Summary of Sermon Preached by Pastor on 24 May 2020

Text: John 6:66-71

There are many who profess to be Christians today, wearing it like a badge of honour. However, when followers of Christ were first called Christians in Acts 11:26, it was used by the public as a term of ridicule and shame of those whom they reject. There were not many in those days who will openly   declare themselves to be Christians.

This leads us to a critical question: Why do you call yourself a Christian? Is it because your parents are Christians, and you have grown up in a church? Or is it because of some sensational promise that you will get health and wealth if you profess to be a Christian? If you do not have the right motive and reason for calling yourself a Christian, you will soon walk away from Christ when you meet with trials when following Christ.

This principle is borne out vividly in our text of those today. We see two groups of disciples. The first group are the false disciples who went away when they could not accept the teaching and practice of Christ. On the other hand, the second group found Christ so precious, that there was nothing in the world that could tear them away from him.

When the crowds flocked to hear the Lord Jesus Christ, he was filled with compassion because He witnessed their hunger, for there was a lack of food in the multitude. What was found were five loaves and two fish from a lad among the people. Jesus therefore took those loaves and fish, and divided them among the crowd, feeding a total of 5000 men. There were even twelve baskets of food that were left over. This was a stupendous miracle that authenticated the message and person of Christ.

However, the people became fixated on their stomachs and were soon following Jesus because of free food. They were not genuinely interested in His teachings, nor could they be bothered by spiritual things. When Jesus quietly left for Capernaum, the people even travelled to find him there, and asked Him why He did not inform them of His journey. Jesus knowing their hearts admonished them,

Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” (Jn. 6:27) 

The people saw and experienced the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, yet they were not truly seeing the miracle because they failed to consider the lesson behind the miracle. They even had the cheek to ask Jesus to perform another miracle so that they might believe in Him. But were they not fed by the previous miracle? Did it not demonstrate who Christ was and how they ought to believe in Him? Obviously, their concern was only their own stomachs and not on the teachings of Christ. 

Jesus then patiently explained to them how the miracle pointed to Him as the Bread of Life. Unlike earthly bread which can never fully and permanently satisfy our hunger, when we eat spiritually of Jesus who is the Bread of Life, we shall hunger no more, for we will have everlasting life. “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. “(Jn. 6:5458)

Alas, the men found it a hard saying, because they were wholly fixated by their carnal concerns. Christ was talking about how they should spiritually partake of Him, yet the people concluded that He was talking about giving of His flesh physically for them to eat. Thus, hugely disappointed that their empty stomachs will not be filled, they left and no longer followed Christ. How appropriate that their leaving is recorded in our Bible as John 6:66 (i.e. 666), for their spirit was always against Christ in the first place.

On the other hand, you have the other disciples who remained. When Christ asked them if they would also leave, Simon Peter gave an excellent answer. “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (Jn. 6:68) To these genuine disciples, God’s Word was their top priority, for the Words of Christ are spirit and life (Jn 6:33). They have the highest view of the teachings of Christ. It is by His perfect Words that their souls are fed. How can they therefore leave Christ? Where else should they go to have life? No matter what comes their way, they must follow Christ!

Rev. Timothy Tow gave a vivid commentary concerning this passage:

“It is not particularly enough to believe with our lips, nor with our heads. This is particularly the case of those who grow up in the Church, who being overwhelmed by long Christian tradition give mental assent. We must believe with all our heart, yea, right down to the stomach (innermost being). That was our experience with a Sunday school boy of 12 dying with heart disease. This boy requested baptism before his death. After water was sprinkled on his head, the same asked if he needed to drink the water in the baptismal bowl also. This revealed the depth of his vibrant faith.”

Today, there is also a proliferation of the health and wealth gospel, where people are asked to believe in Christ because there is a guarantee of material prosperity. This flies in a totally opposite direction from Christ, who refused to pander to the carnal desires of men. The focus is on the spiritual. Alas, how many have been taken by such teachings?

Dear reader, why do you call yourself a Christian? Do not deceive yourself concerning your answer. It does not matter whether you are a pastor or a leader of a church. Was there not one among the Twelve who betrayed Christ? Thus, possessing an office in the church is vanity, if you have never believed in Christ in the first place. And if you follow Christ for the wrong reasons, it is only a matter of time that you will soon walk away. Make sure of your salvation today.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew