The Gospel of John Chapter Six!
By Minister Raymond D. Sopp
This morning as I opened my Bible and began to read the Gospel of John chapter six, I found it to be so alive and pregnant with inspiration that my heart leaped within me. To say that I felt inspired would be an understatement. Therefore, I will be departing from my usual topical format for a mini-Bible study of John chapter six. I pray that whoever reads this mini-Bible study will come away as inspired and as blessed as I was after writing it. And if I may make a suggestion, you may want to read the portion of John chapter six that is noted, before you read my comments about it.
John 6:1-14: We start this passage of Scripture with Jesus using the situation around Him at the time to teach an important lesson. Jesus begins the lesson by testing (refining) Philip with this question: "Where are we to buy bread that these may eat?" In other words, "to whom can we go to, Philip, to supply our present need?" Philip, being overwhelmed by this situation of feeding so many people, responded in such a way that it was abundantly clear that he was at a loss for what to do. The problem was just too great for Philip to handle.
Then Andrew, after frantically looking around, found a lad with two fishes and five loaves. All of which told me that the disciples were looking to humanity for an answer to a problem which was larger than themselves. That's right, they looked to humanity, who is in all practicality NO greater than they were, to solve their problem. Would you not say, that was really dumb!? But then why do we also find ourselves doing the same thing by looking to humanity for a solution to a problem which is too large for us to handle? Why isn't God always the first one we look to for help?
In the Church today, we find our brothers and sisters more than willing to help, but why do so few mention that God is the one we really need to go to for our help? Perhaps it makes us feel important if we can keep someone dependent on us rather than on God. However, the problem with looking to humanity for help, if the truth be known, is that we cannot help anyone out of a wet paper sack, let alone help someone with a real problem. If we in the Church today want to be truly helpful, let's do what Jesus was trying to do with His disciples; teach them that God, and only God, has the answer. Are we not just giving God lip service when we first look to humanity for our help? God may indeed use humanity to fill a particular need in our lives, but we MUST learn to go to God first. Otherwise, the solution we seek may cause us much more harm than our need initially caused us.
John 6:15-25: Here we find our Lord sending His disciples on a mission: go to the other side of the sea. As soon as they were out three or four miles into the middle of the sea, a contrary (violent) storm came up. How strange! This should not be happening? Should not Jesus have known this was going to happen? Did the disciples misunderstand Jesus' directions? Maybe Jesus was not the person they thought Him to be, or maybe there was no God at all? Suddenly, in the midst of the storm, they see a figure of a man. No! It must be a ghost! There cannot be anything good in this storm -- can there? Jesus then cries out, "Do not be afraid, it is I."
This same type of bewildering situation happened to Israel in Numbers 21:5, "Did God bring us out here in this wilderness to die?" And what about Paul when God sent him to Macedonia, where he ended up beaten and thrown into jail (Acts chapter 16). Do you find this sort of thing happening to you when you try to follow God's direction for your life? Yes! Then allow me to lead you to Romans 8:31-39, ". . . nothing will separate you from God's love!" In other words, "Do not be afraid -- it is I."
John 6: 26-29: Oh, how we all can relate to this situation. Isn't our devotion to God usually limited to the fulfillment of our appetites and/or desires? Instead, should we not be focusing on the greatest gift of all, eternal life? Here is a good question to ask ourselves: Am I coming to God because of His gift of eternal life, or to have my appetites and/or desires fulfilled? A good way to find out is to examine what we murmur and/or complain about.
Another wrong motivation to come to God is for the power. Verse 28: "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" You know as well as I do they meant the POWER of God! To which, Jesus just lovingly pointed them back to the issue of eternal life: "The work of God is to believe in Him whom He has sent." You see, the kingdom of God is not found in the abundance of things, nor in the power, but it is found in Jesus; who gives eternal life to all who seek forgiveness (repentance), and accepts His death on the cross for the payment of their sins!
John 6: 30-58: How do we usually react when we hear a hard word, or a difficult statement to understand? Do we do what mankind has always done? Do we begin to grumble at, and attack the messenger? Verse 42: "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph?" In other words, who does this Jesus think He is! Throughout the Bible, God's people are always killing, ignoring, or making fun of the prophets/pastors of God so they can have an excuse not to listen. It has always been much easier to have an excuse not to listen than to live godly, and/or to live by faith.
John 6: 59-65: This passage of Scripture is very important for us to understand! This hard saying of Jesus' could not be understood unless our Father in heaven gave us the understanding. Therefore, we can deduce from this passage the following: We cannot be schooled unto understanding the spiritual issues of the Bible. And we cannot set out with our own abilities to understand the things of God, i.e., we cannot boast in our knowledge. Nevertheless, at the same time, God is VERY willing to give us the Holy Spirit to help us to understand, if we are willing to ask (Luke 11:13).
This fact also reveals to us an obvious conclusion: we come to know Jesus only because God loved us first. Verse 65: "For no one can come to Jesus unless it has been granted him from the Father." So once again our boasting is excluded! And if God loved us first, who then can bring a charge against us? Therefore, when Satan would have us to look toward our circumstances, (i.e., a contrary storm) to get us to question God's love for us, once again we just need to go to God's Word, Romans 8:31-39.
Now would be a good time to read Romans 8:31-39, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'for Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
John 6: 66-71: Finally, Peter gets it right: "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." First, we must realize that God is the ONLY one we can go to for help, e.g., prayer. God may then direct us to a brother or sister for help, but we MUST go to God first! Second, if we have eternal life, we already have everything we will ever need -- God's eternal love.
In conclusion, let us always be willing to ask ourselves these two questions. Where do I look first for help in my time of need? And have I come to Jesus to just fulfill my desires and/or appetites, or for the greatest gift of all -- ETERNAL LIFE?
From my heart to yours,
Raymond D. Sopp
All above Bible references are from The New American Standard Bible, (La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation) 1977.
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