Jeff Grisham

Bella Vista Church of Christ

10/29/2017 A.M.

Following the Signs

John 6

Sunday Morning, October 29, 2017

 

Introduction

 

It is great to be back home.  I would like to thank you all for allowing me to be gone last week.  We were able to spend some time with all of our kids and it was really nice.  The problem is that it seems like forever since we have been together here. 

 

This morning, I would like for us to continue our journey in the Gospel of John, looking at the “signs” that John left for his readers.  Just by way of review, we began this journey by taking a look at the beginning of John’s gospel and how John places this gospel within the overall story of the Bible. Then we began looking at John’s purpose for this work.  It is found in John 20:30-31: “And Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  But, these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” In keeping with this purpose statement, John brings us into selected scenes in the life and ministry of Jesus. We have mentioned certain themes that appear in this gospel such as “light and dark,” “death and life,” and “time and hour.”  We may also notice that there are these times recorded when Jesus sort of self-identifies. So within John we have the seven “I am” statements of Jesus. But what we have been doing as we make our way through the book is to look at the “signs” that John left.  John is very careful to use this word “sign” as he deals with the ministry of Jesus.  He gives us the impression that there is something we should notice and something to which these signs lead. 

  • So,we have looked at the first of the signs, found in John 2, where Jesus turns water to wine at a wedding in Cana.  We looked at what we could learn about his personality, priorities and power from that event. 

  • We looked at the healing of the official’s son in John 4 and the faith that the official had in taking the journey home with nothing but the promise of healing from Jesus.

  • We spent some time at the Pool of Bethesda in the healing of the man who had been an invalid for 38 years, and notice the responsibility we have in owning our own failures.

 

 

Body


This morning I would like for us to look at the fourth of these signs that John records for us.  It is found in John 6, so if you will make your way to John 6, we will begin reading there in just a moment.  This may be one of the most well known of the miracles of Jesus.  It is one of the few that is recorded in all four gospel accounts.  But, John records more teaching surrounding this miracle than do any of the other writers. Let’s begin by reading the narrative.

 

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said,“This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

 

Just so we have the picture of what is happening here: There is a large crowd of people, perhaps as many as 20,000, coming to Jesus as a result of seeing the healings that he has performed.  And after he feeds this crowd with a few loaves and fish, once they have seen this sign, they want to take him by force and make him king.  Now, that strikes our ears a little funny.  First of all how many people would have to be forced into being a king.  And secondly, how could someone be forced to be king.  I think what we see here is that Jesus did not want to be pushed into or used as the rallying standard for a political war.  So, he slips away.  That night, his disciples get in a boat and head for the other side of the sea, and as they are struggling to row against the wind, Jesus comes to them, walking on the water, and they come to Capernaum. 

 

It’s the next day where I would like us to focus. Let’s continue in verse 22:

 

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.

 

In this exchange, Jesus points out a problem that these people have.  They have a sight problem.  Look with me again at verse 2. “ And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.”  Next, let’s look at verse 14. “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”  Now, look at verse 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.  Wait a minute!  John recorded that they saw the signs.  But, Jesus says they may have seen them, but they don’t recognize them for what they were; they were pointing toward the work that God was accomplishing in Jesus.

 

There is a difference between seeing and recognizing, or seeing and understanding.  Last weekend was homecoming at Harding.  Friday night, Staci and I and our boys went to the musical.  As we were standing in the lobby of the Benson Auditorium visiting with another family, I saw a gentleman I knew and so I went over to talk to him.  I walked up to him and stuck my hand out and he just looked at me with kind of a blank look. Did he physically see me? Absolutely.  But, he didn’t recognize me.  There’s a difference, and that is what we are witnessing here. They saw the signs, but didn’t recognize their meaning.  Let’s look at some things that they missed.

  • They saw the healings but missed the Great Physician

  • They saw and experienced the food but missed the provider

  • They saw one they wanted to make their king, but didn’t realize that he was already the king.

  • They wanted to know about the works they needed to do when the work of God was going on right in front of their eyes.

  • To borrow an illustration from Jim Woodroof, they were like a monkey with a telescope.  You see if a monkey finds a telescope, it will like it because it is shiny. It will play with it as it swivels on the tripod.  It will move it up and down. But it won’t look through it to see the glory of God displayed in the heavens.

 

While we look at these poor people who missed, as they say, the forest for the trees, what about us?  Are there times when we might see something, but not recognize it for what it is?  Let’s take a look at the text again and see if there might be something to consider.

 

  • From verse 4-9: Jesus illustrates for us the fact that we have no resources.  It’s almost as if he wants his disciples here to recognize and admit that they do not have any way to satisfy the need that is in front of them.  Not only do they not have a way, they can’t even get a way to do this on their own.  Sounds a little like us in our condition before coming into Christ, doesn’t it? We see this again in the walking on the water event.  The disciples are straining and straining to make progress, but they can only make headway with Jesus. How do we view our Spiritual life?  Do we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that we can earn our way into God’s favor? 

  • That leads us into other areas of life.  What about the blessings that we receive? What about the good things that we are given?  I have a feeling that most of us don’t question the good things that we have been given nearly as much as when bad things happen.  Do we somehow think that God owes us these things?  Surely we don’t believe that we have them because of our goodness!  Paul in 1 Corinthians 4, in dealing with the pride of some in the church at Corinth says, “I have applied all these things (being regarded as servants and stewards in verse 1) to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor against one another.  For who sees anything different in you?  What do you have that you did not receive?  If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” The good things we have in our lives are to be acknowledged as gifts from a loving God and used to his glory and not our own.

  • What about the bad things that we experience? Do we see them as being unjust or the product of a hateful God?  Or do we view them as opportunities to grow in our faith and devotion to God?  Do we see them as unfair? Or do we see them as a way of sharing in the suffering of Jesus and a way of refining and purifying our faith?

  • How do we view our enemies, or those who are opposed to us?  How do we view those who are different from us racially, socially, economically, politically, or religiously?  Do we see them as enemies deserving of death and unwelcomed in the kingdom of God?  Or do we see them as people, imperfect people, just as we are, made in the image of God and people for whom Christ died and people with whom to share the love and grace of God that we have been given?

  • What about how we see what we are doing here this morning?

    • Do we see gathering for worship as an obligation that we have to carry out?  Maybe we see it as something that we have to do so that when we die, we can show God all the times that we gathered just like he commanded.  “Here’s the list God.  My attendance was pretty good.” Or are we glad to be here as we, as a family – a community, can gather and celebrate what God has done for us and learn more about ways we can respond to his love because we love him so much?  Do we see it as a place for sharing and encouraging and healing – a place where we can spend time with the ones we love as we worship the One who loved us enough to give everything for us?

    • What about the song service?  Are we upset when the song leader doesn’t sing the songs we think he ought to sing because it just doesn’t sound as good to us as it ought to?  Or do we with upturned faces sing the words that we know to offer our praise and thanksgiving to the One who rescued us when we were without a way to be reconciled to him, and no hope of finding that way unless he acted?

    • What about the time that we will spend engaged in the Lord’s Supper this morning?  Do we see it as just another part of worship or do we allow it to point to the reality of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf and the hope that we have because of his resurrection?

 

In order to try to correct the vision problems of those who surrounded Jesus that day in Capernaum, he points them back to the greatest single saving act that had occurred up to that point, the Exodus – the time when God delivered his people out of Egypt and led them to Sinai and taught them what it meant to follow him and be his people.  We shouldn’t miss the timing of this event.  John says that the Passover was at hand.  This would be the time when the story of the Exodus would be at the forefront of the minds of the people.  Listen as Jesus points them back to that event to direct them to the event that was occurring in their midst that very day.

 

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.

 

Maybe, this is one of the benefits of observing and participating in the Lord’s Supper each week.  Could it be that this celebration and remembrance of the greatest saving act in human history can help us see what we need to see – see and recognize our purpose and our mission and recognize that without him, without his work, we would be completely lost and hopeless?

 

Communion

 

Invitation

 

At the end of John 6, 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 come to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

 

In which group will we be found?  Will we allow Jesus to correct our vision problems, run to him, cling to him as our only hope and the Holy One of God?  Or will we be content to be a monkey with a telescope?

 

Anthony will lead us in an invitation song.  If we can assist you in any way this morning, please come now as we stand and sing.