Sermon: God’s Sovereignty Seen in Human Resistance John 6:48–71

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God’s Sovereignty Seen in Human Resistance

John 6:48–71

Primary Truth Taught- God’s is sovereign over all things including things that seem to resist Him and His Gospel

Introduction

This chapter ends on what seems, at least on the surface, to be utter failure. When Chapter 6 begins we see the amazing event when Jesus feeds the 5,000. All eat until they are full and desire to make Jesus King. However, by the end of Chapter 6 almost everyone leaves. The crowd is gone; they are immensely disappointed with Jesus. The reason they leave has to do with the words Jesus speaks; they believe the words are too hard. To the crowd the words of Jesus are offensive, degrading, and utterly unmanageable.

We must be ready to accept all the Words of Jesus. There are some that are easy because they have to do with love and peace and comfort. Then there are words of Jesus that are offensive and challenging. Here’s an example…

Matthew 11:28 (ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

John 6:44 (ESV)

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Jesus is not controllable. He will not be placed into a box or controlled by men. He is sovereign and all-powerful and He will do as He pleases and say whatever He wants and we must believe it all and obey it all or take our place with the crowd who we’ll see walks away claiming His Words are just too hard.

Human Need Met

Consistency in the Christian life can be greatly aided if we understand that God is even involved and going further, has decreed our own personal setbacks or trials. God sovereignly dictates things in this life that seem to be working against us for our good. This passage is a wonderful example of how Jesus understood what would have been seen by practically everyone else as resistance to the Gospel and a major setback. Because His knowledge of God is perfect and He completely understood how things work, He was not the least bit phased by this event.

  1. Jesus’ Offer to Believe

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

This is a passage that when you finish reading you’re left thinking what in the world is Jesus talking about? Why doesn’t He just tell us in simple clear terms?

A couple things quickly…
There is regular food like bread and manna that sustains the physical body for a short time, say a day or so. Those with Moses ate manna and those with Jesus ate bread. Then Jesus begins speaking of true food or true bread and true drink. These will sustain one for eternity.

55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

How can we today feed on Jesus’ flesh or drink His blood? Let’s think through this for a minute? Regular food and drink will sustain our physical body but what will sustain our soul? Or what will sustain us eternally body and soul? Jesus’ words tell us His flesh and His blood.

In order to understand this we must look to a parallel passage…
John 6:40 (ESV)

40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:54 (ESV)

54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

So, feeding on Jesus is Looking to Him and believing in Him. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood are the same as believing that He is everything we need for eternal life.

Saint Augustine said…Believe and you have eaten.

When we believe we are abiding in Him and He in us and we have eternal life because He lives eternally.

This is an amazing offer that we see in the Gospel. Jesus says, here it is. Here’s the Gospel come to Me…Feed on Me, Believe on Me, Trust Me and you will have eternal life. This is the same offer that our Lord makes to you here today. Believe on Me, Jesus tells us and you will have eternal life.

John 6:40 (ESV)

40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:54 (ESV)

54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Do you know that your actions/behavior expose your heart and what you believe? Press someone or witness someone in a trial you will see very quickly what they really believe. Will they submit to the wisdom of God or lash out in rage? Will they trust God or exercise their own supposed authority?

  1. Words of Life are Offensive to Those Who Are Perishing

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Why would Jesus say it like He did? Here is where Jesus gets out of our control. He says it like He does to intentionally offend those who do not believe and are following Him for the wrong reason. For a Jew it is strictly forbidden to eat meat with blood in it nevertheless to drink blood. This was horrifically offensive to a Jew.

Jesus knew that they were unbelievers. In His mercy, He did not desire to muddy the water by making them think they were believers.

These verses make for difficult sermons. What we need to see, however, is that these verses are included in God’s Word and they expand our view of Jesus. We see Christ cannot be controlled and manipulated. We also see that because salvation is of the Lord and that no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him, we must be quick to run to Jesus when God moves. We cannot put salvation off as if to think it’s on our terms. I pray you see how healthy these verses are for the church.

Jesus knew exactly who was following Him through belief and who wasn’t. You cannot fool Jesus. He knows who are His and who are simply playing games.

64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Here’s where we see that what seems like failure, namely, 5000 to 12 is really not failure but planned by God. Jesus knew from the beginning. From the very beginning He knew who it was that was following Him for free food and who was following Him through belief. In our Lord’s sovereign plan His ministry was progressing exactly as He had planned. He knew exactly who belonged to Him and who didn’t.

What’s interesting is the Judas now becomes exhibit A. The Bible clearly refers to Judas, the one who would betray Him and then repeats Jesus’ words…65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

If you’d like to know what a person looks like who is not given to Christ as one of His, just look at Judas. Just like the devil, Judas had a part to play in the crucifixion of Christ and did so from his own free will. You see Jesus chose Judas too, not for salvation but to simply let Judas do what Judas wanted to do and through Judas’ twisted sinful mind he would betray our Lord and play his part in the crucifixion. This is God’s sovereignty at work.

While words of life are offensive to those who are perishing, look at the effect they have on those who believe…

  1. Words of Life Are Sweet to Those Who are Being Saved  

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

Here’s the picture…after hearing these difficult words of Jesus, namely eating His flesh, drinking His blood that most all left Him. The crowd, in general, leaves to go back and pursue other things. Even many who were considered disciples left as well. Now we are down to 12 disciples and one of them was considered a devil. So really we’re at 11.

But the Father gave these 11 to the Son. When they hear the Words of Jesus they are not offended but believe.

Peter is the spokesman for the 12. Notice what he says about the very same Words that caused the others to leave…
67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

John shows us the contrast of Judas and the crowd who heard and saw the miracles and were offended at Jesus and His Words of truth with Peter and the others who heard the same Words and saw the same miracles and believed.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Look closely at these verses. Peter has this amazing statement of faith. Jesus we don’t want to leave because only You have Words of eternal life. Peter and the others have been eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus and have been sustained for all eternity. Here again is how they were doing that: we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.

70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve?

Here comes another hard saying of Jesus, one that presses us with the sovereignty of God…Judas did not believe but was considered a devil and Jesus says that no one can come unless the Father draws him, so Judas remained in his unbelief and simply stuck around to get rich. Then Peter makes this profound statement that Jesus’ Words are life and there is no other and that they have learned that He is the Messiah. Then do you see the next Words from Jesus?

70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve?

  1. God’s Sovereignty Holds Sway Over Man’s Autonomy

The crowd leaves because the words and demands of Jesus are simply too hard for them. There is no real value in this would-be Messiah, they think. So they believe not in Jesus but in their own autonomy. We don’t like You any more and we are leaving. We are in charge not You, Jesus. Good luck starting your kingdom with 12 people, Jesus. Good luck trying to convince others you are the Messiah when nobody follows You…

64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

The Words of our Lord prove that He was not failing but accomplishing exactly God’s will. The Gospel wasn’t about to die because this crowd was leaving. In fact their leaving proved that the Father had not called them. God is still in complete control even in the leaving of the crowd. God is under control even in human resistance.

Then our friend Peter…Jesus we believe. Jesus we are not leaving. Jesus we know You have the Words of life…what is Jesus response? Oh, Peter you’re so smart, you get a big fat A for today.

70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

The crowd leaves showing God is in charge, Peter and the others believe showing God is in charge. Even Judas does what he does to also prove God is in charge. We are left with all our boasting about man’s autonomy left in the dust. Oh, the amazing grace of God that reaches down into death to raise us up for Him.

Application

-When you see the Words of Christ as the Words of life, rejoice greatly in the power of God because He has opened your eyes to the truth. He has given you life. When you see Jesus as your treasure run hard after Him. Do not put salvation off for a millisecond but take hold of Jesus and never let go. Faith and repentance are gifts of God’s grace never waste them. When we receive them praise God and follow Christ in obedience to His Word.

-When resistance mounts in your life, understand that God has known all along that resistance would be there to accomplish something that couldn’t happen any other way. It took the resistance of Judas, Pilot, Herod, the Jews, the Romans, and Satan to crucify Jesus. So, God raises up resistance for His good purposes. Take heart and rest in the sovereign loving hands of God Almighty. Believe and feed on Jesus and be sustained for eternity. Taste and know that the Lord is good…even in what seems to be resistance. Trust Him and see the glory of Jesus Christ magnified through resistance.

We must lay all human achievements and claims to importance aside and declare with Paul

1 Corinthians 1:31 (ESV)

31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Even Peter was about to start boasting in the fact that he and the others were believing and Jesus turned it back to the place it needed to be…Peter did I not choose you? Understanding the truth of God’s sovereign election takes all human boasting away. Peter learned this truth, Paul new it as well.

 

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