The Bread of Life — Part Three
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The Bread of Life — Part Three

John 6:41–51  (ID: 3628)

Jesus’ declaration that He was “the bread of life” stirred both anger and opposition in the Jewish people. Confident in what they already knew about Him, they grumbled, with some not hearing, some hearing and doubting, and others hearing and disputing. Alistair Begg reminds us that we often have the same responses to Jesus today. Left to our sinful selves, we do not choose to believe in Him. Instead, our resistant hearts must be drawn by the Father, allowing us to see Jesus for who He is—the Living Bread who has come down from heaven to give His life for the world.

Series Containing This Sermon

“Truly, Truly, I Say to You…”

Twenty-Five Divine Declarations from John’s Gospel John 1:1–21:25 Series ID: 29001

Sermon Transcript: Print

And I invite you to turn with me to the Gospel of John and to the sixth chapter and to follow along as I read from verse 41. John 6:41:

“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”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, “And they will all be taught by God.” Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate … manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one 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. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’”


And let’s pause and seek God’s help:

Individually, Father, we want to say,

Make the Book live to me, O Lord,
Show me yourself within your Word,
Show me myself and show me my Savior,
And make the Book live to me.[1]


In 1977—which, of course, some of you have no knowledge of—in 1977, the BBC presented a documentary series. I don’t know if ever it made it across the Atlantic Ocean. But it was a series of thirteen episodes concerning the religious quest of man. And it covered not only Christianity in its various forms, but it went through various comparative religions throughout a period of thirteen weeks. And it was called The Long Search. The underlying notion that gave rise to it was the idea that somehow or another, men and women are looking for God, and nobody knows where he is, and God can’t be found.

And that underlying presupposition lingers far beyond 1977. Indeed, we might say that it is the prevailing notion—that when you talk to people today, they think along those lines: that “somehow or another, if there is a God, he must be somewhere; I suppose I should be looking for him, but I tried once before, and I couldn’t find him”—that kind of thing. At a far more mundane level, when you play hide-and-seek—and it’s been a while since I played (I used to love it)—but when you play hide-and-seek, when you teach your grandchildren how to play hide-and-seek, it is vitally important that everybody knows who’s hiding and who’s seeking. Because when you’re trying to explain to them that “I am going to close my eyes, I’m going to count to twenty-five, and you’re going to go and hide. You got that?” “Yes.” And so you count to twenty-five, and somebody says, “I’m over here! I’m over here!” You said, “No, no, that’s not the way it goes! You’re hiding; I’m seeking. Let’s try that again.”

Well, the Bible makes it really, really clear. In fact, the underlying notion is completely jettisoned by simply reading the Bible. You remember the scene in the garden of Eden: “The man and his wife hid themselves”—“hid themselves”—“from the presence of the Lord [and] among the trees [in] the garden. But the Lord God called [out] to [them], ‘Where are you?’ And [the man] said, “… I was afraid … and I hid myself.’”[2]

That is the story—the story of a seeking God and men and women hiding from his searching gaze. It’s the story of a God who takes the initiative. He reveals himself in word and in deed and in person, so that when you read the Bible all the way from the Old Testament and on, you realize that all these mighty acts of God, all these amazing things that are unfolding in history, are all pointing forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; so that when Jesus comes—as he does even in this passage here, as we’ll see later on—he’s able to say to the people, “You know, if you read your Bibles, you would understand what’s going on. The prophets actually spoke about this.”

Now, we’re picking up in 41 because we finished at 40 last time. And we noted in that section, between 35 and 40, what Jesus says there in verse 38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” And we, in weeks gone by, when we considered the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, we realized then what he had to say: “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” And then he takes him back to the Old Testament, and he says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” encouraging people to look and live, “so must the Son of Man be lifted up, [so] that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”[3] And so, in the section from last time, we have seen these things. Verse 40: “This is the will of my Father, 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.”[4]

The Opposition

But what do we discover? Instead of this producing in the ears and hearts of his hearers—instead of it producing gratitude, it actually results in grumbling. Verse 41: “So the Jews grumbled about him.” Immediately he’s in conflict with them. The word that I wrote down in my notes was just the word opposition. I actually have three words: opposition, explanation, application. But first of all, opposition.

And you will notice the issue on the part of these people. Incidentally, there is a possibility here at verse 41, just the way it unfolds, that there is almost a change in the group that he’s encountering. We can’t argue strongly for it, but you’ll notice—verse 59—“Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.” We have, I think, up until this point been thinking very much about the crowd and the context and so on. And it would seem that perhaps these people now, the Jews that are grumbling here, may even be the leaders in the synagogue. We needn’t get hung up on that, but it’s just a note in passing.

The way in which we listen to the Word of God really, really matters—how we listen; whether we listen, if you like, with all the ears of our hearts.

And the issue is not with what these people have seen or what they have had reported. No. The earlier reaction, the confused reaction on the part of the crowd, who were stirred in their political ambitions and who were anxious to have their appetites satisfied, that kind of confusion has now transmuted into opposition. And why the opposition? “Because he said…” Because of what he said. What did he say? “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” It’s a staggering statement, and one that they were not happy to respond to, at least positively.

Why is this? It’s because the words of Jesus collided with their own presuppositions. The words that Jesus spoke did not fit the categories of their own reasonings. Now, I don’t want to delay on this, but that is a reality whenever we speak about Jesus and the words of Jesus. When we tell people about Jesus, they come to the words of Jesus not in the way a believer does, but they may well come distrusting or mistrusting or just frankly opposing. Because it doesn’t fit the category. It doesn’t fit their minds. And it certainly didn’t fit the minds of these people. They were so confident in what they knew that they were unable or unwilling to learn what Jesus was saying. They had been listening but not learning. In “The Sound of Silence,” it is “people hearing without listening.”[5] But this is the reverse: this is people listening without hearing.

You see, the way in which we listen to the Word of God really, really matters—how we listen; whether we listen, if you like, with all the ears of our hearts. It’s possible for us to listen critically—that our perspective is “I think I can probably disprove this, or oppose this”—to listen critically, or to listen resentfully, or to listen indifferently, or to listen hungrily. Did you pray along with me? Is this your prayer? “Make the Book live to me.” And put your name in there: “To me, O Lord. My name’s Alistair. I want you to illumine this page to me. I want the Holy Spirit to pick the words off the pages of this book and bring them home to my heart. I’m not here to listen critically. I’m not here indifferently. I’m here hungrily.”

Peter, in the letter that we just mentioned in passing earlier, talks about receiving the pure milk of the Word, “like newborn babies.”[6] James writes, “Humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”[7] But look at what they said: “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” They’re looking at each other, and they’re essentially saying, “We know his parents. We know what street he lived on,” if you like. “We knew these people. Where does he get this from?” “How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

Now, what is it that angers them? What angers them is that he is clearly expressing his divinity. They’re not angered by the fact that he’s able to feed the five thousand. They’re not even really concerned remotely about whether he walked on the water or whether he didn’t. They are angered by the notion that they are being encountered by the living God. And again, when you speak to people, I find that people aren’t remotely concerned about whether Jesus was a good teacher or whether he lived or whatever he did. They’ll talk about that till the cows come home. What they do not want to deal with is the possibility that he actually is who he says he is—that he is “the bread that came down from heaven.” I think they must have just said to one another, “Look at him! You wouldn’t pick him out in the crowd, would you? This is the son of Joseph. His father and mother we know. How does he say this stuff, ‘I now come down from heaven’?”

Well, six hundred years at least before Jesus, the prophet Isaiah looks forward to the appearing of the Son of Man, the Prince of Peace, Jesus. And remember what he says about him:

He had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
 and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men.[8]

John 1: he came to his own, and his own despised and rejected him.[9] So Jesus says to them, “Well, I suggest that you stop your grumbling. Stop your grumbling.” This is cue for my song:

Come leave your house in Grumble Street
And move to Sunshine Square,
For that’s the place where Jesus lives,
And you’ll be happy there.

That’s how we learned it as children. It’s terrible, these children references. It must be my age. I don’t know what it is.

But anyway… Yeah, but that’s what he’s saying. He’s saying, “Don’t grumble among yourselves. That’s not going to prove anything at all. I know you can’t naturally understand what I’m saying.” That’s what he’s saying: “I know you don’t naturally understand this. It’s perfectly natural for you to respond in this way. Perfectly natural!” So maybe you’re here this morning. You came with a friend or something. And even now you’re saying, “Goodness, gracious! Do these people actually believe this stuff?” Because you’re saying, “I don’t even have the slightest inclination in this way.”

That’s the opportunity for me to bring Luther out again. Luther, incidentally—Luther has grown over the years, as you can see. And one of my colleagues, who saw the tiny little Luther that I had, felt sorry for me, and in an act of great generosity, he gave me a real, almost life-sized Luther. And for those of you who wrote to me on Reformation Sunday and said, “Where was Luther?”—well, he was up the stairs, but I thought I’d bring him now. Because I want to read to you just a brief section from Luther’s Bondage of the Will. We’re talking about the fact that it is perfectly natural that “you don’t get the fact that I am the bread that came down from heaven.” So it gives the lie to the idea that if you just tell people, “You know, Jesus is ‘the bread that came down from heaven,’” they’re going to go, “Oh, yeah, that makes sense.” No, they don’t. Why is that?

This is Luther: “Nobody…”

Nobody who has not the Spirit of God sees a jot of what is in the Scriptures. All men [and women] have their hearts darkened, so that, even when they can discuss and quote all that is in Scripture, they do not understand or really know any of it. They do not believe in God, nor do they believe that they are God’s creatures, nor anything else. … “The fool ha[s] said in his heart, there is no God” …. The Spirit is needed for the understanding of [the] Scripture and every part of Scripture.[10]

The Explanation

That takes us to the explanation. The opposition is understandable, and the explanation is necessary. Look at verse 44. Having told them, “Don’t grumble among yourselves”… Incidentally, that’s what their forefathers did: the whole manna thing in the wilderness, you remember, for forty years. And they grumbled in the wilderness. They got fed up with it. They disdained the bread that God had sent to them. And now he’s looking at these people, and he’s going, “You’re doing it again! Here I’m offering you the bread that comes from heaven, and you’re not interested in it either. So let me explain to you…” Verse 44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

It is the love of God which comes to overwhelm the human heart, presenting to us Jesus not as simply someone who existed or did amazing things but as someone I need.

In other words, our stubborn will—the heart, our resistant heart—has to be overcome by the love of God, which is displayed fully in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the love of God which comes to overwhelm the human heart, presenting to us Jesus not as simply someone who existed or did amazing things but as someone I need, just like I need my breakfast. How is that ever going to happen? Well, only, he says, as the Father draws us.

After a lifetime of preaching, J. C. Ryle, the bishop of Liverpool, wrote this: “The longer I live, the more it is apparent that there is something to be done in every heart which neither preaching, arguing, exhorting, nor means of grace can do.” Preaching, preaching, preaching. Opening up the Scriptures. Sharing in the sacraments. And he says, “As I look at it all and as I survey it, I realize that there is something else, in it, through it, beyond it.” The hymn writer puts it,

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in him.[11]

It’s a mystery, isn’t it? I mean, if we were all to have an opportunity, those of us who believe, to tell the story, some of us say, “I don’t understand how it is that I actually listened to anything in that Sunday school class. Because I was the most unruly character in the Sunday school class. How did anything actually not just penetrate my ears but penetrate in my heart? Why did I even care to ask about what it means to be a Christian: ‘How old do you have to be to be a Christian?’”

Someone else says, “Well, I went most of my life without any consideration of that at all. I was actually very happy. I used to come around. I listened. I never sang any of the songs. I thought they were no good. I didn’t understand very much about them. But it was a pleasant time. You know, there’s a lot of stress in life, and I could just sit here quietly and often nod off when you were speaking, Alistair. And it was a wonderful thing. It was like a mild anesthetic. And then, but, I want to tell you: I don’t know what happened, but suddenly your preaching got better. Suddenly the songs got better. And then I said, ‘Oh, no, maybe… Maybe the preaching was the same. Maybe the songs were the same. Maybe I changed. Maybe God changed me.’”

Now, I alluded to this last week, but I went and looked for the quote, because I shouldn’t have alluded to it without the quote. But this is the quote from C. S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy. After breakfast on September 28, 1931:

When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ [was] the Son of God, [but] when we reached the zoo I did. … I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion. “Emotional” is perhaps the last word we can apply to some of the most important events. It was more like when a man, after a long sleep, still lying motionless [on the] bed, becomes aware that he[’s] now awake.[12]

“From death to life. From darkness to light. The fog had lifted, and the Son was now shining bright.”[13]

“I know not how…” “But I know this,” says Jesus, “that no one can come unless the Father draws him.” I say to you again: the secret disinclination of the human heart needs to be overwhelmed. And when it is overwhelmed, it is not against our wills, but it is in the inclining of our wills. It is such a reality that even the person is surprised by it in themselves, if not in the moment, certainly in looking back. You look back, and you say, “But if I had never done that,” “If I’d never been there,” “If she had never given me the book,” “If they hadn’t invited me to that study”—whatever it is, trace it all the way down, and you’ll find yourself here in John 6:44: “The Father drew me. He created a real desire in me, a desire that I’d never had before, a desire to trust Jesus, a desire to know Jesus, a desire to come to Jesus.” Don’t fall for the idea that somehow or another, there are people out there who want desperately to come to Jesus, and God’s not going to allow them. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason people don’t come to Jesus is because they have no desire for Jesus.

You remember, actually—well, maybe you don’t. But in the story of Joseph, there’s a wonderful moment in relationship to this sort of notion, when the brothers, they’re responding to the fact that their father loved Joseph more than he loved them. And it says that “when [the] brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him,” and they “could not speak peacefully to him.”[14] Why could they not? Because they would not. They could not because they would not. “How often would I have gathered you as a hen gathers her chicks? But you would not come to me!”[15] “You wouldn’t come.” He can’t come because he won’t come.

Now, here’s the point. And we’re just—we’re embedding ourselves in this notion at the moment, and it is vitally important. I think God has stopped us here for this very purpose, so that we might be very clear: left to our sinful selves, none of us would choose salvation. Left to our sinful selves, we wouldn’t choose salvation. People don’t do that! You should have noticed. They’ll come to a Christmas concert, but if you press on them that Jesus is the gift that they need to receive, say, “No, no, no. I know you’re into that kind of thing, but I have no interest in your gift at all.” Left to ourselves, we would all respond in that way. That is why we need to be drawn.

And you will notice that the drawing of the Father—I say it to you again—is not against our will, but it is through our will by creating a new principle within us. Verse 44 is so clear. “It is the Father who sent me,” says Jesus, “who draws.” The God who sends Jesus for souls is the God who is drawing souls to Jesus.

You see, when we believe in him, when we look to him alone, when we find in him a promised rest for our souls, that, you see, is the sure sign that the Father has drawn us. How do we know the Father has drawn us? Because we believe. Because by nature, we don’t believe. Who believes? By nature, we grumble. By nature, we’re in opposition. Then what is the explanation for the change in the life of a person? How do we explain Saul of Tarsus, the great enemy of Christianity? Hates the people, killing the people; now he’s among the people. How in the world did that happen? “All that the Father gives me … come to me,” says Jesus. “And whoever comes to me I will never [turn away].”[16]

The God who sends Jesus for souls is the God who is drawing souls to Jesus.

Now, the life into which we are brought is not only a present reality, but it is a living hope. That’s the repetition that you find there in being “raised up,” three times: verse 39, 40, 44. And he says, “You know, if you folks would consider the Prophets, it is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God’”—whether he has Jeremiah 31 in mind (“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts”)[17] or Isaiah 54:13 (“All your children shall be taught by the Lord”).

The confidence of heaven is in the Bible. The confidence of heaven is in the Bible. Remember in that great story that Jesus tells of Lazarus and the rich man, and the rich man is greatly concerned that he has gone to hell, and he needs to send somebody to alert his brothers to the predicament. And Jesus says, “Well, you know, if they would read their Bibles…” “Oh, no,” he says, “no, no, no, no. We’re going to need something more than the Bible. If somebody could actually just go to their house or something…” And Jesus says, “Listen: if they will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, if they won’t listen to their Bibles, they won’t even believe if someone rises from the dead.”[18] Guess what? Here we are. The confidence of heaven is in the Scriptures.

Luke 24. You fast-forward to post-resurrection, and the fellows are walking along the road. Jesus comes alongside them, and he says, “What’s going on?” And they said, “Oh, it’s been an amazing few days in Jerusalem.” He says, “What’s been going on?” And they say, “Are you the only person in Jerusalem that doesn’t know what’s been going on?” They don’t realize that Jesus is with them. Remember what he says? “O foolish ones, how slow of heart you are to believe all that the prophets have written!”[19] And beginning with that, he led them in a Bible study that we would all like to have heard.

“Everyone who has … learned from the Father,” he says—“everyone who has … learned from the Father”—“comes to me.” Comes to who? To Jesus. So that means that people who say, “Well, yeah, I believe in God—I believe in God the Father—but I don’t believe in Jesus,” you have to say, “No, you don’t believe in God.” Why? Because of what it says in the Bible. “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” That’s why in the Mount of Transfiguration and at his baptism, the heavens open, and the word of the Father is “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”[20] That’s what it says. “This is my beloved Son, [in] whom I am well pleased.”[21] “This is my beloved Son, who pleases me. Listen to him.” “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”[22]

And then he says, almost parenthetically—I think in order to stop people from saying, “Well, I can have an intimate knowledge of God without that; somehow or another, I’ve got my own access”—and he says, “Not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.” Jesus is the only one who has seen God, and no one can enjoy a personal, intimate knowledge of God apart from the revelation that is found in Jesus. That’s why when we get forward into John 14, if we ever get there, and Philip says, “Show us the Father, and that would be perfect,”[23] Jesus says, “[He who] has seen me has seen the Father.”[24]

Verse 47: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” It’s almost as if he returns to the main thread. And there, in a wonderful few words both in Greek and in English, verse 48: “I am the bread of life.” He keeps saying the same thing. Why? Because people don’t listen. That’s what our mothers said: “Could you listen to me the first time, please, so I don’t have to keep saying this?” Some hadn’t heard. Some heard and doubted. Some heard and disputed. Nothing’s new.

The Application

That brings me to the final word, and just a word or two on it: application. What shall we say by way of application?

Well, first of all, that we need to notice a very important contrast that he points out. Verse 49: “Your fathers ate … manna in the wilderness, and they died.” “And they died.” In other words, what God provided for them there was not sufficient to address their mortality. And here’s the contrast—verse 50: “This is the bread that comes down from heaven.” I don’t know if this is legitimate, but I like to think that Jesus, when he said, “This is the bread that comes down from heaven,” says, “This.” “This is the bread.” He’s not saying, “This the bread.” “This is the bread.” Of course it is! He just said, “I am the bread.” “This is the bread that comes down from heaven. And everyone who eats of this bread will actually live forever.”

He’s going to go on later, outside, in the context of Lazarus, and he’s going to say to the sisters, “I am the resurrection and the life. [And] whoever believes in me, [even] though he die, yet shall he live, and [whoever] lives and believes in me [will] never die.”[25] Who can stop the cortege as it goes to the grave? I thought about it this week. I thought, “What an amazing thing that must have been for the lady!” Remember the widow? Widow of Nain. And her son had died, and she only had one son. And Jesus comes on the situation, and he finds that the woman there is despondent, and the son is in the process of going to the grave. And he stops the procession, and he raises a man.[26] Who can do this? Only one person. “Well, he didn’t do that for my mother.” He didn’t do that for your Aunt Mabel, or whatever it might be. No, but listen: he’s going do it. “I will raise him up. I will raise her up. I will raise her up.” Present reality, future hope.

And God’s Word is the key by way of the invitation that comes: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” The instrument that God uses is his Word, so that we might come with faith. You see, because when I teach the Bible to you, it either becomes an instrument of life, or it becomes an instrument of death. Either we receive it and enter into life, or we reject it, and we continue perishing.

If only God opens blind eyes, and only God softens hard hearts, and he does so in response to our prayers, then surely the discovery that he has opened our eyes ought to make us prayerful for the eyes of others.

It is also, by way of application, an anticipation, if you like, of Calvary: “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.” Where does he give his life for the world? Where? This is not about the Communion service. Where does he give his life for the world? At Calvary. Where do you see the enfleshment of Jesus more than in any other place in all of the New Testament record, in all of the Gospels? Where do you think of as Jesus as flesh and blood more than any other place? Well, probably, perhaps, in his infancy, but definitely in his death. And he pierced—the centurion pierces—the side of Jesus, and out from his side flow water and the blood: from his “riven side,” pierced side that flowed, sin provided for in a “double cure.”[27]

Well, our time is gone. But let’s not miss the fact that Jesus here is pointing to the place where all of our disappointments, all of our sins, all of our rebellions are dealt with. Before, when we were dead in sin, the Father drew us. One day, when we die physically, unless Christ returns first—one day, when we die physically—he will raise us up. Because God is not the author of unfinished business.

If you believe this, if I believe this, what should it look like in my life? Well, it should look like thankfulness. Thankfulness. “Your blood has washed away my sin. Jesus, thank you.”[28]

It should emerge in prayerfulness. Because actually, our prayers are the key to our evangelism. If only God opens blind eyes, and only God softens hard hearts, and he does so in response to our prayers, then surely the discovery that he has opened our eyes ought to make us prayerful for the eyes of others.

It also should produce within us a great sense of security—security that his love never, ever will fail us; that even though we have bad days, lousy weeks, although we stumble, although we fall, the good work that he’s begun in us when he drew us to himself he will bring to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.[29]

And the last thing that it ought to do is create humility in the heart of the believer. There’s no place for Christian smart alecks. There is no place for a church that exudes any sense of “Hey, you ought to wise up and get like us. Look at what we believe. Look at what we know.” No, it can’t ever be that. Because we know that in our sinful selves, left to ourselves, we would never have believed. So a church that actually believes in God’s sovereign work in salvation should probably be, beyond anything else, a place that exudes humility—that people can actually come in and say, “You know, I’m a walking disaster.” You go, “Beautiful. You just came to the right place. This place is filled with walking disasters. Let me tell you about myself, for a start.”

Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace,” towards the end of his life, he said, “My memory is nearly gone. But I remember two things: That I am a great sinner… And that Christ — is a great Saviour![30] Well, some of us are aware of the fact that our memory is going, some of us in a way that alarms us. But should it go completely, rest in this: that having been drawn to Christ, you are safe in him forever. And he will raise you up on that day.

Lord God, thank you for the Bible. Help us to come to it humbly, to receive it gratefully, and to rest in its promises consistently. What a wonder it is that you called out into the realm of our tiny little lives, when you have an entire universe to contend with and consider, and you woke us up! Oh, we surely ought to be thankful and humble. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1] R. Hudson Pope, “Make the Book Live to Me” (1943). Language modernized.

[2] Genesis 3:8–10 (ESV).

[3] John 3:13–15 (ESV).

[4] John 6:40 (ESV).

[5] Paul Simon, “The Sound of Silence” (1964).

[6] 1 Peter 2:2 (NIV).

[7] James 1:21 (NIV).

[8] Isaiah 53:2–3 (ESV).

[9] See John 1:11.

[10] Martin Luther, On the Bondage of the Will, trans. J. I. Packer and O. R. Johnston (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1957), 73–74.

[11] Daniel Webster Whittle, “I Know Not Why God's Wondrous Grace” (1883).

[12] C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955), chap. 15.

[13] Pete Lange, “Sunshine in September: The Story of C. S. Lewis’ Conversion,” 1517, September 28, 2020,

[14] Genesis 37:4 (ESV).

[15] Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34 (paraphrased).

[16] John 6:37 (ESV).

[17] Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV).

[18] Luke 16:29–31 (paraphrased).

[19] Luke 24:17–25 (paraphrased).

[20] Mark 9:7 (ESV). See also Luke 9:35.

[21] Matthew 3:17; 17:5 (ESV). See also Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22.

[22] John 5:23 (ESV).

[23] John 14:8 (paraphrased).

[24] John 14:9 (ESV).

[25] John 11:25–26 (ESV).

[26] See Luke 7:11–15.

[27] Augustus Montague Toplady, “Rock of Ages” (1776).

[28] Pat Sczebel, “Jesus, Thank You” (2003).

[29] See Philippians 1:6.

[30] John Newton, quoted in John Pollock, Amazing Grace: John Newton’s Story (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981), 182.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.