Calvary Road Baptist Church


John 6.28-29 

Please turn in your Bible to John chapter six. To refresh your memory, let me quickly review the events recorded through the first twenty-one verses of this chapter.

Not long before an annual Passover observance, the Lord Jesus Christ crossed over the Sea of Galilee to the Northeastern shore and settled His apostles not far from the shoreline but some distance up the steep incline leading to what we know today as the Golan Heights. There He taught thousands of followers. As evening approached, the Lord responded to the hunger of the multitude by querying Philip about feeding them, by taking some food Andrew obtained from a lad, by arranging for the crowd to be seated in an orderly fashion,[1] and by then feeding no less than 5,000 men with the five loaves of barley bread and two fishes handed over by the boy.

Twelve baskets of food were left over, the crowd acknowledged the miracle, and also voiced that the Lord Jesus Christ was the prophet predicted by Moses.[2] Their reaction, however, was to consider taking Him by force to make Him their king, which notion He dispelled by His subsequent actions. He separated Himself from the crowd and then dispatched His apostles by boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, presumably to Capernaum. The crowd He had fed witnessed the departure of the apostles in the only boat available on the shoreline while He remained behind. Then darkness fell.

After a storm arose with contrary winds preventing any advance by the apostles in the small boat the Lord Jesus Christ came to them through the darkness by walking on water. Imagine that! He even bid Peter step out onto the water with Him. Then He calmed the storm, and using yet another miracle; the boat instantaneously arrived at their destination. It seems some people came to the far side of Galilee by boats from Tiberias the next morning, and then took some of those who had been fed the afternoon before to where the Lord and His apostles had gone, wondering when they arrived how the Savior had managed to join with His apostles without access to a boat. Their curiosity and question introduced a long discourse that ends with John 6.59. The Lord Jesus did not explain to the curious how or when He crossed the lake. His walking on the water and the sudden arrival of the fishing boat to the shore were private signs for His disciples and no one else.

Verse 26 begins, 

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you.” 

These solemn words are voiced four times on this occasion, verses 26, 32, 47, and 53. In this way our Lord drew attention to the importance of what He was saying, rebuking those who had gathered for their materialistic motivation and their lack of spiritual perception. The crowd saw miraculous signs, but to them, it meant only an easy meal. They failed to see what the miracle signified.

When our Lord said, in verse 27, 

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life,” 

He was not condoning laziness. Rather He was saying that people should expend their efforts for what will last forever. 

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” 

Matthew 4.4. Physical food is short-lived but spiritual food leads to eternal life. The Son of Man (who has access to heaven, John 3.13) will give people this spiritual food, which is ultimately Christ Himself, according to John 6.53. God the Father Himself authenticated the Lord Jesus’ claim that He is true heavenly “food.”

John 6.28: 

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” 

Here we see that people recognized that the Lord Jesus was saying God had a requirement for them. They would do God’s requirement if He informed them what it was. Their mistake, of course, was to believe that they could please God and thus obtain eternal life by doing good works.

John 6.29: 

“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” 

Our Lord’s response to their question was a flat contradiction of their thinking. They could not please God by doing good works. There is only one work of God, that is to say, one thing God requires. They needed to put their trust in the One the Father had sent. Because of their sin, people cannot please God by doing good works for salvation. Ephesians 2.8-9 makes that clear: 

8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9  Not of works, lest any man should boast. 

Titus 3.5 also makes that clear: 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” 

God demands that people recognize their inability to save themselves and receive the gift of His Son, Romans 6.23: 

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

This is as far in our text as I want to take you for now, John 6.29: 

“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” 

However, I don’t even want to address the thrust of the verse this morning, which obviously has to do with believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

What I want to focus your attention on is related to the last phrase of verse 29, where the Lord Jesus Christ, when He described Himself to His audience, said 

“him whom he hath sent.” 

This phrase contains five words in English, three of which are the pronouns “him,” “whom,” and “he,” and also the word “hath,” and the word “sent.” The Greek phrase, however, contains only three words, "hon," meaning “who,” "apostelien, a form of the word meaning “to send,” "apostelloo," and "ekeinos," a demonstrative pronoun meaning “that.” Very literally, this phrase means that one who was sent. Who was sent? The Lord Jesus refers to Himself. Who did the sending? That was God the Father.

The question, of course, is why? Why did God the Father send His Son, Jesus Christ, to be born, to live, and then to die for sins before rising from the dead and ascending back to His Father’s right hand? What was the point of it all? I need to know that right now because I know some discouraged pastors across the country and missionaries throughout the world, as well as friends who are carrying heavy burdens, and a number of our people here at Church who are struggling with their joy of heart and peace of mind.

In my own life, I feel as though I have been since my return from Nepal subjected to a withering attack from the enemy. And this is to be expected. Satan very frequently counter punches the child of God by hitting very, very hard immediately after a spiritual victory has been won, a prayer has been answered, or a goal has been achieved.

Therefore, when you are challenged in your Christian life, you need to start asking why. But not why in a rebellious or lack of faith kind of way. Rather, ask why to be reminded, to be comforted, and to be strengthened. So, this morning I ask the question that naturally arises from the Lord’s self-description at the end of John 6.29: 

“him whom he hath sent.” 

Why? Lord, how does your Word answer my question concerning why You sent your Son? I need your answer to that question to strengthen the brethren, encouraging the discouraged, and comforting those of us who need it.

God’s Word answers the question “Why?” in three ways, each of which is very simple and straightforward, with all three answers fitting together in a complimentary way: 


Christmas is fast approaching, so we’d better get the answer to this question figured out in a hurry. After all, what sense does it make to celebrate the arrival on the scene of God’s only begotten Son, born to a Virgin in Bethlehem and placed into a manger of all places, without some notion of why?

God does nothing for no reason. As well, God does not have to do anything. He is perfect in every way, complete in every way, sufficient to Himself in every way, meaning that He has no needs requiring satisfaction from anything outside Himself. Therefore, not only did He not have to create this universe and all that herein is, He did not have to patiently put up with the human race rebelling against Him as He has, and He certainly did not have to send His glorious Son to this sin-stained planet.

Why, then, did God send His Son? Why does God do any of the things He does? The one verse that marvelously summarizes what is declared throughout the entirety of God’s Word is Revelation 4.11, a prophetical passage in which we read the proclamation of twenty-four elders who seem to be in God’s presence in heaven some seven years before the return to this earth of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ.

I think it is appropriate that Christians adopt a life verse, and this is my life verse: 

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” 

It would be so great for parents to raise their children while frequently referring to this verse. It would be wonderful for every mature Christian discipling new converts and those younger in the faith to drive this verse home to young believers. Why so? This verse reveals to us in succinct fashion what the rest of the Bible reinforces, that creation was brought into existence by God for His pleasure and glory.

As well, everything that has taken place since creation has the same end, God’s glory. So, why did God send His Son Jesus Christ? Why was Jesus Christ born in Bethlehem and placed in a manger? Years later, why did He die on the cross of Calvary? Why did He rise from the dead? Why did He ascend to heaven? The answer that lies back of why God does what He does, whatever He does, is to bring Him glory because the highest and greatest good is to glorify God.

However, that is just the first and most comprehensive answer to the question we are considering. 


You understand that a single question can be answered in several complimentary ways. Correct? With each answer being entirely correct and accurate while being different concerning focus and context. For example: Where did little brother come from? To a five-year-old the answer would be “From Mommy’s tummy.” To a fifteen-year-old a biologically accurate response would be appropriate. However, a graveside explanation referring to a departed loved one would speak to such things as love and answered prayer. Each answers the question appropriately.

When considering the overarching plan and purpose of God, and including the grand reason why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, Revelation 4.11 is an entirely appropriate explanation. However, how is the unexpressed wondering of why God would send His Son to be answered to a man betrothed to a young woman he discovers is six months pregnant upon her return from an extended visit to her cousin Elizabeth?

Such was Joseph’s predicament upon the discovery of Mary’s pregnancy. What should he do? He both loved and admired the young woman he wanted to marry, was thrilled at the thought of spending the rest of his life with her and was convinced she was a godly woman. But she was discovered to be pregnant, Matthew 1.18. Joseph’s dilemma was what to do. As he wrestled with the demands of the Law of Moses and the desire to inflict upon her no needless harm, Matthew 1.19, an angel dispatched from the throne room of heaven sorted things out for him in a dream, Matthew 1.20.

Did Joseph ever explicitly ask why? Not that we are told. But in his perplexity and consternation to both fulfill the duties imposed upon him as a Law-abiding Jewish man, while also dealing as gently and as tenderly as possible with his pregnant by someone else fiancé, who he could now not marry without destroying his reputation, God so much as took his dilemma as a plea asking why. And so God dispatched an angel to tell him why.

It is the appearance of the angel from the Lord in his dream that frames the entire issue Joseph is wrestling with. What to do with Mary? What about Mary’s condition? What about her chastity? What about my reputation? Why is all this happening? Matthew 1.18-21 tells us: 

18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.

19  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.

20  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 

What is so often the case with God’s Word, is that declarations of truth that specifically address one matter are also applicable to other matters. So that not only does Matthew 1.21 speak to the concern and question of Joseph to learn why God sent His Son, but it also speaks to the heart of a sinner torn by his condition, convicted by the Spirit of God of his need for forgiveness, and grasping his helplessness to deliver himself from the consequences of his sinfulness.

Thus, the immediate answer for Joseph’s dilemma, as well as the immediate answer to the heart’s cry of the sinner for deliverance, is that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to save His people from their sins. Does this answer in any way conflict with or diverge from the first answer, that God sent His Son to glorify Him? Not in the slightest. Because God is glorified when His Son saves sinners from their sins.

But don’t you know that the angel’s answer freed Joseph with the realization that Mary had done no wrong, simplified his life so that he now knew it to be God’s will to move forward with his plan to form a home with Mary as his wife, and prepared him and Mary for the decades of suffering they would endure, Mary for being perceived as a fornicator who engaged in sex before her marriage, and Joseph for being perceived as a cuckold whose bride had sex with another man?

Those are things that are nice to know. But the answer to the question that is posed by the person who is dead in trespasses and sins is that the reason God sent His Son Jesus Christ was to save His people from their sins. To be sure, He had to live a sinless life (and He did). He had to die a sacrificial death (and He did). He had to rise from the dead (and He did). And He had to ascend to the Father’s right hand on high (and He did). But all those things were done so that Jesus Christ could simply save the sinner who trusts Him. That is why God sent His Son. 


I get that everything exists to glorify God. I understand that all of God’s doings are for Him being glorified. I also know that my life’s purpose is to glorify God in what I say and do. And before I understood those things I came to understand that Jesus Christ saves sinners. He saves sinners by forgiving them, by redeeming them, by cleansing them with His blood, by justifying them, by giving to them His precious Spirit, and so much more.

But I am no longer a new young believer. I have been a child of God for decades now. I am thankful that Jesus Christ saves people from their sins. I also appreciate that the highest good is to glorify God. Therefore, I accept and appreciate and have come to grips with those two answers to the question of why God sent His Son. However, I need more than those two wonderful realities.

Therefore, I am blessed to set before you Isaiah 61.1-3 as a third answer to the question of why God sent His Son. This is the most comprehensive and detailed of the three answers we will consider: 

1  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

2  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

3  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. 

You may recall that a portion of this passage was read by the Lord Jesus Christ the first time He attended synagogue in Nazareth after His baptism by John and word of His fame began to spread. May I briefly review the passage our Lord Jesus Christ began to read to tell those He grew up with why the LORD sent him?

This all still has to do with righteousness, that the LORD might be glorified. So that this fullest yet answer to our question of why God sent His Son is fully compatible with God being glorified and salvation from sins being provided. But there is so much more, don’t you see? 

How thoughtful and devoted God is to meet the needs of His people, while at the same time tending to the fulfillment of His grand and overarching purpose for the ages. On the one hand, He intends to do that which is the best good and most noble enterprise, His glory. But at the same time He ministers to the needs of His own. He looks after the interests of both you and me.

What is the greatest of needs met by God sending His Son? The need that arises from our sinfulness, which includes our rebellious nature and our spiritual deadness as spiritual criminals. We need the salvation that only Jesus Christ provides for sinners, and then only sinners who trust Him for the forgiveness of sins. But do we not each have needs beyond the need to glorify God and the need to be saved from our sins? Of course, we do. And this is where Isaiah 61.1-3 speaks to us about why God sent His Son, Jesus Christ.

He was sent to preach good tidings unto the meek. He was sent to bind up our broken hearts. He was sent to proclaim liberty to those of us held captive to sinful habits and routines. He was sent to open the prison to them that are bound by mental and spiritual obstacles to growth and maturity. He was sent to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. He was sent to proclaim the day of vengeance of our God. He was sent to comfort all that mourn.

Understand that some of these needs are only partially met by the Lord Jesus Christ at present, while fulfillment awaits His second coming in power and great glory. But still, this speaks to why He came the first time, why God sent Him the first time. So He could, after His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, come again in glory. And in the meantime, He saves and keeps sinners who trust Him.

Are you brokenhearted today?

Are you captive?

Are you imprisoned?

Are you mourning, grieving, and weighed down with a spirit of heaviness?

Understand that the Savior Who glorifies God and saves sinners also comforts and tends to the afflicted, the suffering, the brokenhearted, and the mourner. Therefore, I urge you to trust Him as your Savior, so that He will save you from your sins, work through you to glorify God, bind up your broken heart, set loose those of you who are captive, and do so many more things on your behalf than I have time to relate to you.

What does all this add up to? How can I effectively do justice to God’s Word while answering the question of why God sent His Son? Two statements sum it up well, in my opinion: First, God sent His Son for Himself. Second, God sent His Son for you.


[1] Mark 6.39-40

[2] Genesis 49.10

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