AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH March 23, 2008
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
OF AUSTRALIA ON BIBLICAL LINES …
through the Field-Glasses
of Christ's Feeding of the Five Thousand,
in the Realities of Calvary
and its Victory Wrought in the Resurrection
I Authentic Authority John 6:1-14
Notice the size of the multitude following Him, and the reason for it: His healing ministry is cited. Next, again on His own initiative, He ascends a mountain, and sat there with His disciples. Passover season had many about, and He saw many coming towards them. He asked Philip how they could feed them, to test his attitude, and he replied in terms of purchasing power, what money would be needed.
Then an accompanying circumstance is meshed into the situation. A lad has five loaves and two fish. Andrew found him, but lamented, What is this among so many!
Again Jesus took the initiative. He had them all sit, around 5000. He then took and blessed the small bread supply and that of fish. He gave thanks. Then with all the simple power and assurance of God, He simply kept distributing from what had been 'anointed' or appointed to satisfy the need. Hence the food kept coming, a mini-creation of its own. Why not ? If He can make man, bread is no problem, nor is fish.
Then He asked them to gather up what was left over. Economy is companion of lavish liberality to meet need. Twelve baskets full were to be found. People seeing this massif of mastery responded:
"This is truly the prophet who was to come into the world."
2 Misplaced Motives
A John 6:15 Elected King to find His place ? He IS the King, and it is man who must find his place.
Jesus, instead of relishing royal power, to which the people wished to entice Him, rejected the notion at once, departing to a mountain in order to pray.
B John 6:25-26 Source for socialism ? Far from it.
Thus at the other side of the sea - the disciples having sailed across, and Jesus have walked on the sea to catch them, and having lifted Peter up when he tried to imitate this oceanic ambulation, at the word, "Lord, save me!" - people asked Him when He had come. Jesus at once moved to the point: You have been seeking Me not because of the signs (that is the miraculous powers shown IN ORDER to attest who He was and what was His heart), but because of the bread.
He was not in the least interested in founding some sort of socialistic State-run crèche for man.
3. Vital Comment John 6:28-29
Don't labour, He exhorted them, for temporary food but for material matched to need, the bread which in a symbolic manner represented Christ Himself personally.
Still tending to pass by the major point, the people asked Him, What shall we do so that we can work the works of God ?
THIS is the work of God, said Jesus, drawing their thoughts back to the point, that you believe in Him. that you believe in Him whom the Father sent.
THIS is the work of God: 2 senses. It is necessary to ACT, and not to dither, teeter, squander opportunity in vagueness. You MUST believe in Him, for HE Himself is the gift. If a whirring helicopter came next to your broken fall down a chasm, and asked you to believe in the machine and the pilot, and you drew back, imagining things miscarrying, then the word might be: This is what you have to do, BELIEVE in what is being provided by the pilot and his methods.
Compare II Corinthians 4:6, I Corinthians 6:1-2, John 6:65
In this case, it meant realising and receiving Him as a sin-offering, with the power of God to be raised and to raise others, and with the purpose that all might believe. They want to work the works of God ? Very well, become the site for recipience, the mind for acceptance and the heart for faith. It is the Father who induces this result (John 16:17), and this is a signal of Him at work: even while the sinner repents and believes. You want to know what to do ? have God do this! Do not waver or return, develop dim sight and reedy knees, but set your trust in Him where it belongs. THAT, it is the work of God. As you act, HE has acted. You want something to do ? do that! and as you do it, you will realise it is the work of God, your Designer, implementing His saving design within you.
4. Vital Command John 6:47-54
Not only would He, the Christ, be raised up, but He would finish His commission by raising others from the dead, not this time to institute an epoch, but to complete it!
Consider Lazarus: that was ONE whom He raised up.
Each of us who believe, receive and accept Him as God incarnate,
crucified sacrifice, God irreplaceable and ineffaceable, as He is, will also
be raised up. Certainly the resurrection of the body is in one vast deed (I Corinthians 15:50ff); but each part (Isaiah 26:19, I John 3:1ff.), each person is as individually raised as was Lazarus. God who made the race knows how to deal with each face.
This raising up in resurrection follows, we read, because He was to be swallowed up in sin, yet not let its vileness sink into Him, merely meet death as the sun dies in its setting, awaiting the celestial dawn, this one past all others, 3 days later. Indeed, there is a fascinating feature here. In John 6:47 we learn that the one who believes in Him has eternal life. In 6:50 He shows that He as the One who came down from heaven is a prescription for eternity. Giving His flesh for the life of the world, a sacrifice for its death to inhale it as if it were potassium cyanide, He evacuates the air about Him of its deadly pollution. Without this, there is no eternity to the life of man. IF ANYONE SHOULD COME TO EAT His flesh and drink His blood, if this event should once happen (6:51), then as surely as creation, once happening, brought kinds and then man, so there is another creation which brings eternal children of God.
ONCE eat this and you live. He ONCE died and He rose. ONCE believe in Him and you have eternal life. ONCE believe and you are born again; ONCE born again, your nature, heart changes and you live with spiritual genes this time, for ever. The COMMAND, vital and central ?
It appeared in John 6:27:
“Do not labour for the food which perishes,
but for the food which endures to everlasting life,
which the Son of Man will give you,
because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
All this was like seeing Calvary, the Easter sacrifice, through field-glasses. It was in words being spoken, based on action to come, assumed, assured, reciprocally bent - HE receives the sin, the sinner receives the satisfaction for his sins and sin receives a new Master to control it, with life exuberant directing the steps.
Isaiah and the Psalmists had outlined what was to be, and what it meant. Now it was to be done: the millenia yielded to the light of the here and now, the action scene, the litany of love and the pall of mercy which would be flung back in the resurrection, the due work wrought..
When the time actually came, then came the denigrating, disastrous detail, but even this had been foretold on various occasions, and indeed after the transfiguration (Matthew 17:22-23). In fact, in Luke 18:28ff., you see the field-glasses view of what was to come in more detail:
"Then Peter said, 'We have given up our possessions and followed you.'
"He said to them, 'Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive (back) an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.'
"Then he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.
'He will be handed over to the Gentiles and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon; and after they have scourged him they will kill him, but on the third day he will rise.'
"But they understood nothing of this; the word remained hidden from them and they failed to comprehend what he said."
Always, the events known to be coming can be grievously painful, but when the time comes, and courage, intensity and life itself must be given, then in the perfection of deity always, given it is. What testimony to duty and responsibility this is, for each one of us, be our spheres never so humble. For God, the whole furious focus of man's sin. all that would be placed on Him in time, was met at that time, no more in words or apprehension, but in action and accomplishment. It was foreseen, it came, it passed. Thus are we all taught for ever to face issues, and resolve them in confidence.
He rose, and man, the believer, has His signature set on the promise by this. IN THE LAST DAY, we who believe in Him will arise as did Lazarus, as indeed did Christ Himself; and this is the beauty of it, that we shall see Him as He is for we shall in form be like Him (I John 3:2), in fashion and heart completed as children of the everlasting God.
Made in the image of God, our defects deleted, our guilt gutted, we shall arise to find His is the prototype of resurrection, and as God took the form of man, just as He created, so now we see the summit of the ‘new creation’ (II Corinthians 5:17) bought and wrought in the episodes of Calvary, the purge, the scourge, the death, the breach of the grave, outlined and accomplished (cf. Luke 9:31). Thus He brings completion to man, a body eternal in the heavens (II Corinthians 5:1ff.), a life that does not fade away or corrode (I Peter 1:3-8), where eternity is the palace of our construction (I Cor. 15:43-54), the city of our strength, the beauty of holiness the atmosphere, Christ and His Father the Temple (Revelation 21:22).
What Easter represents is like a cross-roads, where people go on or draw back. Go on, and remember, ONCE eat of that bread, that spiritual manna and drink of that blood (John 6:51, 54), that spiritual life poured out to receive mortality in order to secure for believing man, immortality, and eternal life is the outcome.