How to Serve Man
by Pastor Mike Blitz
based on John 6:22-35
I took the title from my very favorite Twilight Zone episode of that name this morning,
because it shows a humorous picture of how efforts for perfection in this world, without
God, end up in some other direction than we intended. I dont know if many of you
remember that episode, but in short:
A race of extremely nice and cuddly aliens come to earth, appear at the UN, and
announce that they have come to help mankind to overcome all of the problems that the
human race has. Some people are suspicious of the aliens, especially the two main
characters, but most people go along with it.
After hunger and war are erased, there is peace in the world, and everyone is well
taken care of. And most people, of course, end their suspicions. Later the two characters
find a book by the aliens entitled How to Serve Man, which also puts their mind at ease,
despite it being written in the alien language on the inside.
The aliens later set up an exchange program with the humans, bringing people by the
tens of thousands to their home world, and bringing many aliens to earth. The movie ends
with a neat punch line. The two men are getting on the alien ship, and the one man looks
to the other, and says he has finally been able to translate the rest of the book, How to
Serve Man. It was, as some of you guessed, a Cook Book. Of course the aliens wanted us
nice and plump and safe. Better eating that way!
By our own powers, strengths, abilities, man has constantly tried to better life on
earth, and whenever we rely on our own power and strength, we end up leading others into
death behind us.
Sometimes we trust in others. Others whom we shouldnt trust in the slightest, and
like in that fictional tale, those roads lead to death also.
One real example of that took place at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the
twentieth centuries. There, moved by what they called the zeit geist, philosophers and
theologians decided to throw out Christianity as it was received, and re-invent thought
under the belief that modern man has evolved now to the pinnacle of what we can do.
We are smarter, better, stronger than Jesus, and others of that ancient time, and we
can remake society in a humanistic idea of perfection in body and in thought. From this,
we got the Nazis, who took purity of race and thought to mean the obliteration of
all others. This may have been extreme, but not new, and from all time, whenever man
strives of his own power, and trusts in his own depraved intellect and ability, efforts
lead to death.
A third choice is given to us in the Sixth Chapter of Johns Gospel of those who
follow Jesus wrongly. Hey, they followed him. Physically. But Jesus says that their
attempts to follow him are worthless because they dont recognize him for who he is,
and they followed him for the wrong reasons.
There are two scandals in the Gospel reading from this morning, both having a bearing
on each other, and on us as we, as Christians, seek to understand our abilities and our
infirmities. So far, in the first lesson in this scandalous chapter, we have
seen, to the modern mind, the scandal of the miraculous, and the scandal of Jesuss
words not fitting into the grids which man lays down for him to fit into, versus our needs
to accept Him at His word for who he is, and not Who we want him to be.
Last week we saw another scandal, one which will be part also of what we look at today.
Last week, we saw Christ rejecting those who come to Him. For some, that boggles their
mind, and so they either try to ignore it, or explain it away. But the rejection is
important, because it states terms of approach to God that we will look at again today,
and next week, and for the next ten years or so.
The people this week asked Christ two questions: 28. What may we do that we may work
the works of God? 30. What sign do you do that we may see and believe thee? What Work do
And actually, I would like to look at them in reverse order. The first thing that that
question probably brought to your mind when you hear them ask what sign do you do is the
same first thing that it brings to my mind. Uh
Werent you there yesterday when
all this stuff went down??
Werent you there and werent you the ones who had your bellies filled by the
loaves and fish?? And the answer is, of course yes. So what was it that they were asking
and implying, and what does that tell us about ourselves.
First, this is part of the constant comparison with Moses that permeates this chapter.
Moses, at least according to the people here, fed the Israelites, millions of them for 40
years. If Christ is better than Moses, then certainly he can do better miracles, maybe
feed them better food for much longer???
Christ rebukes their point on several counts. First of all, Moses didnt do
anything, but rather God did it all, which is clearly one of the themes of this chapter.
God performed the miracle, says Christ, which fed the people temporally, and then the
Father sent Him, Christ, to be the True food for the people, the one upon whos
feeding brings life eternal.
Second, Christ sees through their sin, and, as he refuses to respect those who have
come to him, because they came on their own terms, Here he also refuses to grant their
request, because even in granting their request, he would not help them in their faith, as
a true faith.
One of the neat things in the Bahnson debate tape with an atheist that Jay Holston gave
me, was the atheists statement that he would accept as proof of the existence of God
his podium levitating with no strings attached. Immediately I wanted to shout at him
exactly what Greg Bahnson later said to him, that he wouldnt really accept, but
later on down the line he would figure out some way to explain it away, because he
wasnt really looking for faith.
The atheist, as we do so often, relied on himself and his own wisdom. Which brings us
to the next question from verse 28.
Here the people ask What must we do to be doing the works of God. In the
Greek line there you have doing emphasized 3 times. In a sense, they are
asking What must we be doing to be doing the doings of God? They are thinking
that it all depends on their doings, their works. Jesus answers them, This is the
work of God, that you believe in Him whom he has sent.
He is telling them here not to trust in their own selves, in their own works. The Lord
is going to do some wondrous things and you people are simply going to have to accept
them, and if you dont accept them, and you do everything possible to do on your own
power, you are going to miss altogether what he has to offer.
In verse 37, Christ says that the way in which they are to come to Him is that the
Father brings them to Him. In verse 40 and 41, Christ says For this is the will of
my Father that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life and
I will raise him up on the last day. The Jews then murmured at him because He said I
am the bread which came down from heaven.
They said is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know. How can
He now say I have come down from heaven. This is another of the great scandals of this
chapter, which centers on the divinity of Jesus.
There is no way for human reason to ever reach the conclusion that God became Man.
Thats just something that lies beyond the realm of human reason alone. It goes
beyond sense experience and scientific experimentation. In other words, if Jesus, as he
came to earth in the incarnation, were to walk into this room, and you were to conduct
scientific experiments on him, measuring him, testing him with your senses, there would be
nothing about him which would indicate that He is THE GOD, the creator of the universe.
So on the one hand the fact that Christ is God and man tells us the limits of our own
intellect and our own common sense. On the other hand the scandal of God becoming man also
Because our sinful nature so often tends to lead us to believe that we can save our
society, and ourselves with a little help from our divine friend. In other words, if we
have better education, if we have better legislation, transportation, if we just run our
government more wisely, then everything we really need deep down will be provided.
Deep down we consciously understand something humiliating when we hear a Gospel that
says the only way we can be saved is for God to become man. Well thats humiliating,
but if God only became man to instruct us better in the ways of good government and
education, that might not be so humiliating. It may be problematic but it wouldnt be
an insurmountable problem.
But the Gospel goes a lot farther. It says, NO! You guys cant save
yourselves; in fact you cant even save yourselves with God just helping you. God
became man not just to help you, instruct you, and guide you but the only way for you to
be saved is for God to become man and then die. He has to die because your sins have so
corrupted you that there is no possibility of you saving yourselves, there is no
possibility of you even working a deal with God that he will come down and make the
teachings a little clearer, so you will work a little harder and save yourselves.
It isn't a 50/50 proposition. God has to do everything and before we can even begin to
do a single work that pleases Him, God has to completely fill us with his own life and his
own power. So when verse 29 says This is the work of God that you believe in Him,
whom he has sent. recognize that merely natural human belief is not enough.
Back in chapter 2 vs. 23 we read many believed in his name when they saw the signs he
did, but Jesus would not believe himself to them. So merely natural human belief is not
what Chapter 6 vs. 29 is talking about. The only way for us to be saved is for God to
become Man, and then die and then rise and then pour out his Holy Spirit to completely
give us a new nature. His own nature. Anything less just wont do.
And that is insulting. It is an insult to the intelligence to say that this 33 year old
Palestinian Jew, this Galilean, is the eternal all powerful creator and sustainer of the
universe. It is a slap across the face to our intellect and any claim our minds may have
of sufficiency in and of themselves in the realm of reality.
But then to make to make matters worse, to add insult to injury, the Lord says, it is
not enough for me simply to become one of you, you need to rip me to shreds. I have to let
you crucify me. And even then, you are not going to wake up.
apart from me, you can do nothing. On your own, you are incapable of
doing what I made you for.
You are not really going to be saved until I fill you with my nature, not just in a
spiritual, ethereal misty sort of way, but it isnt until you are done eating my
flesh and drinking my blood that you will be sufficiently filled with my nature for you to
finally be saved.
This is what Peter speaks about in Second Peter 1:4 when he speaks about becoming
partakers of the divine nature. If you have a Bible with you turn to that, and we will
come back to that in a second. Adam and Eve have given us a legacy, a lethal legacy of
spiritual death, ignorance, weakness, sin, and Defilement to their progeny. All of us as
offspring of Adam need to be united to a new family, a new covenant and new Adam.
That is how Paul describes Christ in Romans 5 and 1 Cor. 15. A new Moses, a new Adam, a
New Covenant, a new family, which means new Flesh and Blood, which means that you all have
to get out of the Trap known as the Human Race. Adams family. Think of the old TV
show. The Adams Family. A bunch of lovable monsters. Well that is what Adams family
is in reality. A bunch of lovable monsters. And we have got to yolk ourselves to become
part of the family of God.
But in Christ, says Peter, he has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises
that by these ye might be partakers of the DIVINE NATURE.
If you remember from our Thursday night study on the Lords Supper, we spoke about
the ideas of what a nature is, which laid the background not only to the writing of the
Creeds, but even for the New Testament writers. A nature is something external to us, a
universal, which we are partakers of through our birth.
In the Fall, in Adam, all of human nature is corrupted. It was not just those two who
ended up guilty, but all of human nature has been depraved and corrupted, and we all by
birth are partakers of a fallen, sinful and depraved nature.
BUT IN CHRIST, who recapitulated, who lived through all the life that we lived through
except, as Hebrews says, without sin, we are given a new nature. In Him, we are BORN, not
of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, our will, our efforts, but of God!
And we are born into Christs nature. We become partakers of his Body and Blood.
As we come to His table this morning, we seek Him, not as the crowd sought him on their
terms, for their ends, but we follow and obey Him, that we may receive and be partakers of
His flesh and blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by His body, and that our
souls may be washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in
Him, and He in us. Amen.