate on that third king, and that is Jesus, who is born King of the Jews. Now you think about that, no one's born King, inevitably they have to grow up into it, their father's are already on the throne, etcetera, but Jesus was born king. And I think as we meditate on Caesar Augustus, as a mover and shaker and his decree caused empires to move, and populations to move. And then you think about Herod, whose decree caused soldiers to move out and how Bethlehem was shaken. I look at the third King Jesus, and He is the one who Himself was moved, who descended from heaven to earth, and who Himself was shaken by the decree of God the Father, that He would die on the cross for our sins. What a different way of building a kingdom. And so, I want to meditate with you today on John chapter 6, and how Jesus the King left His throne above and came, He was moved. He left a position of power and authority and comfort and adulation, and came to Earth to be shaken to the roots of His being by dying on the cross.
Good King Wenceslas
Now, this summer, I had the privilege of visiting one of my favorite cities in Europe, Prague, which is the capital of the Czech Republic, a beautiful city. Been there several times and in the old town near Prague Castle there's this imposing bronze statue. And I've taken pictures near it, I had my picture taken near it, it said I didn't know at first who it was, but the first time I came, I asked. And it is Wenceslas, who is the patron saint of the Bohemian people? He's viewed by them as their protector saint. Wenceslas as you know, is well remembered by the Christmas hymn, Good King Wenceslas. I love history and I went over all the history of Wenceslas in the sermon this morning, and I thought, "If you're interested, come and ask me, I've discarded it." It's really fascinating, but when you wrote it and you're preaching it and you're bored by it, get rid of it.
Alright, but there are some interesting features to Wenceslas' life; he was born to a pagan mother who hated Christianity, but he had a grandmother who loved Christ and who raised Wenceslas as a Christian. Eventually, his mother threatened by him, had the grandmother killed and tried to get Wenceslas away from Christian influence. But in due time, he rose to the throne of that part of the world of Bohemia, and he became a good monarch. He desired to use his power and his authority to bless the poor and needy and is especially charitable to children, to orphans, to slaves. Eventually, he was assassinated, a young age, at age 22, and he is revered by the people there.
Now, the hymn, Good King Wenceslas was written by John Mason Neil. It was first published in 1853, and in the story, I rewrote it because it's in this kind of old Victorian English, but this is basically what happens in the hymn. In the hymn, Good King Wenceslas is standing in his comfortably heated castle, and he's looking down from that lofty, comfortable perch on the snow-covered ground below. It's night time and it's bitterly cold, but the moon is shining brightly and Wenceslas can see plainly, a poor man braving the frigid temperatures in an effort to collect firewood for his family.
Now, moved by compassion by this pathetic site and the suffering plight of this peasant, Wenceslas calls one of his servants to come stand near by him. The two of them stand and watch this man gathering firewood, and Wenceslas asked his servant, "Do you know who that man is, and where he lives?" "Yes, Sire," the servant answers, “He lives almost four miles away at the base of the mountain near St. Agnes' fountain." Then King Wenceslas sprang decisively into action, "Bring me some meat, bring me some wine, bring me some pine logs and firewood from my personal store, this very night, you and I are going to watch this poor man feast in his own home with the provisions that we bring."
So, the godly Wenceslas and his servant go out into the storm, out into the bitter cold in the wind, it's made far worse at that point by a howling wind, they're both heavily laden with all these stores that they're carrying, the food, the wine, the firewood, and after a while, the servant begins to complain that it's difficult to make headway against this wind, carrying all of these things. "Sir," the servant said, "The clouds are hiding the moon, it's getting harder and harder to see. The wind is really kicking up now. I don't know if I have enough strength to make it all the way to that hut." Wenceslas answers is servant, "Walk behind me in the footsteps that I've laid in the snow. Walk in my footsteps with good courage, follow my example, know that I am also bearing this terrible weather, and if you follow my footsteps, you'll have the strength to get there." So, the servant follows in his master's footsteps, the tracks he made in the snow, in some mysterious way, the servant is somehow warmed by the footsteps themselves. They get to the poverty-stricken man's hut, and they surprised him with the lavish blessings that they have carried in their arms to his hut.
I can't imagine if it really ever happened, the man hearing a knock on the door during a stormy night, he opens the door and there is this king carrying all of these things and saying, "If you don't mind, we'd love to share a meal with you." And I think of how special that would have been.
Now, there's no historical record of this actually happening, it is consistent with the record of his benevolence to the poor and needy, Wenceslas, I mean. But it's also a beautiful picture of the benevolence and the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I picture it this way, The Book of Amos speaks of God dwelling in a high, lofty palace with its foundations on the earth. And so that's a poetical picture of God seated on His throne, and we would have to picture Him in absolute perfect comfort and pleasure. He's comfortable up there, He's filled with joy. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ was worshipped by a 100 million angels, completely adored, completely at peace. And He sought to brave the storm of sin and death for our sake, He sought to bring in His arms a feast and to lay it out for us and enable us to feast on Him, really, forever and ever. Now, as you look at the stories, the two almost can't be compared. The kind of journey that Jesus made, His command didn't send forth a bunch of soldiers to build a bloody kingdom, He Himself left His throne and went forth, and the gifts can't be compared, the sacrifice can't be compared but it's symbolic.
The Real Christmas Present
I think about 2 Corinthians 8:9 which says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor. So that you through His poverty, might become rich." This is the real Christmas present, this is the real joy of this season, contemplating how through faith in Christ and through the cost he paid, how wealthy we are, eternally wealthy. So, what I want to do is I want to go through John 6, and I want to talk about Jesus leaving His Father's heavenly throne and descending down to earth. And you may wonder why I zeroed in on John 6, but it just has to do with the many times, it says in this Chapter that He descended from heaven to earth, and in that descent, we see the Christmas theme. We see the idea of the incarnation, John 6:33, for example, Jesus speaks of "the bread of God," as "He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." See that in verse 33? And then in Verse 35, "Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty," and "I am the bread that came down from heaven," in verse 41. And in Verse 50 and 51, "Here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of the bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
Context of John 6
So, this is the central mystery, the central wonder of Christmas, and that is the mystery of the incarnation, how Christ descended or came down from heaven to earth to save us. So, I want to feast on this idea, I want to feast on Christ by the ministry of the Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. In order to do that, we need to get a little context in John, chapter 6. Jesus, at the beginning of that chapter, feeds the 5000, we have that account in all four of the Gospels, and then in John's Gospel, after He has fed the 5000, they want to take Him by force and make Him king right away. But they don't understand the nature of His kingship or the kingdom that He sought to bring, and they certainly didn't understand how He would have to give His body on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. And so, He hid from them so they could not take Him by force and make Him king.
He sends His apostles, His disciples, across the Sea of Galilee in a boat, and He himself goes up on a mountain to spend time with His father in prayer. During the night, as His disciples are toiling across the lake in an adverse storm, Jesus comes to them walking on the water, they're terrified, but He assures them that it is He, and they're willing to have Him into the boat, and immediately the boat goes to the other side. Now, the next morning, the crowd that had traveled by boat across the lake, get there and they're shocked to see Him, they don't have any idea how He could have gotten there, because they're always aware where Jesus is and they know He didn't get in the boat with them. And so, they're amazed. They said, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" And Jesus confronts them concerning their true motivation, this is in John 6:26-27, He says, "If I tell you the truth, you're looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate the loafs and had your fill. Do not labor for the food that spoils, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him, God the Father has placed His seal of approval." Well, their minds were on earthly things, earthly food, earthly drink, earthly comforts and earthly kingdom. That's what they wanted, that's all they understood.
Where Jesus’ Mission Began
Seven Times Asserted
Jesus wanted them by faith in the Word to lift their eyes up to the heavenly realms, to heavenly things, to things that would last forever, so He uses throughout this teaching a dominant metaphor, the idea of bread of life, which descends from heaven to earth to feed the world. So, we're going to begin where Jesus' mission began, and that is heaven. Seven times it's asserted in this chapter, I've already read them for you, but I want you to look at it with your own eyes. Look at verse 33, "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." You see it again in verse 38, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but to do the will of Him who sent me." Verse 41, we have it again, "At this, the Jews began to grumble about Him because He said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.'" And then in verse 42, they said, "'Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He now say, I came down from heaven.'" In Verse 50, "'But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.'" Again, verse 51, "'I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.'" And then again in verse 58, "'This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.'"
Jesus Entered the World Willingly
So, behind all of this, we get a really staggering concept, Jesus entered the world willingly, He decided to enter the world, that is completely unique in human history. There is no other human being who can be... It could be said, he or she decided to enter the world, He's the only one, he made a willing choice. He existed from eternity past, He is the eternal Son of God, He existed with His Father before the foundation of the world, and His kingship is an eternal kingship. It says in that very passage, that prophecy that I mentioned earlier, Micah 5:2, it says, "But you Bethlehem Ephratah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come from me one who will be ruler over Israe1," listen to this, "whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." So, Jesus sat on a heavenly throne before His incarnation. We have a beautiful picture of that glorious throne in Isaiah 6, the vision that Isaiah had of “…the Lord, seated on His throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple. And above Him there seraphim, each with six wings. And with two wings, they were covering their faces, and with two wings they were covering their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.'"
And it is the Apostle John that tells us, Isaiah said this because He saw Jesus's glory and spoke about Him. So, that is Jesus on His throne in heavenly glory, and from that throne, He made a willful decision to enter the world. He said this to Pontius Pilate when he was on trial for His life, remember? He mentions the nature of his kingdom, Jesus did. Pilate says in effect, "Aha. So, you are a king, you are building a kingdom. You are a king then," he said. Jesus said, "'You are right in saying that I'm a king. For this reason, I was born, and for this I entered the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.'" Now, that's staggering assertion, which He makes before an unbelieving Governor, holds His life and His death in his hands. He said, "Yes, you are right. For this reason, I entered the world to testify to the truth."
Jesus Entered the World Obediently & Was Sent on Mission by the Heavenly Father
He made a willing decision to enter the world, to descend from heaven to earth, but also we know that He entered the world obediently. He did it in submission to the command He received from His father, we get this again and again in this very chapter. Look at verse 38, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of Him who sent me." So again and again, we get the idea of Jesus not merely taking it upon himself to enter the world, but entering the world, obediently on mission from the Father. "The Father sent me," Jesus says again and again. Again, verse 44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him and I will raise him up at the last day." And again, verse 57, "The living Father sent me and I live because of the Father." So, Jesus is completely father-centered here, His mission came from the Father, the Father sent Him.
How Jesus Came Down from Heaven
Not So Plainly Asserted Here … But More Plainly Told Earlier in John’s Gospel
Now, how did Jesus descend from heaven to earth? Well, it's not so plainly asserted here, but it is hinted at. Look at verse 51 again, He says this, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." So here we have the doctrine of the infleshment or the incarnation of Jesus, He took on a human body. It's told plainly, more plainly, theologically earlier in John's gospel, in John 1:14, "The word," that's Jesus, "Became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory. Glory of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."
The History Given More Plainly in Luke
Well, we get the more clear record of it in Luke's gospel. And in Luke 1:31-35, we have the visitation of the Angel Gabriel and he comes to the Virgin Mary, and he says this to Mary, "'You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father, David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, His kingdom will never end.'" Now, Mary asked a very reasonable question, "'How can this be since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the Holy One to be born of you will be called the Son of God.'" Well, that's exactly what happened. She was with child by the power of the Holy Spirit in a miraculous way. But then He was born in the natural way. We find therefore that Jesus is supernaturally conceived, but naturally born and so, He is fully God and fully man.
We have the account very famously for us in Luke 2:1-7, where it says that, "Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and lineage of David, and he went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. And she gave birth to her first born, a son, and she wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." So, Jesus supernaturally conceived, but naturally born, fully God and fully man. That's how He descended from heaven to earth, that's how His mission began.
Why Jesus Came Down From Heaven
To Give Life to the World
Well, why did He come? What was the purpose of His mission? Well, there are many answers to this question, even in John 6, but let me zero in on just a few. First, He came to give life to the world. Look again at Verse 33, "For the bread of God is He, who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Jesus came to give us life.
To Bring Fullness and Satisfaction
Also, He came to bring us fullness and satisfaction, that's where you get the eating kind of idea, feasting on Jesus. Feasting brings fullness and satisfaction. Verse 35, Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." And so, Jesus satisfies. Now, Jesus satisfies our deepest longings, everything that you want, all of the desires you have in your heart that are God-given, all of those are met in Jesus. And He has more satisfaction still to give you, He yearns to satisfy you every moment of your lives, the rest of your lives. He doesn't want you to be satisfied with idols and with created things, He wants you to be satisfied with Him and Him alone. And then when you die and when you're taken into heaven, and when you sit at table with Jesus, and when you see that new Jerusalem, and you see that new heaven and a new earth, you are going to be perfectly, completely satisfied, you're going to be filled with pleasure. Because at His right hand are pleasures forever more. He came richly to satisfy us. Sin doesn't satisfy. Sin actually starves us, it starves our souls, it tries to lure us into addictions and then deprives us of all joy until we are enslaved to that which gives us nothing but starvation. Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. He came to satisfy.
To Raise Up the Elect on the Final Day
And He says, He came to raise up the elect on the final day. Look at verses 38-40, Jesus said, "'For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day.'" So, Jesus came to raise us up, what does that mean? To call us out of our graves, to give us resurrection bodies, that we will live in glorious resurrection bodies in a resurrected world, filled with His glory forever and ever, He came to do that. So, He descended from heaven to earth to give us final resurrection.
To Feed His People So They Will Not Die
He came to feed us so that we would never die. Look at verses 47-50, He said, "I tell you the truth, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died, but here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die." Well, Jesus doesn't mean there merely physical death, we know that Christians die physically, but the Book of Revelation speaks of a second death, which is eternal torment in Hell. And Jesus descended from heaven to earth that He might rescue us from hearing, apply to us those dreadful words, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." That is the true death.
To Give His Flesh For the Life of the World
And Jesus gave His flesh on the cross, He gave His body that we might eat by faith and not die eternally. So, He gave His flesh for the life of the world. Look at verse 51, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this flesh, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." This is the mission Jesus came down from heaven to do, lavish generosity to the sinners of the world, and He came to feed us with His flesh that we might live eternally.
No Christmas Gift Could Possibly Compare!
Now, no Christmas gift can possibly compare with that, it doesn't matter what's wrapped under the tree waiting for you or what gifts have yet to be bought, if you're anything like me. Alright, let's not talk about that. Every year, I resolve to do better and not procrastinate. I told the postman, I promised him, I said, "A year from now, actually 11 months from now, in two weeks, I'm going to be here." And he said, "Yeah, right." I keep trying not to procrastinate on gifts, but it doesn't matter what gifts we select, whether from Amazon or you go to the mall or whatever, there is no gift that you can give that is eternal.
I don't even think - I think the average Christmas gift, like 19 out of 20 toys that are given under the tree break within one year, one out of 20 makes it through a year, isn't that amazing. Sorry, kids. That's what's coming your way. But you know, right in the text, in verse 27, it says, "Do not labor for the food that spoils." Don't labor for things that don't satisfy, don't labor for things that don't matter, don't put your hopes on that, but instead for the food that feeds you for all eternity, that gives you eternal life. Labor for that.
The Divisive Effect of Jesus’ Mission
How is This Gift Received? By Faith!
Well, we need to see though, right in the text, the divisive nature of Jesus's mission. You know, you think, this is such good news, this is such a great story, why doesn't the world care about it? Why is the world all wrapped up in the materialism, wrapped up in the trappings of Christmas and the symbolism of Christmas, but without the reality and no concern about Christ and His gift? It's because of the divisive nature of the mission itself. Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I came to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." And so, He came to divide people, and you see it right in the text, the divisive nature of Jesus's mission.
Well, this gift that He came to give is received only by faith, that's the only way we can receive this gift. Look at verse 28 and 29, "They asked Him, 'What must we do to do the works of God? To do the work God requires.' Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this, to believe in the one He has sent.'" Do you see that? We always are saying, what can I do? What good work can I do to feel better about myself. And there are all kinds of charities, like every time you walk in the supermarket, you can drop some coins into The Salvation Army pot, there are all kinds of charities people can give to and they're good charities. But some people are convinced that by these kinds of actions, they can be paying for their sins. To the unbeliever, to the outsider, to the sinner who's outside of the grace of God, that comes and says, "Look, I've got it; I know I'm a sinner. What good work must I do to gain eternal life?" Jesus says right in this text, "'This is the work of God, believe in the one He has sent.'"
Believe in the name of the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. There's no other salvation. He says it many times in this passage, not just once. Look at verse 35, "Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." So, to come to Christ means you'll never go hungry, to believe in Christ means you'll never be thirsty, that means to come to Christ, equals to believe in Christ, it's the same thing. So, you come to Christ not by moving yourself geographically or coming forward at an invitation, but in your heart believing that Jesus is the Son of God and died for your sins. So, to come to Him as a sinner and to feed on Him, on His work on the cross, where He gave His flesh for the life of the world, that is salvation. That's the work that God has for you to do.
But No One Can Receive It Without God’s Work in their Hearts
But here's the thing, no one can do that unless God works it in them by His sovereign grace. No one, you can't of your own free will, over your own choice, up and do this. He says it very, very plainly, and that's why there's a division in this passage, many people resisted Jesus's teaching. Look at verse 36, "'But as I have told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.'" And again, verses 41-43, "At this, the Jews began to grumble about Him because He said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They said, 'Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can He now say, I came down from heaven.' 'Stop grumbling among yourselves,' Jesus answered.”
The Division Intensifies More and More… Obvious by the End of the Chapter
Well, the division actually intensified, got worse as the chapter went on. Look at verse 51-55, "He said, 'I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.'" Verse 52, "Then the Jews began to argue, sharply among themselves, 'How can this man give us His flesh to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up the last day, for my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.'" Well, verse 60, "On hearing it, many of His disciples said," I think a vast understatement "'This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?'" I might actually intensify it and say, "This is actually an impossible teaching, for the natural man to accept, impossible actually." And then in Verse 66, we have this incredible statement, "From that time, many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him." It's staggering, because of this teaching, because He said, "Eat my flesh and drink my blood." They turned back and would no longer follow. So, there's a division here right away, between believers and unbelievers.
The Absolute Sovereignty of God Asserted
And so, in the middle of that, explaining all of that, we have the absolute sovereignty of God over salvation, plainly asserted. It is a moral and spiritual impossibility for anyone to come to Jesus unless the Father draws him or her, it's impossible. Look at verse 43 and 44, "'Stop grumbling among yourselves.' And Jesus answered, 'No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.'" No one can equal; it is impossible for anyone to do this on their own, the Father has to draw you. The Father has to draw – and now I'm speaking to Christians - the Father has to draw your co-workers and relatives and neighbors and people you're trying to share with in this season, He has to draw them, or they'll never come. But secondly, if the Father does draw the person, they will inevitably come, isn't that awesome? If the Father is at work in someone's heart, drawing them, they will most certainly come. Look at Verse 37, "'All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.'" So, it's a moral and spiritual impossibility for anyone that the Father is drawing by the Spirit to refuse, they're going to come. And thirdly, if the person does in fact come to Christ by faith, it is a moral and spiritual impossibility for Jesus to lose any of them, they will all of them be raised on the final day. Look what He says in verse 39, "'And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that the Father has given me. But will raise them up at the last day.'" I find that incredibly encouraging. Isn't it?
And now I know I am a Christian. I was thinking about this, I was listening to a Christmas hymn just the other day. I hadn't heard it in a while, and it talked about how the Father's love pierced into the singer's heart, and I thought that was it. I was resisting, I was hardened, I wouldn't, I didn't want to be a Christian, I thought they were weird, I don't want to go on the fall retreat, no way, etcetera. And then the Lord reached through all that hardness by His hand of sovereign grace, the Father reached out and drew me powerfully and tenderly into His kingdom. And if you're a Christian, you're listening to me today, He did the same to you. Different way, different time, different people spoke to you, but He did the same work in your heart that He did in mine. And that's why you celebrate Christmas as a Christian and not as a pagan, because God in His sovereign grace worked it in you. Simple faith, look at verse 40, "'For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day.'"
Who Can Receive This Difficult Teaching?
So, we have a question at the end of this chapter, who can accept such a difficult teaching? It's an important question, isn't it? Look at verse 60, "On hearing it. Many of his disciples said, 'This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?' Aware that His disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, 'Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of man ascend back to where He was? To where He was before. The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing. The words I spoke in to you are Spirit, and they are life, yet there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus had known from the beginning, which of them did not believe and who would betray Him? He went on to say, 'This is why I told you, no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.'" Verse 66, "'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, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy one of God.'" Peter said it for all of us, we have nowhere else to go. Jesus, you are the word of God and you have the words of life. Where else can we go? Now, if he had said a little more, he said, "I don't get it, the eat my flesh, drink my blood thing makes no sense to me, but I know who you are. And maybe in due time, I'll understand the eat flesh, drink blood thing, but I know who you are, you are the holy one of God?" Jesus's answer was this, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil." And so by His sovereign grace, He reaches out and chooses those whom He gave, the Father gave to the Son from before the foundation of the world, that's what's going on when we celebrate Christmas, not just this time, but year round.
The Call of Jesus’ Mission: Believe and Live!
This is the Central Message of this Chapter… and the Whole Gospel of John
So, the call of Jesus's mission is this; believe and live, or we could say, believe and feast and live, how about that? Believe and feast and live. At the end of this gospel, it explains the whole thing, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book, but these are written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” That's the central message of this chapter and of the whole gospel.
This is the Central Call of Christmas Itself
Will you labor for the food that spoils? Or for the food that endures to eternal life, which Jesus alone can give you? What are you going to set your heart on, not just Christmas time, but year-round? Are you going to live for created things? Are you going to live for the food that spoils, or you're going to live for the eternal things that God has given you in Jesus? And so, I yearn for all of you to believe in Christ, to trust in Him. I know this time of year, there are some people that visit Church and they come and there'll be some Christmas Eve. Every year, Christmas Eve, I see a lot of people that I don't recognize, some of them are relatives, but sometimes they just come because they want to be in a Christmas service, and they do it the Sunday before Christmas, or they'll do it on Christmas Eve or something like that. They just want to get close, they want to have some religious feelings and all that. If you're like that, can I just plead with you? Trust in Christ, acknowledge that you're a sinner. Acknowledge and feast on Jesus by faith, say, "I believe that your body was sent into the world to die on the cross for my sins, and that God raised you physically from the dead in a resurrection body. I believe that, I trust in you, forgive me for my sins."
Applications for Christians
Now, if you're a Christian, I'm going to say the same thing to you, "Feast on Christ through faith." It's amazing how many times you have to do that. I mean, even just recently, I was in a situation, I was like, "Alright," and I just closed my eyes and I said, "I need to believe in you, Jesus, right now." Because circumstances overwhelm you, you could be overwhelmed with shopping, you could be overwhelmed with grief and an affliction, you could be overwhelmed with busyness or fatigue, whatever, it doesn't matter. You just close your eyes and say, "Lord Jesus, you're my savior, you're my life. I want to walk by faith and not by sight, I trust in you, afresh and anew." That's what we need to do, we feed on Him by faith, based on His word, and guard your hearts from laboring for the food that spoils, you know it's a temptation.
You know that all of the swirl of allure of the world and all that, it's constantly assaulting our souls and drawing us away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. And embrace the absolute sovereignty of God over salvation. Let's be faithful as witnesses, amen. Let's be faithful to share the Gospel, but let's not be children as we do it, let's be mindful of the fact that most of the people we're going to talk to, are going to reject. But let's be confident that there going to be some that God shows before the foundation of the world that haven't been converted yet, and the father is going to use you to share the gospel and through the words of the Gospel as you share, He's going to powerfully draw those sinners to faith in Christ. So, let's be active in doing that, throughout this week and throughout the year, and let's delight in Christ, let's realize what we have yet to come. The best things are yet to come. Jesus said in Matthew 8, "I tell you the truth, many are going to come from the east and the west, and they're going to take their places, at the banqueting table in the Kingdom of Heaven with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." So, picture that feast that's yet to come, and let's be involved in missions. I love Jonathan and Gohar McDonald, I love their commitment to Christ, I love all of the workers that we've sent out around the world to lead others to Christ. I'm grateful for that. I'm pleading with you, financially, let's make sacrifice to make our Lottie Moon offering goal. Let's do that. Look at yourself, look at what you've given or what you have given, and say, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" Give yourself to the Lord first in commitment and then to the mission work as the Lord commands.
Now, let me say one thing, I don't usually mention this, but don't forget to give to the church budget too, okay? We're a little bit behind on the budget, I usually don't mention it, but it's not either, or. It's both, and. So, our budget enables us to reach out here in this community, enables us to do the works we have to do here, so just as you're making a commitment financially and all that, pray about what the Lord would have you do and be generous. One final word before I pray, remember, we're going to be praying this week, Wednesday morning at 6:00 AM, and then keep doing that throughout the season.
Closing Thoughts and Prayer
So, if you've got some time, maybe you have a little more time, maybe you're off from work, join us in praying. We're praying for God to do a work, a supernatural work of holiness in this church, and a supernatural work of evangelistic fruitfulness and power reaching out. We've had more than 20 people joining with us for prayer, come and join us, we'd love to have you. Close with me in prayer.
Father, we thank you that you sent your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, He descended from Heaven to Earth to make us rich. We think about that hymn, Good King Wenceslas, and how the king looked down into the storm and the cold and saw someone suffering and not making it. And he was moved with compassion. How much greater, O Lord, did you see from your holy throne? How we would not make it on judgment day, a storm of judgment was coming our way, and we were not ready. Thank you Jesus, for taking on flesh and dying on the cross, shedding your blood that we might live forever. Enable us by faith to feed on your death and your resurrection, that we might live forever, in Jesus name. Amen.