Herald Journal Columns
Oct. 10, 2005, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Serve the Lord with gladness

By Rev. Michael Nirva, St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake

THE WORD OF THE LORD: John 6:66-69 From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” This is the challenging question that Jesus presses upon His disciples. We should listen to this awakening question.

During the warm summer days, with many of our members away enjoying their vacations, it is to be expected that church work would slow down somewhat. But now that vacation season is over, our people have returned to their daily work with renewed strength.

We will want to do our church work with new enthusiasm, consecration, and devotion. In order to encourage one another to that end, we turn to the Word of God.

By the power of God’s word, we begin the Lord’s work, once again, in earnest, and wholeheartedly give of our time, talents, and means to His service. For this purpose, let us, then, under the guidance of God’s Spirit, consider the searching question of our Lord as He addressed His disciples. “You do not want to leave me too, do you?”

Jesus asked this question because it was a time of general defection among His followers. In John 6:66, we read: “From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”

In the kingdom of God there are seasons of grace when everything seems to prosper, even as our gardens are filled with luscious vegetables in spring and summer and everything grows and blooms and flourishes. But it is not for long; then comes the wintry blasts that chill, freeze and kill.

So it was in the ministry of Jesus. For a while, it seemed as though every man in Galilee would enter the kingdom of Christ. Crowds followed Him wherever He went. But when opposition arose and the Scribes and Pharisees and other spiritual leaders openly renounced Christ, then we read that “Many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.

How is it with us? Will we remain faithful? Here, we learn that we must guard against the very beginning of unbelief. When we admit into our minds hard thoughts against God’s word and refuse to give to the Lord our service, then the devil is already beginning his work.

Peter’s answer to Jesus’ question was a marvelous profession of faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy one of God.” (John 6:68-69).

Peter’s answer is certain, “Lord to whom shall we go?” There is no one who can take Jesus’ place. Should we go to unbelieving philosophers who raise more problems than they solve. which are full of contradictions, and present theories that do not satisfy the soul?

Should we seek the riches and treasures of this world where moths corrupt and where thieves break through and steal? Will we plunge into the pleasures of the world and seek enjoyment in our sinful nature?

The answer to these questions is no – only Jesus has words of eternal life. It would be unthinkable for us to leave the teacher and go someplace else.

The Gospel fully satisfies the longings of man’s soul. We have been assured of God’s grace in the work of redemption brought forth by His Son, who died on the cross for the sins of the world. Only in Jesus Christ is there the joy of salvation.

By faith alone in what Jesus has done, we are raised from spiritual death to spiritual life. Here, we find a fine lesson – for as the Law shows us our sin, so the Gospel empowers us for work in the kingdom. When we are tempted to leave Christ, that is when we should go take our Bible and drink, again, the milk of the Word.

We must lay hold on the simplest truths of God’s divine revelation for our salvation, such as we find in the person and work of Jesus Christ. When we believe that Jesus is the Christ, who was promised for ages by the Father and sent by Him in the fullness of time to redeem them that were under the Law; if we believe and are sure that Jesus is the Son of the living God; then by His empowering love, we will wholeheartedly serve the Lord with gladness.

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