John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 6:22-29

Happy New Year to all! Did you make your new year’s resolution(s)? Better yet, are you still keeping them if you made them? LOL! The new year brings in a lot of uncertainty considering where we are at as a nation and as a people here in America. One thing that is certain and unchanging though is the Word of God. The Bible is truth. Not my truth, God’s truth. If you don’t want the truth or don’t like the truth, then don’t read it or better yet, read only the parts that you’re comfortable with, the parts that “make you feel good”. That is the problem with America right now. Christians nitpick God’s Word and only want to read and hear what they want to and totally ignore the rest. If Christians would actually sit down and read it and apply it, then we would realize what needs to be done to bring this country back around to God. In Matthew, Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers” not “Blessed are the peacekeepers”! Enough said about that.We’re starting a new year and we are still in John’s Gospel and I can tell you right now that we will be in it for the entire year and probably will be next year as well unless the Lord comes back God willing!

Did you realize that it’s possible to do the right thing but do it the wrong way or with the wrong intentions? For example for most of my young adult life, I worked in telemarketing. Did it for over 30 years and was pretty good at it. Anyway, most of my years being a telemarketer, I spent doing fund raising for different organizations but mostly for police and fire organizations. Besides raising a lot of money for their causes, I in turn made a lot of money for myself. Yeah they do pay people to fund raise or at least they did back then, I wasn’t really concerned though about how much I was raising for the causes as much as I was concerned about how much was going into my pocket. I was doing the right thing, a good thing, but had the wrong intentions. Here’s an example of doing the right thing but the wrong way. A missionary was leaving the United States to board a plane to go to a foreign country to do mission work. They got arrested because they failed to have the right documentation. That’s what the officials said. They lacked proper documentation. Turns out the missionary was illegally in the United States, an illegal immigrant. Missionary work is very noble, honorable, and important work but you have to do it the right way. You have to pay attention and follow the immigration laws as a believer. A better example of doing the right thing the wrong way comes from The Bible in 2 Samuel. David decides to bring back the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. The ark had been in Abinadab’s house after being sent away by the Philistines after they had captured it. The ark was to be carried only on poles and only by certain people but for reasons known, probably only to him, David decides to have the ark brought to Jerusalem on a cart accompanied by Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons. As the cart heads to Jerusalem along the way, the ark begins to fall out of the cart and Uzzah grabs it to keep it from falling out and God strikes him dead right on the spot. It was forbidden for anyone, even the priests, to actually touch the ark and even though Uzzah was trying to prevent the ark from falling out of the cart, he is instantly struck dead for touching it. David was doing the right thing in having the ark brought to Jerusalem because it belonged there but had it moved the wrong way.

It is also possible to be following Jesus the wrong way or with the wrong intentions. In this passage that we will be examining in this post, we will look at a group of these kind of people and Jesus calling them out for it.  Another short passage so most of it I will be summarizing. As always, the text link and the audio for the entire chapter are included so you can follow along.

John 6

Let’s look at the passage we will be studying in this post…

(22) On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— (23) however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— (24) when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. (25) And when they 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, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. (27) Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (28) Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (29) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” … John 6:22-29 NKJV

This takes place the very next day. It is the exact same crowd that were fed with the loaves and the fishes the day before. They are trying to find Jesus again but not to become true followers of Him. They are looking for Him because they are looking for another miracle. They want a show. Let’s look at these verses a bit closer now. …

vv 22-24 – (22) On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— (23) however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— (24) when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

It is now the day after the one in which the five thousand were fed. The multitude of people are still in the area northeast of the Sea of Galilee. They had watched the disciples get into the small boat the previous evening, and they knew that Jesus had not gone with them. Only one boat had been available at that time, and the disciples had taken it. So you have this huge crowd that goes to the shore looking for Jesus. They can’t find Him and they are wondering what happened to Him. Even though they knew that Jesus hadn’t gotten into the boat with the disciples, they are still trying to figure out where He had gone and how. They aren’t even thinking that He might have walked on the water. Would you? People can’t walk on the water…only God can do that and the crowd isn’t even considering that possibility. When they get to the shore, there are all sorts of boats there now which John makes a big deal emphasizing. Question…where did these boats come from? Probably from the storm. The storm was so fierce that it may have blown all of these boats ashore. So now there are a whole bunch of “water taxis” which the people pile into and begin setting out to find Jesus which they find Him in Capernaum. That’s a good thing right? People seeking Jesus? Not really as we read on…

vv 25-26 – (25) And when they 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, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

The people find Jesus at Capernaum and they are scratching their heads with curiosity and asking Him when He had gotten there. Notice that Jesus doesn’t answer their question directly. Jesus never responded to curiosity directly. He wanted to find out what was beneath that curiosity. Remember when Jesus confronts the rich young man in Matthew? Turning to Matthew 19…

(16) Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (17) So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” … Matthew 19:16-17 NKJV

Jesus asks the rich young man why he is calling Him good to find out if the young man believes Him to be God or just some good person. Jesus also wants to know if this is a true follower or just a follower. After telling the young man to sell what he has and follow Him, Jesus finds out that the young man doesn’t want to do that and therefore, isn’t a true follower. Same thing with this crowd. They should have recognized Jesus as God and the Messiah after the feeding on the mountain but they come seeking Jesus not to become true followers but because they want Jesus to perform another miracle and Jesus knows this and this is why He tells them…Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. In John 2, John points out…

(23) Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. (24) But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, (25) and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. … John 2:23-25 NKJV

Moving on now. …

v 27 – (27) Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

This is one of my favorite verses in John’s Gospel. It is full of deep and rich meaning. John’s Gospel doesn’t contain any parables but this verse comes very close to being one. When Jesus says do not labor for the food which perishes, He doesn’t mean don’t work at all (sorry Democratic socialists! LOL!). We all need to work to survive and God never intended for man not to. When God created Adam, He put him to work in the Garden of Eden. In fact, Paul even goes so far as to say in 2 Thessalonians…

(10) For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. … 2 Thessalonians 3:10 NKJV

What Jesus meant is not for working for a daily living to become an obsession. I would add this would not only include work but anything that becomes an obsession that doesn’t strengthen our mission as Christians to spread The Gospel and to strengthen the church. Those should be our obsessions. Everything else is meaningless! This would include sports watching, pursuit of material things, social media, etcetera etcetera. There is nothing wrong with having entertainment and buying things because we should enjoy the fruits of our labor but when these things become an obsession, it is unhealthy. We should, however, work tirelessly to know the Word of God. This is why Jesus says to the crowd to labor for the food which endures to everlasting life. Our bodies are more than physical. They are also spiritual. This is why without Christ in our lives, our lives will always feel empty because we will always feel we need something more. God instills this spiritual hunger in all of us. The Bible says that man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God. A few years back, there was a song. If you’re a fan of Christian contemporary music, you might have heard it. It was by a group called Plumb and the song was called “God Shaped Hole”. Part of the lyrics, from the chorus I believe, went…”There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us”. This is fact. There is a God-shaped hole in all of us and nothing outside of Christ can fill it. Not drugs, alcohol, sex, material things, money, power…nothing except Christ! God has set His seal on Him. When you set your seal on something or someone, it means that is true and can be trusted. God has approved Jesus Christ because He is God’s representative…God in human form. Let’s move on to the last part of this passage. …

vv 28-29 – (28) Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (29) Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

This question asked by the crowd wasn’t a question posed to Jesus seeking knowledge on how to follow Him. It was hypocritical. They had no intentions of following Jesus and, outside of the miracles, wanted nothing to do with Him. Many Christians are like this today. They profess to love and follow Christ but looking at how they live their every day lives and what they are interested in, tells a much different story. There was nothing wrong though with the fascination that this crowd had for Jesus. Different things motivate us to seek Jesus. I’ve told the story many times about the Korean woman who basically led me Christ. It’s part of my testimony. I left out a part of the story though…my first motivation. It was to try to get closer to her not to get closer to the Lord. It was the reason why I finally agreed to go to the church that she belonged to albeit a different congregation which at that time, I didn’t know. I figured we would go and I would sit with her maybe even hold hands. Imagine my surprise when she told me that she wasn’t coming in with me! LOL! Oooops! LOL! Then I figured well at least I’ll see her when she picks me up to take me back home after the service is over. That didn’t happen either. In fact, I never saw her again. I am convinced to this day that she was an angel because I never saw her again after that day, her phone was disconnected, and no one in her congregation knew who I was talking about. The point that I’m trying to make here is that my initial motivation for seeking Jesus was to seek a girlfriend but it didn’t end there. The more I attended church and read God’s Word, the more I became fascinated with who Jesus was and my motivation changed to actually following or trying to follow Jesus and not just play acting. This is what this crowd was doing…play acting. 

There is this overwhelming belief that in order for God to love us and to be saved and go to heaven, that we have to work for it in some way. That is what religion teaches. In order to please God, you have to do certain things and say certain prayers or whatever. It’s all about what you have to do and not what about what He has done already. That’s what true Christianity is about. It’s about what Christ has done and not what we have done. It’s a relationship and not a religion. Salvation comes first and then the works follow as proof of that salvation. Salvation comes by first accepting and believing who Jesus Christ is, His finished work by dying on the cross for all of us and then becoming a true follower of Him. In Ephesians, Paul says…

(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. … Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

In closing, the takeaway from this passage that we have been looking at is it doesn’t matter if your motivation(s) coming to Christ aren’t exactly sincere at the time. People come to Christ for all sorts of different reasons. What matters is where your motivation takes you afterwards. Do you grow in your faith and become a true follower of Jesus or do you just play act following Jesus like this crowd was doing? As we start this new year, make your new year’s resolution to follow Jesus more or if you don’t follow Him at all, start following Him today! Let’s pray…

Father,

Thank You for Your Word and the truths found in it. Father as we embark on a new year, may we learn to grow more in our faith and become more and more like Your Son Jesus Christ. Lord we pray for our nation, our families, our friends, our neighbors. We pray for a true revival in America and not just lip service. Give us the knowledge and the power through Your Word to become peacemakers and not just peacekeepers. Lord, we have no idea what this new year will bring but we know that You do. Your hands are on the controls and we rest in the comfort of that. Father we pray that if there are people who are reading this study who don’t know Your Son Jesus Christ, that don’t have a personal, meaningful relationship with Him. that they would come to Him today and start the new year with a fresh new life in the saving name of Jesus Christ we pray…Amen!