This is the sermon for the second to last sunday of the year. The sermon text is: John 6:35-44. The sermon theme is: Why Does Jesus Promise You Life? Here is the Written Sermon.
Why Does Jesus Promise You Life?
It must be hard to teach right before lunch. I’ve always felt bad for teachers and professors who have to teach right before lunch. The teacher works and strives to put good information in his students’ heads. But all the students yearn for is food for their stomachs. I can’t help but think of that picture when I read these words in John, chapter 6. Jesus wants to give them food for their souls. But what do the people want? They want food for their stomachs. We read: “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe” (John 6:35–36 NIV)
Jesus wasn’t promising them munchies for their stomachs. Instead he was promising them a better, greater gift. He was promising eternal life to them. But what was their reaction? The great crowds of people didn’t want to be freed from death. They wanted food for their stomachs and that’s it.
There was a pastor once who had to deal with people who would ask him for food. And one day he met a lady who wanted some food. So he went over across the church building, got her some food and set it in front of her. She sat there, eyeing the food in front of her not knowing what to do next. Finally the confusion in her heart spilled out from her lips. She said: “Isn’t this the part where you’re supposed to tell me that I’m a sinner and that if I believe in Jesus then I’ll be saved?”
You see, to her Jesus and his church was nothing more than a way to get free food. And she was so used to enduring the promise of eternal life to get food for her stomach that she was confused when she wasn’t given the opportunity to hear the promise and reject it.
Oh, my brothers and sisters, how thankful we are that when Jesus promises eternal life to us we rejoice. Look at what Jesus says here in verse 35 and rejoice. Jesus says that everyone who comes to me will never ever hunger.1 This sounds like an amazing promise, doesn’t it? All we have to do is come to Jesus and he will give us eternal life.
There’s one huge problem though. We are unable to come to Jesus because of our sin. In the book of Romans, Paul tells us: “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7 NIV) Every person who comes into this world hates God. And because of that sinful hatred they are unable to come to him.
We are unable to ask for Jesus. We are unable to find him. We are unable to earn him with our hands or our hearts. So, in his great love for us, what is our Savior’s solution? In the last verse of our section, Jesus tells us: ““No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44 NIV)
Because we cannot go to the Father, he sends the Son to us. And through his word he draws us to himself and gives us faith to believe that this promise of eternal life is spoken to us.2 He gives us faith to believe that when Jesus died on the cross his blood covered my sins too.
So then, notice the great promise Jesus gives to us. Whoever comes to Jesus will never ever hunger. So that we can come to him and be with him he gives us faith. And with that faith he gives us the same promise: ‘whoever believes in me will never ever thirst.’3
Notice then why Jesus promises you eternal life. He promises you eternal life to rescue you from death and hell. For any hungering and any thirsting now is nothing when you compare it to the hungering and thirsting that so many are enduring in hell.
Jesus gives you this promise of eterna life to rescue you from death. But there is another reason he promises eternal life to you: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”” (John 6:40 NIV)
Year ago, when I was a boy, I used to make paper airplanes. And I didn’t just like them. I really liked them. I used to cut out my own designs and tape them together. Then I’d launch the airplanes off of our deck in the backyard. And I thought to myself, ‘if it’s fun to design paper airplanes, how much more fun would it be make real airplanes?’ I was so busy for those months dreaming of airplanes that the pains and pressures of every day life didn’t seem so heavy anymore.
My brothers and sisters, you don’t have the dream of airplanes in your heads, do you? Instead, you have the promise of eternal life. And here is where we see our sin. When God allows pain and pressure to come into our lives, where does our focus go? It so easily goes to the pain, right? We think of our problems, ponder them and pray about them.
But, my brothers and sisters, if that’s all we do, then how are we any different than those crowds of people Jesus was speaking to? Jesus has promised eternal life to you. Isn’t that worth pondering? Isn’t that worth praising God for? Isn’t that worth praying about? Look at how the apostle Paul speaks about the promise of eternal life given to him. In the book of Romans he writes: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18 NIV)
When Paul was tempted to ponder his earthly misery he instead ponders his heavenly delivery. So now, I invite you to do the same. If God has allowed pain to come into your life, just imagine how much pleasure he has waiting for you in heaven. If God has taken something away from you here in this life, just imagine what he will give you in the next life. I remember years ago talking to an elderly woman with a weak and frail voice. And one day I found out that she used to have a very beautiful singing voice. And one day I asked her if she missed her voice. And she said ‘I suppose. But when I start thinking that way, I just remind myself what my voice will sound like in heaven.’ So the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
And if you are surrounded by people now who have no use for the promise of eternal life that you cling to—and if they want to take this eternal life from you, then what should you ponder? Should you ponder the pressure they put on you? Instead place your thoughts in heaven. Don’t think as much about who surrounds you now. Instead think about who will surround you in heaven.
I had a professor once whose task it was to teach us doctrine and church history. And when we got to a difficult or beautiful part of scripture he would pause. He would sort of look off to the side and say: “when I get to heaven I’m going to ask him. I’m going to ask Moses what it was like to see the Lord in the burning bush. I’m going to ask those two disciples on the road to Emmaus what it was like to have Jesus open up the scriptures to them.”
It was shocking to hear him speak this way. For instead of speaking in vague, abstract language, he spoke as if it would actually. Because, in fact, it would! It was shocking and wonderful to see a man share with us the times he pondered this promise of eternal life and what it meant for him.
And so, my brothers and sisters in Christ, if we ask the question Why Does Jesus Promise You Life, cherish the answers he gives you through his word. Through this promise he rescues you from death. But even more than that. Through this promise he reminds you of what you have waiting for you. Let that be your light in the darkness. Let that be your pleasure amidst all the pain of this life. Let that be your dream that is based on reality. Jesus promises to you eternal life. Amen.
1 ὁ ἐρχόμενος πρὸς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ πεινάσῃ
2 cf also: “He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”” (John 6:65 HCSB)
3 ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ διψήσει πώποτε
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