January 21st 2018: Alan Davison

Alan Davison - sept 17

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
John 6:27

So many activities in church revolve around food, when we look at the Scriptures a lot of what Jesus did revolved around food. It was an intimate occasion when people would speak with one another, when they would have fellowship. Jesus accepted various invitations to eat at people’s homes. Food is also used metaphorically in our language e.g. we ‘chew’ over ideas, we ‘ruminate’ over ideas. Perhaps it is not a surprise Jesus uses food as a metaphor to get across a spiritual meaning. There are repeated references by Jesus that He is the bread of life. People misunderstood what Jesus is saying. In today’s focus verse Jesus talks about 3 types of food: perishing food, preserving food and provided food.

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.

Perishing food

Jesus is speaking metaphorically. It’s a rebuke to the people who are listening to Him (verse 26). The vast majority had a fixation on food and its physical pleasure. Many must have been fed on the hillside the previous day and wanted more. Possibly they fed on the highest quality food they had ever experienced. They wanted physical food. This is not what Jesus meant. We do labour for food that perishes, it’s a necessity for life (Genesis 3:19). However, Jesus wants the people to stop thinking about their stomachs and focus on eternal destiny (v.28-29). The crowd still think they can do something, that their own labour will get them into heaven. Jesus was fulfilling Old Testament scripture: Isaiah 64:1-6.

Prevailing food: ‘Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.’

The first food Jesus mentioned was perishing food, it goes off, it won’t last. Prevailing food just doesn’t last, it endures for everlasting life. It does something wonderful for the people who receive it. It prevails because it achieves something. This food that prevails is different food for different people at different times in their lives. Today, a balanced diet means different things to different people. Different people have to have different diets, depending on what they need. Professional sports people have tailored diets which meet their needs; rugby forwards have different diets to rugby backs.

This also parallels our own spiritual lives. Paul said as you grow in faith you need solid food as you develop and seek godly lives. What is spiritual food? Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:51). The people were shocked. They did not understand. They hadn’t seen the spiritual implications (verse 52).

Jesus wants us to rely on Him. His care will continue throughout our lives, supplying everything we need as we grow in faith. Jesus is directing people away from themselves, not to rely on their own work. Jesus, on the cross, paid the penalty of death on our behalf. God’s wrath is dealt with. We also see God’s love, the glorious transaction, we receive His perfect righteousness in return.

Provided food: “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

His life, His righteousness. Jesus is going to give us the food we need. Jesus wants us to desire this food. We don’t work for it, this is grace, undeserved favour. Salvation is by grace. It’s all of Christ and nothing of me. Reject the food that perishes, reject our own works. Jesus Himself is the food that prevails, provided at such a great expense to Himself. He is the only way we can be good enough to stand in the presence of the Father. Give thanks to our Saviour.

 

Good Friday 2017: Rev. Dr. Gareth Edwards

Isaiah 53. Mark 15:15-20

Easter - crosses

In the past few weeks we have seen again the suffering of the people of Syria. We’re moved to sadness seeing the plight of men, women and children as evil men inflict untold misery. It moves Donald Trump into action, it moves the world to condemn. Yet when it comes to watching the suffering of our Saviour, the world, even perhaps you and I, remain unmoved. Why? Because we are responsible for this suffering. To be moved would be to acknowledge our guilt. It is right that the world is moved to tears by the people of Syria, but, oh how we should be moved by the tears of Christ.

The verses in Mark 15:15-20 fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah 53. We must consider the awful reality of the Saviour’s sufferings and repent.

Isaiah 53-5

Isaiah tells us, ‘by His stripes we are healed.’ (Isaiah 53:5). The Saviour had already suffered; His face had been beaten beyond recognition ‘And some began to spit on Him and to cover His face and to strike Him, saying to Him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received Him with blows.’ (Mark 14:65). Now He is scourged. This was common practice so the person being crucified was weakened before the crucifixion. Many died at this stage. Jesus would have been stripped and forced to bend over and flogged with a whip of thongs, to which were attached metal and bone. In Jewish law a man could only receive 40 lashes, but in Roman law there was no limitation. Jesus would have been whipped until the flesh was removed from His back. Unimaginable pain and suffering.

What was the purpose? The Romans weren’t concerned with God’s purpose. Jesus was so brutally beaten and whipped as punishment for your sin and mine. ‘Then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes.’ (Psalm 89:32). By His suffering our sin is forgiven. As horrendous as this description of the Lord’s suffering is, it doesn’t tell us of the depth and anguish of His soul as He bears the wrath of God against your sin and mine. Each stroke was blow from God for a punishment for my sin. The healing was only made possible because of the great sufferings of Christ, ‘by His stripes we are healed.’

This picture of Christ’s mutilated body should cause us great sorrow. We take sin so lightly, we excuse it. We see its true significance here. Sin is an affront to God’s nature, the most sickening sight. It must be punished. Every fibre cries out justice for your sin and mine. It demands the sufferings of hell. The Lord Jesus Christ suffered hell for your sin and mine. We must despise sin and repent of it. Trust in Christ and receive the forgiveness His sufferings alone can bring.

Isaiah also says Christ was, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.’ (Isaiah 53:7). The Lord had been bound and led around all night, dragged from one place to another. Here again, in Mark 15, we see Him being dragged around by the soldiers, first led to the barracks, ‘And the soldiers led Him away inside the palace (that is the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion.’ (Mark 15:16). They spitefully abused, mocked and spat at as they degraded Him. Then they dragged Him out to be crucified, ‘And when they had mocked Him, they stripped Him of the purple cloak and put His own clothes on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him.’ (Mark 15:20). This glorious Lord subjected Himself to be led about like a common criminal. He willingly submits. Why? Because He willingly agreed to do His Father’s will, to submit to God’s punishment for your sin and mine, ‘like a lamb that is led to the slaughter.’

Isaiah 53-7

Jesus did not resist or reject because, in love, He was going to die for me and you. What great love Christ has for us that He could endure such treatment. It’s impossible for us to see our Saviour’s willingness to die for us not to render ourselves completely to Him. He loved me so shouldn’t I love Him with all my heart, all my being, all my life? Should I not worship Him, praise Him, serve Him and love Him?

The Saviour’s experience reflects the reality of sin in hell. There is no freedom in hell, no possible escape. The opportunity for freedom lies this side of the grave. It is Good Friday because it’s the day in which the hope of Salvation came to those in bondage and set them free to serve Him. The Lord was bound so that we might go free.

‘He was despised and rejected by men.’ (Isaiah 53:3). We have already seen in Mark 14:65 that Jesus had already been mocked by the soldiers of Herod, He was now treated with contempt by the Roman soldiers. This was prophesied in Mark 10: 33-34, ‘See, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock Him and spit on Him, and flog Him and kill Him. And after three days He will rise.’ The Romans despised the Jews, so when the Roman soldiers had the opportunity they took great delight in ridiculing them. Now, even though Jesus was innocent, they call out the whole cohort, about 600 men, to mock Jesus. They dress Him as an emperor and mock Him as if He is a king. Mixed in with this sport was further cruelty as they force a crown of thorns on His head. They spit their revulsion in His face, then they put His own clothes back on Him and take Him to be crucified. ‘He was despised and rejected by men.’

The young Campbell Morgan, after passing his doctrinal exams to become a minister, then had to preach a trial sermon. After being told he was not successful, he wrote to his father one word, ‘Rejected.’ His father’s immediate response: ‘Rejected on earth. Accepted in heaven.’ Campbell Morgan went on to become a great evangelist. We are only accepted in heaven because Christ was rejected on earth. Those who mocked Jesus as the King of the Jews will have to face Him as the King of Glory. One day they will bow the knee and be filled with awe and fear at His appearance. And so it will be for all those who mock Christ today. What degradation that Jesus endured – not only physically assaulted but psychologically abused as well. He emptied Himself of all majestic glory in paying the price for our sin. Again we see that the penalty of sin is extreme – because sin is extreme. It’s the extreme rejection of the goodness of God. It justly deserves the wrath of God. The terrifying thing is those who despise and reject Christ today will be despised and rejected by God for all eternity. What a terrible fate! If men would just humble themselves before the Lord they will know the love and acceptance of God for eternity.

Romans 10-9 KJV

In Christ’s suffering we see how real our sins are, for His punishment is the punishment of our sin. We see in Christ’s suffering the greatness of His love for us. He willingly bore the torture of punishment that we might be forgiven.

Gaze upon Him and marvel that for us, He died. ‘Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.’ (John 5:24).

John 6-47