Seeking Jesus Aright
John 6:22-27 MKJV The following day, the crowd standing on the other side of the sea had seen that there was no other little boat there except that one into which His disciples had entered, and when they saw that Jesus did not go with His disciples into the little boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone, (23) (however, other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they ate the loaves, the Lord having given thanks), (24) therefore, when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves also entered into the boats and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. (25) And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, Rabbi, when did you come here? (26) Jesus answered them and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, You seek Me not because you saw the miracles, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. (27) Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for that food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you. For God the Father sealed Him.
The crowd is now seeking Jesus – for all the wrong reasons and so Jesus is playing the spiritual equivalent of hide and seek. In fact in the remainder of John 6 He says such hard things that almost all (except the disciples) turn away and stop following Him.
Jesus wanted true believers not adoring followers. Jesus did not receive glory from men, or seek their praise or want them to follow Him in order to make Him feel important or successful.
In fact Jesus was not very ‘seeker sensitive’. He made people go out into the wilderness to find Him, he told incomprehensible parables and made it clear that it was tough to be a true believer e.g. “take up your cross and follow me”.
Jesus intrigues the crowd when He got to the other side of the lake so they ask: “Rabbi, when did you come here?” To which Jesus does not give an answer. Instead He tells them they were seeking Him for all the wrong reasons: Truly, truly, I say to you, You seek Me not because you saw the miracles, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
He then corrects their priorities in the next verse: “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for that food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you. For God the Father sealed Him.”
These verses alone should be enough to sink the so-called prosperity gospel. Personal satisfaction, especially material satisfaction, is not the aim of life nor is it the purpose of Christ’s mission here on earth.
We are not to put our life’s energy into materialism but into the pursuit of eternal reward.
Matthew 6:19-21 MKJV Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. (20) But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. (21) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke 12:22-23 MKJV And He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, Be not anxious as to your life, what you shall eat; nor for the body, what you shall put on. (23) Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.
Indeed the bread of life is Christ Himself and the doing of His will. John 4:34 MKJV Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work. Later in this chapter Jesus will graphically describe such spiritual food as “eating His flesh and drinking His blood”.
We often get God wrong, we want Him to be our “Heavenly Jeeves”, a convenient butler who thinks of our every comfort and who is brought into service with just a simple prayer. But God is no man’s servant!
God is not convenient. He wants true sincere spiritual worshippers who worship Him in spirit and in truth and who seek eternal life – not just bread and fish. As we shall see later Peter left all and followed Jesus for His words – which were words of eternal life. In the end that is all we get – words. But what words! Words that impart eternal life!
Many of us in ministry take stock in mid-life and see our contemporaries zooming ahead of us in financial and social position while we struggle on. Then we wonder: “if it was worth it all”. We look at our bookshelves and our Greek lectionaries and wonder if our pursuit of truth has got us anywhere. But we have Christ and we have the words of eternal life. And we will have no idea how much that will be worth until we get to Heaven.
In the end the whole Christian life is a wager – that pursuing eternal life and the “food that does not perish” is worth it.
One thing is sure – that if you just pursue material things you end with nothing at the end of the game. Naked you come into the world and naked you leave it (1 Timothy 6:7). All that work is for stuff that perishes, which means it is for nothing in the long haul.
What we gamble on is that we can take our wisdom and faith and sanctification and grace and holiness and love with us beyond the grave. These things, our souls tell us, will last. So they are the things that we should work for.