If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
On Friday, Diane and I were sitting on the beach. There was a married couple sitting by us and they had two boys playing in the ocean. I told them they should read a book by John Eldridge, Wild at Heart. The mom said she had been trying to get the dad to read that book. It turns out the woman had a Christian counseling degree, and she was a prayer warrior who had a group of women who, later this month, were going to begin to fast and pray for 40 days pastors.
It also turned out that she had been a paramedic about 10 years earlier. She left that because of PTSD. However, she had a testimony how God has healed her in that. She asked about our worship and I told her we had only missed one week of gathering together on Sunday mornings through this virus. I told her if the rain held off this morning, it was 26 weeks in a row of no Sunday morning rain during our worship time together. She was amazed – not just about the rainless streak, but she said 26 was her number – that God had placed so many meaningful 26’s in her life. And when I said 26, she was flabbergasted.
And in the conversation, something she said took me to this verse in John 6:67 – “So Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?”” I told her that I had just received my sermon inspiration for Sunday. That we were taking a one week break from out Psalms of Ascent, and I was being directed to Jesus asking the disciples – “You’re not going to leave Me, too, are you?”
In seminary I learned that 50% of the pastors who are pastors today will not be a pastor in 5 years. half will quit or retire. I was skeptical until I experienced it first hand. From 2007 to 2010 I was a part of a group of four pastors who car pooled to Dayton, OH for seminary. We graduated in 2010. By 2013, two of the four of us who had graduated with masters degrees, two of the four pastors left the ministry. One was in his 20’s. One was in his 50’s. And a couple of years ago I got a text from the third one who had grown weary of all that is going on in the UMC and the text said, “And then there was one”. I knew what he meant. I called him and he told me he was leaving the ministry. That means 3 of the 4 of us were out of the ministry within 8 years. Fortunately, while they left the ministry, none of the three of them left Jesus. And I think two of the three of them were being obedient to leave the ministry – I think one left who should not have left.
One time Marjie Whitacre said, “Getting old is not for whimps”…. Well, I can tell you, neither is being a pastor. But, with God’s help, I will do it as long as He wants me to, in whatever way he wants me to. I will never leave Jesus, but I also do not want to leave His will for me. I know Diane feels the same.
Let’s pick up the Scripture – The chapter begins with Jesus feeding the 5,000. Everyone was so impressed that there was talk of taking Jesus by force and making him King. He left and went by himself to the mountain. The disciples go looking for Him and they find Him, or rather He finds them, in the storm. In the storm, Jesus enters their boat and delivers them from the storm. The next day others go looking for Jesus. They are ones who had been at the miraculous feeding. When they find Him, Jesus says, I tell you the truth, you seek me because your bellies were filled. It reminds me of the danger of feeding a stray cat. You know what happens…. what happens? When you feed it, it becomes your problem…uhhh I mean it becomes your cat. Jesus tells them they are not wrong to seek Him, but tells them to examine their motive for seeking Him. This is good brothers and sisters. Jesus says, do not work for the food that perishes, but seek after that which will last you in to eternity, which the Son of Man will give you. They ask, what shall we do that we may work the works of God. Jesus says, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. Jesus says, “the work of God is that you believe in Me”. They ask, “What will you do to make us believe in You?” Our forefathers believed in Moses because he gave them manna in the wilderness. Jesus said, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but the Father…My Father, gives the true bread from heaven, which is He who has come down from heaven. This sounds good to them, so they say we’ll have an order of that bread. To put it in context, if this conversation were happening today, we would say, make it cheesy bread and give us some marinara with it – on the side please. And Jesus says, you do not get it – Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger and the one who believe in me shall never thirst. The conversation and grumbling among themselves continues until Jesus finally goes too far and says, “My flesh is the food and my blood is the drink, and whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me.” Whoever partakes of me, will live because of me… THIS is the bread which has come down from heaven.” Jesus said this in the synagogue and in Capernaum.
The disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can understand it?” Jesus knowing they were complaining asks, “Does this offend you?” And from this time forward, many of the people who had been following him followed Him no more. Jesus looked at the twelve and asked, “Do you want to go away too?”
Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.…We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Peter was basically saying, “We have you, Jesus. You have all we need. You have the words of life. You are all we need.” Peter did not know it yet in these terms, but Jesus not only has the words of life, but Jesus is the Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
The rest of our time, I want to direct your attention to this that Jesus said in John 6:27: “do not work for the food that perishes, but seek after that which will last you in to eternity, which the Son of Man will give you.”
When the people had come seeking out Jesus only to turn away when they heard truth that offended them, they were in essence saying, “I am going to go somewhere else to look for satisfaction”. When they left Jesus, where do you think they went? Where else was there to go? We have covered this in the Psalms of Ascent series. Do you remember what I said about the phrase, “Does my help come from the hills?” In the hills there was no shortage of alternatives. There were pagan temples with fertility and sex goddesses. There were sun and moon gods, and gods who promised you a good harvest. Whatever your desire, there were hucksters who would tell you what you wanted to hear. They would promise you whatever you wanted. They would fulfill desires for the moment, but in the end, would always leave you feeling empty.
Here I am thinking of the prodigal son – I hate jumping around the Bible and introducing a different story this late in the game, but it is really the same story.
You have a son who already has the love of the father, yet the devil, I mean who else could it have been, the devil convinces the son that there are things in the world that are worth being sought out. So the son basically asks to end his relationship with his father and with his brother and goes out in to the world seeking satisfaction and fulfillment. And for a while, it probably seemed to him like he had made the right choice. Until he realized that nothing lasted. So he kept throwing all he had and all he was at these worldly things that always and only left him wanting more.
My mind always goes to a guy named Tom Shadyac, For you older folk who know who Bob Hope was – how crazy is it to say that – Shadyac, was the youngest joke-writer ever for Bob Hope. Shaydac got rich as the director of a bunch of Jim Carey movies. He desired a mansion and he could afford one. So after he bought a mansion and the movers had done their job and Shadyac moved in, he stood at the top of the rounded staircase looking down upon all he had – I’m thinking when Satan took Jesus to the top of a mountain and said all this I will give to you if you only bow to me…. but I digress, Shadyac looked down upon his mini kingdom and thought to himself that this was not fulfilling like he had envisioned. And he said in an interview if you are having your basic needs met in a $25,000 mobile home and you are not happy, you will not be happy in a mansion. He is not a Christian, but Shadyac is so close to getting it.
Peter realized that Jesus had all they needed. The prodigal realized that the Father had all he needed. And when all you desire is God, you get God. And when you get God, you get fulfillment. Sometimes toward the end of a funeral I will say, “Without Jesus, you can gain and gain and it will never be enough. And with Jesus, if you it does not matter what all you lack, you will have all you need.”
At first, I thought I was going to end up focusing on the “Are you going to take Jesus or leave Him?” And for some of you, that is the question. Like the Father of the prodigal, Jesus will let you go on your merry way to foolishly seek fulfillment in the things of and ways of the world. It’s a fool’s errand. You never will. You will die empty. If you are one who feels the need to buy the latest phone or new trucks or motorcycles, or if you are not content in your job (and I do not mean you do not try to improve your job), or if you think a new girlfriend or boyfriend or husband or wife will fulfill you, they will not.
Only Jesus satisfies, and even with Him, the devil will still take you to the top of a mountain and show you all the things you lack and tell you those will make you happy. The devil is a liar.
So for some of you, what you need to hear today is to choose Jesus.
But if you know you have chosen Him, you need to hear that He is enough. His grace is sufficient. His ways are perfect. Find fulfillment in being accepted as a child of God.
The Apostle Paul hit the nail on the head for us when he said in his letter to the Philippians: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.”
Philippians 4:6-7: Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
To know He hears me is enough. To know that I am His and He is mine is the best I can ask for.