Studies in John's Gospel -- Part 9
Careless Calculating (II)
By: A.J. Higgins, M.D.
Passage: John 6
Accurate, careful calculation is part and parcel of our everyday life. Calculations can have a very dramatic effect upon our well being. In no sphere is flawless calculating more crucial than in the spiritual. In our last article we looked at errors in division and multiplication that men made when confronted with Christ and His claims in John 5. Now please take a moment to consider errors in addition and subtraction committed in John 6.
An Error in Addition
The initial response to the Lord feeding so many people in a miraculous way was to come by force and make Him king. The Lord Jesus, knowing this, left them and departed. Hadn’t the Lord come to be their King? Wasn’t it the announcement of the Magi "born king of the Jews"? Why then did He refuse?
The answer lies in an error in addition. The mentality of the crowd was that if they could add a miracle-working Christ to themselves, all would be well. Come back with me a few years and listen to the first word John the Baptist preached: "Repent," Matthew 3:2. Listen to the first proclamation of Christ, "Repent," Matthew 4:17; come further along to when He sent the twelve apostles out: "And they went out and preached that men should repent," Mark 6:12. And if perchance the message is not clear enough, consider Peter’s first great sermon on the day of Pentecost. When the crowd asked, "What then shall we do?" he echoed for the same answer, "Repent."
The gospel message does not tell men simply to add Christ as a new director to their disorganized lives. The gospel demands repentance: a change of mind about sin. It requires men to focus on the great issue of their separation from an infinitely holy God because of their sin (Isaiah 59:2). It calls upon men to discard all they trust in for favor with God, and to receive the salvation from sin purchased by Christ upon Calvary. God desires to remove sin and revolutionize our lives, not simply add a new dimension.
Men seem happy to add Christ to their lives if it might result in a better job, more food, or advancements. "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," was a successful slogan decades ago in electing one U. S. President, but it is not heaven’s motto. God’s salvation was not purchased at the tremendous cost of the blood of His Son to assure men of material advancements, but to give men eternal life, eternal security, and peace with God.
An Error in Subtraction
Our chapter contains one final error before closing: an error in subtraction. Men had been privileged to witness the to witness the miracle of Christ and to hear His promise of eternal life to all who appropriate Him as Savior. Their response was, "This is an offensive word; who can hear it?" (vs. 68-69). In essence Peter says that regardless of how humbling the charge, regardless of what terms God dictates for salvation, to whom else can sinners go? It is either Christ as Savior or perishing without Him.
God’s vivid picture book of illustration, the Old Testament, contains dramatic stories of some who turned back. Lot’s wife turned back to the sin of Sodom when God was bringing her to safety. Israel turned back in unbelief to wasted years of aimless wandering in the wilderness when brought to the edge of Canaan. Then delightful book of Ruth is a reminder of Orpah who turned back to the gods of her fathers rather than trust in the Jehovah of Israel.
So today men are brought face to face with the reality of their sin and the redemption purchased by Christ upon Calvary. Sadly…many turn back: some to sin, some to the barren of wasted lives, some to the gods of their fathers.
You, my reader, friend, must calculate for yourself.