My Savior Moves Me (August 19, 2018)
My Savior Moves Me
The Jews of Jesus’ day wanted an earthly Savior who could provide for them like Moses did with the manna. We’ve been circling around this central theme for several weeks now, and Jesus keeps circling back to it in his discussion about the Bread of Life. But there was a point that they just weren’t getting. There was a need that they had that they just didn’t realize. They were unholy and needed a spiritual Savior. They thought they had it all taken care of through the sacrifices at the temple, their tithes and offerings, and the way they lived their lives. With all of these actions they convinced themselves that they could remove their guilt, pay for their sins, and actually feel good about themselves. And so, they didn’t really feel they needed what Jesus was trying to give them. Sure, they had a use for him as an earthly provider, but they didn’t feel they needed much help with the spiritual side of things.
The problem was, they didn’t realize just how sinful they really were – how deep the corruption of sin really went. And at times I think we struggle with the same disconnect. Ask yourself, “How deep do my sins go? How wicked am I really?” And now consider, what kind of a Savior do I need? do I need a Savior to guide my life and help me make the right choices? Yeah. Do I need a Savior to make up for or pay for the wrong things I’ve done in life? Yes, most definitely. But it goes far deeper even than that. Far deeper. You and I are sinful to the core. The Bible says, “nothing good lives in me” (Rm 7:18), it says, “the sinful mind is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Rm 8:7). In fact, the apostle Paul had to admit, “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing” (Rm 7:19). I’m not just smudged, dirty, or in need of a little repair. No, I am sinful to the core. There’s no fixing me. I’m completely broken, defective, hopelessly lost! A creation of God that cannot praise him or give him glory is like a clock that cannot tell time, a pen that doesn’t write, or a stove that cannot heat up food. It’s completely useless. I deserve to be thrown away, destroyed, eternally condemned. And not just me, but every human being who ever lived since the time of Adam. Again, the apostle Paul cries out what also must be our confession, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me for this body of death?” (Rm 7:24).
God could have just ended it all, you know. His perfect creation was utterly and completely ruined. He could have ended it the moment it all happened with Adam and Eve. God knew that every person after them would share the same inherent defect. In fact, he did end it during Noah’s time. God knew that if he did not drastically intervene at that point that there would be no one left on earth who awaited the Savior. In fact, the promise of the Savior, very gospel itself, would have been lost if he did not intervene at the time of Noah. God could end it each and every day for me and for you because each and every day I prove again and again that the corruption of sin is still there. Each and every day I prove to God that I deserve to be eternally condemned – handed over to the destructive fires of hell.
“The soul that sins is the one that will die” (Eze 18:20), declares the Lord. That truth stares you in the face each and every day. Consider the holiness of God without a dismissive, “Yeah, but he forgives” and you will instantly melt before the stern Word of the Lord, cowering in fearful sinfulness. But God was merciful! Not only is he infinitely more holy than we realize, but every moment he does not just end us, we instantly realize that he is also infinitely more loving than you or I could ever know. Out of love he allowed Adam and Eve to live out their days trusting in the promise that a Savior would somehow be able to fix what they destroyed. In love he preserved Noah and his family not just from the waters of the flood, but from the corruption that would have inevitably consumed his family line and the promise they clung to if left unchecked. In love he allows you and me to go on living each and every day so that you can know him, believe in him, and be covered by the perfect life of your Savior.
God was merciful to us and sent his own Son. He sent Jesus not to guide us and show us how to live a perfect life – we could never do that – but to be our perfect life. Not merely to pay the price of the wrongs we commit – though we certainly need that. But the corruption of sin is far deeper than just our thoughts, words, and actions. Jesus came to fundamentally change us. He took the place of each one of us on the scrap heap. Took into himself the sins we commit and the inherent sinfulness which corrupts us completely, and he was destroyed by God in our place. “he was pierced for [y]our transgression, he was crushed for [y]our iniquities” (Is 53:5). And this not just in some figurative or symbolic way. There is a shocking reality to sin. There is real carnal torment for sin. Hell is real. Hell is seen in the death of Jesus who gave up his flesh and blood for you. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46), he cried out as he became your sin, and was condemned in your place. All so that you and I can now marvel, “My God, My God, why have you not forsaken me?” “I am the living bread that came down from heaven” Jesus said. “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51). God has not forsaken you and me because Jesus gave up his very flesh and blood, to fix what we have broken and to preserve you for life everlasting.
Brothers and Sisters, Jesus is telling us in these verses that saving faith is so much more than just knowing about Jesus. It is so much more than just a book, or a person in distant history, or feeling spiritual. Real flesh was broken because of sin, real blood was shed for your salvation. And to get this point across to the Jews, Jesus said it in a way that would just grate on the ears of any Israelite – even many of us today. He said, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53). All their lives Jews were taught to abstain from blood. They had procedures to carefully remove all blood from the food that they ate, and now Jesus is telling them to “drink my blood.” It was repulsive to them. Yet Jesus tells them, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53).
I have to take a moment, however, to clear up a common misconception regarding these verses. These verses are not talking about the Lord’s Supper; and there’s several reasons why. First, here, Jesus uses different terms than he does for the Lord’s Supper. Here, Jesus talks about his “flesh” and “blood,” but for the Lord’s Supper, Jesus uses the terms “body” and “blood.” Second, it is very unlikely that Jesus would command the sacramental eating of his body and blood before he had instituted his Holy Supper. Third, nowhere does Scripture say that the sacramental eating and drinking of Jesus’ body and blood are an absolute requirement to gain life. Yet, in this section here, he makes it clear that eating and drinking in this way is required. Finally, Jesus guarantees that “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (Jn 6:54). It’s the same guarantee as in other places of scripture that talk about believing in Jesus (Mk 16:16; Jn 3:16). Yet Scripture does not issue such a guarantee to everyone who partakes of his body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. In fact, a person may eat and drink the sacrament unworthily and thus drink judgment on himself (1 Cor 11:29). And so, it is a spiritual eating and drinking that Jesus is encouraging here. In fact, to emphasize his point, he uses a word for “eat” that is often used to describe animals feeding. If you have a dog, you know how voraciously they can gobble up their food the moment you put their bowl on the floor. Jesus wants us to take him in and believe his words with the same intensity as an animal enthusiastically intent upon its food.
Go to Calvary and see the gut-wrenching sacrifice for sin on the cross. God is serious about sin. Then go to the empty tomb with butterflies in your stomach! God is serious about saving you. You may see a long list of sins in front of your eyes. As you look at your past, present, and even into the future you see the sins you have committed and the sins you will likely commit again. But, according to the cross of Christ, that list of sins isn’t on you anymore. No, when God looks at you through the cross, he sees perfection. He sees you as if you have never committed a sin in your life, never given into temptation, never been corrupted by sin in the first place. And it’s true! Because that is what you are through Christ. That is what he has made you. Holy and perfect in God’s sight, beloved sons and daughters. That’s what Jesus says you are to believe because of the cross. Stand at Calvary and see your sinfulness destroyed there. Stand at the empty tomb and drink in the sight. Take it into your inmost being. As surely as Jesus rose from the dead, so too a new creation rises within you – like the radiant butterfly arises from the husk of its former self. Your sins have been destroyed. You live a new life now!