That trumpet is going to sound. Going to sound in the morning. Will you hear it? Depends on your relationship with Jesus. That’s what the sermon’s all about today.
My favorite book of the Bible is John. I love John and John gives us a window on the life of Christ that I would like to bring out. Seven times Jesus tells us something about Himself that is very unique and is very special and it's only listed here in John. So let's look at these seven windows, these seven similes, these seven metaphors that Jesus chooses.
The first one is in our scripture reading. John, chapter 6, verse 35. Jesus says here, "I am the" what? "The Bread of Life." Now, where does the best bread come from? Well, it doesn't come from an oven. It does not come from a bakery. It comes from the sky, from heaven. Remember the children of Israel. Where did that manna come from? Heaven. Where did Jesus come from? Heaven. The manna was rejected by the Israelites. They didn't like it. They said give us some flesh to eat, this manna is making us sick. We can't stand the same diet all the time, and in Jesus’ day they rejected the true Bread of Life, didn't they? So they rejected the heavenly bread, both times.
I will tell you that we need to hunger for the Bread of Life. "He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and never thirst," Jesus said. So get off your couch and take this bread. It won't help anybody for you to have the Bread of Life as a Christian. You know, we say we have Jesus. It won't do anybody any good if that bread remains in your breadbox. Get it out. Slice it. Break it and distribute it to the world. Then it will do some good.
You can't help people very much by giving them money. Leo Tolstoy in Russia decided that he would rid Moscow of all poor people and so he went out with money and he had been told that if you give poor people the money then they can buy a ticket and these beggars can go home. So he gave them all some money. But he realized he had been lied to when actually what happened, the next week he discovered these same migrants, these same homeless people were there, and he discovered that money is not the thing. You can’t help them by giving them money for very long. And finally he said, “Of all the people that I helped I really didn’t help anybody. I didn't find any unfortunates who could be made fortunate by the mere gift of money.”
So how do you really help people? You give them bread. The Bread of Life. Not just a loaf of bread that you eat but the Bread of Life. Give them Jesus and then you've really helped them. Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life."
Number two is found in John, chapter 8 and verse 12. Jesus makes another statement Himself. He not only is the Bread of Life, but here in verse 12 Jesus said, "I am the" what? "The Light of the world." Jesus is also Light. Jesus illuminates our path. We are children of the light, not of darkness, so let your light shine. When people see you, do they see doom and gloom? In church do you smile and at home you tell all the bad things. Are you two different personalities?
I read a story about a lady. There were two cars waiting at the stop light. It was red. Then the light changed to green. The man was in the front car. He didn't see that it had changed to green. The woman behind him did see that it changed to green and she became anxious. She didn’t want to be too anxious and honk her horn, so she started beating on the steering wheel and she started saying things and yelling things and it was obvious that she was very upset. The man didn't move. The woman went ballistic. She was just ranting and raving, you could see it through the window. Finally the light turned yellow, and the lady decides, “If I'm ever going to blow my horn it ought to be now.” So she blew her horn at the man. He looked up and the light was yellow, and he stepped on the accelerator and shot through the intersection just before it turned red. Well this left her at a red light. She could've made it through, had he not been such a, whatever you want to call him. Such a nitwit. So she's still raging, she's screaming and she missed her chance to get through the intersection. And there was a tap [tap, tap, tap, tap, tap] on the window of her car. She looked over and there was a policeman with a very sober face. He said, “Ma'am, turn off your car.” She turned the ignition off. He said, “Get out of your car.” She got out of her car. He said, “Put your hands on the car.” She did, and he handcuffed her, put her in the back of his squad car and took her down to the police station. And she was so flabbergasted by all this she didn't even, she didn't know what to say. She didn't say anything. And finally, she was placed, she was booked, she was fingerprinted and placed in a cell, a jail cell. After a couple of hours a police officer approached the cell and said, “You can come out now.” And she met the original patrolman that had tapped on her window and he said, “You can go now. Here are all your things.” And she said, “What happened?” And the policeman said, “Well, we’re very sorry for this mistake, but I pulled up behind you. You were in your car. I heard you blowing your horn. I saw what you were doing and you were cussing a blue streak at the car in front of you. You were blowing your horn and then I saw a ‘Choose life’ license plate on your car. And I saw a bumper sticker, ‘What would Jesus do’. On the other side was another bumper sticker, ‘Follow me to Sunday school’. And there was a chrome plated fish emblem on the back of your car. And I immediately concluded that you had stolen the car of a Christian. And so I arrested you.”
Many people will not become a Christian if they see you out of control. Don't let your wife see you out of control. Don't let your son or your daughter see you out of control. Don't rant and rave and go ballistic. Accept some of the, life happens all around us, doesn't it? Bad things happen. Do things always go our way? It's how you react to the things that shows what you're made of. And a lot of Christians are sons and daughters of the light and some aren't. And you youngsters, when you see the behavior of certain people don't focus on them, but focus on Jesus. Don’t live in the darkness. Live in the light. Maybe you've been behaving like the mad lady. You’ve been anything but light. Pray that Jesus will give you new batteries, and recharge your batteries, and that you will be a dynamic Christian full of zeal and zest and just going out to do the will of Jesus and others can see Jesus in you.
Number three is in John chapter 10, if you follow along with these seven truths about Jesus Christ. In John 10, verse seven, He says, "I am the Gate for my sheep. I am the Door." He’s the real Door to life, John 10, verse nine. The real entrance to eternal life is narrow, but that door is wide enough for you to get in. It is. It's wide enough.
United States astronaut Shannon Lucid spent the longest time in orbit of any American woman, up to that time, and finally she had been there for way over six months and she decided that she was ready to go home and they were ready. It was her time, but there was delay after delay after delay. All sorts of terrible things and finally the day came, they said, “You all are going home today.” And she said, “I just want to make one statement. I want to tell you that you can rest assured that I am not going to be on the wrong side of that hatch when it closes. I'm going to be on the right side.” And someday probation is going to close and I will tell you that I don't want to be on the wrong side. I want to be on the correct side, and I'm going to stay on that side.
Number four. John chapter 10 and verse 11, Jesus said, "I am the Good Shepherd." I am the Good Shepherd. Jesus loves you. He gives His life for you. In verse 15, He says, "I lay down My life for My sheep." He's a great shepherd. He leads you through life. He will lead you to green pastures. He will lead you beside cool water where you can get a drink. He'll take care of you. Is He your shepherd? Is he your shepherd now?
Number five. The fifth statement that Jesus makes of Himself is found in John 11 and verse 25. He says, "I am the Resurrection and the Life." He is the Resurrection and the Life. The scene here is Mary and Martha and they have just lost their brother. Lazarus’ death is something that hurt them greatly. But Jesus did not want them to see how He could mourn with them. Jesus wanted them to see a resurrection. And so He did. He raised Lazarus to life and the same Jesus that raised Lazarus can raise you, if you have that relationship with Jesus.
Number six. The next to the last one is in John chapter 14 and verse six. Jesus says here, "I am the Way, and the" what? "The Truth, and the" what? "The Life." Well, we've run across several of those, but there’s a new term, that middle one. The truth. This is an additional statement about Jesus. Jesus says, "I am the Truth." I'm not just truth, I am the Truth. The Truth. The only source of truth. Do you have the Truth in your life? Is the Truth in charge of your life?
You remember that time when Princess Diana was killed over in France? All of the photographers from these magazines were after her on motorcycles and cars and they were racing to get away from them and they had a terrible crash, and she was killed. 1997. Her chauffeur had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his bloodstream at the time of that crash. She was quickly killed, and in April of this year, this month, there was a jury. Have you been following along? And the jury concluded that high speed and alcohol were the two contributing factors to her death. It was not some big conspiracy or something, and the wrong man was at the wheel of the car.
Celebrities often spend 100 to 200 thousand dollars for a special limousine. Dignitaries will do this. A limousine that has bulletproof glass, that has all the amenities that you could want. It's got a refrigerator, it has everything, and then they go through without wearing their seatbelts. They weren’t wearing theirs, and they go through and tell the chauffeur, “Go faster, go faster.”
There's a Cincinnati-based company that builds such limousines and armored trucks, and they made this statement that many drivers in America are hired based on how friendly they are and not according to their driving skills. And after Princess Diana's death many celebrities started to pay more attention to whether their driver could get them safely to their destination rather than carry on a charming conversation.
And when you choose a religious belief to steer your life by and steer you into eternity, you'd better choose carefully. You don't really honestly want a religion that makes you feel good. That is not the criteria when you're judging. You want a religion that is thoroughly based on trustworthy, solid ground. And that Truth is Jesus Christ. You want Jesus at the religious steering wheel of your life. Amen?
Often when someone joins our Seventh-day Adventist denomination, they will say, “You know, finally I have joined the truth.” And this is the truth. The Sabbath is correct. You can’t find anything else in the Bible. Adventists value truth very highly. And that's why we value our Bibles. That's why we read our Bibles, we study our Bibles, we want to know the Bible. We want our knowledge of Bible truth to be way up there.
The King James Bible has 3,586,489 letters. Has 773,692 words. 31,173 verses. 1189 chapters, The word ‘and’ occurs 1855 times. The word ‘reverend’ is only once in the Bible. Ezra 7:21 contains all the letters of the alphabet except ‘j’. The shortest verse in the English language is John 11:35. You know, knowing all these miscellaneous facts about the Bible, is that type of knowledge saving knowledge? If you knew how much Jesus weighed and what color His hair was. Knowing facts won't save you.
What saves us? It's knowing Jesus. That's the type of knowledge that will save. Truth is more than facts. Jesus said, "I am the Truth." Truth is not a bunch of doctrines, although that is truth. Real Truth is Jesus. He said, "I am the Truth." Truth is a Person, so learn to personally know Jesus Christ.
Number seven, the last one, is in John 15, verse one, and here Jesus says, "I am the true" what? "The Vine." That's right. There are good vines and bad vines. I personally don't care much for poison ivy vines, or briars. Jesus is the True Vine. Don't hook up with briars, and the true Vine produces good fruit. Jesus makes us flourish. We bear fruit, because we are connected to Jesus Christ. That's the relationship that Jesus wants you to have with Him.
One of our church members has a vineyard. Vineyards are special and this vineyard is owned by Nat Halverson. It's over here about a block or two from our church. And I was standing in his vineyard on one hot steamy afternoon. We were talking and I happened to be checking and I thought, I want to see where the vine ends and the branch begins. You know, we are the branches and Jesus is the Vine, you know. And I tried to see if I could see where the vine ended and the branch, that connection between the two, that's what I wanted to see. I couldn't find it. It looked to me like the branch was just a continuation of that big massive vine. Couldn't spot any difference at all. They just were perfectly blended together, and that is the relationship that Jesus wants with you, is to be perfectly blended together, seamlessly. You're an extension of Jesus. That's what He wants. In fact, in John 14, verse 20, He says, “You in Me and I in you.” It’s a totally immersed situation. Jesus gives you a new position on earth. He gives you His dwelling place, just like the Temple in Jerusalem and only when you are connected to the true Vine do you become a true branch.
Without the Vine the branch cannot produce one little grape. Now you could grit your teeth, but you will be fruitless, unless you have that connection with the Vine. We've all tried it, I suppose. We say with our emotions flying, “I will be patient with this idiot.” We say in clenched teeth, “I'm going to be happy if it kills me.” We say, “I will be a cheerful tither. Where is that crazy tithe envelope?” Bless your heart. If you can't control yourself, then let Jesus be in control of you.
Go over here to Nat Halverson’s vineyard this summer during the midst of the grape season. And I want you to put your finger on the branch. Just one finger. Put your finger there. Hold it there and see if that branch is hot, and in the midst of grape producing season feel it. Is it warmer than anything else? It isn't. Now you might think that it would be. Branches don't get overheated by all the efforts that they expend to squeeze out one new grape every day. They don't get overheated. A vineyard husbandman does not have to call out the vine vet to treat all those little branches for heat exhaustion. They aren't trying harder. They are producing fruit, because why? Because they're connected to the vine. That's all. The grapes are automatic. The branches don't have to squeeze out the grapes. There's no effort involved. Check your personal connection with Jesus, if your life is fruitless. You may say, “Well I have fruit in my life. It's bad fruit.” Well, then you’re connected to the poison ivy vine.
Have you heard of Lawrence of Arabia? When Lawrence of Arabia was in Paris, right after World War I; you guys know your history. He was there with some Arab friends, and he showed his Arab friends Paris, and they went to all the… they went to the Eiffel tower. They went to all these different places, but the thing that really impressed them the most was the bathroom faucet. They were impressed with this thing in the hotel room. That's what impressed them the most. They spent a lot of time turning it on and turning it off and turning it to hot and turning it to cold. They just couldn't, they'd never seen anything like that. How you could turn that handle, you could get all the water you wanted. And later when they were ready to leave Paris and return back to the east, to the desert, Lawrence found them in the bathroom with a wrench trying to remove the faucet. He said, “What are you doing?” And they explained. “It's very hot in Arabia, and what we need are faucets. If we have faucets, we will have all the water we want.”
Well, Lawrence of Arabia had to explain that the faucets are useless, unless they're connected to the water. To that big reservoir. You’re not going to get water; here, let me squirt you with some of this. Ready? You’re not going to get water out of a faucet unless it's connected. You won't do it. They’re valuable because they are connected to the immense reservoirs of water to which they are attached. It's the connection to the water that really pays off, and the individual Christian who is unconnected to Jesus is about as valuable producing water as this thing. You won't get water out of it. John 15, verse five says, "Apart from Me, ye can do nothing." Nothing. The lives of many Christians are about as dry as this faucet.
You find yourself out there flying off the handle, beeping the horn, pounding on the steering wheel, yelling at people, waving your arms. Why is that? ‘Cause you're not connected to Jesus. You're not connected. Christians look nice. They're of no value unless there's a connection with Jesus Christ. Don't forget this point. Christians can't produce fruit on their own. Does Jesus command us to produce fruit? No. In John, chapter 15, 9 times it says abide in Me. Abide in the Vine. Abide in My love. Our job is to abide. Stay connected. Don‘t run away. Don't give up. Don't get discouraged. Don't quit.
How can you know you’re abiding in Christ? Can you know if you're connected to Christ? Can you know that? You know it if you're producing fruit. Good fruit. And how do you know if you're producing? Well, everybody knows if you're producing good fruit. Matthew 7, verse 20 says, "By their fruits shall ye know them." You know if you're saved or lost by your fruits. You can tell that. Stay connected to Jesus. Stay in a life-giving relationship, a beautiful life-giving relationship with Jesus.
Let me read you this scripture. John 15, verse one, according to The Message Bible. I read The Message Bible all the way through, from Genesis to Revelation. I like it a lot. Verse one. "I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with Me and I with you, the relation is intimate and organic. The harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated you can't produce a thing."
Let me close by saying that Jesus is the Bread of Life, not the crackers of life. Jesus is the Light of the World, not the light switch. Jesus is the Door to life, not the doorknob. Jesus is the Way to life, not the street sign. Jesus is the Truth, not the mailman. Jesus is the Shepherd, not the hired hand. Jesus is the Resurrection, not the undertaker. Jesus is the Life, not the daily grind and Jesus is the True Vine, not the little branch.
Get connected to Jesus. Stay connected to Jesus. Your life will be changed.
Let’s sing our closing hymn, number 244.
Hymn of Praise: #10 Come, Christians, Join to Sing Scripture: John 6:32-35 Hymn of Response: #244 My Song Shall Be of Jesus
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 5/26/08