To Whom Shall We Go?

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 6:60-71 | October 28 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
October 28
To Whom Shall We Go? | John 6:60-71
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. We’ve just sung and it is the prayer of our hearts, where else can we go, Lord? Where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have so many voices clamoring for our attention, but no other voice will speak to us the words of eternal life. O, how we need You, more than we need cable news, more than we need Twitter or Facebook, more than we need the newspaper, more than that phone call or text or e-mail, we need to hear from You. Speak, O Lord, for we have nowhere else to go. In Jesus we pray. Amen.

Our text this morning comes from John’s Gospel, chapter 6. The end of chapter 6, beginning at verse 60 through verse 71, the end of the chapter. John, chapter 6, beginning at verse 60. So we spent a few weeks the feeding of the five thousand, walking on the water, and then the bread of life discourse, and now we have the response to Jesus.

Verse 60: “When many of His disciples heard it, they said ‘This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life, but there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe and who it was who would betray Him, and He said ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted him by the Father.’ 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.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil.’ He spoke of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.”

We all face watershed moments in life where we have to decide between two very different paths to take. Some of those moments as we approach them seem obvious: Marriage, career, where we’re going to life, where we’re going to go to school. Some are smaller, but can still affect our lives for years. I remember when I was in fifth grade; at my school that’s where you picked out the instrument that you wanted to play, and ever since I was in third grade, ’cause I had an older brother two years older, I had been thinking, oh, what, what instrument was I going to pick? He picked the trombone, and I knew that I wanted to play the trumpet, and I’d been waiting for two years for that exciting day when I was going to go to instrument day and I was going to walk through and I was going to pick out a trumpet and have my parents pay for a trumpet and I was going to bring it home and not practice my trumpet. So I went to instrument day and prior to that you have to, I had to, we had to take some musical tests where they sort of measure your aptitude and what you might be good at and, you know, they sort of look at your, your lips and the size of your mouth and your embouchure and it was very scientific, so I went in there coming to pick out my trumpet. But they told me, they said, “well, Kevin, you, you scored pretty well on some of your musical tests. You don’t want to just play the trumpet.” I don’t know whoever was playing the trumpet, but that’s what they said, ’cause you know they always have lots of trumpet players. And I don’t know if they knew how to appeal to me, but they picked the right way—appeal to my pride. [laughter] And they said “Kevin, you really could play the French horn.” Wooooo. I think they were just thinking “we have 18 kids that want to play the trumpet, nobody wants to play the French horn.” So I thought “Really? Well, tell me more about this fantastic test that I took for playing the French horn,” and then I had heard through the grapevine that a little girl that I sort of had a crush on in my fifth grade class, she was also going to play the French horn, and that was enough to just put me over the top. [laughter] I said, “Mom, Dad, I want to play the French horn.” They said “you wanted for two years to play the trumpet.” “I know, but the French horn.” So we got the money and brought home my French horn. First day of band that girl was playing the clarinet. [laughter]

Set me on a trajectory for the next eight years of my life. And I went to a school and it was all about band. We had band every single day, and then I was in the marching band and it was one of these maniacal sort of marching bands that you practiced every Saturday and you went to band camp and pre-band camp and you had all these. You went on to the trips all over the place, and little did I know I was setting myself up on this trajectory for all through high school. I spent hours and days and weeks with the four other French horn players. All of my friends off in their trumpets. And when you have to march around, the trumpets are easier. We had a mellophone, which is a bigger trumpet, but not as big as the big baritones, and had to March and do these parades, and think “why didn’t I pick a trumpet?” Or a piccolo? They’re very light.

Well, I was happy to have played the French horn and don’t ask me to play it now, I can’t remember much of any of it and wouldn’t be able to play it, sorry to say. I do remember, like many students waiting ’til like the last week of the semester to do all of my practicing for that semester. I remember it was in the early 90s when the first Gulf War was starting and it was on CNN and I watched like eight straight hours of the Gulf War while I played my French horn and got my practice time in. That’s really what the band teacher was looking for.

Of course, there are much bigger decisions we make than what instrument to play, or what sport you’re going to try out for. And we all know that there’s no watershed moment in life any more important than what you do with Jesus. And it’s not just one moment in time. Some of us think that, “Well, yes, I made that decision to sign up for Team Jesus,” but you do know that though you don’t get re-saved, it is a lifetime of sticking with Jesus and not turning away from Jesus. Not because anyone truly born again and truly justified can become un-born again or un-justified, but because lots of people, including people in our text this morning, start out with Jesus in an external sense and they do not stay with Jesus.

I believe in the doctrines of grace. I believe once saved, always saved. But I find no support in the Bible for once you start you automatically finish, not if it’s a pure external allegiance. Not if it’s just showing up for church. Not if it’s just being a part of the crowd. Many disciples turned away. You see that at the beginning of the passage, verse 60: When many of His disciples heard it, they said ‘This is a hard saying.'”

And then we see it even more clearly in the middle, verse 66: “After this, many of His disciples turned back.” They no longer walked with Jesus.

And of course one who was yet with Jesus, one of that intimate circle of the twelve, those handpicked disciples with a capital D, we might say, one of them would prove to be a devil.

There’s a deliberate juxtaposition here in this passage. On the one hand we have Peter’s bold confession: “You have the words of eternal life. You are the Holy One of God.” Here is a disciple with real faith, even if it’s not fully developed faith, and then next to that we have another disciple who will prove not to be a disciple, Judas with his impending betrayal.

And, in fact, the language in verse 71 is even more dramatic than you see in the ESV. It’s a fine translation, I’m not correcting the translation. Sometimes when you go from Greed to English you can’t recreate the exact word order, but in the Greek, the very last words of verse 71 say “one of the twelve,” a bit of a cliffhanger. Peter has made this confession, but then you read in verse 71 that this Judas was going to betray Him, and he was one of the twelve.

In other words, you may be close to Jesus. You may be in the inner circle of those who are surrounding Jesus. You may count yourself a fan, even people may look upon you as a disciple of Jesus. And you might turn away.

Many here turned away in this larger crowd that was following Him, and even one of the twelve in the inner circle would betray Him.

Why would you turn away from Jesus? We see here in our text several reasons why someone would turn away from Jesus, and we’ll finish by the flipside why we shouldn’t turn away, but notice four reasons why you might leave Jesus.

Number one, you might Jesus because He says hard things. You see that at the very beginning. “This is a hard saying,” verse 60, “Who can listen to it?”

If you were here the last weeks, you know what some of this entails. He said hard things about flesh and blood, about feasting on Him, about living forever because of Him, about being sent from the Father. Well, these may be familiar phrases to us if we’ve grown up in the church, but this all was completely strange, sounded foreign, sounded unimaginable. They could not fathom in particular what did it mean when He said “you must eat My flesh and drink My blood.” Some people in the first century opposed Christianity because they thought they were cannibals. We are so used to it and we have the Lord’s Supper, it just, we don’t think anything of it. But how gruesome? Somebody has said if you really want to be a part of my team, my kingdom, my people, you need to munch on my bones and you need to soup up my brains. Eww, really? What does that mean?

Well, that’s how it struck them. Eat My flesh, drink My blood. That makes sense to us now, what we know, but it didn’t make sense to them. They said that’s a hard saying. What does that mean?

And incidentally, it’s a good reminder to us. Might there be something from God’s Word that you don’t understand now? I’m sure there are things. There are things I don’t understand. Might there be truths? Might there be hard sayings of Jesus? Might there be doctrines that you find difficult? That you haven’t really found a way to reconcile in your head, or even more difficultly in your heart? Well, might it be possible that just as the disciples in that moment said “this is a hard saying, there’s no way this makes sense,” and now we with the passage of time and further revelation in the New Testament, can make perfect sense to us. Might it be that some things that are most perplexing to you in the Christian faith, some doctrines most difficult, some sayings of Jesus that you find hardest to swallow, that perhaps when you’re older, perhaps when we learn more, or perhaps, let’s be honest, it might just have to be when we get into heaven that we’ll see there’s an explanation that makes sense, though the explanations on this side of heaven can be puzzling to us.

Somebody once said when it comes to prayer and unanswered prayer and why God doesn’t seem to hear prayers and why He doesn’t give us the good things that we pray for, that when we get to heaven we’ll see that God has always answered all of our prayers in the way that is best. Though it doesn’t feel like it now, though we can’t see it now, when we can see as He sees things, we would know yes, that was best. Best for me, best for Your work, best for Your glory.

But at this moment, in the life of the disciples, this is a hard saying. Look, if you want a lot of easy statements, nothing ever confusing, nothing ever controversial, then Jesus is not your guy. If that’s what you want in religion, all simple, all straightforward, nothing disagreeable, nothing difficult, then Jesus is not the one you’re looking for. And conversely, if you have a Jesus who never says anything hard, then you do not have the Jesus of the Bible. If you never read your Bible and have to sit up straight and say “that is hard, that is hard. Nadab and Abihu, you killed them? And then Aaron has to go on ministering? That’s hard. Eat my flesh and blood? That’s hard. Let the dead bury their dead? That’s hard. Hate your father and mother in order to follow Jesus? That’s hard.”

So of course some of them are ready to leave. Jesus doesn’t say easy things. He says hard things. Confusing things. And they’re ready to go.

Second. You might leave and turn away from Jesus because He’s offensive. Jesus is offensive. Verse 61, we read that He knew their hearts, and He knew that they were grumbling. They were interested in physical realities. They wanted manna, they wanted a military messiah, they most of all wanted more miracles. And so they begin grumbling. And Jesus says do you take offense at this?

Now why were they offended? Well, we have a pretty good idea. They didn’t like the things He was saying, and they didn’t like the implications of what He was saying. They didn’t like that idea that they had to give up their own control, their own sense of autonomy. Remember? It was just last week we say what Jesus said moments ago from this passage here. “No one can come to the Father unless the Father draws him.” You need a sovereign work of the Spirit to come to Me. Well, they would not be the last persons in the world to be scandalized by a high view of God’s sovereignty. No one can come except the Father draws them? Absurd. They were offended. We have such a sentimentalized view of Jesus. And yes He was a great lover of our souls, and yes, He was tender-hearted, and yes, He said let the little children come unto Me. But we’re kidding ourselves if we think we wouldn’t have been often offended by Him.

Remember when they come to Him in Luke 13 and the tower of Siloam fell, or what about those who they mixed in with their blood? What about those Galileans who perished? We’d expect Jesus to say something, oh what a senseless tragedy and My heart breaks and I grieve with you and… But what does He say? “No, I tell you the truth, unless you repent, you likewise will perish.” Well, that’s offensive, Jesus.

Most of all they could not believe that Jesus was greater than Moses, that life was in Him alone, that He had seen the Father, that everyone who learned from the Father would come to Him. And so Jesus, knowing their grumbling, says at the end of verse 61: “Do you take offense at this?” And then, to make matters worse, He goes on in verse 62, “Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” Jesus never lets up. He seems to relish the thought of making things harder. It seems to be that when following Jesus, contrary to our own instincts, He presents a very small front door and a very wide open back door. Most of us would say “well, it should be just the opposite. We’re very inclusive, and you know, anybody come and it’s easy and follow Jesus and be a Christian” and we’re just of everybody’s in this and, and you know, very, very tiny back door you can never get out, but Jesus does just the opposite. He’s always saying “Are you sure? Do you really want to be here?”

And here He challenges them even more. Jesus could have said “Do you take offense at this? Well, let me explain to you why I really am who I say I am. And I understand why this would be difficult because some of you have been expecting a different kind of messiah and I sympathize with where you’re coming from, but let me just try to explain in terms you can understand.” He doesn’t do any of that. He says are you scandalized? Then imagine how scandalized you’ll be when you see Me ascend up into heaven.

Because remember, part of their offense is that Jesus is saying and doing all of these lofty things. Look back at verse 42. They said, after He calls Himself the bread come down from heaven, they say “is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He say ‘I have now come down from heaven.'” Do you see what Jesus is saying, in verse 62? He’s following up deliberately on their of believing in Jesus earlier. He’s saying you thought it was hard that I came down from heaven? Imagine how scandalized you’ll be when you see me go back up to heaven. Because they’re saying “well, we, we know this guy. Right? He’s, he’s Jesus. We know Joseph and Mary and he has siblings and we know where he’s from and now he’s saying he came down from heaven?” And Jesus says if you’re offended by that, let me tell you how much more offended you’ll be when I show you who I am in all My glory.

I wonder, have you ever been offended by Jesus? When someone says “well, the god I worship,” it’s often a sign they’re offended by Jesus. Or, “you know, I could never believe in a god who… ” often a sign of being offended by Jesus.

Now you may say well, the offense really isn’t Jesus, right? Today it’s, it’s sexuality or it’s the existence of hell or it’s differences between men and women. We’re fine with Jesus, but really? On all of those issues, or whatever the issue of controversy is, isn’t the starting point always Jesus? Is He not only a savior but is He your Lord? Does He get to call the shots? Does Jesus, and then with the Spirit through the inspiration of this book, give you what we need to know about God? Speak only what is true about God?

Yeah, we may say that the issues are somewhere else, but in our hearts, it comes down always to Jesus. Who is He? What did He accomplish? Is He Lord? And not just Lord, but Lord of your life? Can He call the shots in your life? Can He call the shots for everyone?

Remember the end of the Sermon on the Mount? The most famous sermon ever preached? And then it says at the end of Matthew 7 “and they marveled, for He spoke not as the scribes and the Pharisees but He spoke as” what? As one who was really, really smart? No. Because He spoke as one who was really funny? Uh uh. Because He spoke as one who was very empathetic with the hurts and needs of people? No. They marveled, because unlike their scribes, He spoke as one who had authority.

That’s what they found offensive with Jesus. They wouldn’t have been offended if it was just a nice man who comes along and says you hurt and I want to help you. But He did more than that. Of course He cared for people. Jesus wept. But He comes and He dares to speak with unrivaled, unparalleled authority. They were offended.

Here’s the third reason you might turn away from Jesus. He says hard things, He’s offensive. Number three, because you cannot follow Jesus in your own strength. We’ve seen this several times already. In John 3, you must be born again. He says to Nicodemus the Spirit blows where He wills. We saw it again in verse 44 last week, and then again in verse 65 this week. And He said “this is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Some of you, Jesus says, won’t get it because it has not been granted by the Father for you to get it. Well, that’ll make some people mad. Now listen, the point is not God will keep you from coming to Him. Rather the point is you need to God to supernaturally, unilaterally, sovereignly work in your life if you’re going to come to Him. And they were offended by that and people today continue to be offended by that.

Look at verse 63: Jesus sums up His point with abundant and offensive clarity. “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all.” Well, at least He made things clear.

We’re all tempted to rely on the flesh. To lean on those things or those attributes or those people that we think make a religious life possible. And so for some of us that’s our intellects. I can think this through, I can always think it through all the way to the bottom and it’s always going to make perfect sense to me.

Some of lean on our connections. That makes me worth something in this life, worth something in this church, people I know, places I’ve been, things I’ve seen.

For some it’s our family. Well, do you know who my mom and dad are? Do you know who my grandparents are? Or do you know who my kids are?

Maybe some of us lean on our nation, whatever nation we’re from. Most from the United States. Maybe you think “well, I’m an American and I’m proud to be an American and the greatest country on earth” and we lean on that.

Maybe we lean on our hard work. God, surely you see I’m doing the best that I can. I’m working hard.

Or maybe we lean on our good works. God, I’m not perfect, but I’m not killing people and haven’t had an affair and surely you see I’m putting something into the offering plate and I try to be a nice person at work.

Or maybe we need on our own human initiative, our own free will, our own sense of fairness.

Jesus says we are all tempted to rely on the flesh, and He says let me promise you, you need the Spirit and if you’re going to come to Me, if you’re going to stay with Me, if you’re going to follow Me, the flesh will not help you.

And sadly there are churches all over this country who structure things so that people in the flesh can follow Jesus. It’s not what we’re interested in here. We are not interested in doing what we know how to manufacture of our own ingenuity and our own planning and our own planning and our own thought. We want to be about the things and we say “God, unless You show up, unless Your Spirit comes sovereignly, then nothing here is going to work.” Because it is the Spirit who gives life. It’s not ultimately the preacher who gives life, it’s not the acoustics that give life, it’s not the singing that gives life, it is ultimately, though it may use all those things, the Spirit. The flesh will not help you.

Are any of you trying to be a Christian in the flesh? Do you think coming to Jesus is like opening a back account? Just come and I think I’ll do the Jesus thing.

Or that following Jesus is just a matter of a little planning, a few religious exercises now and then. Try to make it to church maybe twice a month. Don’t want to be too often, I’ve got things to do. Don’t want to be crazy about it, but I want to keep people off my back and look to be a good Christian.

No wonder verse 66 is a watershed in the life of these so-called disciples. After this, verse 66 reads, now what is the this? Well, it’s everything that Jesus has just been saying, and in particular after verse 65, “no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.” After that, after Jesus says this is about the Spirit, is He at work in your life or not? After that, some of them said “well, forget it. This is not what I signed up for.” And many, it doesn’t just say a few, it doesn’t say a couple stragglers, a couple people who are already on the periphery, many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.

Oh, they’re finding all sorts of reasons to turn away from Jesus. He says hard things, He’s offensive, He won’t allow you to do this in your strength.

And here’s the final reason, really undergirding all of them: You don’t really believe. They turn from Jesus because they did not really believe in Jesus. In other words, there are disciples and there are Disciples. There is faith and then there is Faith. When He says in verse 70 “did I not choose you?” He’s not speaking of eternal election, He’s speaking rather in time of handpicking these twelve disciples to be with Him, and one of them, Judas, would prove to be a devil.

So don’t miss this obvious fact. All of these people had been with Jesus in some external sense. Judas even would be in His inner circle. Now notice it doesn’t say that he lost his salvation—we’re not dealing with those categories here. It says that Jesus knew from the beginning who did not believe. Judas never believed. But he looked to other people like he believed. He may even have fooled himself for a time, that he believed, but Jesus knew his heart, that he never believed. He was only with Jesus in an external sense.

Might that be the position some of you are in? This is the fundamental reason for these departures. These people were around Jesus for the show. They wanted more manna. They wanted more miracles. They were caught up in the hoopla. Maybe they had family members who said “come” and they said “okay, I’ll go, mom and dad are there.” Maybe they had friends who encouraged them, “You’ve got to see this prophet, what he’s doing.” Maybe they were Jesus fans, but they did not have Jesus faith.

Might that describe anyone in this room? We see a whole slew of reasons they left in verse 60 and finally in verse 66. Jesus says hard things, He says offensive things, He stripped them of their self-reliance and He exposed their unbelief. You are not really here because you have put all your trust in Me, you’re here for external reasons, you’re here for what sort of benefits you can get from it, you’re here because family and friends, you’re here because it just seemed like the thing to do. And if that’s why you’re here, Jesus says, when it gets hard and when I say hard things and when I say offensive things, you’ll be gone. And sadly, that has proven true not just in the first century, but every century thereafter. Which is why it’s no wonder that Jesus asked the question that He does in verse 67: “So Jesus said to them twelve, ‘What about you? Do you want to go away also?'” Jesus has no problem thinning the ranks. Bigger isn’t always better. Smaller doesn’t always mean you’re failing. Jesus says, in essence, “there’s the door, a whole lot of other people have already gone through it. You want to go through it as well? You want to leave? You sticking around or are you gonna go with them? ”

So why would you stay with Jesus, if He says such hard things, can be so offensive, He exposes all of our unbelief and self-reliance. Why would you stay with Jesus? Well, Peter gives us two reasons, and ultimately the only two reasons we need.

“Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?'” Jesus, you wonder if we’re leaving? Where are we going to go? Peter’s getting it—he’s not all the way there, but he’s, he’s speaking what is true.

So here’s the first reason you stay with Jesus: He has the words of eternal life. Peter uses “we” later in his response, “we have believed and have come to know,” so he’s speaking here for the twelve, though he doesn’t yet know that Judas will betray Jesus. You notice how he echoes Jesus’ own words. He says “you have the words of eternal life,” which is what Jesus said in verse 63, “the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.” Peter says “yes, you’re right, You have life.”

Jeremiah 15:16: “Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.”

One of the best, surest signs that you’re a follower of Jesus is you love the Word of God. You love it, you love to eat it and find it and feast on it, because you know, like Peter declares here, O Jesus, You and You alone have the words of eternal life. You will find other inspirational figures in history. You will find other impressive people, you will find other amazing teachers. You will find other men and women who are noble sufferers in the face of injustice. You will find plenty of religious figures who could draw a crowd, but you will not find in anyone else except Jesus the words of eternal life.

Peter says “go away? Leave you? How could we leave You? Where would we go? Who else here has the words that if we trust in them and we feast on them, we live forever?”

And then he says second, not only what you have, Jesus, but who you are, Jesus. He has the words of eternal life and second, He is the Holy One of God.

We can be quite certain that Peter’s private theology and understanding does not yet match his public profession fully, but he has made quite an admission here. He is saying Jesus is not another holy man—He is the Holy One. He is the One sent from the Father. He is the One to show us the Father. He is the One to be our way to the Father. It’s an amazing confession.

Again, we hear Jesus and we’ve sung songs about Jesus and we think “well, of course, you would say He’s the Holy One of God. We love Jesus. He’s the savior, He’s Lord, He’s the second person of the Trinity.”

Peter didn’t have all those categories figured out. And remember, they saw Jesus and as far as they could tell, He had a mom and dad just like them. Turned out the dad was, the whole thing was more complicated, but they looked and we know his mom and dad. He looked like them. Probably dark olive skin, Middle Easterner. He had a name like them, no special name, just another name. And they saw Him fall asleep like them. He had to eat food like them. He cried like they did. I don’t think this is inappropriate—they knew He used the restroom like they did. He was a man. Well, that puts it in a different category. They think, “Well, this is a guy who looks like us and He speaks the same language of us, He doesn’t have any sort of angels singing every time He enters the room, no one, you know, Hallelujah chorus every time He stands up. He seems to be just like us, He gets dirty and, you know, hit His thumb with a hammer probably growing up, and He’s got a family and we know His family, we went to birthday parties with His family growing up, and this Jesus.”

So it’s a remarkable thing that Peter would say “You have the words of eternal life and we have come to know and we believe that as much as You’re like us, You’re also not like us. You’re the Holy One of God.”

If there is one thing Jesus absolutely did not allow, it was for curious onlookers who reckoned Him to be a wonder-worker and a good teacher and nothing more, He never allowed for those people to get the wrong idea about who they were in relationship to Jesus. He always made it more difficult for those Jesus fans. He had no interest in make you into things you haven’t been, for his interested or intrigued followers. He demanded worshippers, disciples, believers. Which is why so many left Him.

Listen, it is better to have a church of 500 earnest, committed Christians than a church of 500 people sleepwalking through Christianity. It is better to have a church of 50 earnest, committed Christians than 500 people sleepwalking through Christianity, than to have churches with membership rolls swelled to say “look at all these numbers” or to say “look at all the people that are here, we must be doing something right.” Maybe. Maybe not.

Jesus would blow up our notions of tying our fidelity to the size. I don’t think bigger is better and I don’t think bigger is badder. I think bigger is bigger. And smaller is smaller. And you see in Acts thousands of people coming to know Christ, praise God. And here at this moment you see all sorts of people leaving Christ. At least there’s clarity.

If popularity is the measure of success, then Jesus’ speech is an abject failure. Think about it. He preaches this sermon, better sermon than you’ll ever hear from any of your pastors, and what’s the result of this sermon? The church thins out. People leave. It’s a good reminder for all the times I tempted to think that if I only preached well churches would grow. If we only gave the best sermons then the place would be full. We can pray for such things, but Jesus shows us He can preach the best, truest sermon from the Son of God Himself, and you know what? Membership went down, and many left Him.

If success is faithfulness to the Father, if success is penetrating and exposing the human heart, if success is proclaiming the truth about Jesus, well, then, this sermon was a smashing success. For Jesus has made clear in no uncertain terms, “I am not just another rabbi, I am not just the son of Mary and Joseph, I am not interested in half-hearted, unreflective followers who hang around because I made an impression on them. I am the bread of life, and whoever comes to Me will never grow hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.”

Do you want to go away as well? Or do you want to come as the Spirit gives you grace to come, as the Father enables you to come? That you may know eternal life.

Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, what wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul. And we give thanks that because of Jesus and Jesus only we can sing and joyful be and through all eternity sing on. O, we pray Father that You would draw even now men and women and children unto yourself. That you together with the Son would send your Spirit to preach this Word, that You might expose the human heart, and perhaps some will leave. We pray that many would come. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.