Today we arrive together at REASON 6 for studying John's Gospel, and especially to take advantage of the opportunity to hear preaching on this gospel at Immanuel Chapel in Upton, MA beginning on Sunday September 4, 2011 (11:00AM). As you will have noticed from previous posts, we are taking 1 reason for each chapter of John's Gospel.
Reason 6 – John 6: Doubters are Welcome
|You'll have to read to the end to figure the picture out|
Reason #6: Doubters are welcome. What? Are you saying I can read the Bible and come to church even if I’m not entirely sure any of this is true yet? Yes, yes I am. And the great proof of this fact is found in the Gospel of John chapter 6. Not sure about Jesus? Allow me to let you in on a little secret: neither were His disciples. And much of Jesus’ ministry was directed to teach them who He was. John chapter 6 might be entitled: Who Am I? That is what Jesus is trying to teach them, and teach us. That is what much of John’s Gospel is all about. Do you know who He is? Philip (a disciple) still wasn’t sure. So Jesus tested him about how they would feed 5,000 people. Jesus asked Philip a question: “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat? (John 6:5)” Philip answered: “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little (6:7).” Philip, you see, thought Jesus was asking an economic question. He reasoned: We can’t afford to feed this crowd! But Jesus was asking a theological question. Jesus was saying, as it were, “Philip – Who am I?” Jesus was addressing Philip’s doubts.
We see this again later in the same chapter. Our Savior, knowing their doubts, meets them right where they are at. This time it was in the middle of the sea. The disciples had been rowing hard and the wind was blowing against them. Things were looking bleak. “And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them (John 6:17).” Do you feel in the dark about spiritual things? As I said before – doubters are welcome. But Jesus didn’t leave them in the dark forever. Jesus came to them, walking on the water, and we are told “they were afraid.” And notice what Jesus says to them: “It is I, do not be afraid (John 6:20).” It is I! Jesus is saying – “Do you see? Do you understand who I am? Are you beginning to figure out who your Teacher really is?”
This chapter has good news for doubters. By the end it appears the disciples are starting to get it. When Jesus asks them if they too want to leave Him, they respond “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:68-69).” Amazing grace had overcome their doubting hearts.
A personal story and application: Yesterday I was out in a kayak on an unfamiliar lake. About 45 minutes into my paddling around the perimeter I could no longer see my starting point. The lake shore had many twists and turns (I’m told it actually used to be called “crooked lake” for that reason). I honestly wasn’t sure how long it would take to get back. But I knew if I kept paddling the shore line I would eventually get to where I started. And I did. Do you have doubts about religion, about Christ? Paddle the shore line of John’s Gospel with me. Let’s follow it together and see if it doesn’t bring us some answers we’ve been looking for. Don’t be like some in John 6 that gave up too quickly: “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more (John 6:66).” They stopped paddling the shore line. Friend, don’t give up just because of your doubts. Maybe as you round the final turn of this journey you too will say you have “come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”