Advent Week #1 Not this, but that: “Not my will, but the will of him who sent me”

The season of Advent is a season of longing and expectancy where we look to God, wait in hope and remember the coming of the Son of God into the world. The birth of Jesus is a tremendous wonder and a simple yet layered story revealing God’s plan of salvation and the character of God and the people he delights to use. We see a group of forgotten, nobodies, caught up in the story of God’s great rescue mission to save us from our sin. A humble craftsman betrothed to a poor teenage woman from a nowhere town who would have otherwise grown up in obscurity unremembered. There is an old priest and his barren wife who are promised a child that would be the forerunner to Jesus, pointing people away from sin and towards God. The first group to hear the good news of the birth of Christ were shepherds out in a field just doing their normal job watching the sheep at night. A few years after his birth, Jesus would be celebrated by foreign dignitaries, at the same time the king ruling over Jerusalem was plotting Jesus’ death. In the events of Advent we see the beautiful good news that God desires to rescue us from sin, he shows us his humble love in the son of God taking on humanity and we see that the message of the gospel is received in a recognition of our sin and need. So it is not surprising that when Jesus talks about why he came these are predominantly the reason he gives. This December, we are looking at statements from Jesus where he expressly tells us why he came. This four week series will help you see the mission of Jesus and help you know more about the heart of God.

The first statement we are exploring is found in John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” This is the first of a handful of times that Jesus expressly talked about why he came. Looking at the greater context we find this statement in the middle of one of the longest chapters in the New Testament where Jesus tells us that he is the “bread of life”. Jesus had just done a miracle where he fed 5,000+ people from a minuscule amount of food and even the leftovers ended up being more than what he started with! The people responded by wanting to make him king by force (John 6:15). They then met up with Jesus the day after with the same sense of longing and desire. Jesus takes this opportunity to address their hearts. They were seeking after him because of their physical hunger, but Jesus saw beyond that to something deeper (John 6:26). The desire of Jesus is that they’d see and know their spiritual hunger and find satisfaction in him.

Read John 6:35-40:

[35] Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. [36] But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. [37] All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. [38] For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. [39] And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. [40] For 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.” (ESV)

We learn three things here about who we are, who Jesus is and why he came.

First, we have a deep spiritual longing that only Jesus can satisfy. Jesus tells this large crowd following him that he is the bread of life and we thirst and hunger for what can be found in him. We do not have to look far to realize that this is true. Most people at some point in their life realize they were created for something more than what they have found in this world. The problem is that many of us find temporary satisfaction in jumping from thing to thing to try and satisfy that intense spiritual longing. This longing exists because of sin; sin has separated us from our source of life — God. Jesus tells us here that this state of being hungry is something meant to draw us to him. It is built into who we are, born on this side of Genesis 3, as a means to show us our need. What we see is that Jesus came on a rescue mission. Jesus came to do the Father’s will, not the will of the people and not to selfishly live out his own plan. John 6:39-40 tells us directly what the Father’s will is: to keep all that has been given to him and that whoever would look on Jesus would be saved and raised to new life. The son of God took on human form to live out perfect righteousness, take our sin to the cross and defeat death in the resurrection. The Father’s will is that we look to Son, believe, have eternal life and be kept by God.

Second, we learn here that Jesus humbled himself to the Father’s will. The incarnation, God the Son taking on human form, was an act of humility. Philippians 2:6-11 tells us much about the humility of Jesus, and it is shocking! He is the one by whom and for whom all things were made. He is the one who holds all things together by the power of his word. He is the image of the invisible God, so that when we see him we see the Father. He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself taking on the likeness of men, the form of a servant and died a humiliating and excruciating death. The events around Advent similarly point to this humble character. Jesus was born to unimportant parents from a nowhere town with suspicious circumstances. The king of kings was not born in a palace but likely a cave surrounded by livestock with the only attendants being gritty and grimy shepherds who had been working all night long. Not only that, but Jesus would be on the run for his life in those first few years as Herod desired to kill him as a rival. Throughout Jesus’ life he would demonstrate this shocking humility as he healed people of diseases like leprosy with a touch of his hand. Jesus would take the time to listen to cultural “nobodies” looking for help and freedom from sin. Likewise, he would demonstrate his humble character and selfless love in things like washing his disciples feet, serving the poor and forgotten and ultimately laying down his life on the cross. Jesus came not to live for himself in the human life he was given, but to do the Father’s will and give eternal life to any who’d believe.

Finally, we see in this section of scripture that our faith is secure in the Father’s hands. Our eternal security is not in our own efforts or works but is secured in the work of Jesus, kept by the Father (John 10:29). John 6:37-39 shows us this in how those who look on Jesus in sincerity of faith are not turned away. Likewise, Jesus saw his mission as keeping and securing those who the Father brought to him so that he’d raise them up on the last day. Jesus tells us in John 6:29 that “the work God requires is that we believe”. This is more than just an intellectual understanding or an emotional experience in your heart, but a surrendering of your life in trust to God. Jesus mission is to keep us and not reject any who comes to him looking for satisfaction to that deep longing in our souls. Our God is faithful to rescue us from sin and keep us falling.

As we begin this Advent season know that Jesus came on a rescue mission to seek and save the lost and to draw us back to the Father through faith!

At your community group:

Spend 15-20 minutes sharing prayer requests and praying for one another.

How did the Spirit speak to you through the sermon and the scripture passage?

Discussion questions:

Share some of your favorite traditions or activities during the Christmas season. What are some things you do to help remember the birth of Jesus?

It may seem odd for us as Americans in Silicon Valley to have a season focused on waiting and longing. We are typically able to get what we want when we want it; Prime shipping, instant streaming of music and video, fast food, etc. Yet, what we see is that the people of God were subject to the Roman empire, longing for freedom and waiting for 400+ years to hear from God. It is at this time that the Son of God came into the world. Why is this time of waiting and longing important for our spiritual lives given our current culture and the way we typically “do Christmas” as Americans?

As a group define what the “Father’s will” is based on this passage.

Why does Jesus so intentionally model humility in his birth, life and death? Look to Philippians 2:1-11. How does the passage start out, what does it call us to do and how does it motivate us towards that goal?

Why does Jesus speak to assurance of salvation in this passage (John 6:35-40)? Why do we need to be assured of the Father’s love and the that Jesus does not reject those who come to him in sincere faith?

%d bloggers like this: