Sunday August 2, 2015. 10th Sunday after Pentecost (B)
John 6: 24-35
24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’]”
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
“Jesus is More”. That’s what we said last week. Jesus is more than five loaves and two fish. He is more that anyone or anything. His supply of compassion and soul satisfying Words that do what they say for the deep things of our lives is more that we can ask for or imagine.
We said that Jesus is more than our pain, our sorrow, our pride, our striving to be enough for ourselves our peers, our families, our spouse, and the Joneses. Jesus is more than enough in our FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) culture of Facebook fantasies and dreaded being left behind and missing out.
We were with around 10,000 people who were so amazed at the ability of Jesus to feed them all to overflowing from such a measly supply of five loaves of bread and two fish that they actually thought they had found their man – the magic miracle worker man whom they could wheel out any time they wanted to fix all of their problems any time they wanted so they could continue to live their lives any way they wanted. They had a deep desire in their heart after they had eaten their fill to tie Jesus up, and force him to become king over them!
He was on to this and got out of that place on the far side of the Sea of Galilee – only to frighten the life out of his intrepid mates as he walked on top of the water to their bumping and swaying boat.
We pick up the crowd and the disciples and Jesus back on the home side of the Sea… as John continues to ask us the question, “Who is Jesus to you?”
This massive searching crowd couldn’t figure out what had happened to Jesus. They knew he came across in only one boat with his mates. They saw that boat leave without Jesus in it. So, now a lot of people get into a lot of boats and head West, back to Capernaum still searching for the one that gave them free food to overflowing in miraculous ways.
They find Jesus and ask the obvious question, “When did you get here?” Jesus, as is often his way, does not directly answer the questions but uses the question to dig deeper into the heart.
He tells them they have missed the boat on him. He says they are chasing him and wanting him to be in charge of their lives so they get it easy. “You are not looking for me because you saw the signs I did but because you had got what you wanted”.
The people are wanting what the Saviour can give but not the Saviour. They can’t see him. They can only see what he can give them to fix their problems and fill their needs.
Is that you? Is that me? I think so. I often want what the Lord can give me but not him. I want safety, security, comfort, help, a good life, money in the bank, a holiday now and again, great kids, great wife, happy life, my football team winning, a new car, a new bike, an uninterrupted life of goods and services. I even want to be able do good community work, have a job that does some good, help a few people – but do I actually want the Lord in my life?
He might not fill my needs as I want or keep me as free from danger and harm as I like. He might answer my many questions with more questions that draw me deeper into the real issues that stand between us – my chasing after the wind and self-glory at the expense of his glory for anything good.
Jesus might call me to stop trying to be everything and let him be something.
He might be calling you to stop trying to be more and let his Word be enough.
Jesus might tell me today to stop striving for “food that spoils’ and turn my head and heart in as different a direction as East is from West. He might call me to face the other side of the sea and go where the hard things are that don’t look good on Facebook and don’t make much sense to those around me.
He calls this crazy crowd to “work for food that does not go off”. What is that?
He tells us. Life and work and striving is redefined in a word by the Living Word. “The work of God is this: that you believe in Jesus”
So the food that does not go off, that cannot be taken away from you, that satisfies beyond all satisfaction is belief – belief in this Jesus, – Faith, we call it. Trust. Reliance on his Word for my everyday choices, interaction, learning, seeing….
So, what is the heart of life? Phillip Yancey in his recent book, “Vanishing Grace” searched Google with the question, “What is the meaning of life”, and came up with 640,000,000 results in half a second…. He found things like;
“Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book now and again, get some walking in and try to live together in peace and harmony” Or more seriously, “Seek wisdom, Do good, Be happy, love God and others” (Yancey, Vanishing Grace, 2014, p178).
So, is the heart of life ‘Easy street’? Sipping a Pina colada by the sea in Bali? No. Him. He is the heart of life. Nothing wrong with sipping that drink in a lovely place, but it is nothing compared to the love and power and newness of the man and the future he freely gives dead, worried and often lost people. He sustains my life. He is more. He is enough. That is his claim here.
They still don’t really get it. I don’t think I do either. At least I don’t trust that he is more, that he is enough. I still try and fill my own needs, and with all the good intention in the world – other people’s needs as well.
Jesus tells the people that there is divine life, divine bread that fills to full and overflowing for the human being on offer. They still can’t see. They just say, “Give us that stuff”. The view their Saviour as the one who has causes their winning Lotto numbers to come up! they hear Jesus is telling them that there will $10M in the bank by tonight. “Now we have made it. Now life will be easy. Now we can really be safe and secure and do whatever we want”. Isn’t that the very heart of all gambling? Us trying to shortcut real life and in the act, bypass good life in everyday life given by God?
Jesus tells them that he is the bread they need. He is the stuff you can’t achieve yourself, make happen yourself or buy yourself.
He is a certain contentment with your life partner and your family. He is an ever present readiness to ask for and receive forgiveness and give and receive a new start for each day. He is the vision for my life and hope for now and later. He is the power to live – win or lose. He is the Word that shapes my heart and defines my work, my character, my understanding, my wisdom. He is my community. He is in you and he works through you to do his kingdom work of freeing the bound, releasing the captive, healing the sick, loving the despised, bringing down the proud with acts of love…..
And the best thing of all….. this Bread called Jesus, or “God Saves”, is not bought or worked for or striven for by their own great effort and hard toil, but is freely given from above – only received in trust and gratitude daily.
Jesus sums it up with those immortal words. “I am the Bread of life”. More than the daily manna provided in the desert by God as with Moses all those years ago. Jesus is God in the desert here and now providing.
So, what are you and what will you continue to work at? Can you see him now? What are you working so frenetically to achieve and what do you think it will eventually bring. Are those things the real deal? Are those things really as good as the world says they are?
Do you want Jesus, or just what he can give you?
Hear this man, the Son of God, this human divine man now present assure you that he is your life and he is more – more than enough – better than more, more, more.
Might be time to stop the chase. Call off the pursuit. Might be time to confess your need for what money and people can’t give. Might be time to just receive him and let him fill the heart to overflowing.
Share your highs and lows for the week…..
Read the whole John 6 chapter so far – from John 6:1-to 35.
- Share what fired up your imagination or raised your inquisitiveness.
- Share your questions of the text…
We said the question John is asking in his whole gospel is “Who is Jesus for you?”
We said that he uses the technique of using someone who is universally thought of as “great” to then show how Jesus is more than even that person.
In this case he uses Moses as he tell the story of the huge crowd being fed out in the desert.
- Have a look at Numbers 11 and around it to remember what happened out there among the people of Israel under Moses and their need for bread and meat – manna and quail.
- Can you see the parallels?
- Share what is the same about Jesus and Moses.
But then Jesus asks that question for effect.He asks Philip who could possibly supply such a great need. Philip says no one. Jesus then does supply huge need from ridiculously inadequate resources!
- Now share what is different about Jesus as opposed to Moses and the provision of this food. (Hint: Jesus himself will provide this food whereas Moses had to ask God for the food).
- What is John calling us to conclude about Jesus in the telling of this story? How is asking us to respond to his question: “Who is Jesus?”
As we move on to our text, we see that the people don’t get it.
They seem to get that Jesus is special. They even now go further and concede that he might actually be THE One – the promised Messiah spoken of all through the Old Testament. They want him to be their king. They want him to bring freedom from the Rona occupation, a return to God’s blessing and favour among all people and etc….
But, Jesus really call them out on this as he points them to dig deeper. He says that they have only come to this conclusion because they have received their fill of bread. He identifies their belief about him as him being merely a magic man of super power that can fix all of their problems – not their Saviour.
We said that ‘the people just wanted what Jesus could give them – not Jesus himself’.
We said that Jesus is more – more than a miracle worker. He wants a living relationship with people, not just their surface level reaction to having their problems foxed and their dreams fulfilled.
What do you make of all this?
- Can you see the issue and how does this issue play itself out in our life? Share your reflections.
I said it might be time to stop chasing what we need from God and simply receive him in his Word.
It may be time to simply repent of our chasing endless needs and simple allow the Lord to speak to us and be with us and see where he leads.
- What do you think about this kind of response and is it a good one?
- If so, what does that mean for you and your relationships with Jesus at the moment?
- What might it mean for what you have been pursuing and needed lately?
PRAY: Lord, open the eyes of our hearts that we may know you better.