FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
The gospel is Jesus Christ given to us with all the blessings of God contained in him. – Ian Murray
As I have mentioned before, knowing how to speak about our nation's political situation from a Gospel centered perspective is fraught with challenges. Therefore, I am thankful for others much smarter than I who venture to describe and offer analysis of our time. I found this piece by David Brooks a penetrating and candid assessment of our political climate. I offer it to you as food for thought and nothing more. As a follower of Jesus and a pastor, I am convinced that the scriptures don't commit me to any particular political party and Christians are free to vote as their conscience dictates informed by the Word of God.
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: John 15:1-17; 16:1-4
O Come, O Come Emmanuel - Advent
Come Holy Ghost - Adoration
Angels from the Realms of Glory - Grace
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds - Response
There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy- Communion
Doxology - Old 100th
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos that summarizes in a few minutes one book of the Bible.
This week check out the summary of Zechariah.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may findthis approach and this app helpful.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Gracious God, we confess that we daily sin against you and our neighbors in our thoughts, in our words, and in our actions. Our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text – John 6:22-58
22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 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. 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.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 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. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 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.”
1. Where the bread of life is from
2. What the bread of life promises
3. How to enjoy the bread of life
"I am the bread of life." What does it mean for Jesus to refer to himself this way? What is he trying to communicate to us about himself as the Word become flesh? What kind of life does he offer to all who believe in his name?
There are a number of things we learn about the "bread of life" from John 6 and I just want to mention two for you to ponder this week.
First, we are told that the bread of life is from heaven. At least eight times we are told that the bread of life is from heaven in this passage. The bread of life is given by the Father (v. 32), is a person (v. 33), and gives life to the world (v. 33). Why is this so important? Because it affirms again what John has said from the opening verses of his gospel. The movement of the Christian Gospel is God coming to us in Jesus Christ to give life to the world. This is what makes Christianity unique among the world religions. Every other religion says, "you must find your way to God either by learning the right information or by living a certain kind of life." Christianity says the opposite. You can't work your way to God. Therefore, God must come to us to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.
You might not realize it but if this is the good news about Christianity and it is the end of striving to prove yourself, of working to build an acceptable record, of finding meaning, purpose and identity. Underneath all those good things that enslave us is the failure to feed on the bread of life. The bread of life alone can give us the life we were intended to enjoy. Without him we are lifeless (v. 53). The movement of the gospel is God coming to us...it is grace...unmerited favor!
How can you be sure grace will never run out; that God always moves toward sinners in a broken world? Well consider the Old Testament background to John 6 in Exodus 16. God had redeemed his people out of Egypt and shortly thereafter they grumbled against him saying they wish they were back in Egypt. What was God's response? He rained down bread from heaven. (Ex. 16:1-4). Did you notice that the crowd following Jesus also grumbles against him. (v. 41) Again what is God's response? He rains down the bread of life from heaven. Grace upon Grace!
Second, notice that twice Jesus says the bread of life comes down from heaven to give life to the world (v. 34, 51). And by bread he means his body, his flesh, his sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus gives life to all who eat of this bread, who look to the Son who came to give that you might live. This is good news for the whole world. In other words, it is good news for you. No matter who you are or where your from or what you've done or what others have done to you. The reach of life giving bread is limitless.
So what should you do? Sink your teeth into Jesus, the word become man, the bread of life. For we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord!
How do you do that?
- Everyone who looks to the son and believes in him shall have eternal life. (v. 40)
- Whoever believes has eternal life. (v. 47)
- If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. (v. 51)
- Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever. (v. 58)
- Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (v. 57)
Sermon Reflection Questions
- What stood out to you from these verses?
- What questions do they raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- What do you learn about the bread of life in this passage?
- How is the message that the bread of life is from heaven good news for you?
- What do you think it means to feed on the bread of life? How can you do that this week?
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism, 1563
Q. 1. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.