Many people are spiritually hungry and actively seeking for something they know not what. In the modern smorgasbord of religious pluralism, people have sampled all kinds of spiritual dishes and have walked away starving.
If that’s you, then you have a Jesus-shaped hunger, and He invites you to come and eat:
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again” (John 6:35).
Eating is figurative language for believing in Him. You'll stay spiritually hungry if you don’t eat. To continue the metaphor, if you don’t eat, you’ll eventually starve to death. As Jesus went on to say:
“Truly I tell you, anyone who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:47-51).
Jesus gave His life for the world. The believer already has eternal life as a present possession. By implication, Jesus is warning that you'll die if you don’t eat the bread from heaven.
Later in the Gospel, Jesus said:
Then he said to them again, “I’m going away; you will look for me, and you will die in your sin…Where I’m going, you cannot come.”You are from below,” he told them, “I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins” (John 8:21, 23-24; cf. 9:41, emphasis added).
Jesus left heaven and came to earth to die on the cross to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29; cf. Matt 1:21). Everyone who believes in Him will be forgiven their sins (Acts 10:43). If you don’t believe, then you’ll die in your sins. As Eaton says, “their life would come to an end without their ever having found forgiveness of their sins, without their ever having found a remedy for their blindness and hardness towards God and his Saviour” (Branch Commentary, p. 290; cf. Lenski, John, p. 610).
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
We all crave security, but the world can’t give it to us. Not absolutely. And certainly not where eternal things are concerned. By contrast, the believer is safe and secure in Jesus and the Father’s hands. However, if you don’t believe in Him, you’re anything but safe. You will perish.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Everyone who dies will be resurrected—both believers and unbelievers. But there are two radically different outcomes. If you believe, you will be raised to life and never die again. But unbelievers will be resurrected to condemnation (cf. John 5:29).
I understand why preachers prefer to emphasize the positive aspects of Jesus’ evangelism. The dangers that Jesus explicitly and implicitly warned about paint the bleakest possible picture of the unbeliever’s fate. It’s not a happy message. But sometimes, you need to hear that bad news to understand the hard truth of your situation. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re spiritually dead, are presently condemned, the wrath of God remains on you, and you will eventually die in your sins. Consequently, after you die, you will be resurrected to condemnation, God will judge you, and instead of receiving eternal life, you’ll experience the second death. Jesus Himself warned about all of this.
If that happens to you—and I pray it doesn’t—it will be a self-imposed tragedy. God doesn’t want that future for you. He wants you to live forever with Him. But the gospel is like life-giving bread. Preachers can present it to you, but no one can eat it for you. Eternal life is one “bite” away.
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.