Earthly Kings And Heavenly Saviors

John 6:1-15, preached by Aaron Youngren on January 21, 2007

It is a symptom of the fallen state of mankind that it looks for an earthly king, when their true need is for a heavenly savior.

As our passage opens, we find a large crowd following Jesus because they have seen him heal sick people. John tells us in this passage that Jesus sees through the façade of their adoration of him to their hearts. These people want to make him a king by force so that their political and socio-economic agenda will be accomplished.

Before we judge the crowd in this story, it is important to note a few things:
1. Historically, they were the bearers of real political oppression under the rule of Rome
2. They were also under tremendous economic oppression
3. They had been subjected to horrors of a cruel foreign occupation
4. It is quite likely that this made the physical circumstances of their daily life very difficult.

In spite of these things, by trying to make Jesus their king by force they committed a number of errors:
1. Although they understood the danger of their physical circumstances, they failed to understand the danger of their spiritual circumstances as a people subject to the wrath of God
2. Although they desired justice, they failed to understand that God’s justice in the world would also mean their demise.

We are reminded of the nation of Israel shortly after their deliverance from Egypt. Although God provided for them daily, and had led them into the desert for worship, they still saw him only as a cosmic bread machine. Later, when they were finally in the Promised Land, they complained again and begged for an earthly king.

From this passage we must conclude that if we approach Jesus as merely an earthly king to take care of our earthly wants and desires – if we ignore the needs of our fallen, sinful spirits, and only engage with God as a force for the betterment of our physical circumstance – Jesus will leave us.

We can also praise God, however, that in this passage we also find Jesus fully engaged in transformation and sanctification of those he loves. So it is with Philip, who we know that Jesus has called (John 17:6). Jesus shows Philip that not only is he an earthly king, not only is he a God of wrath, but that he is also the bread of life, the heavenly savior, come to be broken in love for the hunger of the world.


5 comments so far

  1. Bryan Zug on

    Liked the sermon notes today — the images on the side spark visual interest and make the text column narrower and more readable — which usually leads to the content being easier to digest and retain.

  2. Bryan Zug on

    Great chunk of teaching — thank you Aaron — really great relaying of the story in this portion of scripture focused to highlight our spiritual need in light of the Gospel and a true framing of God’s view of ‘Justice’.

    The repeating of diverse metaphors (swimmer, sky diver, us) really stuck with with me and caused a meditation on the big ideas in this portion of scripture.

    Lost me a bit on framing the real problem as missing out on the ultimate high, but then I began to get it as you talked more — living our lives in a way that says “God is not best or enough”.

    Again — great stuff — thanks!

  3. Bryan Zug on

    Here’s a link to some notes I took this AM using MindManager — a very cool visual diagramming tool —

  4. Aaron Youngren on

    Thanks! I’m going to try to get a pamphlet I’ve been writing on the “highest high” concept (God’s glory and worship) soon. It’s based on some teaching I did for four weeks at our night service.

    Nice map.

  5. Matt Vermeulen on

    Yo! I love moments when the audience gets uncomfortably quiet and the silence is only interrupted by nervous laughs; especially when that is the design of the pastor. Such as your wife analogy. Spot on.

    But dudes, whoever has access to changing font colors, change the comment font. I can barely read it! 🙂

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