“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”(John 6:37-40 (ESV)
The will of my Father. Jesus is on a bit of a roll here. He starts expounding on the will of God, the will that Jesus has been sent to accomplish. God desires that Jesus should lose nothing of all that his Father has given him, but that he should raise it all on the last day. The meaning here is that one is not lost to Jesus in death. Though death comes, those who die in Jesus, those who die looking to him and believing him will have eternal life and be raised on the last day. This is God’s plan of salvation. That we look upon Jesus.
Jesus invokes an image that has already been played a couple times. It is the image of a serpent raised in the desert, a serpent made of bronze and lifted up on a pole. It was the miraculous salvation of the Israelites when their camp was filled with snakes, fiery serpents that were killing the people as the just wages of their sin. It seems so preposterous. A person might think that God would just remove the serpents. Have them slither back into their holes among the desert crags and leave the camp alone. But he doesn’t do that. Instead he has the people look at a bronze serpent. The point is, death is part of this world. There are many ways in which we get bit by the serpent of death. And when that bite comes we can rest assured it is the result of our sin. We know this.
We know that it is the result of our sin. And so our first reaction is to try not sinning. This is where the hilarity ensues. We find it impossible. That is the reality. It is futile. This is made manifest by the fact that everyone of you knows the day will come when your number is called. Some take the other way, which to a certain degree makes more sense. They jump head long into life and try to live it up as fast as they can, perhaps even join the “forever 27 club” with Jim Morrison. Enjoy it while you can sort of attitude. The problem comes in that life lived that way is rarely enjoyed to its actual fullest because it is selfish and causes pain in others that comes back to haunt. Then again this is often the result of that other reaction to death. Trying to live life without sin. This reaction results in a life lived as a perpetual fast from the feast set before you. It despises the gifts God has put before us, and calls them evil. Let’s not bother with what the Bible says about these things, or doesn’t say about these things. I constantly marvel at how much it is that Christians actually don’t let the Bible have the last say about things. Is the Bible so daunting a book it can’t be read? You know actually it isn’t such a daunting task. Most people read way more in word count than the bible’s word count in a matter of months. They do this for work. They do this for pleasure. Stack up your favorite summertime reading next to the bible, see how long it takes for those books to overtake the Bible. Granted the Bible is printed on thinner paper and perhaps with a finer font. Still, you’d be surprised how little of it a person has to read in a day to get through it. But very few actually do. Those who do are forever enriched by it. By the way, it will challenge your morals.
It will challenge your morals. It will make you think long and hard about right and wrong. Things you can’t imagine being wrong will be shown to be wrong. Things you can’t imagine to be right will be shown to be right. The mores of society will be thrown out the window. I read an article the other day in which a guy with a middle class upbringing was telling how when he brought some “offensive” passages up to the people living on the margins of society, in jail ministry and so on, they weren’t perplexed by them at all. It is the middle class that has a problem stomaching them, the middle class that goes to church and was raised in Sunday School. These are the people who can’t stomach the Bible! The problem is they have built their house on sand and the Bible is a storm that threatens to destroy it. The sand is an ethic that isn’t Biblical, and in so many ways is an affront to God himself. It is the trick of the Old Adam. When we can’t follow God’s law, we replace it with our own, and we pull out a measuring stick with which to judge others and make ourselves feel secure. Sand. And it is often unwittingly we teach others to build on this same sand.
This is the false repentance with which man would like to deal with the serpent of death biting within the camp of Israel. If we just make God think we are sorry enough, maybe he will send the serpents away. We will try to go one better than God has commanded us. He told us not to be drunks, we won’t drink at all, and we will teach our kids that drinking is evil, pay no never mind to Jesus making water into wine. And if our pastor mentions it, we will harangue him for it, just as the fathers of Israel persecuted the prophets of Israel. One better, that is what we will do. And rather than looking at the bronze serpent raised in the desert, (I mean that thing has to be a joke, right?) we will return to the law we broke to earn our salvation. It’s dangerous when you begin to think something God has said is a joke. Or that he doesn’t mean it. The Israelites who looked to the serpent were saved from the bite of death. Their salvation was that simple because God had willed it to be that simple.
God still wills it to be that simple. No longer a bronze serpent, but his own Son lifted up for all to see. To look upon him, to believe in him, to believe that he has taken your sin from you, that is your salvation from the serpent of death, from his bite. He will not let you go or be lost when the sleep comes, but on the last day will raise you to eternal life. This is God’s will, this is God’s desire, that you would be saved from the just wages of your sin, by the blood of the cross, by his son’s death, a ransom paid to deliver you from death.