Monday, January 29, 2007

What kind of food do you work for?

March 26 Sunday Sermon Notes

The Scripture text is John 6:27 "Do not work for food which is digested, but work for food that remains and results in eternal life, a gift which is from the Son of Man - whom Father God has identified as of Him." (TT)

The overarching goal of this series is to revitalize our celebration of Jesus' Resurrection from the Dead. We will reach this goal by whetting our appetites for eternal life. God the Father resurrected His Son from the Dead, that we might have Eternal Life. So, to the degree that I hunger for eternal life, I will to that degree celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. If I do not hunger for eternal life as described by Jesus Christ, then I will not have a real good reason for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

I am convinced that many Christians, including myself, have lived with an underdeveloped understanding of Life Eternal. This leads to an unexplainable lack of vitality in their "Christian Life". So either Christians accomodate themselves to the long haul, enduring earth while awaiting their death; or they make the best of it, put a smile on their face and offer up overused and annoying cliches to explain the mysteries and savage pain experienced in life; or they give up on God and Christianity because it is not worth it; or some other reasons - there are lots of them.

One of the keys for Christians to experience any kind of vitality is to understand and experience Eternal Life Everyday. That we might have eternal life is why we are offered Salvation. We talk about having Salvation without understanding the content of that word, so that we claim to have something we don't understand, and how can you value or celebrate something you don't understand? People did not understand Jesus when he talked directly to him, and people don't understand Jesus when we talks to them today through the Scriptures. And if you don't understand Jesus, you will not celebrate him, you will ignore him or crucify him. The Scripture above is about Jesus addressing the misunderstanding, and trying to help them understand the truth about the purpose of life, of how to get eternal life, which is what everyone wants.

John chapter six begins with Jesus feeding the five thousand. The people are impressed with the sign, but they are more satisfied by the full belly. Their response is to make this Teacher, Prophet and Miracle Worker their King! Jesus would not have it. Nobody can choose to make him their King. Jesus is King regardless whether you submit or rebel. Jesus already was their King! They just wouldn't take him on his Terms! They didn't understand. Jesus gets away from them, heads up into the mountains, goes back down to the sea by another way, crosses the storm-tossed sea, scaring the bejeebers out of his disciples in the process. He ends up on the other side of the sea in his home town. The crowd, in the meantime, goes about searching for the guy who filled up their bellies. They want to get Jesus to keep their bellies filled up (he is convenient, provides for leftovers, and did all the serving and cleaning up!). They come up to Jesus, but Jesus cuts right to the heart of the matter and tells them what is really going on inside of them: you are only Seeking Me because I filled your bellies one day. What you don't understand is that I did not come to just fill your bellies for this life. I came to provide food that you might have eternal life (that which you have always hungered for).

So they want to know, what kind of work are they to do so that they can get eternal life. Jesus' reply? Trust me. Believe me. Have Faith in Me. And they don't understand what he is talking about. They are thinking, "We just want our bellies filled."

Trusting Jesus is like eating food. It sustains us. It is a constant need. To go without eating/trusting is to slowly die.

The point is not whether I am a Christian. The point is, am I going to receive Eternal Life as a gift from Jesus? So then the real question is not, how do I be a good Chrisitan, but rather, what must I do so that I receive Eternal life as a gift?

Jesus says that if you do the hard work of trusting me, I promise that I will give you (as a gift, not a wage) Eternal Life.

So the real question is, do I want Eternal Life? The crowd that followed Jesus didn't want eternal life from him, they just wanted their bellies filled up. Jesus came to offer Eternal Life, and when Jesus wouldn't offer them what they wanted, and when Jesus wouldn't go away, they made him go away. But they can't make Jesus do anything. And Jesus came back. And then Jesus left on his own terms. He is King and Judge, and when he comes back, he will set things right. And for those that waited, and died waiting for eternal life, he will set them right, will give them the eternal life they trusted him to give. And for those that did not wait for eternal life, did not want eternal life, and died not wanting it, we will give them what they wanted.

I am struggling with this passage. I want to talk about Eternal Life Experienced Everyday. This passage talks about food, which is an everyday item, and it talks about food that leads to eternal life. I'm just not figuring out what that means for us.

Prayer can be like food that leads to eternal life. When I pray, as an act of trust and obedience, I experience Eternal Life, which is like the food that nourishes me and sustains me. When I pray as an act of trust and obedience I am doing the work of Jesus that God sent him to do. I am most Christ-like when I pray, I am most Christ-like when I pray as an act of trust and obedience.

We ask WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? As we try to figure out answers to moral dilemmas, difficult family situations, awkward social settings, financial problems and so on.

Jesus says in John 5:19 that he only does what he sees the Father doing. We can only see if first we believe (what Jesus taught Thomas). So in order to do anything as Jesus would, it must be as an act of trust and obedience.

I'll stop here. Maybe tomorrow I'll have a better grasp on the passage.


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