I preached a sermon on John 6:22-71 last Sunday. I thought I was going to be teaching on one thing going into it. However, as I continued to study the text I was leveled with how purposely offensive Jesus was. I was shocked with the weightiness of His teaching. Typically whenever I preach, I carry this burden around with me. After preaching I feel a relief that I have shared the message that was heavy on my heart. Not so true with this one. I feel as though what Jesus is teaching in John 6:22-71 is a message incredibly relevant to our Christian culture in America. So please allow me to use this post to be another venue of sharing this message from Jesus.
In John 6 Jesus feeds about 5,000 men. It is likely that they were accompanied by women and children. Thus, Jesus may have fed as many as 20,000 or more people. He did so from a young boys small lunch. These people were following Jesus prior to the feeding because they saw the signs of healing (vs.2).
However, after the feeding John writes that the crowd said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” They realized they were not simply following another prophet. But rather, they were following “the Prophet.” This is a ref. from Moses (Duet. 18:15,18) concerning the coming Messiah or Christ.
Here, the Jews are perceiving that Jesus is the Messiah! Not only this, but the next verse tells us that they want to make Him their King (vs.15)! Wow! They got it!
Or did they?
The end of verse 15 tells us that Jesus perceiving they wanted to make Him king “withdrew again to the mountains by himself.”
Huh? I thought this is why He came. The story is seemingly interrupted with another story of Jesus walking on water (vs.16-21). And then picks up again in verse 22.
The crowds still “seeking” Jesus decide to take boats across the sea to find Him. When they get to the other side they see Jesus and ask when He had gotten there (they knew there was only 1 boat the day before and he wasn’t on it).
Here’s Jesus’ response, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me not because you saw the signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” Can you imagine what His disciples were thinking? “Uh, Jesus don’t say that they might leave.” “Jesus, you will never be king if you keep on offending people.” “Jesus, shouldn’t we try to keep the people here among the ‘Christian community’ maybe they’ll get saved if they are here long enough.” “After all, it is better for them to be here, then out there in the world or with the Pharisees, right?”
However, perfect love in flesh acted differently then we would expect. Should this really shock us though? I mean God is not like us. His ways and thoughts are so far above ours. We worship a HOLY God (Is. 55:8-9, In fact read the whole chapter there are some surprising similarities to this chapter and John 6)!
Jesus goes on to tell them they are not only coming to Him with wrong motives but that their appetites are broken. “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal.”
You see, they may have saw the signs Jesus was performing but they misunderstood them. That’s why we see in vs. 2, 14 they saw the signs but Jesus says in vs. 26 they didn’t see them. They saw Jesus doing these signs and thought, “Man, Jesus is seriously powerful, He is the one Scriptures spoke of coming, and He could be incredibly useful!”
Anyone, would love to have a president, king, leader, or ruler who promises to meet all their common wants and needs. This is how the people saw Jesus! And this way of seeing Jesus did not at all appeal to Him. In fact, it disgusted Him. In other words, they didn’t see the signs.
Jesus not only cares about what we seek, but why we seek it. He shows Himself in vs. 1-15 that He and He alone is the means/way to the bread. But in vs. 22-71 He is teaching that He is the bread. This is how they were to interpret the signs.
This teaching not only disappointed the crowds, but upset them. They loved to follow, seek, and believe in Jesus as long as He would be there ticket to whatever they wanted. But as soon as they realized Jesus was teaching them that He was the ticket to Himself, well, they complained and murmured (vs. 35-36; 41-42; 52-58). They didn’t see Jesus all-satisfying in it of Himself. They only saw Him as precious as the stuff He could do for them.
Jesus refuses to be the ticket to ultimately something else. He is the ticket to Himself. Otherwise, the thing the ticket permits access to receives the worship and not Jesus. He is not only the bucket to the well, but the water you thirst after. We cannot merely believe that Jesus has the authority and power to give eternal life, but that He is the eternal life (John 17:3). He does not simply provide for all our needs, He is all we need.
We don’t so much need more as much as we need new. Jesus did not come to fulfill all our unregenerate “needs”. He came to give us new desires, affections, passions, appetites.
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” -Ps. 37:4
“As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Ps. 43:1-2
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” Ps. 28:7
We do not sing, “From Christ alone my hope is found, from Him is my light, my strength, my song…” Even though it does come from Him. However, it does not merely come from Him, but more clearly stated, “In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song…”
And if we see Jesus as the ticket or genie to something else then He will hide away in the mountains from us (John 6:15)!
Have you always and only seen Jesus as simply the way to get out of your problems and not seen that not knowing Him was your problem? There is a BIG difference. And this is what Jesus is pointing out to the crowds.
Jesus is ultimately calling the people to seeing Him not only as the accomplisher of their salvation but in doing so becoming their salvation. Jesus, Son of God, leaving heaven, taking on human flesh, living sinlessly in the power of the Spirit, serving, healing, praying, teaching, dieing for sins, resurrecting, ascending, and coming back not only accomplishes salvation for “all the Father has given” Him (vs.37). But in the process fully discloses to us who He is. And in so doing, He becomes our treasure!
Thus, the Gospel is not something we tack onto our lives, but rather, in seeing it with new hearts; becomes our life!
Scripture teaches us that man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. The “word” represents God’s revelation of Himself. Therefore, man’s life depends upon the knowledge of God. Do you think in this way? “My life depends upon knowing God and more of Him!”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most exhaustive and clear revelation of God. Thus your life depends upon knowing and understanding more and more of the Gospel!
This is what Jesus is telling the crowd in vs. 27-29. The work (there’s only one) God the Father has given us to do is believe that Jesus revealed in the Gospel is all-satisfying!
This work cannot merely be done by sheer will-power or discipline or decision or even a strong resolve. Those attributes have their place. But What God is after is a new appetite. A new longing. A new desire. A new passion. One that delights in the Savior. A hunger and appetite that sees and knows that only Jesus Christ will satisfy!
This work can only happen should the Father draw you (vs. 37-40; 43-45; 63-65). Should the Father give you a new heart (Ezek. 36:26). Should the Father give you a new nature. Should the Father by the accomplished work of His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit cause you to be born again (John 1:13; 3:6).
It is at this teaching that the majority of the people left. John tells us in vs. 66, “After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him.” They stayed with Him even through His calling them to feed on Him. But when He told them of their bondage to idols of broken appetites and their profound need for God to act, well this is what they could not hear.
Has God done this work in you? Is He now working in you as you hear of your need for Christ? I do not know where you lie. Nor does it change what God the Father calls you to do right now. He calls you to come and satisfy your soul in His Son Jesus Christ!
COME! He is the all-satisfying “Bread of Life!” COME! He is the “Light of the World” by which you see all other things! COME! He is the only “Door to the Sheep!” Oh will you not COME! He is the “Good Shepherd” who lays His life down for the sheep! COME! He is the “Resurrection and the Life!” Please I beg you and command you in the name of LORD to come! He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life!” COME to Christ! He is the “True Vine!” How long will you refuse to come? Come! Come! COME to Him! He is the Great JEHOVAH God! He is the great “I AM!” And He summons you to receive Him! To cherish Him! To delight in Him! To hunger after Him! He calls you to satisfy your soul in HIM!