[Jesus said]: “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the Last Day.”
The Son of God comes down from heaven with a purpose. That purpose is very clear: to bring life to those who had none in them. He brings life to them by taking on human nature and dwelling on earth. That human nature includes the ability to suffer death, so that others might live. So Jesus says: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
To suffer death for the life of the world, to suffer death to give life to you: that is what the Father requires of His Son. That is His will for Jesus. So Jesus makes clear throughout His ministry on earth. In one of the clearest statements about this, Jesus tells Nicodemus: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Life for the world requires that the Son of God be crucified, be dead, be buried, and rise to life again.
That is the heart of the Gospel, the Father’s desire to have you saved from your sin, delivered from eternal death, rescued from Satan’s tyranny over you. Jesus accomplishes this by giving His flesh for the life of the world. This is why we confess in the Nicene Creed about the Son of God: “who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” Coming down from heaven, being incarnate, made man: that is how the Son of God took on the flesh which He will give for the life of the world, for your life.
But note how the crowds acted when they heard Jesus speak about this: “So the Jews grumbled about Him, because He said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’” The crowds had wanted the Bread of Life. Jesus had said: “The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to world.” And the crowds had said to Him: “Sir, give us this bread always.” But when Jesus says that He is the Bread of Life and that He has come down from heaven to give life to the world, the crowds will not have it be so. It runs contrary to their senses and sensibilities.
Remember what Jesus had said to the crowds: “I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.” The people had seen the miraculous sign that Jesus had performed. They had seen Jesus bless the loaves and fish. They had eaten and been satisfied. They had believed that Jesus could repeat the miracle, that He had a divinely-given ability to do this and more. But what they saw did not lead to faith in Jesus. In fact, what they saw ran contrary to what Jesus said. The crowds knew Mary and Joseph. They had seen Jesus living in their house, being obedient to them. This did not mesh with His words: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.”
But such is the nature of the Gospel. It is not something experienced or reasoned. It is not a logical proposition which is proved by intellect to be true. No, it is only received by those who are chosen by the Father and taught by Him. Jesus alludes to this with His statement: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” Jesus makes it explicitly clear when He answers the grumbling of the people: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the Last Day. . . . Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”
By nature, no one can believe in Christ and His works of salvation. What the senses perceive and what the intellect discerns will not be the Son of God taking on human nature and living among us and offering His life in sacrifice for sinners. Those who have fallen from righteousness, those who have committed sin, those who have the flaw of sinfulness in them do not have such understanding. The Apostle Paul describes such people: “You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” The apostle uses the term “Gentiles,” but such description applies to people of all nations. The description applies to you.
But the Lord God does not leave you and others in such state. He draws people. He teaches people. The will of the Father is clear: “That everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and [Jesus] shall raise him up on the Last Day.” His Son fulfills that will by His incarnation, His obedience, His crucifixion, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension, making eternal life possible. His Father’s will is fulfilled for you by the work of the Holy Spirit teaching you through the Word of Christ, so that you may believe in the One whom the Father has sent.
So the Apostle wrote to the Ephesians: “That is not the way you learned Christ! – assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” That is what has been made known to you through the Word of Christ, but not just made known, it is made so for you. As you have received the Word of Christ and the Holy Spirit’s work through it, you can believe what Jesus says about the Father’s will for you: “All that the Father gives Me will come to me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.”
Because you have been taught by the Father, you can believe what He promises through His Son: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the Bread of Life.” You can receive as true what Jesus says about Himself: “I have come down from heaven.” The crowds could not accept such a thing, insisting that Jesus was not divine; but you can confess that He is indeed “the Son of the Most High God.” Your intellect and senses know that once life is gone, it does not come back; but you can trust the promise which Jesus makes: “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the Last Day.” Jesus says to the crowds: “You have seen Me and yet do not believe;” yet, you can rely on His statement about you: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
All this is what the Father has chosen for you to receive. It is what He has called you to have. His desire is for you to “look on the Son and believe in Him.” He has sent His Holy Spirit to teach you His good and gracious will, but not only to teach it, but to make it so for you. That good and gracious will is to have the life which only He, the Author of Life, can give. And so the Father has made it so by the sending of His Son: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
That bread which came down from heaven and gives life to the world is here for you. It was first present at Christ’s Incarnation. It hung from
That is His Father’s will, the will which Jesus fulfills for you: “That I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the Last Day. That everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the Last Day.” So you have been chosen by the Father to receive; so the Son has made possible for you to receive; so the Holy Spirit delivers to you to receive. Eat of the Living Bread that came down from heaven; for by coming to Jesus and receiving Him, you shall live forever, as His Father--your Father--so wills it.
T In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.