This is the work of God...
John 6:22-42 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone. 23 There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. 25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?”
26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” 30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will 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 the one who comes to Me I will certainly not 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 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 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’?”
In today’s text, following the feeding of the 5000, it says: Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” Jesus didn’t perform miracles to increase His following, but rather to confirm the message He spoke. Human nature causes many people to seek after the sign, prioritizing instant gratification over the eternal word. If this was true in Jesus time, surely it is even more true in ours. Ours is a self oriented society. Because of technology we have become less patient. We want quick, instant gratification. People seek what they can gain in all that they do. Even in relationships, often instant gratification, what feels good in the moment, is prioritized over developing deeper, lasting levels of intimacy based on intimate knowledge as opposed to immediate gratification. If this is true in natural human relationships and actions; how much more so in spiritual matters? Much of the church today has become a consumer / provider relationship. People attend church, at least to some extent for what they will receive. We want good music, good preaching, good fellowship, even good coffee and donuts. Jesus says: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Good coffee and donuts are just good, but good music is more than a performance to be entertained by, it is to glorify God and to enter into His presence. Good preaching is more than hearing a message which inspires and makes us feel good, it is to reveal a deeper understanding of who Christ and the Father are in our lives. Good fellowship is more than sharing stories about the movie we saw, the game we watched or any other human activities, good fellowship is learning more about and encouraging the Christ in each other. People will always eventually be dissatisfied by the church if they seek to fill their natural desires there. The church will never be able to compete with the world in providing instant gratification to people.
In today’s text the people asked Jesus: “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” Far too often we, like they, become more concerned with what we should do. We view our Christian life as an activity measured in terms of what we do. Jesus says the work of God is first and foremost that you believe in Him. In today’s text they responded to Jesus saying: “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” Although they sought another sign or miracle, Jesus didn’t respond by giving them what they sought, instead: Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” The people, naturally wanting to have their desires fulfilled said: “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” Jesus satisfies all that we need spiritually, eternally. He is more than simply bread to fill us. He is I Am, all that we need. Jesus says: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” (John 6:35) “I am the light of the world; he who fallows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12) “I am the gate; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.” (John 10:11) “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies.” (John 11:25) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”( John 15:1) Jesus is and satisfies all that we need. Knowing Him and believing Him is our first and foremost work. In Mark 12:28-31 Jesus is asked a question and He gives His response: “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Knowing God, loving Him is the priority of our life. We are to love others as ourselves. Just as Jesus didn’t give the people the sign they sought, but rather revealed Himself to them, we too should give others Jesus first and foremost. Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” If we will preach the gospel, the good news of Christ and the kingdom of heaven, the signs will follow. We need to not necessarily give people what they want, but rather what they need. We need to put Jesus first, before the miracles and signs, before anything else that satisfies the desire for instant gratification. People don’t need what perishes but rather what is eternal.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I desire to know You as I Am, all that I need. Help me to love others in the same way, to reveal to them all that they need, Jesus Christ. Amen.