Those of you who have been around SonRise for a while have heard this before, but let me remind us all what we seek to accomplish in this sermon each week. During the preaching portion of our Sunday morning gatherings we employ and enjoy a style of preaching called expositional preaching. Which means we must not aim at saying something new but seek to only say what God has already said, such that the point of the text is the point of the sermon. We don’t to do this randomly but orderly, as we work through books of the Bible. So when we come to specific passages week after week we come to them in their own context, having already examined the verses that come before the current passage as well as anticipating the verses that come after. Or to put it another way, we seek to sit underneath the authority and illumination of the Scripture, rather than standing over it using the Scripture to support our own message.

This is our goal, we don’t do it perfectly, but we do aim to be faithful handlers of God’s Word.[1]

We are currently in a sermon series walking through the gospel of John. John’s gospel may be new or may be familiar to some of us, but nonetheless it’s a true story for all of us.[2] If you do not have a Bible you can understand we have one for you in the back, if you’ve already picked one of those Bibles up you’ll find our passage today, John 6:35-40, on page 520. I’ll pray, and then we’ll get to it. Let’s pray.

In the beginning of John 6 Jesus performs a great miracle in taking a young boys lunch and making it into a meal for a multitude. That same multitude than seeks to make Him king, right after the miracle and even into the next day, because He seems (to them) to be someone who can truly take care of their needs. But Jesus didn’t come to meet physical needs or meet materialistic expectations. He came to meet the deepest need of man, the eternal satisfaction of the soul. This is why He worked the wonder of feeding the 5,000, to show that by being able to feed them physically for one evening, He is truly able and willing to feed their souls forever and ever. He even takes time to explain this to the multitude more clearly telling them He was the very manna from God, the true bread of heaven that gives life to the world. The multitude still didn’t quite see what Jesus was saying, so in response to the crowd’s obtuseness Jesus responds with some of the clearest and most powerful language thus far in John’s gospel.

This clear, powerful response is found in John 6:35-40. This is where we pick up today. You heard this text read earlier, let’s go through it now noticing three realities of Christ that are able to forever satisfy our souls. These realities are not just things to agree with, their things we must see, know, and love.

See the Offer of Christ (v35-36)

After this multitude shows their shallow ability to understand what Jesus is saying He speaks in blazing clarity saying in v35, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to Me shall not hunger and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.” They were comparing Jesus’ previous miracle to the manna given by God to Israel in the wilderness, but Jesus contrasts Himself with that manna pointing out that the true bread of heaven isn’t something they can pick up and eat, it is nothing less than Himself. He Himself is the food, the bread of heaven come down to give life, and it is only from this bread that men truly obtain the satisfaction we desire.[3]

Becoming a Christian can be described in many ways: being born again, becoming a new creation, getting saved, leaving the old behind and pressing into what’s ahead, turning away from sin and turning toward Christ, etc. Notice here in v35 Jesus describes it in terms of coming to Him and believing in Him. When one comes to Him or believes in Him what’s in view here is a move away from a life that is characterized by hunger, thirst, famine, lack, and an inability to satisfy or quench the deepest desires of our soul. v35 says we move away from that kind of life only when we move toward Christ. This means when we move toward Christ we move into an entirely new kind of human experience. We move into a kind of life where hunger and thirst are no longer possible, where famine and lack have no place or room to settle within us, and where the inability to satisfy or quench the soul’s deepest desires is a thing of the past.

For when we come to Christ He saves us, and when Christ saves us, He becomes the very sustenance of our souls. Of course I do not mean that all hungering or thirsting or longing in the soul vanishes when we’re saved, not at all. In a real sense it’s at the moment of salvation where we, for the first time, taste a true hunger and thirst to know God more and more. Thus, a new kind of hungering and thirsting is created by coming to Christ. So what kind of hunger and thirst then has vanished forever, never to return again upon becoming a Christian? The deep longing of an unsatisfied heart, that is no longer part of our reality.

One of Jesus’s parables puts this on display. In Matthew 13:44 Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.” Here we see what true conversion looks like. We are converted when Christ becomes for us a treasure chest of holy joy. When we see Him, recognize His vast worth, and then, in our joy we let go of all we hold dear so we can have Him! A crucified, risen, and reigning Savior who pardons all our sins, provides all our righteousness, and becomes in His Person our greatest treasure.[4] So saving faith, the kind of faith v35 speaks of that comes to and believes in Jesus, this kind of faith always involves a profound change of heart. It is not mere agreement with a certain set of doctrines.[5] It is seeing Christ in those glorious gospel doctrines standing forth as supremely valuable and worthy of all the affection of your heart and soul. It is gaining a God-given new taste for the bread of heaven, and a new captivating sight of the beauty and glory of Christ!

Listen to John Piper describe this, “Once we had no delight in God, and Christ was just a vague historical figure. What we enjoyed was food and friendships and productivity and investments and vacations and hobbies and games and reading and shopping and sex and sports and art and TV and travel…but not God. He was an idea, maybe even a good idea or topic for discussion, but not a treasure of delight. Then something miraculous happened. It was like the opening of the eyes of the blind during the golden dawn. First, the stunned silence before the unspeakable beauty of holiness. Then the shock and terror that we had actually loved the darkness. Then the settling stillness of joy that this is the soul’s end…And then, faith – the confidence that Christ has made a way for me, a sinner, to live in His glorious fellowship forever, the confidence that if I come to God through Christ, I will share in His holiness and behold His glory.”[6]

Church, please don’t miss this. There is a chance you could. There is a chance you could be in church every week for your whole life and miss this. See v36, “But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.” That v36 comes directly after v35 shows that it is possible to see Christ and hear His teaching and see nothing of value, worth, or anything that amazes your soul. You don’t want to be part of this group. v35 is not a distant, abstract reality that we cannot grab ahold of. It is an offer extended by God through Christ that the human soul can feast on forever! To not embrace this offer is the epitome of folly, and to go through life near to Christ, near His people, near His Word and yet miss seeing the glory of who He is, is a horrific tragedy. You don’t want to be found in v36, but in v35.

Know the Promise of Christ (v37)

After speaking in such blazing clarity about what God is offering the world through Himself, Jesus continues on teaching in v37 saying, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” We have seen His offer in v35-36, now see His promise in v37. What is His promise? The promise in view here has three parts to it. First, God the Father gives people to the Son. Second, all the people the Father has given to the Son will come to the Son. Third, all the people who come to the Son will never be cast out. At first you may think v37 has little to nothing to do with v35-36. What, at first glance, does the Father’s giving people to the Son and assuring that all those people will come to the Son and never be cast away by the Son, what does that have to do with the offer of a forever full and satisfied soul in the bread of Christ in v35? At first glance it may not make sense, that’s why we’re to read slowly and take not just a first glance, but a second, third, fourth…a 47th glance if need be to see what God has for us in His Word. Here’s the connection that I think is present between the offer of Christ in v35-36 and the promise of Christ in v37.

That the promise of Christ in v37 comes after the offer of Christ in v35-36 teaches us that the eternal satisfaction of our souls in the bread of life, in Christ Himself, was planned by God before the creation of the world. This means if we now have come to and believe in Jesus Christ as He is offered in the gospel, and have experienced that profound heart change from seeing no value in Christ to seeing all value in Christ, God has been, is now, and always will be eager to increase our joy in Jesus. Why do I see that? Because in v37 we find that God has in eternity past given a certain and specific group of people to His Son, and in God’s own timing all of those people will leave sin behind and come to the Son and find that He truly is the bread of life and the very sustenance of their souls. The promise in view in v37 is not only that all these people will come, but that when they come they will not be turned away or cast out. God the Father promises here that the work of the Son will not be in vain, but will accomplish the redemption of all those He has given to the Son. In other words, God the Father didn’t send His Son to make salvation possible but to actually purchase and save a particular people. What people? All the people He gave have to Him as v37 says.

Clearly this is speaking of the sovereignty of God in salvation and displays for us that the reason underneath all other reasons for why people come to Christ when they do is because God the Father chose and gave them to the Son. I once struggled greatly with this doctrine of predestination and kicked against it. You see, I used to interpret v37 backwards, as if it said, “All who come to Me, the Father will give to Me.” But that’s wrong. That’s not what Jesus says here. He says, “All the Father gives to Me, will come to Me.”[7] So it’s ultimately the Father’s choice that creates the possibility for our choice, not the other way around. And once I saw that, the well of my joy in Christ increased significantly! God had planned for my soul to feast on the bread of life and find infinite satisfaction in Jesus, and at the proper moment God opened my eyes and gave me that satisfaction in the gospel of His Son.

Perhaps you have found yourself interpreting v37 backwards like I once did, or perhaps you still do that. As I called you to see the offer of Christ in v35-36, here I call you to know the promise of Christ in v37. Know it, don’t change it to be more to your liking. Know it, embrace Jesus’ words as Jesus gave them. Know it, trust that He knows better and more than you do. When you know it, when you know this promise of sovereign grace planning and producing a sovereign joy in you through gospel, Jesus will become for you a treasure chest of holy joy.

Love the Power of Christ (v38-40)

Jesus makes one more statement to this multitude before Him. It’s found in the last three verses of our text, v38-40, where He says, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day. 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.”

Here we see a powerful harmony in the community of the Trinity. The Son came down from heaven to do, not His own will, but the will of His Father who sent Him. There is no competition between Father and Son, but a willing submission from Son to Father. That’s what we see in v38. In v39-40 we see more. What is the Father’s will that He sent the Son to do? To keep all those who’ve been given to Him, not just for some time, but for all time. All the way to the end, to the last day. This same thought in v39 is repeated and expanded in v40 where we learn the way the people given to the Son will be kept by the Son is by looking on and believing in the Son. This looking and believing gives eternal life, and ends in resurrection……I see great power here for you and me. Power that has nothing to do with us and power that has everything to do with us. It is a power given from Father to Son to save us, to keep us, and to raise us. It is power from Father to Son to steadily and consistently move our eyes to look at His beauty and move our hearts to believe in His teaching and Person. Yes we look and believe to be saved, but here we see the Son will employ His power to keep us looking and believing until the day, the last day, where He’ll raise us up.

Conclusion:

Think about what we’ve seen so far. We saw the message of salvation in v35-36, that Christ offers through the gospel, full and forever satisfaction in Himself. We then saw how we came to believe in that message in v37, that the Father chose us, gave us to the Son, and because He gave us to the Son, the Son promises to welcome us and never cast us out. Now we see in v38-40 the reason we will continue or remain to be Christians until the end, that Christ, by the power the Father gave to Him will never loosen His grip on us one bit. So we have traveled through the entirety of a human life now – the full and forever satisfaction found by each sinner who looks on and believes in the gospel of v35-36 was planned for us before the foundation of the world in v37. And even more, God will see to it that this soulful satisfaction will continue to rise in us until the day we physically rise from the dead in v38-40.

Think of this passage like this: God planned our joy in the gospel before time, God gave us joy in the gospel at the appointed time, and God will keep our joy in the gospel until the end of time. 

Love this. Love that God is not only willing to keep you, love that God is powerful enough to keep you. All those the Father gives to the Son will be kept by the Son until the day the Son raises us to a heavenly life. That day we’ll see with a blazing clarity what we can only glimpse at now. That Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God. That the cross is where God intends this profound heart change is to occur, because it’s at the cross, it’s looking at the cross, and believing what God did at the cross, where our boasting in the world ceases and our boasting in the Son of God begins.

Church, may you see the offer of Christ, may you know the promise of Christ, and may you love the power of Christ freely to given to sinners by God in the gospel. May you boast in this.

 

 

Citations:

[1] The Response Church in San Diego (Acts 29) begins every sermon with a description very similar to this.

[2] Kevin DeYoung, The Biggest Story, page 120.

[3] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, NICNT, page 365. In fact, this whole section in Morris on pages 365-369 is rich with gospel clarity and comfort. I have gleaned and employed much from these pages in this sermon.

[4] John Piper, Desiring God, page 70.

[5] Ibid., page 64.

[6] Ibid., page 71-72.

[7] R.C. Sproul, John, St. Andrews Expositional Commentary, page 115-117.

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