Seeking Jesus

Seeking Jesus

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 9/17/2022

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“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. There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 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. When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” 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, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” Therefore they said to Him, “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.”

                                                                                  John 6:22–29 (NASB95)

Thus far in John chapter 6 we have seen Jesus put His disciples to the test by asking them how they could buy enough bread to feed the crowd that followed Him. Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five barley loaves and two fish. From these meager resources, Jesus produced enough bread and fish to feed everyone, until they were full, with twelve baskets leftover. The people still regard Jesus as the prophet to come into the world, pitting Jesus against Moses, yet Jesus knows they intend to take Him by force and make Him their king. Jesus sends the disciples to Capernaum and withdraws to the mountain to be alone. During the night, as the disciples are rowing across the lake, a sudden and violent storm rages across the sea.

The disciples struggle to make headway and after they had rowed three or four miles, the disciples see Jesus, walking on the sea, coming towards their boat. Once they recognize Jesus, they take Him into the boat and immediately, they are at their destination. In our passage today, it is the next morning, and the crowd has become aware that neither Jesus, nor His disciples are anywhere in the area. Spotting a boat that was left on the shoreline, and knowing Jesus did not leave with His disciples, the crowd enters the boats that have arrived from Tiberias and begin Seeking Jesus. However, as we will soon see, the crowd is Seeking Jesus with wrong motives. We will learn that Seeking Jesus with the right motivation changes everything.

Seeing Jesus is gone, the crowd began Seeking Jesus because they ate of the loaves. But, in finding Jesus, they receive a challenge to work for food that leads to eternal life. The work they must do to receive this food is to believe in the One who has been sent by God – Jesus, the Son of Man.

In our faith, we will, at times be confronted with confusing signs. We may find that we are Seeking Jesus with misplaced motives, perhaps seeking a miracle or an easy solution, rather than doing the work that leads to eternal life – believing in Jesus, the Son of Man.

In this message we seek to understand why Seeking Jesus must be done with the right motivation.

Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are believing in the One whom God has sent – Jesus, the Son of Man.   

1). Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are seeking food that does not perish.

We are to seek the food that leads to eternal life – given only by Jesus, the Son of Man.

Our passage today, opens with the same crowd of 5,000 men, plus women and children, that Jesus fed with five loaves and a few fish. It is now morning, and the crowd is hungry, the loaves of the day before fresh on their minds. The crowd immediately realizes the boat they expected Jesus to take to meet His disciples is still on the shore, but Jesus and the disciples are nowhere to be found. The crowd knows that Jesus did not leave with His disciples, so they assume He has found another way to Tiberias. However, when boats from Tiberias arrive, neither Jesus nor the disciples arrive with them. They are confused about what they see before them, so they enter the boats and decide to cross over to Capernaum. This crowd wanted to see Jesus, and nothing was going to stop them.

In finding Jesus, they ask Him the question burning on everyone’s mind; “Rabbi, when did You get here?” I wonder if perhaps the real question wasn’t “How did You get here?” They saw the boat they expected Jesus to take to meet the disciples still on the shoreline, so, how did Jesus get to Capernaum? Jesus quickly rejects the excitement and rebukes them, stating, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” Traditionally we are taught that this is a rebuke for the people seeking material goods rather than the spiritual filling Jesus is offering. However, when we do this, we are reading something back into the text that is simply not there.

Not once does Jesus accuse the people of simply coming to have their physical needs met, rather than being interested in spiritual content – that is, their salvation. Jesus rebukes the people because they have come to Him, not because of signs, but rather, because of the miracle of feeding 5,000 plus people from the loaves and a few fish, from which they had their fill. This is a contrast between miracles and signs. Surprisingly, Jesus is saying the people are coming to Him because of His miracles, which are not enough. They must see the signs, for a sign always points away from itself to the thing or person that it signifies – in this case, Jesus.

The feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children, is a clear sign that Jesus has power over nature. He multiplies the loaves and the fish so that everyone might eat till they are filled. Afterwards, the disciples gathered twelve baskets full of leftovers. Where the disciples saw only man-made solutions, Jesus, the Son of Man, saw God-created solutions coming from a God-perspective. He sees things we cannot; He knows things we cannot; He understands things from a perspective we cannot. As the Son of God, Jesus has a heavenly perspective; as the Son of Man, Jesus can understand the needs of our humanity, thus giving Him a uniquely qualified perspective to supply a unique, God-created solution.  

There are going to be times when we find confusing signs in our faith. We may be praying about a move in our career and find we have signs that lead in two different directions, one to a position that seems the perfect fit, and one that says stay put! You are confused because you so clearly heard the Lord calling you to another place. It could be a ministry opportunity as well. Perhaps a mission’s trip or an opportunity within your home church. Both seem right but you are confused because you thought for certain you were being moved to be a travelling missionary. The key is to whom the sign is pointing. Does the sign point back to you and your personal desire to make a change or find a new and exciting ministry challenge, or does the sign point to Jesus? Sometimes our vision is clouded by our own desires or frustrations at work or in church. We must wait for our vision to clear and see who the sigh is pointing towards.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Is there a confusing sign you are struggling with during this season of life? If so, how are you handling your confusion?

What sign is Jesus using to try and get your attention during this season in life?

What is clouding your vision?

Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are believing in the One whom God has sent – Jesus, the Son of Man.    

2). Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are seeking to do the work of God.

We do the work of God when we believe in the One on which the Father has set His seal – Jesus, the Son of Man.

Once again, we are faced with a passage where the traditional teaching is off base. Most modern-day churches project a 16th century theology back into a 1st century Jewish document. The traditional teaching is that the crowds came to Jesus seeking to have their physical needs met. Even though the loaves of the day before are fresh on the minds of the people, this portion of our passage has nothing to do with having our physical needs met. Oh, sure, there may have been some who had this thought in their mind, but by and large, this is not what is happening here. Before we get into what is really going on here, notice the question that is asked of Jesus. “When did You get here?” I have to wonder if the people were really asking, “How did You get here?” The people realized the boat they expected Jesus was still on the shore. They also realized that neither Jesus nor the disciples were in the area. With the confusing sign of the boats at the shore, it seems this question is ripe with curiosity as to how Jesus got to the other side of the sea.

Jesus curbs the enthusiasm of the crowd but offering a rebuke and a challenge. He knows they have come to Him because they ate of the loaves, not because of the signs He has done. He challenges them to work not for food that perishes but to work for the food that endures to eternal life. Now here is where the traditional teaching goes off-course, most people have been taught that Jesus is telling the crowd to seek for spiritual provisions and not just earthly materials. Others use this as a passage to affirm that we are saved by faith alone, not works. But notice that Jesus tells the crowd to do the work of God, the Father. So, if the Father has work for us to do, how can this be works that lead to salvation? Simply put, it has nothing to do with works that lead to salvation.

So, what, exactly is happening here? Again, most Protestant churches are using a 16th century theology and imposing it on a 1st century Jewish document. The work that Jesus says they must do is to believe in the One whom the Father has sent – namely, Jesus! Remember, we learned back in chapter one that believing is more than a mental acceptance. Believing is to believe with an unswerving, positive faith, that accepts the reality that Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of Man. In accepting Him we serve Him in our deep love for Him for what He has done for us through His sacrificial death on the cross.

So, let me put this altogether for you. In ancient times people worked to receive a wage, just as we do today. However, in ancient times, people could be paid with money, or a combination of money and food. This is the fair-value exchange system. So, Jesus is using the familiar to imply something similar. Jesus is saying something along these lines: “Imagine yourself working, but only getting paid in perishable goods. Would your work be worth your efforts? Would you even be able to save or put anything aside?” Of course, the answer is no! So, Jesus is calling these people not to settle for less. He wants them to receive their due wages, not something that will perish, but rather something that will last. As for the work they are to do, the question the people are asking is really: “How can we remain faithful to the Covenant God of Israel?” The answer that Jesus provides, in this context, is: “You can be faithful to the Covenant God of Israel only by believing in His authorized representative.”

It is hard to change things that have been hammered into our heads since becoming Christ followers. It adds much confusion to our faith when we have a truth revealed to us, but this is part of becoming mature in Christ. Christians today tend to look at the gospel through an American lens. I can say this because I used to do the same thing. I believed everything that was taught in seminary without questioning it aloud, even though deep inside I had a sense that it just didn’t line up with what I was reading in Scripture. It is okay to question things that do not seem right. In fact, we are told to test the spirits to see if they have come from God the Father. So, freely take those questions and doubts to the Lord and lay them out before Him. Trust the Spirit to lead you into truth and He will guide you and direct you to the answers for your questions and ease your doubts.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you working for wages that perish of wages that endure to eternal life?

How are you being faithful to your Covenant God?

What doubt are you relying on the Holy Spirit to lead you into truth during this season of life?

Seeking Jesus with the right motivation means we are believing in the One whom God has sent – Jesus, the Son of Man.    

God has always had a remnant, set aside and protected for His holy purposes. I believe we are in one of those times God the Father is calling people back to the truth found in His word. This truth is what the original authors had in mind when inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the word of God. It is never easy to learn a truth that changes the way we think. and impacts our faith in unimaginable ways. But God wants us to live in His truth, not the truth the church has developed through rituals and traditions, or theology that was developed and read back into His word.

We are called to test the spirits to see if they come from God. This can only be done if we are found read, studying, and meditating on the word ourselves. I have told every church I have been in to test what I am teaching. Dig into the word and see if it lines up with Scripture. It is only recently that God has granted me to see His truth and not the truth taught through church tradition or an imposed theology that takes nothing from the original audience into consideration. Now, more than ever, you need to test the spirits, be in the word. Study, meditate, and be prepared to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, for He alone can lead you into the truth of God’s word.

We do all things to the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 6:30-40

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