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The Promise of Everlasting Life

John 6:47-50
I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. (NIV)

Everlasting life is the ultimate dream idea for many people. It is a treasured goal, and so religious people offer different keys to unlock its secret - pious behaviour, religious ritual, good works, fasting, pilgrimage, prayer, giving money. Their assumption is that if we are good enough and do enough to please God, then He will let us into His heaven. But Jesus did not agree with that, because it is not true.

The truth, Jesus said, is that eternal life is the supernatural result of believing in Him. In the same way that the Israelites received the manna as God's free gift to keep them alive on their journey, so Jesus says that He is God's free gift to give us life for all eternity. In the same way that the people had to believe that the manna was edible and good for them (and therefore collect it each morning and eat it - Exodus 16:1-35), so Jesus invited His listeners to believe in Him as their life-giver. But unlike manna, which only kept them going until they died, Jesus is the only source of unending life. Although everybody will die physically (unless Jesus returns first), people who believe in Jesus will continue in relationship with God - for ever.

It is a very simple message, but essential and true. In the same way that we need food so that we can live each day, we need Jesus to take us to heaven. Indeed, without believing in Him we cannot have eternal life. Jesus is not just one of many different ways to think about life and death and eternity; He is the only One who has come from heaven and who can take us to be there with Himself. So as our family, friends and colleagues think about the future, it is our responsibility to explain to them that the only way forward to everlasting life is found in Jesus. And for ourselves, as we face our own uncertain future, how good it is to be reassured by these words of Jesus. Believing in Him takes the sting out of death, the blackness out of the grave and replaces despair with confidence. Only Jesus can do that!

Eternal God. Thank You that You have chosen to give eternal life to all who trust in Jesus. I am sorry that I often fix my eyes on the low horizons of this world with its temporary objectives, and fail to look ahead to the glory of Your eternal presence. Please help me to appreciate the eternal value of trusting in Jesus and the eternal importance of communicating that to others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams