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The Shortsighted

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 22, 2024 9:00 am

The Shortsighted

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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March 22, 2024 9:00 am

These days, it seems like everyone is always up in arms about something or other. There are so many good causes out there we can fight for that it gets overwhelming!

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Today on Summit Life, JD Greer reminds us of the one thing we need more than anything. Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger. Whoever believes in me shall never thirst. The bread that he is offering is reunion with God, because that is what the human soul is missing.

That is what it is craving. They're missing the best thing because they're fixated on a good thing. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and apologist, JD Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, these days it seems like everyone is always up in arms about one thing or another. Everyone has a pet project that everyone else needs to embrace, just like they do. And the fact is there are really so many good causes out there to fight for that it kind of gets overwhelming sometimes. But today pastor JD is helping us refocus on the most important cause, the mission that actually gives everything else meaning.

We don't want to miss the forest for the trees, but instead stay focused. And he titled this message, The Short Sided, and it's part of our teaching series called Can't Believe. We're looking at the different barriers that can hold us back from really giving ourselves completely to Jesus. So let's get started in John chapter 11.

Here's pastor JD. I know that as we've gotten into this series, some of you might have been saying subtly, well, I'm just not really sure how this series applies to me because I already believe in Jesus. But you got to understand that really what Christian growth is, is learning to really believe in Jesus, to re-believe in Jesus, to take your belief from something that you acknowledge in your creed to something you lean the weight of your soul upon. To believe means to lean your weight upon something. Think of it as the difference between being in an airplane and believing that the parachute would actually guide you safely to the ground and then jumping out of that airplane.

Those are two fundamentally different things. That latter thing, that jumping out of the airplane is what John would mean when he says believe. It is belief in action.

It is belief that has leaned the weight of its soul upon this thing. So whether you're a believer or not, I think there's a lot in here for you. You might be learning to believe in Jesus for the first time. There's a large number of you also that are relearning what it means to trust and to believe in Jesus.

So there's something in here for everybody. So John chapter six. In John chapter six, we're going to encounter a group who can't believe for two reasons.

First, they don't understand their real problem. And because they don't understand their real problem, they are so focused on quick fixes that they miss the real Jesus and the real gospel when it's right in front of them. Francis Schaeffer said that if he had an hour to explain the gospel to somebody that had never heard it before, a 21st century man who had never heard it before, he would spend the first 45 or 50 minutes of that hour on the negative, trying to show this guy that he really was in a hopeless dilemma, that he really was spiritually dead, that there was no possible way he could save himself.

He said in after 45 or 50 minutes of that, I would spend the last 10 minutes, only the last 10 minutes, explaining to him the good news of the gospel. He said that a lot of our evangelistic outreach work fails today simply because we're so anxious to get to the answer that we never have people understand the problem. Well, this group in John 6 is a perfect example of that. They don't understand the problem, so they're blind to the solution when it's right in front of them. Now, I think this group today would include a lot of Republicans who believe that if societies were just free and they were all democratically governed and the government would just get out of the way, then everybody could thrive. I think that group would today include a lot of Democrats who believe that if the rich would just pay their fair share and help the poor, then there'd be enough prosperity to go around. This group would include a lot of well-intentioned social activists.

I think it would include a lot of educational reformers and public school teachers and college professors and those who are working to end world hunger and those trying to stop the sex slave trade. Good people, many of them working on very worthy projects, many of them even thinking of themselves as Christians, but the mission and the message of Jesus is secondary to them because they don't understand the real problem. Here's how you know you're in this group, by the way. You're kind of bored with Jesus. You don't hate him.

You don't hate him. Again, you probably even call yourself a Christian, but you're just not filled with love and passion for him. You see, the sign that you have encountered the real Jesus is that you are consumed with one of those two emotional extremes, either fierce hatred or consuming love.

Lukewarm feelings about Jesus, apathetic feelings about Jesus, even positive apathetic feelings about Jesus are a sure proof that you've never encountered the real guy. This same group in John 6 at the end of the chapter is going to stumble over belief for a second reason and that is because Jesus is going to drop some really hard things. Things that offend them, things that cut against the grain, things that shatter their world views, but because they are only looking for a prophet who teaches a new philosophy of life or a life coach who can give them better tips for living or a new social activist who can give them a better agenda to go out and pursue politically in the world because that's all they're looking for. They're not prepared for a gospel that rocks their world and a glorious savior who will blow their minds and they're going to look back at Jesus and they're going to say, we don't really like this part of you. We like this other part over here.

We think that's awesome, but this part right here, this is offensive. Today we'll see a lot of people who like to appropriate various parts of Jesus' message into their own, especially the parts that work with their pre-existing world views. Jesus is not a salad bar where you take the parts you like and leave the parts you don't and what he is going to tell these people at the end of this chapter is you either understand that I am the holy one from heaven and you receive everything that I'm saying or you reject me altogether.

There's not going to be a middle category. So I'm going to call this group with these two problems, I'm going to call them the short-sighted. Because they don't understand the real problem, they don't recognize the real Jesus and their problem goes back to a shortness of sight.

So, all right, let's get into it. We're going to begin reading in verse 14, so let me summarize verse 13 verses for you. John chapter 6 opens up with a problem. And that problem is that the people that are listening to Jesus are hungry.

Not metaphorically hungry, but actually physically hungry. You see, Jesus had a lot to say. And because he had a lot to say, his sermons would often go on for a long time.

Not 45 or 50 minutes like you people complain about, all right, but all day. And in this case, Jesus started his sermon sometime after breakfast, taught straight through lunch and all the way through dinner. He takes a little break after dinner and he turns to his disciples and he says to them, man, it looks like these people are getting hungry.

They're starting to get kind of cranky, what do you think I should do? Now verse 6 tells you that this was a test question because he already knew what he was going to do, so this was like a faith pop quiz. So the first disciple to respond to him, this is found in the Gospel of Luke, is Peter.

And Peter responds to him and says, that's a dumb question, Jesus. There's like 20,000 people here. I know your Bible says 5,000, but they only counted heads of household when they counted crowds, so you got to throw in a wife and a couple friends and, you know, kids or whatever. So you got about 20,000 people here, Jesus, that's not a real question. We don't have the capacity to feed 20,000 people. All right, this is kooky talk.

You got to send them home. We can't do it. Fail. Peter gets a big F. All right, second person to speak is Philip. You'll see that there in verse, I think, seven. And, or, you know, yeah, Philip says, well, 200 denarii, Jesus, is not enough to buy food for these people, even for each of them to have just a little.

Now you got to read that with the sarcasm that is intended in it. 200 denarii is eight months wages. So what he's essentially saying is, oh, yeah, Jesus, that's a great idea. We could all go get jobs right now. We could all work for eight months. We could save all of our money and then pull it together and then go out and buy each of these people like a snow cone or something. And I'm sure that's going to help the fact that they're hungry right now. Fail.

Right? Finally, one of the disciples, Andrew, says, well, I found a little boy whose momma packed him a lunch, and he says that he's willing to share it with you, Jesus, if you're hungry, so you could just duck backstage real quick and eat his lunch. We'll like, you know, distract everybody. We'll lead everybody in a song. Jesus loves me or something like that, you know, and then, and then you'll come back up and you can eat.

It started off so well, didn't it? Fail. So Jesus takes the little boy's lunch of five loaves and two fish. He prays over it, and he starts to distribute it. Well, as the disciples are distributing it, as it is in their hands, it begins to multiply.

And as it multiplies, they can't give it away fast enough. And so after everybody has eaten everything they can possibly eat, they take up what's left of this little boy's five loaves and two fish, what I've called before a Hebrew Happy Meal, and they take the leftovers of that Hebrew Happy Meal and they collect 12 bushel baskets full to overflow it. Verse 14. So when the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, this is indeed the prophet who has come into the world. Verse 15, perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, stop there for a second.

They're excited. I mean, look at what this guy just did. And they're thinking, imagine if this guy was the head of our nation. I mean, if this guy can do this with five loaves and two fish, imagine what he can do with the stock market. Talk about healing the planet.

This guy walks on top of storms. He wouldn't just fix Medicare. He could remove the need for it. But notice what Jesus does. Verse 15.

But Jesus withdrew from the mountain by himself. Now, that's a kind of strange reaction, is it not? Because usually preachers like crowds.

Take it from one. Because that lets you know that your message is connecting. But just when the crowd is really getting into Jesus, when it's taking off, when he's trending, all right, when he's trending on Twitter, he hightails it and gets out of there. This is not shyness on Jesus' part, by the way. No, he is avoiding disaster, eternal disaster. He's avoiding eternal disaster. Because you see, they're missing the point.

He didn't come to end world hunger, at least not at first, as important as ending world hunger is. He's got something even more important than that. And they are missing it.

They're missing the best thing because they're fixated on a good thing. So he goes up in the mountain and hides until nightfall. And after nightfall, he takes an evening stroll on the sea, not by the sea, mind you, but on the sea. And he walks over to the other side.

Well, somebody over there saw him and tweeted about seeing him. So the crowd, in verse 25, finally finds him on the other side of the sea and says, Rabbi, how did you get over here? Verse 26, no explanation, no explanation at all. Verse 26, he just answered them, truly, truly. Now remember, I told you in the Gospel of John, when Jesus drops a truly, truly, that means things are getting serious.

So he, boom, drops a truly, truly on him. He says, truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. He's got a different kind of bread that he's offering.

He knows that he could end world hunger and he could restore world peace and he could ensure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people and still not have dealt with the real problem. Thanks for joining us today for Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. It's the end of the week, so if you've missed any of our teaching, you can catch up anytime at jdgreer.com. I want to make sure that you've heard about our brand new featured resource this month. It's a devotional and 21-day scripture guide through the Minor Prophets called Come Back to Me. I couldn't be more excited about this devotional study that expands on our recent teaching series here on the program. Each day you'll read, study, pray, and apply the scripture. It's a perfect way to dive deeper into these books of the Bible, and like most of our resources, it would make a perfect discussion guide for someone who's exploring what it means to read the Bible or study scripture themselves for the first time. We're sending a copy to any of our listeners who support the ministry of Summit Life with a gift of $35 or more right now.

You can give today by calling 866-335-5220 or visiting us online at jdgreer.com. Now let's finish up this week's teaching here on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. So jump down to verse 34. So they said to him, sir, give us this bread always. They don't get that the physical bread he's talking about is just a picture of the real bread that he is offering from heaven. Verse 35, so they said to him, Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger. Whoever believes in me shall never thirst. The bread that he is offering is reunion with God because that is what the human soul is missing.

That is what it is craving. It's what Blaise Pascal famously called the void in every human heart. That whether you believe in God or not, there is a vacuum. There is a void, he said, that you don't exactly know why it's there or what it's hungering for, but you spend the majority of your life trying to figure out what will settle that emptiness. And so for a while when you're a teenager, you try crazy stuff, you try drugs and alcohol and sex, and then you settle down, and you try marriage, and then you try career success, and then you try retiring wealthy, and he says none of it, none of it ends up working because that hole is in the shape of God himself.

It was a hole that was created by God for God. And until you get God back into the right place in your life, nothing that you will do will satisfy, not the best romance, not the greatest amount of money that you could achieve. Jesus, you see, did not show up with merely external fixes because there was, get this, nothing external that anybody could give us, not even Jesus. There was nothing external that anybody could give us, not even Jesus, that would satisfy the starving condition of our souls. It was God that we were missing.

It was God that His gospel would restore to us. Our soul craving, you see, is not for some thing. Our soul craving is for someone. And until we've been reunited to that someone, our souls will always be famished and corrupted. This is a recurring theme throughout literature and movies. If you study literature and movies for the last hundred years, as technology develops, people start to postulate what's it like if somebody gains the ability to live forever.

And one of the recurring themes, it's pretty fascinating, is it never ends up well. Somebody figures out how to live forever, but they end up being miserable because we know, we know there's a difference between merely existing and really living. And merely existing forever is not really what we're after, it's what does it mean to live forever. When the Bible talks about eternal life, it's not just talking about existing forever. By the way, that's actually the definition of hell. Hell is you go on existing forever just apart from God. In fact, you might say that you have two options for eternity. You can go to a place of eternal existence or you can go to a place of eternal life. God offers eternal life, not just eternity of existence.

He offers eternal life, which is not a quantity of time, it is a quality of existence. They say back to him, verse 28, well then what do we got to do to be doing the works of God? All right, well tell us, how do we obtain this heavenly bread? How do we get this bread of God? Verse 29, Jesus answered them, this is the work of God for you that you believe in him whom he has sent.

It's not something you can do. This is a bread that's got to be given to you as a gift. You were powerless, you see, to restore what was lost. So God himself did the work of restoring your salvation. The bread here, by the way, is a great picture of the Gospel. In order for bread to do your body any good, it has to be broken.

Your teeth have to break it up into pieces and chew it up. Jesus would be broken for us so that he could feed us. In order for water to do you any good, it has to be poured out.

It has to be poured out and into you. Jesus' blood would be poured out so it could become the water of life to us. The meal for our starving souls would be provided for entirely by God. Our part was simply to take and eat. Just like last week, our part is simply to come and drink. Week before that, our part is to look and live. All the work of salvation God did.

And he gives you in John three different ways of saying the same thing. The healing is there. Look at it and live. The water is here. Take and drink.

Come and drink. The bread of life is here. You don't manufacture it. You don't produce it. You don't work for it. I do all the work for it.

I'm the one who's broken. I make the bread. I die. I resurrect from the dead. You just take and eat.

Take and eat. That's it. Which shows you, by the way, in those, that little, there's several set of verses there, shows you the two things, get this, that distinguish the true gospel from every false gospel ever postulated. Whether that false gospel sounds Christian or not.

Let me give you two words you ought to remember. This will help you whenever you're talking to somebody, even if they're sounding super Christian. These two words have to be the dominant things in the gospel. Number one, God.

I know that sounds like crazy, but that I would need to say that, but I do. God. The true gospel's primary focus is reconciliation with God. Jesus would not let his ministry in John six become primarily about an end world hunger or prosperity for all campaign. Even though those things are both worthy and super important, in fact, when it looked like it was about to become that, he ran away from it.

Because our problem runs much deeper than anything that could be fixed by food in our stomachs or clothes on our backs, education in our brains, or even justice in our governments. You see, the way you can tell a true gospel from a false gospel is that the real gospel has as its primary focus the restoration of God to us and the changing of the human heart so that it loves and adores God because it is fundamentally flawed. The true gospel is about God. It has as its primary focus reconciliation with God. The locus of its hope is God.

The focus of its affections is God. John Piper says it this way, the gospel is not a way to get people to heaven. That's what most of us think, right? Isn't that how most of us first like came to receive Jesus? Somebody asked us if we died tonight, do we know for sure where we go?

I don't know why we always think we'll die at night, but for whatever reason, that's always how it's phrased. If you died tonight, do you know that you go to heaven? I don't, so I better ask because I want to go up to heaven. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven. It's a way to get people to God. The primary gift of the gospel is God himself.

Indeed, until you feast on the bread of Jesus himself, all the other things that you're seeking, all the other kinds of lesser kind of breads are just going to leave you hungrier. John Piper again, indeed there are 10,000 gifts that flow from the love of God, but none of these gifts will lead to final joy if they've not first led to God. Some of you come back to church because you're looking for some secondary gift for God to give you. Oh, I really need God in my family.

I got kids now and I don't know how to figure out how to raise them. I need God to work in my marriage because my wife and I don't think we're going to make it. I need God to add balance to my life. I'd really like to go to heaven when I die. I need purpose and peace and a legacy and all that stuff.

Great. 10,000 gifts await for you when you come to God, but until they have led you to God himself and until you have possessed God who is better than all those gifts, every one of those gifts, no matter how good and how sweet, will leave you hungry. CS Lewis had a great statement on this.

I love this. It seems that our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition.

When infinite joy is offered to us. In other words, we're messing around with temporary bread when what God offers us is infinite bread. And we're so fixated on whether or not our lives are filled with this kind of bread that we miss the fact that infinitely satisfying bread is offered to us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

We are far too easily pleased and that's our problem. What a great statement. That means, by the way, church, listen, that means politics and all these activist causes are secondary.

Hear me correctly on this. I'm not saying they're not important. The Bible commands us to love and bless and take care of our neighbors.

But as important as all those political and secondary agendas are, they can never displace the centrality of the gospel message and our mission. You see, our generation is a very cause-driven generation. Isn't it? Everybody, companies are all into giving back. That's how you tell the company's good or not.

Do they give back? I call it the Bono factor. Everybody's got a cause. Everybody's got bracelets with different initiatives and a pair of those wretched Tom's shoes on their feet.

Right? That's just, that's just who we are. And that's all well and good.

It really is. But we can never lose the focus that Jesus died for Tom's soul. And Jesus provided bread for, of life for Tom's soul because people don't just need shoes on their feet. They need forgiveness of their sins. They need the bread of God's presence. So we don't want well-clothed, well-fed people who die and go to hell with free shoes on their feet. Yeah, we want to alleviate suffering.

Of course we do. That's a Christian's duty. But the most significant suffering of all is eternal suffering.

The suffering of the soul that is starving from being separated from God. So yes, we want to put bread in their stomachs. We will always do that. But more importantly, we want to point them to the bread that is given to them from heaven. When we love our neighbor, we care for them in active ways, and that's great. But we can't forget that Jesus is the bread of life. The only thing that can truly satisfy their soul. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. To listen to this message again, or to catch up on previous messages in this series, visit jdgreer.com. I'm very excited to tell you one more time about our brand new featured resource this month, which we're sending to all of our financial supporters and gospel partners. It's called Come Back to Me, and it's a workbook with nine devotionals from Pastor J.D. and a 21-day scripture reading guide. We designed this study to take you through all 12 of the minor prophets, including the seven that Pastor J.D. didn't cover in our recent Summit Life teaching series, and it's designed to help you read, study, pray through, and apply what you're encountering each day. It also includes an element of journaling to truly personalize the message. These books of the Bible so often get overlooked, but I think we've all learned through Pastor J.D.

's recent teaching just how applicable they are to our lives today. You can receive your copy today with a gift to this ministry. Give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220, or give online at jdgreer.com.

That's jdgreer.com. You also don't want to forget to follow Pastor J.D. on Facebook and Instagram for more updates and encouraging content. Before we close, let me remind you that if you aren't yet signed up for our email list, you'll want to do that today. It is the best way to stay up to date with Pastor J.D. 's latest blog posts, and we'll also make sure that you never miss a new resource or series.

It's quick and easy to sign up at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovich, and I'm so glad you joined us. Be sure to listen again next week as we continue our teaching series called Can't Believe on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-22 12:22:58 / 2024-03-22 12:33:53 / 11

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