Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jesus the Bread of Life Part 2 (Jn. 6:34-51)

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev Dr Stephen Tong on 8 August 2010 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 6:34-51

Other than physical body, we also have a spirit. When we truly understand this, we will not only seek physical desires and temporal needs. True value is not in the temporal, but in the eternal.

Jesus fed the five thousand with material food, but He emphasised the spiritual meaning of the miracle. He said, “I am the bread of life.” Eternal truth is not the product of our reasoning, but is alive and living among us. The words of Christ seem simple but the meaning is deeper than all philosophy. Pharisees became more confused as they listened to Jesus and despised Him more. God revealed Himself to the Hebrews. Yet the Hebrew culture became the greatest enemy to the New Testament. The Pharisees’ attitude was very different from Nicodemus’ attitude.

The emphasis of Jesus was that He was the food that came from heaven. You need earthly food when you are on the earth. But man not only needs food, but also the Word that come from the mouth of God, His eternal word that gives life. Where is this eternal truth? Where is this word of God? The Pharisees believed they already have it, i.e. the Old Testaament. But Jesus demonstrated that the Old Testament is just the shadow of the real object. Why would they reject the real object for the shadow? That is the failure of Hebrew culture. The Old Testament is pointing towards Jesus Christ. Yet when Jesus appeared the Jews held fast to the shadow.

“At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?"” (Jn. 6:41-42)

In their wrong understanding of Jesus, they fell into a terrible trap. They thought Jesus must be mad, boastful or demon-possessed. They thought His mother was an adulteress since His natural father was not known. He was from Galilee which was uneducated unlike Jerusalem. Therefore He must be most arrogant for calling Himself the bread of life.

Jesus became a stumbling stone for those who reject Him and the capstone for those who believe. The Word became flesh, the Eternal One entered into the temporal world. Can you recognise him? If you judge him by mere physical criteria, you will treat him like another human being. But internally He is the Eternal One. When you only use only the physical eyes to judge, you cannot recognise the real person and you are the one at a loss. The Bible teaches an important principle, that is not judge a person by mere appearances.

Jesus came in loneliness and had no comely appearance. He was like a shoot in a dry land and He was despised. Yet He never reacted to insults. When he suffered, He never threatened. These are most difficult things to for humans to do.

The Scripture said God the Father gave the flock to God the Son and through His resurrection, He gave eternal life to the flock God has given to Him.

When we come to Jesus, we need to listen to His word, like Mary who sat at His feet. Faith comes through hearing the Word of God. Therefore, if you do not hear how can you believe? But many who hear never believe. That means they are not the flock of Christ. Jesus said His sheep hear His voice and follow Him.

So Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn. 6:44) And secondly, of those who came to Him, none will be lost. Put together, this establishes the reformed theology of salvation. People welcome the message on the second part, i.e. if they come to Him they will be saved. But people do not like to hear the first part which emphasises God’s sovereignty in drawing people unto Himself.

Jesus said that He will raise those who believe in Him on the last day. So this establishes the doctrine of election and the last days. So there are those who belong to Christ’s flock and those who do not.

If the Jews truly heard the word of God in the Old Testament, they would honour Christ, the Word become flesh. The true test of whether they have heard God’s word came when Jesus appeared. And the Jews failed the test.

Paul, as a Pharisee himself from Jerusalem, academically trained in the law, expounded most clearly in his epistles the doctrine of salvation from the angle of the Jews. What he wrote is consistent with what Jesus said as recorded by John. Paul confessed there is only one God and one Mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ. And he preached that he knew nothing except Christ and Him crucified.


At 11:59 PM, Blogger Michael Gormley said...

A true Calvinist teaches that everything that happens has been predestined before the foundation of the world. Thus, according to Calvinism, because I have free agency and no true power to choose contraries (i.e., free will), I do voluntarily what I could never do otherwise.

Thus, "My sins last week happened; they were certain to happen; and they were predestined before the foundation of the world. I freely did evil, but I could not have done otherwise."

A true Calvinist admits this. Yet St. Paul teaches that, with every temptation, God has made a way to escape from committing the sinful deed (1 Cor 10:13). Therefore, the question for the true Calvinist is:

"Which way did God, in fact, provide for you to escape the temptations to do the sins you committed last week, if indeed you are so inclined? That is, if you have been predestined before the foundation of the world to do it?"

This is a clear hole in the Calvinist position, forcing one to conclude that Calvinism cannot be reconciled with St. Paul.

Clearly, if Calvin is right and one is predestined to commit a particular sin before the foundation of the world, God could not have truly provided a way out of that sin for you to take.

How could He if you were predestined not to take it? So, either Calvin is wrong or we are dealing with a God Who feigns offers of deliverance from temptation.

So, which is it? Is God a fraud or is Calvin?

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue is not on Calvinist thinking, but on our logic. We try to understood God's mind with our brain.

I would said that Calvinist is right and the other side also right. What's more dangerous than 'exposing weakness of Calvinist' is to take the opposite position which probably have bigger hole..
(Just like when people in US elect Obama because he's anti Bush, but they failed to see that Obama is just a bigger hole)

In Catholic teaching we call it mystery. We could not fully understood that while we were still in this world. You take it by faith and do your part.

God will judge us based on what we do and what we failed to do.


At 3:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sins last week happened; they were certain to happen; and they were predestined before the foundation of the world. I freely did evil, but I could not have done otherwise."

I think it's not COULD not have done otherwise. You could, but you didn't. And God, in His infinite wisdom, knows that you wouldn't have done it anyway.

So in a sense, the reconciliation is yes, God has made a way to escape from committing the sinful deed, and yes, God also knew whether you would be able to successfully escape or not.

The certainty of you committing the sin comes from the fact that God knows all things beforehand, not because He forced you to do it, but He already knew what you, in your free will, would have chosen.



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