Anglican Orthodox Church
Sermon Notes for 4th Sunday in LENT, 26 March 2017 Anno Domini
“41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. 42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? 43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. 47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. 48 I am that bread of life. 49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:41-51 (KJV)
The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
O GOD, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Men hunger and raven after the bread of this world but remain soul-famished for the Bread of Life which comes down from Heaven in the form of our Lord and Savior. But all whose diet consist only of earthly bread will die as the Children of Israel died in the Wilderness after being provided Manna. There is only one Divine Bread that gives life and satisfies forever, and that is the Bread of Heaven. Please bear in mind the words of Christ in which He said: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35 (KJV) To know Christ in saving faith is to never hunger again for the Bread and Water of Life continually is replenished in abundant profusion. The power of God’s attraction will not allow is to slip from His grasp. We were drawn there by that invisible Cable of Love, and Love never lets go.
Perhaps you will aver that you came to Christ on your own terms. Not so! You were drawn there. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” He is the Sovereign who disposes – not YOU! No commoner (which the sinner is) can approach the throne of a king without the approval of the king. As a matter of fact, we would never dare to approach the Throne of a Great King without a summons. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16 (KJV) If you still believe the choice was yours, please tell me with which words of the Lord you disagree!
Have we not known the old military maxim, “Familiarity breeds contempt?” Such contempt for our neighbors who receive high honors is not only expressed by acquaintances and friends, but even find expression from among those of one’s very family. We find that even the brothers of Jesus resented His renown: “Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him.” (John 7:2-5) There are four brothers listed in Matthew 13:55 (James, Joses, Simon, and Judas). This alone makes the argument of the Romans regarding the Immaculate Conception quite fallacious. “And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” (Matthew 13:56). Even the Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims translation contains these verses! One salient point jumps out at us in this text at the very beginning: We must see Jesus Christ, not simply in bodily form as all doubters of that day saw Him, but with spiritual eyes to view Him as Lord and Savior. Our spiritual eyes should be just as adapt at seeing His Person as those of the ancients. Those Jews of His day doubted when He told them that He came down from Heaven. His miracles gave evidence of His divinity (and they wanted to see His miracles) but did not desire to believe that He came from Heaven. To know Him for the Lord that He truly is will result in a metamorphic change from death to life. Just as the unsightly cocoon transforms into a beautiful butterfly, so will the life of man change from a hopeless despair to light and hope in Christ.
“The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?” When men lack spines to speak, they murmur against a greater presence. They made an eternal error in making a false presumption – that Christ was the son of Joseph. The same great error is even being engineered into modern translations to create doubt as to the Divinity of Christ. See how the Received Text states the case of Joseph: “And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.” (Luke 2:33 [KJV]) now contrast this verse to the deceit of the same in the NIV: “The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.” Did you note that the KJV did not refer to Christ as the son of Joseph, but the NIV did make that erroneous designation? Little eyes, be careful what you read……..Jesus is not the son of Joseph but the Son of God.
“Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.” Are you one to murmur? Or do you let speak in simple truth: “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” (Matt 5:37) I have heard men murmur to themselves even against God. To whom do such men address their murmurings? “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:” I will remind you here that you did not choose Christ, but Christ chose YOU in the first place! (John 15:16) The sinner, of his own volition, cannot come to Christ and be saved. This does not mean that men and women who strongly desire to come to Christ for salvation are barred from coming, but it does mean that the very desire to come to Christ is born of the conviction of the Holy Ghost working to draw that person to Christ. When we are drawn to, and accepted by, Christ, then we shall have life in the Eternity hereafter: “…..and I will raise him up at the last day.”
“It is written in the prophets.” Do you know what is written in the prophets? If you do not know, you will also fail to see Christ in a more perfect light. But, you say, the Holy Ghost will teach me all things! Then what meaneth this verse? “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you .” (John 14:26) How can the Holy Ghost bring any point of scripture to your remembrance if you have not even taken the interest to read and study it? “And they shall be all taught of God.” This is a reference by Christ to Isaiah 54:13. The first step in coming to Christ is to be taught of Him. There are a good number of churches of our day who are winging it as far as truth is concerned. They seldom make reference to Scripture for the authority they claim. How can we be taught of God unless we have read and studied His Textbook – the Bible? Christ is the very Word and Teacher!
“Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” Have you truly LEARNED of the Father? Have you been so enamored by His Word that you cannot resist going to that Fountain of Life time and again in a day? Do you thirst for the Water of Life and the Bread of Heaven? If so be it, you have also come to Christ! “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” No man has descended, OR ascended, from Heaven but Christ. We know the Father because we KNOW the SON!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life.” Christ emphasizes, through repetition, those points most needful for our souls to know. Please remember that it is He who is the Bread of Life – not Moses, not some powerful king, and not a favorite preacher – it is CHRIST! From what source do we acquire earthly bread? By the planting of seeds of wheat. The seed fall into the earth, are buried, and die to themselves in springing forth the shoot of life. That shoot strives to grow through the dark soil to the brilliant light of the Sun. It will then proceed manifold the original seed. Those wheat seed are harvested, crushed, milled, and baked in the fires of an oven until whole bread is enjoyed. Christ is that Seed of Heaven who’s planting (death and entombment) has resulted in life eternal for us. He rose from the darkness of the Tomb into the Brilliant Light of His Resurrection. His death and resurrection is producing fruit in the hearts of those who believe. The Church is His Body. Bread, also, in the Lord’s Supper, represents His Body broken for us. But we, too, have become a tiny bit of crushed grain of that Body – and all the saints before us. With what great reverence must we approach the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and with what understanding of its magnitude of meaning!
All of the lambs, goats, oxen, doves, etc. that were sacrificed as a shadow of that efficacious Sacrifice to come did not result in any other than a life limited in time and space. So the Manna that came down from Heaven was not the fulfillment of the prophecy of God in sending His Son as the Bread of Heaven. It was only a shadow to teach us the real Light. “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.” The Manna of the wilderness did not offer life eternal. The Manna of God in the form of the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, does offer life eternal if we will but consume that Bread. Have you done today? “This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” The bodies we drag about from point to point are dead, or dying, bodies. But the defeat of death by Christ on the Cross and at the Tomb, promises that these bodies can be changed into glorified bodies in Christ. As Paul says, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” (1 Cor 15:42-45)
At that general resurrection morning, how shall you be raised – to damnation on which the second death has force; or to a redeemed and glorified body that shall never see death.?