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Sep 16, 2012 | Joshua Claycamp

John 6:66-69, "The Words of the Holy One."

“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66–69, ESV)


Would you turn with me in your Bibles to John, Chapter 6? We are beginning a 12 week series, a short departure from Matthew. We're going to be walking our way through the New Testament looking at 11 very specific prayers that people prayed for Gods' church, for you and for me, as they were moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is important that we should look at the prayers of the New Testament in the way that the Apostles, and even Christ, were moved to pray for God's people because that should inform and instruct the way that we're praying--not only for ourselves, but each other.  And it should show us exactly what it is that Christ is looking for in prayer from us as His people. 

We're going to begin today in John, Chapter 6, because the most important thing Jesus is going to say is that the people He is praying for have kept God's Word.  And so the foundation of everything that is important for us as we pray, not only for ourselves but also for the people of this world, is to be praying that they embrace God's Word.  This afternoon we're going be looking at John, Chapter 6, in that regard. We're going to focus in--we're going to look at the entire chapter, just kind of flying through it--but we're going to focus in here at the very end.  I would like for you to just pick it up with me in verse 66.  We're going to read 66 to 69, then we're going to pray, and then we'll get to work. 

"After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. So Jesus said to the twelve, 'do you want to go away as well?’ And Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that you are the holy one of God.’"


Prayer for the Word to be Effective

Let's bow for a word of prayer.  God we thank you so much for dying on a Friday and coming out of the tomb on a Sunday.  We thank you God that every day of the week is a day is a day to worship you and praise you.  But we thank you most of all that every Sunday we can remember that we live between a dying world and a restored world, between a dying body and a restored body.  And we know that you have promised healing to all the nations and we look forward to that day when you bring that healing to us God.  Father I pray though that this afternoon you would work through Your Word to show us our need for Your Word. So God we just pray that your spirit would move in our hearts, open our minds to understand, illuminate the Scriptures that we may perceive just how significant it is that we listen to what you have to say.  We love you God.  We ask these things in the name of your precious Son, Amen.

A Desire for Revival

Now, regarding prayer, one of the things that we would all really like to see is people coming to know Jesus.  We would like to see the multitudes realize the truth that God has visited His people, that He has brought salvation.  We would like to see the multitudes know that there is a God and that He is famous.  We see it in the book of Acts.  In Chapter 2, Peter stands up and he preaches, and it is a phenomenal time.  The Bible records that there are as many as 3,000 people who came to faith in Christ and trusted Him that day.  3,000 people!  This huge, mass of people coming to faith, and we think that would be awesome to see so many people come to know Jesus! And we think that would be just a powerful testimony.  But there's a catch here in terms of what it is that draws people in.  Acts Chapter 2 is not the first time that you have a ginormous crowd following Jesus.  In fact, the first time that you have a ginormous crowd following Jesus is right here in John, Chapter 6.  And before we jump into it, there are 2 things that need to be said: 

  1. Jesus came to die on the cross to save us from our sins.  He had to come, and he had to objectively do that.  That was a work that he had to perform.  He had to come, He had to live, and He had to die. 
  2. He came to get people to follow Him.  He came very specifically to make disciples, to reconcile people back to God.

Those are the 2 things that He is doing, more or less, here in the Gospels.  That's what He's all about.  So here He is, in John, Chapter 6, and one of the miracles that's recorded in all four Gospels is this miracle of feeding the 5,000.  He's up, it’s in Galilee.  It’s up there in that region.  There's all these people following Him, and He has compassion on people.  And you know the story--He takes a couple loaves and a couple of fish, and He blesses them, He puts them into some baskets, they pass out the baskets.  The whole multitudes, they eat, they're fed, its wonderful. It’s amazing. They pick up the leftovers afterwards.   He has just a couple of fish and a couple loaves of bread, He breaks them, and when they pick up the leftovers He's got 12 full baskets of food leftover, that haven't been eaten. And the whole crowd, the whole mass of them, all 5,000, they've been fed, they're satisfied, they're happy, and they're ready to go. 

Now Jesus, in the night, crosses over to the other side. He goes over to Capernaum, and they wake up the next moment and they're like, "Hey, wait a second, where did Jesus go?” And they realize that He's not there, so they get in these boats, and they sail over and they come to find Him.  Now when they come to find Him, they're excited. He's there, and they're ready to reconnect.  Jesus sees them coming and He makes this statement--I want you to just look with me right here in verse 27, John 6:27,

"Jesus, seeing that the crowds are following Him..."


Objective number two, getting people to following Him, is happening.  And He says to them, He says to them, "Do not labor 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." 

The whole crowd is following Him, and they're excited. They're pumped up; they've just seen this awesome miracle.  They know He's powerful.  They know He is capable of working miracles.  They come after Him, and He says, 'Here's what I want you to do: Don't be labouring your whole life for food that's just going to perish.  What you really need to do is to be looking for, and striving for, the food that will bring to you eternal life.”  So they say to Him, "Ok, sounds good. What must we do to be doing the works of God?"  In other words, "what must we do to be getting this food that endures to eternal life?" Verse 29, Jesus says,

"This is the work of God" This is what you need to do to have eternal life.  "That you believe in Him whom He has sent."

The Gospel

It is that simple. If you want to go to Heaven when you die, if you want to be forgiven of your sins, if you want to be reconciled with God, all that you have to do is one, know that Jesus Christ paid your penalty.  Your sins are deserving of Hell.  Your rebellion against God is deserving of His punishment.  He is a just God, and because we are rebellious, because we have all sinned, we have all betrayed Him. He has to do justice. There has to be a reckoning. And so, that reckoning, that justice, can be paid one of two ways--either you can pay it, which is really bad, or Jesus can pay it, which is really good.

And what Jesus is saying here in this passage is 'this is what God wants from you.  Simply this: that you would believe and trust in Him upon whom He has set His seal. " There is nothing that any of us could ever do to make ourselves right with God.  If you think what is necessary to go to Heaven is that you trust in Jesus and attend Church regularly, and tithe, and read your Bible and all these other things that is necessary to inherit eternal life, you are completely wrong.  Jesus plus anything else that you might add to the equation equals nothing.  Jesus plus nothing! There is nothing else that you can add to the equation.  Jesus plus nothing equals salvation! it equals eternal life!  There is nothing any of us can do to make ourselves right with God! And there is nothing that any of us can add to what Jesus has done to make ourselves right with God.  And if any of us in this room are trying to add anything to what Jesus has done, then we are not trusting solely and exclusively in what Jesus has done, which means if that's the case, then you're not really saved.  Salvation is by faith in Christ alone. Nothing else. That is what Christ is saying here.  Simply this, if you want to work for your salvation, he makes the statement here in John chapter 6, "this is the "work', “ and I’m using air quotations here, "this is the 'work' you should be doing-simply this: that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

Bread from Heaven

Sounds pretty good. That's pretty easy.  Nothing confusing about that.  Nothing mysterious about it.  There's no kind of cloud or fog. There's no ambiguity.  It's just straight forward: this is what you need to do if you want to be saved.  So you'd think, you got this crew of 5,000 people. And John mentions that it’s just men. He counts the men. They may have had wives; they may have children, with them. We really don't know the exact number. It’s a rounded number, there could be anywhere from 5 to 10,000 people following Christ at this point.  You'd think that when they here that, having seen the miracle that Jesus performed just the day before, that they'd say, 'that sounds great! Let's do that.' This is not what they do. They begin to ask questions.  Verse 30:

"What sign do you do that we may see and believe you?"


Let me just explain that in case you didn't get it:  'You fed us, all 5-10,000 people, with 2 fishes and 3 loaves yesterday.  That was cool and all, don't get me wrong.  But, um, if you want us to believe in you for salvation, you're going to have to show us some more of the goods here.  C’mon man!  That was good and all, but what else?  Come on, what else ya got?'  Then they quote Moses, verse 31. They say,

"Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness as it is written, 'He gave them bread from Heaven to eat."


Now, no doubt, they're impressed by the miracle that Jesus has just worked the day before.  They know it’s a good one.  And it kind of draws to their mind the whole episode when Moses is leading the Israelites out of the Egyptian captivity. And they're wandering around in the wilderness, and they have nothing to eat so God sends the manna from Heaven. And the bread is coming down from Heaven, and they're eating it. 

Now they know that Jesus has worked this miracle yesterday.  He says, 'You've just got to believe in me to have eternal life." They respond, “That's good and all, but we'd like to see something else.” And then they reference this bread that comes down from Heaven.  Jesus took 3 loaves, a couple of fish, busted them up, and it multiplied.  But you know what Moses did was, he actually called down bread from Heaven. It’s almost like they're asking for a repeat.  "Okay, yesterday was just sort of the precursor.  Now we're ready to see, can you do what Moses did?  Can you whip out and just call down manna from Heaven?  Because we'd like to eat some of that too! That would be really good stuff." 

Now Jesus' response, He hears this kind of request, ok, and he takes it in stride. He says, verse 32:

"'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.  For the bread of God is who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.' And they said to Him, 'Sir, give us this bread always."

Now, just before this, He's made it real simple: believe in me, and you live forever.  Real simple.  They're response is, 'yeah, yeah, yeah.  What are you gonna do to show us that we can really believe in you?'  And then they allude to the fact that it would be cool if he could just send some manna that would be awesome.  And His response is, 'the bread that you really need-' He hears their request, but He just doesn't think that's what they really need.  They don't need more miracles.  What they need is faith in who He is and what He's talking about. What they really need to do is just to hear what Jesus is saying and believe it.  And so His response is, when they start alluding to this whole thing about manna coming down from Heaven is, 'Hey, uh, that's not really important here.  There is bread that comes down from Heaven.  It will endure to eternal life.  I've already kind of alluded to the fact that I'm that bread, I'm that nourishment.  You need me for salvation and nothing else.’  He's already said that.  So He's just going to begin hammering that idea, He's just going to keep pushing that. They're going to start getting offended here.  As we walk through this really quickly, you're going to see the more that they ask questions, and they keep wanting more miracles and more signs, the more He's just going to keep pushing, "You just need me."  And this is how it goes.  So we'll pick it up.  Verse 34,

"They said, 'Sir, give us this bread always.' And then Jesus says, "Oh, okay...I am making the same statement over again...I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet you don’t believe.  All that the Father gives to me will come to me.  Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  For I have come down from Heaven, not to do my 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."


Now Jesus says stuff there that is kind of deep, and we could get into all of that, but we just don't have time for it today.  We're trying to work our way to the end of the chapter. Sorry Dustin. So we're just kind of flying over the text.  And the summation of what He's saying here is: You want bread from Heaven.  I'm that bread! I'm the good stuff from Heaven, I will bring you eternal life.  Look on the Son, believe, you will be saved.  He's emphasizing that. Now their response is that they begin to grumble.  Verse 41, they're not happy with his response. They don't like the fact that he's not going to whip out this manna miracle.  And it says in verse 41,

"They grumbled about Him because He said, 'I am the bread that comes down from Heaven.'"

They're whole issue with everything that He's just gotten done saying is 'You're not from Heaven." That's what it says.  It goes on, verse 42:

"They said, 'Isn't this Jesus, son of Joseph? Whose father and mother we know?  How does he know say, 'I have come down from Heaven.'?"

Their whole issue here, and lets not forget the fact, I mean, when you work your way through John chapter 6, its easy to forget the fact that just yesterday He made bread to feed 5,000 people.  Like He just took a couple loaves and fed a multitude.  They say, in the face of that amazing miracle, 'you didn't come from Heaven.  We're not down with that.' 

I don’t' know if you've ever tried to witness to a person who has some knowledge of Christianity.  One of the questions that sometimes gets asked is, "Ok, explain to me the virgin birth.  How is it that God was really a man, but God?  How did that whole thing happen with Mary conceiving with a child?  How did that all go down?"  I mean, we say that Jesus is from Heaven.  We say that he wasn't conceived in the way that you and I are typically, normally conceived.  They're beginning to ask Jesus, 'Ok, but we know that you're not really from Heaven, because we know who your mom and dad are." 

This would be a good moment for Jesus to start explaining that.  If it were you or me, we'd sort have back up and say, "Ok, well there's a whole theological system here. You see we have an inherited sin nature, so if you're born of a man, then you're predisposed, you're depraved, you're broken, you're fallen, you have to sin.  There's really no way around it.  And you know, the atonement has to be a sinless, perfect offering.  He has to give a sinless perfect sacrifice, so being God, He can't really be born of a man. 

You know, we would get into all of that.  We would break out with a bit of an Apologetic discussion trying to defend our faith.  That's what you and I would do.  And there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, that's what Matthew does, and that's what Luke does.  Matthew, Chapter 1, Matthew writing to a bunch of Jews, he begins to trace the lineage.  Luke, Chapters 2 and 3, Luke emphasizes it.  He was born of virgin.  In Chapter 3, he also begins to emphasize the lineage.  If you and I are witnessing and sharing our faith with someone, and their major hang-up is, "Uh, I don't know about this whole virgin thing.  -the fact that He's the Son of God", it’s okay for you and me to begin to unpack that and explain that and defend that.  It’s what Matthew does.  It’s what Luke does.  But it’s not what Jesus does.  Their whole issue is, 'You're not from Heaven."  And do you think that the one from Heaven is really going to just sit there and have it out with them, when he's just performed a miracle the day before, feeding the 5,000?  Look at what Christ’s response is.  He says, verse, 43,

"Don't grumble about this. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him."

His whole response is, "I don’t really need to get into all these fine points with you.  If you really want to know me, then the only way that you know me is if my Father has already been working in your life to draw you to me." Now, He goes on from there.  But He makes this statement in verse 48,

"I am the bread of Life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness"

--going back to that miracle that you really would like to see, but that I'm not going to work for you.—

"Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died."

So that really cool miracle that you want to see, again, its not going to last.  Even if we do call down manna from Heaven, there are deeper spiritual needs that you have, than just having a full stomach.  He says," They ate the manna in the wilderness and they died."  Again, referencing Himself, picking it up in verse 50, "This is the bread that comes down from Heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from Heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread"--and He's being very specific here, talking about Himself--"If anyone eats of this bread that I will give, He will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

Now, they haven't believed Him up until this point.  He's worked a miracle, and they want another miracle.  He's explained to them that they have deeper spiritual needs than having something to eat, and their response is, "You're not from Heaven."  He has explained to them that what they need is someone to provide them with salvation. And rather than that thought entreating and captivating them, and drawing them into a deeper discussion, over and over again, they're just sort of pushing back on what Jesus is saying. 

And here, Jesus, as He has been working His way through this conversation in which He is trying to be very specific with them about what they really need, here it’s getting a little bit uncomfortable.  He makes the statement, "I am the bread that you need to eat." And they're puzzled.  Verse 52,

"The Jews disputed among themselves saying, 'how can this man give us his flesh to eat?'"

And then what does Jesus do? Verse 52, He doesn't sort of unpack that for them. He doesn't step back and explain it.  He just doubles down.  'Yeah, you have to eat my flesh.  Oh?  You don't want to eat my flesh?  Well, you're going to have to eat my flesh and drink my blood." Look what He says there, verse 52,

"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."


There are certain things in our culture that are just taboo.  We just don't talk about them.  I was reading an article this past week of a lady in England who was saying that one of the things that is taboo, that you just don't talk about in England is, how much you make at your job.  She was on a mission trip to somewhere in Africa, and this fellow in Africa was discussing his work with her, and they had some things in common, and he asked her, "Oh, what's the compensation like in England, where you're from?"  And he shared with her openly and honestly what his compensation was there in Africa.  And she began to get a little uncomfortable, "Oh, you know, I make, I make a good wage," and just kept it very vague and very basic.  But he just kept asking, "Well yeah, ok, that's good. But what do you actually make? What's the actual dollar amount?"  And she kept trying to gently not answer the question, changing the conversation, you know.  And the African fellow, he's from South Africa, he just kept hammering it, kept hammering it.  And then finally she just got really irritated, and she was like, "Look! Where I'm from we don't talk about how much money each other makes, and I don't want to share that with you!  Stop harassing me!"  She just kind of exploded.  And she's writing this article, because she was on a mission trip, and as she was reflecting on the fact that there are certain things in certain cultures that are just taboo.  And she honestly confessed that over in England, in Great Britain, talking about sex is fairly commonplace. They're rather crass; they're rather crude, and whatever goes on in the bedroom, that's just a common thing that everybody in the general public arena talks about.  Another lady responding to this article made the statement, "Well, I'm from Italy, and we're not really all that concerned about how much we make.  I'm fine sharing with you how much money I make.  But being from Italy, with the Pope and all that going on there in Rome, we do not talk about what goes on in the bedroom.  So if you mention that, we'll just clam up.  We'll shut down." 

And I thought that this was really interesting to see that within each culture, each society, has certain things that are just sort of off-limits.  It’s the same way here with the Jews.  In the Mosaic Law, God explicitly states, when you eat meat, you will not eat any meat with the blood in it.  You won’t do it.  And to eat meat with blood in it, to eat blood, is just sort of this grotesque, just unholy, just nasty vile thing to the Jews. 

We know that it is particularly vile because in Acts 15, there's a group of people saying that if you want to get right with God, you have to get circumcised, and you have to follow the law.  They've missed the Gospel.  And they're emphasizing this.  And so there's this important council that happens in Acts, Chapter 15. We refer to it as the Jerusalem council.  Some people come down from Antioch, they call this meeting, and they discuss it, and of course the outcome of that meeting is that you don’t have to keep the Mosaic law, you don’t have to get circumcised, and all that tradition and all that ritual--you don't have to do it.  But they drafted a letter to their brother and sisters in the Gentile churches. 

They say, James makes the statement, "I think this would be a good thing, because the law of Moses is read all of over the world, we've got synagogues in every city, I mean there's Jews everywhere, so it would be wise if we would just encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, our Gentile brothers and sisters, if they would just refrain from a couple of things.  They shouldn't worship idols"--well no duh, that's a give me, right?--"They shouldn't be involved in sexual immorality"--no duh, that's a give me.  And then one of the things that James mentioned there, "Try not to drink blood or eat meat with any of the blood in it. Just don't do that.  That's just gross."  And as James is mentioning that, again, it’s within the context of what's good behavior for a Christian?  And again, it’s a bunch of Jews writing to a bunch of Gentiles.  And you see that sort of engrained, instilled taboo. That's just nasty. We don't do that.  If you don’t' do that, you'll do well.  We'll write this letter, like “You don't need to keep the law, and you don't have to be circumcised, that's not necessary...just don't drink blood.  We'd rather you just not do that.  That would be really really gross."  That's how engrained it is in them. That's how taboo it is. 

The Holy Words

So I just want you to back up a bit, and I want you to see this passage in its totality.  Jesus came to do two things:

  1. He came to die for the forgiveness of mankind, and
  2. He came to get people to follow Him. 

In this moment, He's got at least 5,000 people following Him. 5,000.  And most likely more--upwards of 10,000 people.  What He tells them here in this passage, is the epitome of offense to a Jew.  He's trying to tell them who He is; they're not buying it; they're asking questions; they're not happy with what He's saying.  And as He's beginning to have this dialogue with Him, He just goes right into the most offensive, most revolting, most insulting thing He could possibly say to them. 

Now, I want you to stop and think about that for a second.  This is Jesus. He's not like you and me.  I get into conversations all the time in which I will something, and it just doesn't come out the right way. It’s kind of awkward. You know, you take it the wrong way.  I maybe just twisted my words and just said something that was actually quite horrific, but I didn't mean to say it.  You know, that happens to me on a regular basis.  I mean, we mess up all the time.  Sometimes, somebody will say something to me, and I will think they are saying something, and then I will respond to that, misunderstanding what they are saying, and then my response is just totally off the mark, and just totally weird.  And they don’t understand my response, because I didn’t' understand what they were saying in the first place.  Now that's human communication.  That's you. That's me. 

Jesus God.  Nothing suddenly occurred to Him.  He didn't think to Himself, “Oh, maybe I should ay this," or "Oh, maybe I should say that." He knows exactly what He wants to say, and He knows exactly how He's going to say it.  So when He's got this group of 5 to 10,000 people following Him, and they're not listening to what He's saying, He doesn't stumble here. He doesn't trip.  He doesn't mess up.  He deliberately insults them and offends them.  I want you to just pause and think about that for a second.  Jesus, the Holy One of Israel, is intentionally placing a very challenging, very difficult, and very offensive thing before Jews.  It’s so offensive that they bail on Him.  Verse 60:

"When many of his disciples heard it, they said, 'this is a hard saying, who can listen to it?’"

Now in that statement, there's a whole lot of meaning wrapped up in that.  This whole eating of the blood is hard.  We don't get it.  But do you think that they really wanted to get it?  It says that the 5 to 10,000 people hear this statement, and theire response is, 'this is a hard thing. Nobody's going to listen to this.'  You see, as they're coming to Jesus, they're not coming to Him for Who He is.  They have their own agenda.

 I want you to just flip back to verse 15, the crowd is following Him.  Look at what they want from Him, "perceiving"--this is from the perspective of Christ--"perceiving then that they were about to make to come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. " They liked the miracle.  They want Him to do what they want Him to do.  You jump on down, Verse 26, Jesus, when they find Him, when they come across the sea, and they find Him, look at his first response. They come, they're there, and they see Him.  Jesus first statement to them in verse 26 is,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, you were seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves."

Jesus is basically saying, “The reason that you want me is for your own purposes: to be fed, to make me a king.  You’ve got you’re own agenda.  You're not seeking me for me.”  And so they leave.  They bail on Him.  Verse 59 says that when He was teaching them these things, He was in the synagogue in Capernaum.  So they quit, they walk away.  And Jesus turns to His disciples, and He makes this statement, in verse 66, "do you want to go away as well?" 

The Holy One

Now they're in Galilee.  He's talking to His guys.  They're all from Galilee, with the exception of Judas.  They're all from that region.  They all have loved ones in that crowd.  I mean, we got a crew of like 5-10,000 people, this is from all over that region.  Peter, John, and James, when the crowd leaves, they're not watching total strangers walk away.  They're watching loved ones.  They're watching neighbours.  They're watching cousins, brothers, and sisters.  They're watching people that they love.  When the guys ask, "this is hard, who can understand it?" I mean, there's so much wrapped up in that. They were so excited about Him. They wanted Him to be their king. But now Jesus is talking about drinking His blood, and they're hearing that, and they're like, "Yeah, but this guy's kind of quacky. He's saying some really sick stuff.  Nobody's going to listen to this.  Maybe we thought we could make Him a king, but we can't put that guy up as a king, because he says just some really weird stuff.  Nobody's going to listen to that.  Nobody's going to want that.  Anyone who's following this guy is just kind of goofy and weird."  And they're walking away. 

Now if you're the 12, do you not suppose that impacts them on some level?  I know some of you guys in here, you've got loved ones, I do too, brothers, sisters, cousins, relatives, next door neighbours, people that you work with in your office, who do not want Jesus for Who He is.  And I'm sure you really wish that they did.  And in the wake of that, it’s created a rift in your relationship.  I know it has for me.  My whole family thinks I'm nuts for being up here in Canada. My brother thinks I'm a complete idiot.  I have no doubt that it’s that way for many of you.  Can you just feel the question?  "Yeah, I know you've got loved ones of here, I know you've got people you care about over here, I know they all think I’m a quack.  Do you want to leave too? Do you want to walk away as well?"  I mean, just feel the weight of that moment. 

And look at what Peter says,  and this is the most important thing, verse 68,

"Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  And we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God."

"You're the Holy One."  When he says that, I mean, there's like hundreds of prophecies throughout the Old Testament that talk about the coming one, the Messiah, the Holy One, the Holy One of Israel, the Holy One of God.  That's a term that is just packed full of meaning.  When Peter makes that statement, He is saying, "You're Holy.  You're different than all of us.  You're different than me, different from John and James, and the other apostles. You're different than all those people out there.  You're different than the multitudes.  You're different than us.  You’re holy." 

And He's just gotten done hearing what is the epitome of offense.  Jesus has deliberately insulted and driven away their whole village, everybody they know--their neighbors, their loved ones, and their families.  All these people they care about, their life.  This is everything that they have ever known.  They've all left.  And Peter's statement here is, "I mean, leaving all that aside, where could we go?  Where would we belong? We know, and we believe You are the Holy One."

Seeing Miracles is not Believing

Now as we look at this passage, a couple of thoughts I just want to make sure you grasp.  Seeing is not believing.  Miracles, having miracles happen, does not result in a faith that saves.  They saw the feeding of the 5,000. They saw all kinds of miracles.  Aside from this, we know that Jesus had an extensive ministry in Galilee.  He healed people.  He raised people from the dead.  He was doing all kinds of miracles in which sick people were getting well.  Blind people were seeing.  Deaf people were hearing.  He was doing all of this.  Not only that, but then we've got this mega-miracle that all the Gospels record, in which He feds 5,000 people using just a couple of fish and couple pieces of bread.  They see all of that, and it’s not good enough.  All of that, all that they see, Jesus says, “Believe." And they say, we need another miracle. 

Church, listen to me: miracles, seeing miracles, pursuing miracles in not the same as saving faith.  Jesus very clearly here demonstrates, remember, He came to die, and He came to get people to follow Him.  We talk about getting people to follow Jesus, there is always that temptation and desire to have some sort of grand, amazing, miraculous, awesome thing happening, just to see crazy, awesome, wild things going on in our sanctuary.  Or to see crazy, awesome, wild things going on all over the place.  And Jesus says very specifically, He's got the multitudes following him, he offends them, and then turns to Peter and the disciples and says to them, " Do you guys want to go away as well?" They say, "We're not going anywhere.  You’re the Holy One.” 

And from that we can conclude this: Jesus would not build His ministry, His bringing of salvation to the world on miracles, signs and wonders. He would not build it on seeing the supernatural or the spectacular.

He would build it simply on this: who believes what He says.  Who will believe His Word. 

At the end of the day, He's not going to build His ministry on miracles, He's going to build it on Himself, on Jesus, the Holy One.  So when we come together as a church, we would like to see people who would come into this church, we would like to see them coming here, we would like to see them hear the Gospel, we would love to see them get saved.  But let’s remember that there’s a process here, and if they're not willing to hear Jesus on His own terms, and on this passage, it’s quite clear, Jesus demands you to hear Him no matter how offensive it sounds.  He demands you to listen to Him no matter how grotesque or repugnant, or offensive, or insulting it may come across.  At the end of the day, Jesus is saying, "My ministry, my salvation, as I redeem and reconcile the world to the Father, its going to built on whether or not you will listen to me." That's what Christ is saying.  So if we're in here for any other purpose than to hear Jesus, no matter how offensive it is, no matter how insulting it is, if we're not willing to embrace the Holy One, then we're here for the wrong reasons.  Jesus is saying it’s going to be built on Him. 

Faith is not found in Hearing what You Want to Hear

Seeing is not believing.  And then hearing what you want to hear is not believing either.  How many of us, we come to the Scriptures with a preconceived idea of what they're saying, and then we just look for that.  How many of us, we come to the Bible and we've heard this or we've heard that and we're like, "Yeah, that's cool, I want to see that in the good book."  And we begin to just twist and distort.  We take things out of context. We manipulate.  We want to hear certain things being said. We need to hear those things, because we want to.  Jesus is saying, you need to hear me, no matter what I say and no matter how much it offends you when you first hear it.  Following Christ is not a matter of hearing what we want to hear.  He is the Holy One. We are not. 

So if you attend a church in which the guy gets up and says a few good words every week, but you are never personally confronted, you are never personally convicted, and you are never personally challenged, over some area in your life in which you are clearly coming face to face with the fact that Jesus is the Holy One and I am not, if that never happens, in whatever church you find yourself in, you may not be hearing from the Holy One.  You may be hearing something. It may sound good. You may like it.  But if it doesn't hurt you on occasion, if you never come face to face with this moment where you're like, "This is the Holy One, and I see Him and all my family is leaving because of it."  If you don't come to that moment, and feel that conviction, then you're not facing the Holy One at all.  Jesus is Holy, and we’re not.  So if we really hear Him, sooner or later, we can expect that it will hurt.  We'll be confronted.  We'll be rebuked.  We'll be challenged to be the people that HE died to make us.  That's not pleasant to hear.  Nobody wants to go to a church where there are going to be told that God expects more.  But that's this kind of church. I hope. I pray. 

We face the Scriptures, we face the Holy one.  We, as you know, go through it book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse, taking nothing out of context and seeing it all.  That should be your desire.  And when you leave this--teenagers, young adults, college students, listen to me--when you leave this church, when God takes you from this place to some other part of the country, or some other place in this world, when you go to look for a spiritual family to join with, to unite with, when you go to look for another church, you should find a church that respects what He says, puts it in context, and preaches from the Word, from one passage. This church isn’t' trying to string 30 different passages together to say something that they want to say--but that they are just saying what Jesus is saying.  And when you leave this place, that's the church you should be looking for. 

The Word is Spirit

The last thing I just want you to see here, Jesus makes this statement in verse 63, as they're leaving, as the multitudes are abandoning Him because its just too deep, too offensive, too confronting what He's saying, He makes this statement, "IT is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh is no help at all."  Now, the next phrase is very important.  "The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." He is saying that you're dead, that you're just walking zombies.  You're lifeless. You have no life in you.  I have what you need for life.  The Spirit is what is necessary to bring you to life.  Your flesh, your own efforts, the things you would try to do in your own power, that's all just utterly futile and useless.  But then he says, "What I say to you"--now He just made the statement here, the Spirit is life--"what I say to you is Spirit."  Don't miss that.  Right here verse 63, "the spirit gives life, the flesh is no help at all, the words that I have spoken are spirit and life."  So just to draw one quick conclusion from that: If we want to live, we live based on what Jesus says.  If we want to be nourished spiritually, we're nourished based on what Christ says. If we desire to have the Spirit in us, we must have the Bible.

What about Prayer?

You say, "Well, that's all good and well Josh, but how does this have anything to do with a 12 week series on prayer?"  When we pray, in our life groups, at our dinner tables, during our quite times, what do we pray for?  As you reflect on your own personal devotion, your own personal walk with God, what would you say, if any of you keep a prayer journal or anything to this effect, you can go back and read that prayer journal, and you can calculate what it is that you are praying for most of the time.  But what do you think it is that we pray for 99% of the time?  Sickness. Physical sickness. We pray that we can get a good job.  We pray that we can make good money.  We pray that we won't be sick.  We pray that our Aunt Sally won't be sick. We pray that, you know, the neighbour across the street that their cancer wouldn't take over, that they'd be able to fight that back with chemo, that they'd go back into remission.  Those are things that we pray for. 

Now there is nothing wrong with asking for God's hand in any of those things.  But do you ever just wonder sometimes what it is that the Bible says when the Bible moves people who are writing the Scriptures, such as Paul, John, Peter, Jesus--do you ever wonder what it is, under the inspiration and the movement of the Spirit, what it is that these men are moved to pray for God's church?  Over the next 11 weeks, we will find that nowhere in any of these prayers, except the very last on in 3 John, Verse 2, is there any reference in the prayers that they are praying for your physical body to be healed.  Except for 3 John, Verse 2, in which he says, " I pray that it will go well with you" which could be inferred to be a prayer for physical well-being, but then he makes this other statement, "as it goes well with your soul. " So even the apostle John, in 3 John, his prayer is tied to what's going on inside, and not what's going on outside. 

When we pray for God to give us a good job or to give us healing, or all these things, those are good prayers to pray.  But we should be very careful about ever being like the crowd here in John, Chapter 6, that only comes to Jesus for what they want out of Him.  And not what He wants to do them for them and in them.  As we begin to work our way these next 11 weeks through the prayers of Scripture, you're going to find that they are very concerned that you are praying to God for Him to do a work in your heart, for Him to be doing a work in the life of your church, and for Him to be doing a work in the city and community and world in which you live. Not that your broken leg would get healed.  As we form prayers, we should pray the way Scripture prays, not just for things we want, but for the things that God wants. 

The Way George Muller Prayed

Praying is a hard task. Some of you are familiar with George Muller. He's a man of faith and a man of prayer.  He oversaw an orphanage in Great Britain, always struggling to meet the basic needs.  I'm sure all of you are familiar with this one account of George Muller--he didn’t' have anything to feed the kids the next day for breakfast, and so he stayed up late that night praying, and He said, "God, you own the cattle on a thousand hills, we need you to kill one and bring it to us, because I don't have anything to give to the kids the next day."  And as they're sitting there praying that God would provide for the children, there came a knock at the door, and sure enough a bread truck had overturned in the street, and the bread was no longer good to go to market, so they were wondering if George Muller and the orphanage would like it?  And he said, "sure, we'll take that, we could use that."  And so that's one of the most famous accounts of George Muller and the way that he prayed and the faith that he exercised. Do you know what George Muller had to say about prayer?  It has a lot to do with what Scripture has to say.  He makes this statement,

"I saw more clearly than ever that the first and great primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. the first thing to be concerned about was not how I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state and how my inner man might be nourished.  Now I saw that the most important thing that I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God and to meditation upon it that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, and instructed.  And thus, wilts meditating, my heart might be brought into experiential communion with the Lord. The first thing I did every morning was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it.  Not for the sake of public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated on, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul.  The result I have found to be is this: that after a few minutes my soul has been lead to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication, so that I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time except that we take food, and this is one of the first things that we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man.  We should take food for that, as everyone must allow.  Now what is the food for the inner man?  Not prayer, but the Word of God."[1] 

My prayer for you church is that you would be a praying church, but that you would first be equipped for the task of prayer by knowing what the Scripture says, and that you would feed on it day by day.  Let’s just bow for a word of prayer.

[1] Autobiography of George Muller¸ compiled by Fred Bergen (London: J. Nisbet, 1906), pages 152-154.

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