Thursday, November 12, 2015

No Respect Among His Own

John 6:41-51

“The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.  And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?” (John 6:41-42)

Mark 6:2-4 describes this event.  “And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?   Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”

Jesus had grown up in Nazareth.  Capernaum was only about twenty miles away, and like many rural areas everyone knew each other.  As a carpenter Joseph had worked on many of their homes, or sold them things he had made, and they had friends and acquaintances in every community.  They had not moved to Nazareth until Jesus was five or six years old so few knew the details of his birth.  When Jesus said he came down from heaven, they thought he was making up a story.   They were sure they knew everything about him. 

Frequently people will choose a local man for political office because they think they know what he thinks and believes and will act on their behalf.  At the same time they will often reject a teacher or employer, convinced they know as much or more than he does.  As a result, groups tend to overlook some of the potentially most valuable leaders and teachers, looking for someone with a different background instead of finding out what their own people know.   No one knows how many groups or churches have been destroyed because they assumed “experts” from somewhere else were better qualified than members of their own group.  The focus on human education and experience opens a door to false doctrine.   Much as they liked hearing Jesus and seeing his miracles, they clung to the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees rather than listening to Him.  After all, they had the doctoral and legal degrees.

Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.  Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John 6:43-46)

Certain revivalists have been known for their ability to persuade people to “come to Jesus,” to make a profession of faith.  Their techniques have been closely examined by others in an effort to learn how they can have similar results.  As a result pastors and teachers are taught to incorporate certain elements into their messages to get people to respond.  There have been a number of contests to see who could write the most effective “soul-winning” sermon.  Such an approach completely overlooks what Jesus teaches in this passage. 

Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”  No matter how persuasive or stimulating the message is, a person cannot be saved unless the Lord produces the desire.  It is not the skilled or eloquent appeal of the speaker or soul-winner that results in their salvation, but God teaching them.   We do not have to rush them into a decision because, “Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.”  It is not just those who have heard the Word, but those that have heard and have learned from him that come to Christ.  A basic law of learning is that a person must think about a subject to learn it.   Rushing them to a decision prevents their thinking it through and learning what God intended.    

One is left to wonder how many of those professions are the result of the speaker’s eloquence or skill in using psychological princioples rather than of God drawing them.    Matthew 7:21-23 warns, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.   Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?   And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.  I am that bread of life.  Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:47-51)

Once again, Jesus stated that anyone who believed on him has everlasting life.  As he pointed out though the Jews ate manna every day in the wilderness, they still died.  Jesus is the living bread and anyone who eats it will not die.  Jesus would sacrifice his human body to make eternal life available to the world.  Anyone who partakes of that sacrifice will live forever.  

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