Monday, March 5, 2012

John 6:25-29

After Jesus and the disciples landed on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, it didn’t take long for the crowds who had been fed by him to follow.

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:25-27)

Jesus knew that their motivation for seeking Him out had nothing to do with their spiritual need. They were focused on their stomachs! So often people will turn to Jesus to get something from Him: a physical healing, a turnaround in their marriage, a better job, a mate, etc. And we can be a part of that problem when we tell people, “Come to Jesus! He will solve all of your problems!” So people who come to Him with this selling point are later disappointed when the “happy-ever-after” ending doesn’t appear. They remain sick, the marriage falls apart, they don’t get the job, and they no mate appears.

They don’t understand that their main need is to resolve the sin problem. They don’t get that Jesus wants to CHANGE them from the inside out. He didn’t come to put on a dog and pony show, performing miracles for the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the crowd. He came to rescue us from sin! He did not come to give them bread to eat but to BE the Bread of Life Who would satisfy their deepest needs.

Jesus tells this crowd that they need eternal food that only He can give. Their next question is an important one:

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (vs. 28-29)

The first time I ever read these verses they practically jumped off the page at me. Isn’t this the question everyone wants to know? “Just tell me what to DO, LORD, and I will DO it! What is it that You want me to DO to secure eternal life with You??” Jesus tells them that there is but one work that God requires: believe in Jesus! That’s it! He could have given them a laundry list of things to do! He could have told them to pray a certain way, so many times, to perform certain rituals, or even to give to charity. There are so many things that WE think we must do to win His approval, and that even some religious leaders insist we must DO. But Jesus says the work of God is to believe in Him!

Does this mean we don’t need to do good works? Certainly not! James tells us “faith without works is dead.” Our works, done from a heart that loves God and that are in response to the abundant grace He has lavished on us (Eph 1:7), show others that we have been changed, and, more importantly, they glorify our Father. But they don’t save us, nor do they make God love us more. It is impossible for God to love us anymore than He already does. For crying out loud, He loved us while we were yet sinners! (Rom 5:7-8)

I once heard a radio minister describe explain this passage tis way: God is asking us to obey the ONE thing He wants us to do - believe in Jesus. Suppose you, as a parent, had asked your child to do just ONE thing while you were gone for the afternoon: fold the laundry. When you returned the laundry was still in piles all over the floor. But your child points to his bedroom and says, “But I made my bed and straightened out my room!” You would say, “And you did a great job, but that’s not what I asked you to do. I asked you to fold the laundry.” Even though your child had not been lazy, and had actually done a terrific job in the bedroom, he had nonetheless disobeyed you. We spend our lives rushing from one “good work” to another, but if we have not obeyed Him in this one work that He requires, we will have wasted our energy and, worse, we would have missed eternal life!

This theme of believing is the dominant theme of John. It matters what we believe and in Whom we believe! Don’t waste your life striving to please God on your own. Just obey Him: believe in the One He has sent!


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