Ephesians 4:7-16; Christ’s descent (humiliation) and ascent (glorification), part 2.
Thursday September 23, 2021
Paul writes in Eph 4:9-10
If He ascended, what does it mean except that He also had descended. By far the greatest humiliation and sacrifice by anyone was performed when the Son of God became a Man – the Son of Man.
The ascension was the result of His victory, while the descension was His foray into the war.
Christ mentions His descension and ascension to Nicodemus. Only He comes from heaven and He came to be lifted up on a pole like the bronze serpent that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.
In Joh 6, after Jesus fed the five thousand, the issue of bread turned into the issue of eternal life, and Jesus claimed to be the bread that came from heaven.
"For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."
They respond, “Lord, always give us this bread.” It was likely that they pictured this statement as a promise to reinstate the miracle of manna. They asked Him for a sign from heaven (vs. 31) and they probably think He is honoring that request, but as He says, He is the answer to that prayer, though they don’t quite know what they are asking for.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
He is the bread of life, which He said endures to eternal life, and He has come down from heaven. He has clarified this enough so as to break through their preconceived notion that He was simply a miracle worker who could summon bread at will, and all the better if He could summon it from heaven. When that thought was broken by His clear assertion to be the bread of life who came from heaven, they grumble about Him and as they do, they claim to know who He is, “we know His father and mother.”
I want to repeat this verse from last night to show you the word.
The Jews therefore were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven." 42 And they were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?"
“grumbling” is the first word in the Greek sentence. In that way John emphasizes their grumbling – gogguzo [gong-goo-dzo] = murmur, grumble, speak in a low tone (onomatopoeia).
Jesus knew of their grumbling, but only continued on, further revealing an incredible truth – the bread of life that came from heaven was Himself going to die so that He could give life.
"This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh."
He further told them that if they didn’t eat His flesh and drink His blood that they would have no life in themselves, but if they did, they would abide in Him and Him in them.
Eating His flesh and drinking His blood – because of what He had done, faith in the gospel would make the Person of Christ become a part of the believer.
It takes a lot of words to describe this, and still, it falls somewhat short of the reality. Christ becomes enmeshed with the believer in being and in life, which for God are one and the same. Christ becomes a part of the very fabric of the believer for all of eternity. Eating and drinking are absorbed into our bodies and become a part of us as muscle, fat, skin, blood, bone, etc.
The gospel is a cure from death and sin (healing miracle), and also a gift of life (provision miracle).
Christ is showing that the gospel is a conversion from death to life, but it is more. The gospel is life itself, lived day-in and day-out. The gospel is not only healing of sin and death, it is life that maintains spiritual life. Bread and water give us strength. A strong and healthy life makes us resistant to disease. Spiritually, the disease is sin, and health is knowledge of the gospel and the truths, gifts, and doctrines that emanate from it. Remember why Peter told us that we greatly rejoice though we are distressed by various trials? It was that we were born-again and that we possessed an inheritance that was undefiled and would not fade away. Remember God’s words to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Remember the writer of Hebrews, “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never, no never leave you or forsake you,’ so we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my Helper.’”
Is Christ truly your sole nutrient? Do you have comfort, hope, self-sacrifice, and great rejoicing in it all?
From time to time it is good to examine ourselves soberly and truthfully, and not for the sake of condemnation but for reflection and correction. Remember the word of God is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness.
How much is there in Him that is fitted to yield comfort and hope, and yet to us it yields none. How much that should fill us with assurance of God’s love, yet how fearfully we live. How much to make us admire self-sacrifice and fill us with earnest purpose to live for others, and yet how little of this becomes in very deed our life. Christ has given all that makes us complete, all that can gladden and suffice the soul, and yet how bare and troubled and defeated we can live.
When the disciples fed the five thousand, they carried a basket that would suffice for themselves, yet would continually produce nourishment for hundreds. So we, having our gifts, ministries, and works will nourish our own lives in Christ and continue to nourish others. Remember, God gives seed to the sower. If we give, we will receive more so that we will give more (material, time, energy, encouragement, comfort, instruction, etc.).
"Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
2 "Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself [your soul] in abundance.
When Jesus said to eat His flesh and drink His blood, even the disciples were shocked at this. But still, Jesus isn’t finished. After He accomplishes the salvation of man, He is going to ascend to heaven.
Then He asks His shocked listeners, "What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending where He was before?"
Many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble? 62 What then if you should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing [“that which is born of the flesh is flesh”]; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”
The entire teaching comes full circle. There is a bread which gives life, in fact eternal life. It comes from the Father in heaven. No, it is not manna. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life from heaven.” “No, you’re not, you’re Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph and Mary.” Jesus said, “If you eat My flesh and blood, you will live and I will abide in you and you in Me.” They stopped up their ears, even those who had been following Him, saying, “Who can listen to this?” Finally, Jesus says, “If this causes you to stumble, what will happen when you see Me ascend to heaven from where I came?”
Life is spirit (from heaven); the flesh profits for nothing. Eating the bread of life from heaven is spirit and life.
By revealing Himself and His mission to save us from our sin and its death through His own sacrifice, Jesus dispelled the false idea that many of His disciples had that He was a miracle worker who could become a political king and military commander, bringing bread for Israel from the heavens, and establish Israel as supreme over all nations, even the Roman Empire. Imagine to yourself that they were disappointed.
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.