‘I Am the Light of the World’ (Session 3) Study Buddy questions by Vicki K

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12


Jesus speaks these words at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, a Jewish feast where they would
remember how God brought them through the hostile wilderness and into the promised land. God
provided for them on their journey and guided them. The Jewish people and leaders would be familiar
with Exodus 13:21-22, ‘By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their
way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither
the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.’ and having just
finished the celebrations, it would be at the forefront of their minds. Is it a coincidence that at this point,
when the ‘party’ is over, the torches are off, that now Jesus declares ‘I am the light of the world?’ Of
course not! Nothing is a coincidence with Jesus; what he says and when he says it is meaningful and
God’s perfect plan.


Read John 8:12-30


1 a) What two things does Jesus say in v12 about who he is?
b) Look up these Old Testament verses, these are but a few verses that reference the ‘light’:
Isaiah 9:2, Isaiah 42:16; Isaiah 60:20; Michah 7:8 . i) What/who does the light refer to?
ii) Why do you think Jesus referred to himself
as the Light of the World? Who is Jesus
saying he is?


2) a) What is the darkness that Jesus refers to in 8:12 and (thinking back to the first session) John
1:4-5? Can you see evidence of darkness in the world around us and in your own heart?
b) Why is Jesus the only remedy for this darkness? Jesus says, ‘Whoever follows me will never
walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’. What does that mean to you?


3) How do the Pharisees respond to Jesus after he announces that he is the light of the world? Read
John 8:13, 19, 22, 25.


At first glance it seems the Pharisees take Jesus ‘off-topic’ as they neglect to respond to Jesus’ claim of
being the Light of the World. But Jesus uses their questions and doubts to clarify further just WHO he is.
Illuminating the fact that he really is the ‘Light of the World.’


4) a) What is it that Jesus says that authenticates His claim in 8: 13-20; 21-29?
b) Why is the cross (v.28) so significant in revealing who Jesus is?


5) How did people respond to Jesus’ teaching that he is the light of the world? John 8:30


Application (you might just want to look at one or two of these depending on time):

  • How does Christ’s promise that His followers will never walk in darkness give you reason for hope
    today?
  • How has the light of Jesus overcome the darkness that used to consume your life?
  • Think of any situations of darkness that you still know of today. How might you bring the light of
    Jesus into these situations?


Prayer

  • Thank God for shining the true Light of the World on us, so we no longer have to be enslaved to
    darkness, but have the light of life when we believe in Him.
  • Ask Him to shine the light in areas of your life that are still ‘in darkness’ and that cause you to
    stumble.
  • Ask for help to allow your life to be so consumed by the light of Jesus so that you can reflect his
    light in the dark places of this world.

Talk Notes from Esther K – ‘I AM the Bread of Life’

 

We’re continuing our series of looking at the I AM statements in John – Jesus’ declarations to his disciples and everyone about who he is. As Sharon put it last month: Jesus in his own words.

Sharon kicked things off brilliantly as we looked at the beginning of John’s gospel. We considered what John the Gospel writer said about who Jesus is, we examined the other John’s – John the Baptist’s – testimony about who Jesus is, ‘The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (1:29) and ‘this is God’s Chosen One’ (1:34).

We saw how the first disciples came to follow Jesus and their reasons for doing so: ‘We have found the Messiah,’ Andrew told his brother (1:41) and ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote,’ Philip told Nathanael. When Jesus displays supernatural knowledge of him, Nathanael declares, ‘You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel’ (1:49).

And most excitingly, we got to hear what Jesus said about himself. He identified himself as the Son of Man! Sharon unpacked what that means: It speaks of his nature and also his authority. He’s truly God but in appearance human and sharing in our human experiences. He will suffer and become the first human-esque creature to conquer sin and death.

Not only that but he’s been given authority by God. He has the ultimate power at the end of time (on the last day) to judge each soul.

Jesus repeatedly invites people to come and see who he is. And if we do, WE WILL see the place where God reveals himself and comes down among humans – and that is in Jesus.

Tonight we’re looking at John chapter 6 and the first official I AM statement in this Gospel: I am the bread of life.

Hopefully you had a chance to meet up with your study buddies to look at Jesus’ well-known miracle of feeding the five thousand. Like many/all of the miracles Jesus performed – this wasn’t just a random miraculous act but a signpost to teach us something about who he is and what’s so special about him.

The question is, how will we respond?

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand: John 6:1–15 – quick recap

So before we get to the first chunk of Scripture, let’s do a quick recap of John 6:1–15:

A significant amount of time has passed since Jesus began his ministry – we know it’s been over a year, since it was almost time for the Jewish Passover when Jesus cleared the temple courts, see the account in John 2, and now John tells us in John 6:4 that it is again almost time for the Jewish Passover.

Jesus has been traveling around, busily doing and saying all sorts of things which have gained him quite a following. He’s gone from having a few disciples to many and it’s now difficult to escape the curious crowds seeking him out wherever he goes.

However, whilst those early disciples were actively looking for the Messiah, it seems that as the crowd has grown, people’s reasons for seeking Jesus out have become more mixed.

In his commentary on John’s Gospel, Bruce Milne says the crowd in Galilee whom Jesus fed that day were peasant types, labouring hard to be able to eat – a kind of hand to mouth existence. It’s no surprise that their primary concerns are physical health and food, and understandable that they would seek Jesus out for those material things – for free too!

But Jesus doesn’t just feed the five thousand because the crowd is hungry and this is his solution. We know it’s a test of sorts for his disciple Philip, the local lad from Bethsaida near where the miracle took place. He’s already recognised Jesus as the one Moses wrote about and he’s seen Jesus perform miracles before – where will his mind go faced with this challenge …? Surely he won’t just get hung up on the practicalities? Oh.

So if it wasn’t just about filling empty bellies, what does the miracle tell us about Jesus?

It tells us that Jesus has miraculous power over material things that could only come from God and it teaches something similar about Jesus’ character to the miracle where he turned water into wine.

The transformation of water into wine was miraculous in itself (regardless of whether it turned out like supermarket own brand or the finest vintage). The account of that miracle makes it clear that nobody would have questioned wine of a less superior quality – that’s actually what they were expecting. But Jesus doesn’t provide cheap plonk, he provides ‘the best’ wine.

Likewise, multiplying five small barley loaves and two small fish to feed five thousand men (let alone the women and children likely present) was miraculous in itself. But Jesus doesn’t just provide a little taste for everyone – just enough to stop them collapsing on their way home – no, he gave them ‘as much as they wanted’ … and then some! The disciples gathered twelve baskets with the left over pieces. They ended up with more leftovers than the original picnic they started with!

In both cases, Jesus doesn’t just sustain but he satisfies.

In performing these miracles, Jesus is also defining what kind of King he is … and it becomes clear he’s not the kind of king people are after. Seeing his power and authority, the people want to forcefully recruit him to their nationalistic cause – kicking out the hated Romans and re-establishing the Davidic kingdom.

Jesus escapes their clutches … and they next catch up with him on the other side of the lake, in the synagogue in Capernaum.

 

Let’s read the first passage: Vicki Kelly to read John 6:24–40

 

Break out 1 – questions:
Why are you a Christian?

When you seek Jesus, what are you after?

What does this look like in your day to life?

How does it come out in the things you pursue, the things you ask God for, the things you expect to receive from him?

In the passage we’ve just read, Jesus displays supernatural knowledge of the people’s real motivation for seeking him and he straight up calls them out in verse 26. ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.’ Despite superficial appearances, he knows there’s nothing spiritual about their desires – they’re just basic, material desires.

It’s not their empty bellies they need to be worried about, but their spiritual emptiness. ‘Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life …’ (verse 27a).

Do we sometimes feel swamped with the daily reality of meeting basic needs? Does it feel like that’s all we do? Is it sometimes hard to see how faith connects to daily life? Yes, it’s necessary to take care of ourselves and work for things we need to survive but this isn’t meant to be the sole purpose of our lives!

Jesus doesn’t just rebuke them. Speaking about himself, he says the Son of Man WILL give them ‘food that endures to eternal life. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval’ (verse 27b).

He’s saying, the fundamental concern of our lives SHOULD be about ETERNAL LIFE! And that is the Son of Man’s alone to gift to us. When he talks about God the Father’s ‘seal of approval’ he’s saying that he’s the only one with the authority from the Father to grant eternal life.

Perhaps it’s worth pausing here to ask: do we truly appreciate that Jesus sees us and knows us. He knows our heart attitudes, he knows why we’re seeking him. It’s not hidden from him. Does that unnerve you at all?

If our motives are not quite right, it’s good that Jesus calls them out.

If he points out, ‘You’re after worthless things. But what you should really be seeking, because it’s the only way to be truly satisfied, I’m that!’ – how will we respond? With resistance and grumbling? Or will we embrace the much better, life in all its fullness that’s on offer?

Back to John 6. Perhaps a natural follow up question would be, ‘what do you mean by eternal life?’ I mean, it’s quite hard to picture isn’t it, even if you accept the principle?

However, still hung up on food and ever practically-minded, in verse 28 the crowd in the synagogue essentially say, ‘Full bellies forever? Sounds great. How do we earn it/what do we have to do to get it?’ They’re probably thinking oh boy I bet this is going to be expensive/I wonder what lengths I’ll have to go to …

I’m encouraged by Jesus’ patience here. He ignores the food obsession for now and focuses on their question about the ‘works God requires’ and comes out with this stunning statement: ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’ (verse 29).

What? All we have to do to receive eternal life is believe in/have faith in/trust in the one God’s already sent to give it to us? Isn’t that incredible? The crowd seems suspicious. It sounds too easy maybe?

And Jesus is making a big claim about himself. There’s also a sense of exclusivity. He’s saying, I’m the one God has sent and the only one who gives eternal life. You might think having seen the feeding of the five thousand Jesus has already provided ample proof but they seem to forget about that, asking for yet another sign to prove the veracity of his claim.

Maybe it’s because they’re still obsessing over food or maybe it’s because it’s almost Passover and Moses is on their minds but they bring up the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness. Having understood that Jesus might be a prophet like Moses, they want to see if he can perform similar signs.

Remember last month Sharon pointed out that when Jesus says ‘Very truly I tell you’ (or verily, verily I say unto you in King James speech) it means PAY ATTENTION. THIS IS CAPITAL ‘T’ TRUTH YOU CAN’T IGNORE? Well Jesus says that now. He’s very keen to point out that in those days it wasn’t Moses who gave the bread from heaven in the wilderness but the Lord – God the Father (verse 32) and on top of that in this day he’s giving them the true bread from heaven.

This bread won’t just satisfy the hunger of the Jewish people for a day and need to be sent anew each day. (And in fact God’s provision of Manna was never meant only to signify that God would meet Israel’s physical needs. It was meant to teach them that their whole lives were to be sustained by the Lord and governed by his word).

No, ‘the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world!’ (verse 33). Once and for all!

Wow isn’t that incredible? The crowd responds enthusiastically but if you think they’ve finally understood … I’m afraid verse 34 suggests not. ‘Sir’, they said, ‘always give us this bread.’


THEY’RE STILL THINKING ABOUT LITERAL BREAD!

Jesus finally seems to lose his patience a bit, ‘declaring’ or, as I imagine it, ‘bursting out’ with his I AM statement: “I am the bread of life.” I’m talking about myself you lot, not bread. And by the way, I’m much better than literal bread. He continues: “Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (verse 35).

We also sense his impatience in the following verse when he says, ‘as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.’

Now, given the crowd’s obsession with literal bread … we might think, are you sure that’s the best metaphor to go with Jesus?

But if you feel like ‘face-palming’ at how dense the crowd is – even if you think you understand that Jesus is using a metaphor – there’s still a danger of going off track trying to work out what it means … I admit, I went off track for quite a while.

My brain was busy fizzing away making ‘interesting’ bread connections:

What type of bread would Jesus be? Not the supermarket ‘stay-fresh-for-a-week’ loaf I remember from my childhood. (It was so bad. In my family we called it ‘chemical bread’. In fact, I don’t think you can buy it any more). Oh no, Jesus would be the fanciest freshly-baked loaf in the artisan bakery.

Or, getting a bit more biblical, I was thinking about the Lord’s prayer: ‘Give us today our daily bread …’ (Matthew 6:11, NIV)

Is this all about Jesus supplying our basic daily needs? No, Jesus already seems to have refuted this notion.

What about when Jesus was hungry having fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness and the devil tempted him?:

The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ (Matthew 4:3–4)

That kind of fits? It raises the point that we need spiritual food, and more so than we need physical feeding.

Or is this something to do with the last supper/communion? Neat as the connection sounds, it’s unlikely in this context.


Much as I clearly like to make things more complicated than they are – blame the ex-English teacher in me – I eventually came full circle and realised I should scrap all of the above and get back to the only bread reference directly relevant to this passage. The one we’ve already looked at in verses 30–33. Jesus says he’s the bread of life in response to the crowd’s question about Moses and the manna.

SO WE’VE GOT IT LET’S NOT GET HUNG UP ON BREAD … Instead, let’s look again, more closely, at what Jesus says next, ‘Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (verse 35) and in verse 40, ‘my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.’

Wow! This is truly good news! A glorious promise! Relish and enjoy Jesus, as your Lord; “come to [him],” and you will never thirst, never hunger, you will always be fully and eternally satisfied.

Yes, this is a wonderful promise! But does it raise any questions in your mind? How does it compare to the reality of your heart and mind right now?

I believe in Jesus … but can I honestly say that I’m completely content/satisfied? Am I missing something?

Maybe you’ve seen this quotation from Matt Haig’s book, Reasons to Stay Alive doing the rounds?

“THE WORLD IS increasingly designed to depress us. Happiness isn’t very good for the economy. If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more? How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing. How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration. How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything. How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws. How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out. How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind. To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act. To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence. To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.”

Does this resonate with you? How much do you recognise this influence in your own life? The crowd in Capernaum had a lot less than we have today. But are we just as materialistic, albeit at the other end of the scale?

When Jesus says, ‘I am the bread of life – it’s me – come to me and be eternally satisfied’ – how am I really responding? Is my response a bit like saying, ‘Yeah great – but actually I really want health, attractiveness, food, comfort, ease, family, happy relationships and a fulfilling job … always give me those please?’

Have I grasped how much more Jesus offers than any worldly thing which will perish and fade? Is it that I want both? Well which aspect does my life display as being more important to me and which bit looks like the ‘add on’?

In verse 40, Jesus speaks of ‘eternal life’ and raising believers up ‘at the last day’. Have I thought much about what that really means?

We know Jesus is coming back, on judgement day he’ll be the one to hand out the final verdict on everyone. As he explained back in John 5:24, ‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.’ 

Have we truly grasped what this means? How does it shape our lives, physically and more importantly – spiritually?

Do we find that because that ‘last day’ or ‘eternal life’ thing is difficult to visualise right now, we end up taking a more tangible route, mostly focusing on our material circumstances right now?

What sense do I have of the eternal life I have in Christ and what is going to matter when he raises me up on the last day? Do I live every day in a way that reflects an awareness that Jesus Christ is all I need and far more, far superior to anything this momentary life has to offer?

 

Break out 2 – questions:
Would you say you are truly satisfied? If not, can you identify the source(s) of your dissatisfaction?
If you’re feeling a bit ‘shaken’ or even wondering if you are really saved, what assurances can you find in John 6:37–40 that you are saved?

‘This is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up on the last day’ (verse 39). Let’s hold on confidently to this beautiful assurance as we continue reading.

 

Let’s read the second passage: Christine Coltman to read John 6:41–59

From here onwards, John 6 focuses on how people respond to Jesus and who he says he is.

Did you notice the crowd’s shift in mood in the passage we just read? They went from seeking Jesus to grumbling about him. Why? What’s their gripe?

They hit back with scepticism and raise a determinedly literal/material argument. How can he say he came down from heaven? We know his dad!

I don’t know if this was even a strong argument. Wouldn’t people have heard of Jesus’ miraculous birth? Ultimately though, what they’re really insisting is that Jesus is a man, just like any other. He says the Father sent him, but they don’t accept it. He’s not God’s son. He’s not from heaven.

Jesus is quick to tell them to stop their fruitless grumbling. He’s not shaken by their unbelief in any case because he knows that no one can come to him unless the Father draws them.

It’s not that he doesn’t care BUT those who will come and receive the gift are secure! And those whom the Father hasn’t drawn, who won’t accept the Son and his gift of eternal life are already condemned.

If the devil is using this to make you doubt your salvation in any way, I found this from Josh Moody’s commentary on John very helpful: Believe, and you will be saved; and if you are saved, you are secure, for God the Father has drawn you. (p. 120)

That’s not to say we have no responsibility but that there’s a close relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. Quoting Kostenberger, it says this in the commentary:

“John 6:44-46 points to the cooperative effort between the Father and the Son in bringing a person to salvation. While salvation is the result of the Father’s saving work, it is brought about by an individual’s believing reception of God’s revelation in Jesus.” (John, page 214)

If you are coming to Jesus, believing in him for salvation, you can be confident that your salvation is secure.

Anyway, back to verse 45. Jesus further makes the point about who he is and God the Father’s saving work when he paraphrases Isaiah 54.13: ‘It is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.’ He’s really saying, won’t you believe what the Prophets said? I’m the fulfilment of this prophecy. If you don’t accept me, you are not listening to or hearing the Father …

He reiterates what he’s already said: ‘Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.’

Yes the Manna from heaven was miraculous provision from God but the people who ate it still died! In me, you have something more. As Moody says in his commentary: We “have” eternal life; when we believe, we switch from the realm of death to the realm of life, and not even our physical death can interrupt that new reality which is ours through faith in this Jesus. (p. 121)

You will not die – you will be raised up on the last day and have eternal life. These verses contain precious promises to every Christian. Whoever comes to Jesus, he will never drive away because that’s the will of God himself.

Then we hit verse 51 though and afterwards the grumbling escalates sharply.

He’s told them he’s the bread of life and now he’s saying they must eat that bread! He uses even more graphic language: ‘This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’

Now, I hear this and I instantly think of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, where he acts as the substitute, atoning for the sin of the world.

But, as it hasn’t happened yet, perhaps it’s understandable that this isn’t what the crowd focuses on? I mean, they’re right back to where they started – eating. It’s unlikely that even then anyone really thought Jesus was suggesting cannibalism. That’s why they ask, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’

On the other hand, as we’ve already said, it was nearing Passover. A time to commemorate the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt. They were told to kill a lamb and smear its blood on their doorposts so that the angel of death would pass over their house. The first born sons of the Egyptians would be killed but no first born son in a house with the blood of the lamb on it would be killed.

The Passover lamb was a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrificial lamb, the One who would deliver God’s people once and for all. Not just from oppressors or a life of enslavement BUT from sin and death.

Last month Sharon spoke of John the Baptist pointing the Jews, including those who were following him, to Jesus – testifying about him saying, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29). Jesus is the ultimate Passover lamb who was slain in our place, taking away our sin and changing the judgement on us from death to life.

Was it possible for them to make the connection, with all that talk of his flesh and his blood in verses 53–57?

Something we must note is the exclusivity of Jesus’ claims in verse 53 and it’s even prefaced with another ‘Very truly I tell you …’ Pay attention! This is Truth with a capital ‘T’: ‘… unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.’

There’s no way around it. As Jesus will later say, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (14:6).

They’re going to have to decide whether the accept it or not. What will they decide? What will you decide?

Let’s read the final passage: Esther to read John 6:60–71

It’s tragic isn’t it? Here are people who were actual eye witnesses of Jesus’ life! He spoke to them directly and they saw first-hand the miraculous signs he performed. As Jews they know the Scriptures and every year, with all the different commemorative feasts and festivals, they had several prompts to remember what God had done and what he had promised.

And yet they can’t … or won’t accept what Jesus says and as a result, ‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.’

Jesus asked them, ‘does this offend you?’ Jesus seems to say, you haven’t seen anything yet! ‘Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!’ (verse 63). Oh boy, you won’t know what to do with that …

Just like he did when they first found him in the synagogue in Capernaum and they were after bread instead of eternal life, he points out their spiritual emptiness:

‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe’ (verses 63–64).

What might offend those hearing Jesus’ words today?

Those who take a relativistic view would probably be offended by the exclusivity of Jesus’ claims, by God’s sovereignty. They want to believe there are many ways to God. Nobody’s going to dictate spiritual truth to them. They want to decide what’s good and they can’t accept that only God decides what is good and what is evil.

They would certainly be offended by the idea that people they think are good, and living good, moral lives will be condemned on ‘the last day’. What? Just because they didn’t accept Jesus? That’s outrageous, they say!

Those who take a rationalistic view of things and think there’s no such thing as the miraculous or the spiritual and everything can be explained by science, would dismiss Jesus’ signs, reject the idea that there’s anything more than the material and scoff at the idea of an afterlife or a judgement day.

In verse 65 Jesus says, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’

Again, Jesus is unperturbed by the disciples who leave him. Not because he doesn’t care but because he already knew what was in their hearts and he has the assurance that he will not lose any whom the Father has given him.

Contrast this with how a person with a following today might react if people turned away from following them. I follow a number of ‘influencers’ on social media and I can tell you that if people ‘unsubscribe’ in significant numbers from their channel, they do panic. They might back-track on something they’ve said or they might try to change the type of content they’re putting out entirely to give those disappointed followers what they want (assuming they can work out what that is and deliver it).

And what about the impact on us when we’re in a crowd and others leave? Does it shake our convictions? Do we see others leaving and slip away too thinking they must have good reasons or worse just follow whatever the majority are doing? ‘Uh … this thing or person looks suspect now. We want nothing more to do with them …’

This is essentially the dilemma Jesus presents to ‘the twelve’ when he asks, ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’


I wonder what it was that was more attractive (other than a full belly obviously) to those disciples that turned away?

We have a mention of Judas Iscariot in verse 71. He turned away from Jesus. We know he betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver which shows what was more attractive to him! We also know how empty his life having rejected Jesus was. In fact, he took his own life.

Following Jesus is costly. Being a true believer is costly. But it’s worth it! Where else are we going to go? Any other thing we pursue to get life in all its abundance will fail to satisfy.

So, what will we decide to do?

What will we do when Jesus and his word are dismissed?

What if an atheist publicly challenges your faith and rejects your reasoning and explanations? What if onlookers seem to think you’ve been beaten and your belief in Jesus is illogical, irrational, anti-intellectual or naïve? Will it shake your faith in Christ? Will it tempt you to become a secret Christian? Or will you continue to outspokenly and publicly follow him?

And sadly, dismissing Jesus and his word might not just happen outside the church!

There are an increasing number of progressive or liberal churches. They claim to be Christians and followers of Jesus BUT they’re busy rejecting several things the Bible says and even things Jesus said about himself, in favour of what the world says is good and loving now.

They preach another gospel – not the true one. And they’ll tell you, ‘oh you poor/odious Bible-believing Christian. You’re hopelessly misled and your ideology is barbaric and harmful. Don’t you know we’ve progressed? Yes, we have a superior understanding to those ancient believers of the past, we NOW know what Godly love really is … and it’s basically exactly like ‘the world’ and its ideas.

Stop being so judgemental and hateful. It’s embarrassing, it’s not Christ-like, and it’s wrong. You must deconstruct your primitive beliefs and turn away from them! Come over here with us enlightened ones …

I was watching on the apologist Mike Winger’s YouTube Channel recently and he put it this way: ‘Progressive Christianity in a nutshell: “Saving Christianity from the harmful effects of Jesus and the Bible.”’

What about when we meet nice people who do good things but don’t follow Jesus? How dare you say I’m not saved? Will you be tempted then not to articulate the truth that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the father except through him?

What about when the Bible’s teaching gives us ‘brain-ache’ and seems to involve a lot of study and thinking we don’t have time for? This other way of looking at things sounds much more simple and attractive and let’s face it tangible …

What about when suffering or persecution comes and we become part of a small, ostracized minority?

What about when we become aware of or even hurt by hypocrisy and sin within the community of believers? Will we then be tempted to abandon Jesus?

What about when life is hard? We’re sick, struggling and the life of faith doesn’t seem blessed at all! What’s the point? We’re tired of everything, tired of being faithful. We might as well not be Christians for all the difference it makes?

Will we decide to follow Jesus, no turning back, no matter the cost?

Will we say like Simon Peter: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God’?

Let’s pray and then respond in worship!

 

‘I Am the Bread of Life’ (Session 2) Study buddy questions on John 6:1–15 by Esther K

As he writes in John 20:31–32, John the Gospel Writer is selective about the signs and teachings of Jesus that he shares. So, whilst reading this very familiar passage, we need to ask: why this miracle/sign and why this moment and place?

Besides the miraculous multiplication of bread and fish, what other significant details does John share that show Jesus’ intentionality in performing this sign? What was Jesus revealing and teaching, about his true nature and identity as the Messiah, when he fed the five thousand?

Read John 6:1–15 together

  1. In verse 4, John writes that ‘the Jewish Passover Festival was near’. Although it might seem like a casual mention at first glance, it is significant detail.
    1. What were Jews thinking about and celebrating in particular during the Passover Festival? (cf. Exodus 12:1–28)
    1. How does this relate to what Jesus has been sent to do?

What is Jesus teaching the people about his identity? What does he reveal about himself?

  • Jesus, seeing the crowd gathering, asks Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ and John lets us know that Jesus was testing Philip (verses 5–6)
    • What was Jesus was testing?
    • What do Philip and Andrew’s responses tell us about their understanding of who Jesus is (verses 7–9)?
  • Jesus takes charge (verses 10–12)
    • What does he say and do and how does he involve the disciples?
    • Why do you think the miracle is described in such an understated way? What does it reveal about Jesus?
    • Why do you think Jesus provided so much more than ‘enough’? What does it reveal about him/what point might he have been making?

What does this passage reveal about human nature?

  • Compare verses 2 and 14–15
    • How does John explain Jesus’ popularity with the crowd at the start? What are they seeking?
  • After seeing the miracle, people recognise Jesus as the promised Prophet. Read Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 18:15–18 to see where this realisation originates.
    • The people have grasped something of importance but verse 15 reveals they do not fully understand. Why would they want to ‘make him king by force’? What kind of king are they hoping for?

So what? What does this mean today?

  • Like the people in this passage, what are some ways you think the nature of Jesus’ kingship is misunderstood in our society and even churches today?
  • Have you become aware of any misguided perceptions you have, or had in the past, about how Jesus should act in our lives and what it means for us to follow him?
  • How could you use this passage to share the far more amazing truth about who Jesus is and what it means to follow him?

Prayer points

  • Give thanks for who Jesus is and what the sign of the feeding of the five thousand reveals about him and the abundant life he offers
  • Confess the times when you have been seeking the wrong things from Jesus and ask God to correct anything you have misunderstood about him
  • Ask God’s Holy Spirit to shape your mind and heart to love Jesus for who he is and worship and praise him for the right reasons
  • Give thanks that what Jesus offers is far more than a life supply of bread! He is the bread of life and whoever comes to him will never go hungry and whoever believes in him will never be thirsty. (See John 6:35.)

Talk Notes by Sharon D – ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ (Session 1)

It’s a privilege to speak here tonight. Thank you to everyone who has put in hard work to set up the building and the Zoom. It’s so encouraging to see so many women who are up for it, who want to get to know Jesus more and are serious about their faith. It reminds me I’m not the only one!

Sometimes we can become isolated in our faith. Charles Spurgeon, the Victorian preacher, used the idea of a coal in the fire. As Christians we can be like coals, glowing and on fire for Jesus and spurring each other on. But when we are plucked from that warmth, we cool and cease to be light in the world.

These evenings are always, for me, a chance to get back in the fire with the other coals and they always spur me on, to get back into God’s Word, face the honest truth about my Spiritual walk and cry out to God in prayer.

So my prayer for you is that, similarly, this evening you can come closer, encourage each other and get in the fire of God’s Holy Spirit, ready to burn bright for him out there in the dark world.

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We’re starting a new series of Bible studies today in the book of John. This is John’s account of the things that took place when Jesus walked on the earth 2000 years ago.

We are going to focus on the I Am statements – teaching where Jesus declares to his disciples and the whole world who he is. Jesus in his own words. And we’re going to get to know Jesus through these amazing statements of truth. Through the year, we will touch on some of the miracles as well, as the miracles Jesus does are also signposts to who he is – yet often those miracles are set right next to Jesus explaining who he is – telling us that the miracle is a demonstration of a particular thing that is so special about him.

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Today: John 1.

The opening of John is incredibly famous and usually read at Christmas. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…” Surprisingly, John doesn’t open his Gospel by saying the name of Jesus. Instead he begins with a really long introduction about “the Word” and “true Light” which leads up to and culminates eventually in the verse 17 with “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

It felt to me, as I prepared this passage, that John is almost writing his Gospel for the sceptical people, the cynical ones, who need extra proof. He starts with something we can all agree on – “In the beginning, there was something…” and goes on to demonstrate how that something came to live among us and that something was actually JESUS.

In the prologue, if you studied it with your study buddy, you’ll have explored some of the fantastic truths about who Jesus is: the Word, God, the Maker, Light, Life, able to make us children of God, glorious, full of grace and truth. He is God the one and only. He makes God known.

And John goes on to write from verse 19, about how John the Baptist saw Jesus walking past and shouted out “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Whether you have a Jewish background or not – those are awesome claims to make about someone.  Even if the bit about being “Lamb of God” and the “Passover” and so on, even if that goes over your head, “who takes away the sin of the world” is a phenomenal thing to say about someone.

And John is going to go on, throughout his Gospel, to give evidence to support that claim. To tell us about the signs and teachings and events that prove that Jesus is this Lamb of God, the Maker, the Light, the Word. Everything is written (John 20:31) “…so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

This is great. But. The sceptic in me, the cynic, doesn’t want to believe based on what someone else says. Is John trustworthy? Is he telling the truth? Like Thomas, who wouldn’t believe Jesus was alive again unless he stuck his hand in the wounds from Jesus’ crucifixion, I want to find out from the horse’s mouth.

And that’s why John’s Gospel is so great for the curious, the questioning and the doubting – because John presents the first-hand facts and allows us to investigate for ourselves: WHO IS THIS JESUS? Is he really all the things John claims that he is, in the first chapter?

Let’s hear Jesus speak for himself.

So this whole series is going to be Jesus in his own words. An invitation to BEHOLD, to look at Jesus and find that he is exactly who he says he is. And after 35 verses of preamble, of build-up, of glorious description of the Word made Flesh, introducing eye-witnesses who relate that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world… Finally we come to Jesus’ first words in the Gospel. Now at last we can hear Jesus’ words to us, revealing who he is.

  • READ THE PASSAGE. John 1:35-51

BREAKOUT 1. Look at the words Jesus actually says. The words of Christ in red.
Quick reaction – Are these overwhelming or underwhelming to you?

In this passage, Jesus meets 5 people in four separate encounters, which are really two pairs:

  1. Andrew and John
  2. … and then Andrew brings Peter along

  3. then Philip
  4. … who in turn brings Nathanael along.
  1. Andrew and John

Persons 1+2  = Andrew and John. vv 35-49

Look at what Jesus says. It’s quite something, isn’t it? Overwhelming? Underwhelming?

Andrew and John were following John the Baptist, hanging on his every word, desperate to be right with God, and John the Baptist points out to them this man, walking past: BEHOLD the Lamb of God.

Worth noting that this is the second day in a row John has said this. in verse 29, the day before this, John saw Jesus walking by and shouted out, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

The next day, he again points him out: “Look the Lamb of God!” And these two happened to be standing there, and heard him, and took the hint and they went to find out.

Jesus turns round to them and says, “What do you want?” or in the ESV and the Greek, What are you seeking?

This is such an invitation. After all we have heard so far about Jesus, the Word who was with God in the beginning, without whom nothing has been made that has been made… The one full of grace and truth… He asks them what they want. What are you seeking for?

John the Writer has not set up this encounter as a throwaway thing – he has been leading up to it for 37 verses. He is at pains to introduce us to Jesus. The fact is, that Jesus’ first words to those who would follow him are:

What do you want?

and then

Come and See.

As we read on, we will realise this is not a one-off invitation specific to Andrew and John. This is an invitation for all time to all people.

What do you want; what are you looking for?

Come and see.

And Jesus makes that invitation in the supreme confidence that, whatever it is, they will find it. Jesus asks us, also – What are you seeking? And he makes the invitation to us to Come and See, because he knows that he is it. In fact, John was originally writing in Ancient Greek and in his original language, this invitation is in the future tense: come and you will see.

  • Looking for clarity in life?  You will see, I am the light of the world…
  • Looking for safety? You will see, I am the good Shepherd…
  • Looking for belonging? You will see, I am the true vine and you are the branches…
  • Weary and looking for strength to go on? You will see, I am the bread of life…
  • Looking for hope? You will see, I am the resurrection and the life…
  • Looking for direction and moral wisdom? You will see, I am the way, the truth and the life…
  • Looking for someone who can keep promises made centuries ago? You will see, I am he…

I could go on… but those are some of the passages the other ladies are going to speak about as we go through the year.

He invites us to Come and See. Look at it for yourself. That’s a bold thing to say – and supremely confident. Because Jesus knows that, if they come, they will see. They will not be disappointed. They will not be let down.

If you are feeling disillusioned, dispirited, tired, weary, confused… disappointed, even… in your faith, listen to Jesus’s invitation and take him up on his offer. He isn’t going to judge. He is giving an invitation. A chance to bring your questions and your scepticism and see if Jesus really is as good as he says he is.

***SPOILER ALERT** HE IS

I mean, admittedly, in the context of the passage, the “come and see” is pretty banal.

Andrew and John, with Jesus who is God made flesh standing there; Jesus asks them “What are you seeking?” and all they can say is… “Can we see your Air BnB?”

I’m being flippant.

What they really ask is – can we come and abide with you? Where can we go to be with you, Jesus? What sort of life are we signing up for if we go with you?

And Jesus gives an invitation that he gives to us all. Come. And. See.

Andrew was one of those two men who took Jesus up on that offer. He stayed with Jesus from late afternoon onwards, and then he went off to find his brother.

“He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).” (verse 41)

Andrew is so convinced by what he has seen and heard while he was hanging out with Jesus, that he goes straight to his brother and says, “We have found the Messiah”. Which means Christ. Which means, the long promised King that God chose.

What a declaration!

Work backwards with me. Jesus said: “What are you seeking” and then after that, Andrew said, “We have found the Messiah.”

So what was Andrew seeking?

This is the first time that title is used in John’s Gospel. It’s a special moment.

— BUT! It’s yet another person’s opinion of who Jesus is, and not actually who Jesus himself said he was!! We want to find Jesus’ own words

So what happens next.

verse 42. “Andrew brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter)”

Jesus looks at Peter, and he knew. This is terrifying. I don’t want to butt into the I am the Light of the World talk later in the year, but when the sun is streaming through the windows into my kitchen, you can see every mark on the work surfaces, every fingerprint on the taps, all the dust in the air and the spiderwebs hanging off the ceiling. Jesus looked at Peter and he shined the light on him and he saw him… and he said…

You’re so impulsive you can’t shut up? You’re a terrible friend who will deny me three times? You’re going to die because you follow me?

NO, he says “You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). Which means “Rock”.

Jesus looks at him and he identifies him as the man he will make him into. As David Turner points out, “Jesus has authority to identify us, to remake us.”

Now this could be terrifying. Imagine that. Meeting someone with the right to identify me, to remake me.

But Jesus is the one full of grace and truth, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…. all the things we have been told about Jesus are true…

Because look! Behold! Here’s some proof, from what Jesus says. Here is not condemnation for being an idiot, or a rubbish friend, etc (which Peter totally is)  Instead Jesus directly addresses him as “Rock” . Not because he is, but because this is who Jesus will re-make him as. He sees the end from the beginning and has the power to make it come to pass.

Just like his confident “Come and you will see”, Jesus also confidently says, “You will be Peter”, knowing that it will be so, because he has the power to make Peter into the man he has called him to be.

Carson comments: “The focus is much less on what this name change means for Peter, than on the Jesus who knows people thoroughly (cf. vv43-51), and not only ‘sees into’ them (cf. vv47-48) but so calls them that he makes them what he calls them to be.”

Jesus’ words reveal that he has authority to identify us, to remake us… But remember who Jesus is – he is the one who is full of grace and truth. So yes, he knows our deepest thoughts, fears, achievements, and worries. But he is full of grace, gentle, forgiving, kind and, ultimately, good. So if anyone is going to identify and remake me – I think I would want Jesus to do that.

BREAKOUT 2. What is it about Jesus that reassures you that you are in safe hands?            If you’re not sure where to start, look back through John 1 for some of the special names given to Jesus: the Word of God, the Light that gives Life, the Lamb of God, full of grace and truth… and so on.

Jesus with Philip… Jesus with Nathanael

Look at John 1:43-51

Verse 43. Jesus meets Philip. This verse is really exciting. Throughout John 1, John the author has been giving lots of eye-witness reports about Jesus. One of the things he focusses on is the time – on the next day, on the next day, on the next day… It gives some idea of the pace in which the following around Jesus grew.

There was a lot of curiosity about Jesus. It started with some of John’s followers (Andrew and presumably John himself) and then Peter was brought to Jesus by his brother.

On the next day, something a little different happens: Jesus set out to go to Galilee and found Philip. Philip wasn’t even looking for Jesus but he heard the Lord’s direct call.

We don’t hear much more about what Philip did about that call – but in the next verse we hear that he has found someone else and is encouraging him, Nathanael, to come and see Jesus.

Whatever Philip heard and saw when he met Jesus, it convinced him that Jesus was the one “Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote”. Philip, like Andrew and John before him, was clearly looking for the one Moses and the prophets wrote about. He must have been studying his Old Testament and looking out for the rescuer God was going to send, the one who completes and fulfils the Law. What an amazing thing, that God opened his eyes and revealed that Jesus is that One, very impressive Person.

Philip continues – “We have found the one…Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph.”

It’s interesting that he introduces Jesus by Jesus’ human credentials: Where he’s from, who his father is. And that’s not very impressive.

This whole episode takes place where John is baptising people, in Bethany just next to the Jordan river in the south of the country. It’s very interesting that we’re told that Philip, Andrew and Peter were all from the town of Bethsaida (v44), and Jesus is setting out for Galilee.

You’re probably nodding wisely because you’ve heard of all these places lots of times. Let’s look at a map.

Bethany is in the south of the country; Galilee is the region in the North. Google maps says it will take me 26 hours to walk from Bethany to Nazareth; 29 hours to walk from Bethany to Bethsaida. So it’s a few day’s journey from the place where John is baptising back home. Nazareth and Bethsaida, however, where Jesus and Andrew, Peter and Philip are from, are only about 30 miles away.

Imagine Philip’s surprise and joy to find that this person who is the one the whole Old Testament points to, is actually a (relatively) local boy! He’s from Nazareth, in Galilee, near us!

It would be like travelling to London on foot to hear an amazing speaker, and meeting them walking back along the M4 and finding out that they’re from Gloucester!

Nathanael, however, thinks this is just too unlikely. Gloucester? Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?

Nathanael is a skeptic and a scholar. It seems like he and Philip have been studying Moses and the Prophets, looking for the signs of the one God promised… and in the Old Testament, there is no prophecy about Gloucester Nazareth.

Philip is not dismayed by Nathanael’s cynical response. Instead he just invites him – Come and See for yourself.

Jesus’ invitation becomes Philip’s invitation.

So often we wonder how we could persuade someone about something – how can I persuade you that the John Lewis chairs are better that the IKEA ones? I could show you the catalogue and the technical speculations, I could show you all the 5 star reviews, but the simplest thing to do is to invite you to Come and See. Come and sit on them. Come and make up your own mind.

Philip is so confident that Nathanael will be blown away by Jesus that he just invites him to come and see.

— I feel I have got sidetracked here. We’re supposed to be looking at the words of Christ. So. Here we go. verse 47. Jesus says “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

Just like before, with Peter, Jesus looked at him and saw straight through to who he truly was.

How do you know me, Nathanael replies.

Jesus wasn’t making a lucky guess. He was right – this man really is an Israelite with no trickery (There’s a little joke in here – Israel is the name given to Jacob, in the old testament. Jacob was a very tricksy and untruthful man, but after he wrestled with the Lord, physically, and was severely injured by the Lord, at the end God changed his name from “trickster” to “he wrestles with God”. So when Jesus says this to Nathanael, he’s making a little joke: “Here’s someone who wrestles with the truth about God and isn’t at all false, like Jacob was.”)

And we see that here – Nathanael wrestles with the truth about God. He didn’t instantly accept that Jesus was God’s long-promised king when Philip told him about it; he disagreed that such a person could come from Nazareth where the hillbillies live. And he even questioned Jesus’ assessment of him – “Yeah you say I really am an Israelite, but how do you know that?”

— I love this because this is the kind of reaction I have to what Jesus says in the Bible. “You say that, well prove it.” And I have so many questions and uncertainties about my faith. And I wonder – will God reject me if I don’t just blindly agree with it all?

Not at all. The invitation is to Come and See. Come and Find out.

And in fact, even though we might think Nathanael is being rude to question Jesus, the Lord has the grace and kindness to answer Nathanael.

We find that all the way through the Gospel, Jesus consistently makes the time to talk to skeptics and doubters, to discuss their fears and concerns, to reassure and console, to give them firm proof which annihilate their doubts.

Remember Martha, who couldn’t believe that Jesus could do anything to help her dead brother and ended up having a full-on theological debate with Jesus – then Jesus went on to prove it by raising Lazarus from the dead?

And Doubting Thomas who wouldn’t believe Jesus had come back to life unless he put his finger in the wounds from Jesus’ crucifixion? And then Jesus invited him to poke him and see it really was him who had died and is alive again?

— ALL of John’s Gospel is written so that we might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in his name (John 20:31). And John is out there to tell us to come and see, come and see the proof – whether you are an atheist, a very religious person, grieving, celebrating, friendless, victim of others’ poor choices, if you are hungry, or in the dark about life. Jesus says Come and See. Come and put it to the test. Because Jesus knows he absolutely is the real thing and he does not disappoint. Bring your questions; bring your doubts. Jesus is ready to answer them.

Let’s see how Jesus answers Nathanael’s challenge; How do you know me?

verse 48: “I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you.’

Hmm.

This doesn’t sound impressive or convincing. Because on my first reading I thought, “Surely Jesus isn’t just saying he has really good eyesight?”

Jesus must be implying something more, because Nathanael’s response is “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel!”

And I don’t think anyone has gone to Specsavers and come out saying that.

The commentator Kruse points out that “Jewish scholars sat under Fig Trees to study the Law.” Israel is a hot country and, at that time, mostly agricultural. There is very little in the way of formal education – no College or Open University course to take up. Nathanael is doing what young men would do to study the scriptures. Jesus says, “I saw you studying God’s Word.” Jesus sees Nathanael and he knows Nathanael.

This now starts to make a bit more sense. And it clearly meant something to Nathanael. Much like with Peter, Jesus looks at Nathanael studying the Scriptures and sees right to his heart – truly a son of Israel. Not like Jacob the trickster at all. He sees the person he is going to make Nathanael into – pure and holy. And he calls him by this name.

Carson points out: “John’s chief point here is Jesus’ supernatural knowledge… not Nathanael’s activity.” So, although the Fig Tree thing may seem a bit obscure to us, it clearly makes complete sense to Nathanael and the penny drops: Jesus understands him far more deeply that he even understands himself. He goes from doubtful and skeptical to “Rabbi you are the son of God.”

BREAKOUT 3: What convinces you that Jesus is someone worth listening to?

OK and now we reach the climax of these 5 encounters. Jesus speaks for more than one sentence!!

Verses 50-51
Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig-tree. You will see greater things than that.’ He then added, ‘Very truly I tell you, you will see “heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on” the Son of Man.’

Three amazing truths in this utterance.

  1. YOU WILL SEE…
  2. VERY TRULY I TELL YOU…
  3. the thing about heaven open and angels
  1. YOU WILL SEE

Jesus points out to Nathanael that he is believing on the basis of the thing about the Fig Tree. But then he invites him to stick with it, follow along with Jesus and makes the promise that HE WILL SEE better things, even more astonishing things… Once again, that amazing confidence Jesus has. That if we look closely at Jesus and stick close to him, he will deliver on everything he says he will do and everything he says that he is.

If you hadn’t noticed it by now, this promise of “you will see” is something I really want you to take away from this evening. When you doubt, when it just doesn’t compute, Look Again At Jesus, objectively and without prejudice, and you will see…

  • VERY TRULY I TELL YOU

If you grew up with the King James version of the Bible, this is Verily Verily I say Unto Thee…  In John’s Gospel, Jesus says this 25 times to “emphasise [the] trustworthiness and importance” of what he is about to say. It means, Pay attention. This is Truth you can’t ignore. And here is the first thing he really wants us to listen to.

  • HEAVEN OPENED AND THE ANGELS GOING UP AND DOWN ON THE SON OF MAN.

Basically, Jesus is saying, “I am the Son of Man.” He is saying, I am the one who is going to bring heaven and earth together when I die on the cross and rise again to new life.

— How did I get there?

Firstly, a very cool thing. In verse 50 he is speaking directly to Nathanael. “You will see greater things.” But now in verse 51, he opens up the promise to everyone: “you plural will see heaven opened…”

Seeing heaven opened is a poetic phrase for having a vision from God, having your eyes opened to unseen and divine things.

And what divine amazing thing does Jesus promise we will see…

“heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

This is a reference back to the story of Jacob once again. In a dream, Jacob saw angels going up and down on him by a ladder. When he woke up, he realized that this was the place where heaven and earth met, he was filled with the knowledge of God’s plans for him and for his children and his children’s children and that he would become the Father of an entire nation — Israel.

Now, Jacob’s ladder is a fantastic picture. But Jesus doesn’t even mention the ladder. He says instead that we will see the angels going up and down on the Son of Man. And that’s the focus. Not on Jacob, but himself. He, Jesus is the new Jacob, and we will see him as the person and place where God is revealed, the beginning of a whole nation – the Church. As Kruse says, “The greater things people were to see, then, would be the revelation of God in the life, ministry, death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus.”

Jesus promises that WE will see that HE IS the person that reveals God and is the first of a whole new nation, because of his death and resurrection.

And Jesus describes himself as the Son of Man.

= This is the real highlight of the whole passage. Here is Jesus in his own words.

I feel I have let you down this evening. I have not done what I set out to do, but instead done exactly what John the Writer does – given you a load of other people’s impressions of Jesus before actually showing you Jesus himself, in his own words. It’s a lot of build up, but it’s worth getting to. Jesus has been described as the Word, the Messiah, the son of God, Rabbi, the one Moses wrote about… but Jesus says of himself… I am the Son of Man.

Carson comments that Jesus used the title because it was not as loaded with political messianic baggage. “In the New Testament the title refers only to Jesus, and occurs almost always on his lips. In other words, he himself shapes its content… In the Fourth Gospel, the expression occurs 13 times and is most commonly associated with the themes of crucifixion and revelation, but also with eschatological authority.”

Jesus says “Son of Man” because it refers back to a passage in the Old Testament, Daniel 7 (verse 13), where Daniel had a vision of the end of the world and saw someone like a son of man, full of power and authority, being worshipped by everyone and having a kingdom that lasts forever. In that situation it means, someone like a human.

Jesus takes that phrase “someone like a human” and applies it to himself. Then he keeps on and on expanding on it. In the other three accounts of Jesus life, in Matthew Mark and Luke, ONLY Jesus uses this phrase and he uses it ONLY to describe himself, his power, what he has the right to do, what his death and resurrection mean. And in John’s Gospel we find the same thing. Son of Man is the way Jesus most often identifies himself.

The invitation was to “Come and See”… “Very truly I tell you, YOU WILL SEE… the Son of Man.” So what are we supposed to SEE about Jesus from his choice of phrase?

Other people call him rabbi, master, Lamb of God, even Son of God… But he introduces himself as “Son of Man”.

He is telling us that he is like a human. He is in appearance, human. And we know he was born of Mary. He has a strong link with us humans. He has come to experience with us, to suffer with us, to be the first human-esque creature to truly conquer death and sin.

He is telling us that he has authority to judge – he brings light which shines in the darkness. He sets the boundaries for what’s good and bad. He has the ultimate power at the end of time to judge each soul.

Here he also shows us that the Son of Man is the new Jacob. The new father of the new nation, the Church. The one on whom WE WILL SEE the angels going up and down. If we come and see, WE WILL SEE the place where God reveals himself and comes down among humans – and that is in Jesus.

Behold the Lamb of God – Behold the Son of Man.

This evening we’ve heard from Jesus in his own words. He meets 5 people and gets called all kind of impressive titles. But when we take up Jesus’ offer to Come and See, we will see amazing and more amazing things: that he really knows us, he knows what’s inside of us and what we will become, under his care. Jesus has authority to identify us, to remake us, as he did with Peter and Nathanael. Jesus is exactly who he says he is – the Son of Man.

If you need proof? Keep reading in John’s Gospel. The next thing he does in the next chapter is turn water into wine. A miracle which is a signpost to who he is.

After that he flexes his authority by chucking the salesmen out of the Temple.

And so on.

And so on.

Come and YOU WILL SEE

VERY TRULY I TELL YOU

I AM THE SON OF MAN

Let’s pray.