Here are some of the things I cut out of my November 20 sermon on Jesus the liberator from John 6:
Why were the Crowds Following Jesus?
In John 6:2, the evangelist tells us that the crowds were following Jesus because they saw the signs they performed on the sick.
In John, following because of the signs is better than rejecting Jesus, but it is not as good as following out of faith. As we will see later in John 6, the crowds following Jesus are not quite committed to him in faith.
The Significance of Moses
Moses was known for two things: he was a liberator and he was a law-giver. We talked about Jesus the liberator on November 20. Guess what the next sermon will be about!
Old Testament Passages in which God Walks on Water
Ultimately, it was God who led the people through the Red Sea by the hand of Moses. But while Moses went through the sea, God walks on the seas.
Psalm 77:19-20 says about God:
“Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” (Psalm 77:19–20 ESV)
Job 9:8 says about God:
“who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea;” (Job 9:8 ESV)
Captivity to Rome
Originally, I had a long section on what it looked like for the first-century Jewish people to be subjected to Rome. I cut this:
“In Jesus’s day, the people were in captivity again—this time to Rome. Rome didn’t deport Israel like Babylon had, but they were very much in charge.
The Jewish king at the time was Herod—but he was a Roman sympathizer and only enjoyed power because he knew the people and their religion and customs and could therefore better keep peace in the land.
But the temple was corrupt. All of the priests were cronies of Herod, who was himself a crony of Caesar.
And the people were tired of it.
They longed for liberation.
They wanted God to return to his temple. They wanted priests who were holy and righteous and who loved God and loved the people.
They wanted a king who was a man after God’s own heart like David had been.
They wanted to be free.
And so they told the stories of liberation again.
We were slaves in Egypt and God liberated us. We were slaves in Babylon and God liberated us. We are slaves to Rome, but we have hope.
And Passover was the season where these liberation stories would have been most commonplace.
In John 6, at the Passover, Jesus gave bread from heaven like Moses and he crossed the sea like Moses. He wanted his disciples to make the connection between himself and Moses.
As bad as slavery to Egypt was, as bad as captivity in Babylon was, as bad as subjectivity to Rome was, these were all metaphors for the worst kind of slavery—we humans are enslaved to sin.”
“Then Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, “It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.” And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:3, 7–9 ESV)
Passover is a call to remembrance. Originally, I paired this with Ephesians 2:12–13:
“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12–13 ESV)
I like the call to “remember.” Ultimately, the Exodus passage was too long and it was easier just to summarize it. I kept the Ephesians passage.