ONEFAMILY Outreach

ONEFamily Outreach exists to "Connect Kids to Community and Communities to Kids."

Have you considered having a mission week for your church? This is one of my favorite "in-depth" ways of reaching out with the Great News of Jesus Christ. Activities can include:

  • Interactive and participative praise concerts for children, youth, and families;
  • Morning staff studies on Servant Leadership
  • Soup lunches for the community with a gospel-study focusing on our scriptural call to justice;
  • In-service for your volunteers or teachers on reaching today's youth and families with the vibrant, living, message of Jesus Christ;
  • Evening parent seminar on "Significant Conversations: The 21-conversations you want to have with your child before they leave home";
  • Local networking with other groups to talk about starting a "Character-Based Mentoring Program" for at-risk youth in your area;
  • Humorous and thought-provoking assembly for local schools (secular or religious).

ONEFamily Outreach is primarily supported by trainings, workshops, retreats and concerts.


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Shema: Hear & Obey

John 6:41-51

The Path to God

August 10, 2003

John 6:41-51

[Jn 6:41] Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” [42] They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” [43] Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. [44] “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. [45] “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. [46] “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. [47] “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. [48] “I am the bread of life. [49] “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. [50] “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. [51] “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (NAS)

Overview

John 6:45b-47

Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. [46] “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. [47] “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. (NAS)

Shema: To Hear and Obey

One of the simplest Hebrew phrases used to define prayer is “Shema” [HSN8086 Shema], the literal translation of which is “to Hear and Obey.”  In these two verses, Jesus delineates who can come to him [GSN2064 erchomai] with an expectation of his salvation.  The phrase “to come” also means who can turn to him or who can expect his help.  He tells us that those who have heard [GSN191 akouo] and learned [GSN3129 manthano] from God can come, or “turn to,” Jesus.  Yet, the word for “heard” does not refer to an auditory awareness.  It quite literally means to give heed.  Or, the Hebrew’s would have said; “Those who hear and obey [HSN8086 Shema].” 

To come to God, turn to God, or find God; we must be constantly in a state of “Shema,” We must not only hear, but also obey.  Prayer, at its core, is not talking to God, it is listening AND obeying God.  It is silence and action, waiting and serving.  It is the balance of stillness and movement but never one or the other.

The path to Christ is Shema: To hear and obey.

John 6:41-42

[Jn 6:41] Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” [42] They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” (NAS)

“I have come down out of heaven”

It was never the intent or object of Jesus to prove who he was to anyone.  He stated his claim clearly and you either accepted him at his word or you didn’t.  He made his claims and lived an extraordinary life.  Followers were asked to hear his words and study his actions then make their commitment.

In like manner, two patterns become clear:

1.                  Jesus has offered all the proof necessary to believe in him; we need not add, embellish nor expect further “proof” that he is the Christ.

2.                  We, in turn, need not convince anyone we are Christian.  The clearest proof that Jesus is Lord of our life is the simple fruit of radical and extravagant love.  No one can argue with a changed life.  You do not need to quote scripture to all you meet or receive any special title to offer the one inarguable testimony for Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

John 6:43-44a

[43] Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. [44] “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him...” (NAS)

“Unless the Father…”

Many people might use this verse as a case for predestination; evidence that God calls some people and not others to his love.  Yet, the idea that God picks favorites is in direct contradiction to the pivotal verse of John 3:16:

John 3:16

[Jn 3:16] “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NAS)

The answer to this puzzling verse lies in the example of Christ who was the manifestation of all the scripture.

Was there anyone that Jesus did not invite to follow him?

·         We cannot say he didn’t invite the rich for he is broken for the heart of the rich young man.

·         We cannot say he rejected the chief priests for he offers Nicodemus the hope of rebirth.

·         Did he cast a blanket curse on the hated Roman conquerors for their indignities to the Jews?  No, in fact, he cites a Roman Centurion as a model of faith to his own Apostles.

In fact, there is only one group of people who did not receive Jesus’ open invitation of salvation, those who were self-righteous.

How can you save someone who is “pre-disposed” to believe that they don’t need to respond to God’s ultimate offer of salvation?  You cannot draw them to salvation.  In fact, you cannot drag [GSN1670 helko] them to salvation, which is the term used in this reading.

Our God desires to drag us to salvation; how else do you explain the sacrifice of his Son, his very heart?  How much more could anyone be expected to give?  There is NO more!  There is -NOthing greater.  Jesus made his claim, he lived the life, he died the death and he rose again; that is the heart of the witness God has to offer us.  The choice is now ours.

I will raise him up

Here is the Great News!  The one who is righteous in God [HSN6664 tsedeq], the word literally means to seek justice, this has nothing to do with self-righteousness. To God righteousness means “making things right.”  The Greek word for being raised up [GSN450 anistemi] means to “thrust upward” [GSN303 ana] and established [GSN2476 histemi] or confirmed above others.  It means to be solidly planted and standing firm.

When we “make things right,” we allow God to plant us so that we are standing firm and tall in his will.

John 6:45

[45] “It is written in the prophets, “AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. (NAS)

“It is written...” 

Jesus had an intimate knowledge of scripture (having known the author pretty intimately); yet, he rarely used scripture unless he was dealing with his religious antagonists.  Instead, he frequently told stories that were not only engaging, but were also laced with a great sense of humor.  He had a mastery of the language that rarely translates into modern English (simply because most jokes are a play on words and culture and unless we are steeped in both the language and the culture we miss the nuances of our Lord’s stories).

Also, Jesus did not need to back up every story with copious references.  His authority was his compassion, his wisdom, and his refusal to kowtow to the inept or self-aggrandizing authorities of his time. In fact, those authorities were quite often the butt of our Lord’s jokes. Jesus maintained a commitment to remain simple among the poor and, above all, to express his faith through his actions. That’s what endeared him to the people.

When I look over the list of Jesus’ qualifications as a speaker, it is difficult for me to say; “Oh yea, that reminds me of myself.”  Instead, I am reminded by how fervently I need to be in constant prayer and steeped in humility. My only possibility of representing Christ through what I say or write lies in throwing myself upon him.

“AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.”

The Messiah came to morning worship and left with nothing but a visitor’s card.

None of the religious recognized the Savior when He appeared among them!  That’s not how God wanted it to be; but it was how God knew it would be. The verses that Jesus quotes tell us how the arrival of the Messiah should have set off a celebration of unity in God’s purpose:

Isaiah 54:13

[Isa 54:13] “All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great. (NAS)

Jeremiah 31:31-34

[Je 31:31] “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, [32] not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. [33] “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. [34] “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (NAS)

If God’s priests had done their job, every man, woman, and child of God’s Chosen would have been hungry for the hint of Jesus.

There were some who recognized the Lord, even in his infant form.  Look at the touching story of Simeon and Anna; two elderly lay-people who lived lives of simple justice and awaited the presentation of the promised one for decades.

Yet, the people were lost, like “sheep without a shepherd.”  Faith was gasping for air and religiosity had taken over.  Knowledge of God replaced intimacy with him and religion—instead of binding people to God—became a tool of the wealthy.

Let us make sure that this will not be our judgment.  Let us do all we can do to carve the words of God onto the hearts of his people through extravagant kindness and emptying acts of service.

In the end, God will not ask how well we “know the bible,” he will want to know how much we loved his people.

John 6:45b-47

Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. [46] “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. [47] “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. (NAS)

“Everyone... comes to Me.”

In this verse, Jesus further delineates who will come [GSN2064 erchomai] to him.  The phrase “to come” also means who can turn to him or expect his help.  He tells us that those who heard [GSN191 akouo] and learned [GSN3129 manthano] from God can come or “turn to” Jesus.  Yet, the word for “heard” is not in reference to an auditory awareness.  It quite literally means to pay attention or give heed. We often misinterpret prayer as talking to God instead of paying attention to him.  In Hebrew, “to hear and obey [HSN8086 Shema],” is the term for prayer.  To find God, we must constantly “give heed” to his call, to hear and obey.

Prayer, at its core is not talking to God, it is listening AND obeying God.  It is silence and practice, waiting and acting.  It is the balance of the two but never one or the other.

The path to Christ is Shema: to hear and obey.

He who believes has eternal life 

The Hebrew concept of eternal life is different than ours or more accurately much broader.  Our concept of eternity tends to be from this moment forward and on to forever.  The Hebrew concept differed in two ways:

1)       It was not just “from here on,” but from the beginning of time to the end of time.

One wonders how this kind of realization is possible; but just consider the peace of a well-lived life.  Famed psychiatrist, Erik Erikson, calls the final stage of a fulfilled life, Integration.  It is the sense of accomplishment that a person feels when they look back at their life and see that it had meaning, that there was purpose both in the highs and lows of their life.

Imagine that sense of integration; yet imagine that it extends to all of eternity and not just one solitary life.  How can we fathom the joy of being included in the totality of God’s plan—and not just our individual part?  Consider the overpowering sense of awe from realizing that the love we tried best to offer furthered the work of the scope of God’s eternal Kingdom.  That “integrated realization” is what the Hebrew would call heaven! It is not just that my life had purpose, but that my life fit into God’s purpose.

2)       Eternity in God could be found not just in this moment, but every moment could be lived God’s eternal will or “delight” which is another translation for God’s will.

This is another difficult concept to explain unless you can remember a moment where a sense of joy or accomplishment was so intense that whenever you think of that moment you are awash with joy. 

For most people, such moments occur only as the result of a difficult or challenging period in their life.  For example, it might be the remembrance of the birth of a child, the completion of a major project, or being restored to health after the successful treatment of a serious illness or injury.

Heaven is that type of moment, filled with incredible joy; only the feeling is accompanied by the realization that the greatest endeavor one could ever have embarked upon is complete.  Through Christ, we are allowed the opportunity to participate in the fruition of all creation.  What greater everlasting joy could we ever know?

John 6:48-51

[48] “I am the bread of life. [49] “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. [50] “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. [51] “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (NAS)

“I am the bread of life.” 

This is one of John’s “I am” [GSN1510 eimi] statements of our beloved Lord.

Jesus declares himself:

1)       Bread of life;

[John 6:48] “I am the bread of life.” (NAS)

2)       Light of the world;

[John 8:12] Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (NAS)

3)       The Son of Man (Messiah);

[John 8:28] So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that  I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” (NAS)

4)       The Eternal One;

[John 8:58] Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham  was born, I am.” (NAS)

5)       The door to life;

[John 10:9] “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (NAS)

6)       The good shepherd;

[John 10:11] “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (NAS)

7)       The resurrection and the life;

[John 11:25] Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, [26] and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (NAS)

8)       In the Father;

[John 14:11] “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.” (NAS)

9)       The true vine;

[John 15:1] “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” (NAS)

10)   The heavenly King;

[John 18:37] Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Jesus is willing to be all of this in our life.  He is the promised one; the only hope we have of eternal life.  He makes this intensely clear to his Jewish brothers and sisters.  If there were any other way to obtain salvation, any possibility of eternal life without his sacrificial death, God would have offered it.  Allowing the murder of his son was God’s ultimate gift, there is no greater sign, there can be no other way.  This was God’s all in all.

Jesus points out that even the special relationship between the chosen people and God was not enough.  It was manna in the wilderness but not sustenance for eternal life.  Jesus had to die.

He did not compromise for us.  Let us not compromise for him.  Let us preach his word clearly; unmitigated.  Let us share what Jesus said and not just what we think.  Our hope is in the Lord not in man’s ponderings.  Seek and preach the everlasting bread of life.

Copyright Notice

Copyright © 2003 Jerry Goebel. All Rights Reserved.  This study may be freely distributed, as long as it bears the following attribution: Source: Jerry Goebel: 2003 © http://onefamilyoutreach.com.

Scripture taken from God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society original work copyright © 1995.

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