Sunday, May 19, 2013

Peter's Confession


"These things said He in the synagogue, as He taught in Capernaum.  Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?  When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?  What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.  But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.  And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.  From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.  Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?  Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.  Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?  He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray Him, being one of the twelve."  
John 6:59-71

   Christ's rebuke of His disciples' disbelief was not private or timid; it was bold and open.  He said these things in the synagogue of Capernaum, the gathering place of the religious Jews.  The one's who did not believe marked themselves plainly by their confession, "This is an hard saying; who can hear it?"  They did not mean that it was simply difficult to understand.  They meant that it was something that they did not want to believe.  They were refusing to acknowledge Christ as God.  Jesus simply replies, "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before?"  The Lord did not apologize for the truth, He simply confirmed it by the prediction that He, as God's Son, would ascend up to His Father.  This would be physical evidence enough that what He was saying was true.

   Since their focus was on themselves and the trappings of their physical religion, Jesus says, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."  A person can put on a religious act, but God is impressed only with a humble heart.  The heart that bows itself to the Word of truth is the heart that finds peace in God, and truly, God's Word does bring revival to the spirit and life to the soul.  God's Word must be received on a spiritual plain or it does not profit the hearer.

   Confronted with their sin and unwilling to forsake their own false works of righteousness, the unbelieving disciples depart and follow Christ no further.  Most believers would have given up on ministry right here.  In fact, according to the worldly philosophy of many Christians, Christ would be considered a failure because He lost such a large following.  The truth is however, the gate into life is narrow and "few there be that find it."  Undaunted and not intimidated by the lack of followers Jesus simply turns to His remaining disciples and says, "Will ye also go away?"  Christ is testing their loyalty at this point.  Peter's reply is steadfast and sure.  He says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."  His statements are very emphatic.  A literal interpretation would be, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  Words of life eternal you are holding.  And we, we have believed and we, we have come to know that You, You are the Christ the Son of the God, the living One."  Though he would forsake Christ at the cross because of misplaced confidence in himself, he was a man who had been converted by faith in Christ.  Though the large masses had turned back and would no more follow, yet Peter remained in confidence that This was and is the Son of God.

   Christ, in His omniscience, foretells of Judas' betrayal, knowing that not all the twelve had come to the same conclusions as Peter.  Religious gatherings and lots of people in the congregation do not guarantee genuine conversion.  The heart is what must change in the sight of God.  Peter's confession stands out in the midst of all this disbelief.  He reminds us of the dispersed believers in Elijah's day, the ones who were testified of by the LORD saying, "Yet I have left Me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him."  I Kings 19:18



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Partaking of Christ


"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.  Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever."  John 6:52-58

   Spiritually blind, the Jews miss the point of Jesus' discourse.  The Bible says that, "...the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they spiritually discerned."  Christ is referring to a spiritual union between Himself and the believer, but these people have no heart to receive such a discourse.

   It is interesting to note that Jesus does not cease to use such language, but rather continues to expound along the same spiritual vein.  He says, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you."  Perhaps it is because these folks had no heart for the truth that Christ does not attempt to over-simplify His explanations.  Some things cannot be explained any other way.  When people don't want to hear the truth, they will not accept any explanation.  On the other hand, the one who will partake of Christ through faith in His Person will receive eternal life and Jesus makes this astounding promise, "...I will raise him up at the last day."
Christ gave His body and His blood on the cross for the life of the world.  This is the true meat and the true drink.  Physical food and religious ritual are of the flesh and profit nothing.  The one who is in Christ will be raised incorruptible at the end.  When the lost world stands condemned before the most Holy God, the believer can rest assured that the clothing of Christ's righteousness is sufficient (II Co. 5:21).

   Christ says, "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me."  God is a God of life.  The Father is life and in the Son is life.  He that is saved can never be lost because he is given the Spirit of Life by Jesus Christ (Ro. 8).

   Christ finishes speaking on this subject by saying, "This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever."  These people had attempted to put Christ on the same plain as Moses.  They were viewing Him as less than who He is.  In light of this, Christ reminds them that He alone is the Bread of Life.  The unbelievers that ate of the manna in the old days are dead and in hell.  The believers that ate of the manna are also dead, but they shall be raised in the last day because Christ has unlocked the gates of death and has overcome it.  The manna from heaven pointed to the true Bread that brings true life.  These people were holding onto their lineage and experiences as spiritually pleasing to God, but God is not pleased by these things.  No man pleases God outside of Jesus Christ.  There are not many roads to heaven, there is only one.  Christ alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.