S-1134 8/16/09 11SAP/3B Hymns: (O) #16; (S) #421; (C) #352
Texts Proverbs 9:1-10; Ephesians 5:6-21; John 6:51-69
Theme: “Eternal Word….Eternal Life” (John 6:66-69).
Question: “What’s the Question behind the Question?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation this morning is the Gospel lesson: “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’” (John 6:66-69).
Saints in Christ, every Sunday morning Pastor Nour stands before you and greet you. Before the Divine Worship Service starts, he asks you a simple question. This question is asked to engage you in your mental preparation for the message you are about to hear.
Some of the questions Pastor Nour asks are simple, others are hard. Some questions you know the answers to others you don’t. But these questions are not as important as the question that the Savior asked His twelve in the Gospel reading today. “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?’ (67-68). There is no other important question that you and I need to give a clear, concrete and complete answer to as this one. The One who is called the Way asks the question that must be answered by everyone.
The reason Jesus asked the question in the first place was because many who had followed Him, were eye witnesses to His power in healing the sick, the lame, the blind and the lepers and those who even ate at the greatest Fish Fry Banquet ever, walked away when He told them, “That He is the Living Bread that came down from heaven” (6:51). Hearing these words many left Him and went there way. Their hearts were hardened. Their heads were hindered and their hands were hampered to reach out to the One who could save them from every power in the Universe.
Turning with eyes of love He asked His disciples “Are you going to leave me too?” What a piercing question to the 12. Their Master and Rabi is looking deep into their souls even though He knows the answer to the question, He still probes them with the question. And Peter, the one who always spoke on behalf of the 12, does the same today. “Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the Words of eternal life”.
In essence Peter was saying to His Galilean Rabi and Lord, “With You we have found truth and peace. With You, You fill our heart’s longing and searching for the truth. If we wanted to forsake You now, where should we go? I suppose we could go to the schools of the Pharisees, but they couldn’t remove our present or future burden, the opposite is true, they would only burden us with new laws.
I suppose we could go to the sect of the Sadducees, but they have already given up trying to find the truth, since they deny the resurrection and angels and the after-life. They instead are looking and seeking for pleasures of this world that can’t calm our burdened hearts, busy heads, and beaten hands.
We certainly could seek out the wisdom of the heathens, who in their search for truth may deride the many gods and superstitions of their people, but their altars are inscribed, ‘To the unknown god.’ Nowhere do we find what we need except with You. For this reason, we want to stay with you, for You have the Words of Eternal Life.”
The holy Apostle Peter, speaking on behalf of the 12 spoke eloquent words, words that described their hearts’ felt emotions. Having heard the One whom they been following for sometimes saying: “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, NO one comes to the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6); They knew for certain that the Divine One was among us. Here is the Living Bread that came down from heaven. No denying it. He is the Heaven-sent Savior of the world.
How about us who live in an age when so many people deny the divinity of the Holy Scriptures? If the Lord, Jesus Christ was standing here this morning and looked at us and asked the same question, “Do you (yes you point your finger at the people) want to go away as well?” What will our answer be dear friends in Christ?
I pray that we will by the power of the Holy Spirit, give a bold, brave, and boisterous answer along with Peter, “Lord to whom shall we go, You have the Words of Eternal Life.”
Like the Apostles before us, we too, need truth and peace. Without them, we would be the most miserable of creatures. Without truth and peace, there would be no kingdom, no glory; no earthly desire can make us happy.
You see saints in Christ; our hearts have been created by our loving Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And unless God occupies our hearts, our hearts are empty and dead. St. Augustine said right when he stated, “Our hearts are restless unless they find their rest in Thee.”
Here is the truth. Only Jesus and His Word give Eternal Life. Nothing in this world will satisfy our longing for peace and truth and happiness. Ask any person on his death-bed who has chased after the wind, accumulated wealth but have no Christ in their hearts and heads and homes, ‘what do they have?’ and they will tell you nothing. They have wasted their whole life chasing after this philosophy, this idea, this gadget, more money in the bank, and more toys, but their souls were not connected and neither will they ever be content. Only Jesus will do.
To know all this is to know life - so even as many others turned from Jesus and deserted Him, the word of great strength and wisdom that doubting Peter could speak, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God, stands for life! Yes, today we celebrate Life. Jesus gives us life - in His flesh and in His blood. He who is the Creator of all that is and shall be will come inside of you. He is the Holy One who comes to make a doubting sinner like you, like me, into the very Sanctuary of Heaven! Heaven comes to abide within you. He comes down from heaven, but with you and the rest of the lost world in His sight, He considers such service not as coming down, but coming through - in love. This is wisdom, the wisdom of God - this is Jesus - and He makes you whole and He makes you holy, even the habitation of His Holiness. You are His Temple.
Oh, sure, it’s a hard saying, that we must eat Him, that He is the only hope for sin and sinners. Yes, who can bear it? Ah, but it is true! To know this Jesus is to know peace and life. To walk away from Him is death. I share this with you because it is not you, but Him, who will enliven dead hearts, enlighten blind eyes, and enable deaf ears (Matthew 11:4-6) - yes blessed is the one not offended by Jesus!
And this truth needs to be taught by us to all people. God’s Eternal Son came to earth to give His life as a ransom for me while I was nothing but a disobedient, dirty, dammed, and dead sinner. PAUSE.
In our reading Jesus faced a large crowd of tired and hungry people who had just run around the lake. His disciples too must have been running on empty. Jesus gave both groups what they needed most—His Word. He would soon take care of their short-term need for food, but first He focused on their long-term needs.
There is an old saying: “Give me a fish and you will feed me for a day; teach me to fish and you will feed me for a lifetime” (Chinese Proverb). We may add that we need to teach people of every generation about the Words of the Savior and the Savior Himself who will make them live forever—for His Words are Eternal and they are LIFE.
In a tired state, Jesus’ and His Word tastes wonderful. He is the Shepherd who leads us to the quiet waters that give rest to our souls, that is, the forgiveness of sins that calms our fears and guilt. He beds us down in a rich pasture, where we can feed and rest in His promises. Heaven is there for all who believe in Him. And the One who has given His life for the sheep will certainly provide for all their daily needs on the way to heaven.
This is a message that even tired souls want to hear. This is a message that only the tired and hungry and thirty will truly appreciate, because they are Eternal Word—Eternal Life. Amen.
Now the peace…