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John19 – Why Christmas?

So they said towards him, “What may we do in order that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God: that you may believe into him whom that one sent out.” 
In this discussion recorded by John, Jesus’ first century eye-witness biographer, the “they” are part of a crowd of Jewish and Gentile listeners to Jesus. All had been miraculously fed near Tiberias, the city named after Caesar Tiberias, and had followed Jesus across the sea to Capernaum.

Their question about “work” arose because Jesus had said to them all that the only reason why they followed him was that they wanted feeding for evermore. In fact, they should have been thinking seriously about the startling significance of the feeding of 5,000 entirely from one boy’s packed lunch.

“They” therefore ask what “they” must “do” and what “work of God” to “work”. 

Please think carefully about Jesus’ reply. “This is the work of God: in order that you may believe into him whom that one sent out.” He does not designate any “work of God” to be worked by them for God. Instead, he states what is God’s work. And, most important of all, he states that by setting down the actual purpose of all the work which God is working. All God’s works, including Covid-19 and Christmas, are for one single purpose, one sole aim: “in order that you may believe into him whom that one sent out.” 

So they said to him, “So what sign are you doing, in order that we may see and may believe you? What are you working? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is having been written, ‘He gave them bread out of the sky to eat.’

This is strange. The sign – which they have just seen and have just benefitted from by being fed until replete – endorsed Jesus. But they now ask for a sign similar to the one that endorsed Moses as servant of the LORD God when he fed the people of Israel in the desert around 1350 BC by Moses. 

So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen I state to you, Moses did not give you the bread from the sky, but my Father gives you the true bread from the sky. Because the bread of God is him descending from the sky and giving life to the world.” 

Jesus explains that the bread provided through Moses was in fact also an earthly sign – so long ago – of what Jesus himself would in the plan of God provide for “the world - “life from heaven”. In fact, he himself is the Father’s gift of the true bread “descending from heaven and giving life to the world”.

So they said towards him, “Lord, always give us this bread!” Jesus said to them, “I myself am that bread of the life. The one coming towards me may not hunger, and the one believing into me will not thirst at any time.” 

Any who desire “this bread” obtain it by “coming” to him. Then, they themselves “never hunger” and “never thirst at any time”. 

“But I said to you that you also have discerned me and you do not believe.” 

This sentence is terribly sad. These people have indeed discovered the wonderful truth about the purpose of the Father and of Jesus whom he sent from heaven. But they will not come to him to actually have that “life”. 

“Everything that the Father gives to me will arrive towards me, and the one coming towards me I may never out-place outside, in that I have descended from the sky not in order that I may do my own desire, but the desire of the one who sent me.” 

Despite this rejection of Jesus, the purposes of the Father above will not be thwarted. All given to Jesus by the Father will arrive for Jesus. And none of those will be rejected by Jesus. 
‘It is a thing most wonderful, almost too wonderful to be, that God's own Son should come from heaven, and die to save a child like me. (W W How, minister and hymnwriter, 1823-1897)
“In fact, this is the desire of the one having sent me: that everything that he gave me, I may not destroy out of it, but may raise it up on the last day. Because this is the desire of my Father: that everyone observing the Son and believing into him may have eternal life, and I myself will raise him up in the last day.” 

The ultimate “will”, the single purpose, the sole aim of Jesus the Son and God his Father is again set out for them. This “will” is wonderful beyond words. It will be done. Eternal life a gift. Standing on the last day a gift. For some.

Sinner Syvret

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