FacebookTwitterRSS FeedPinterest

By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC 8 am service, 2008-05-11

Text: John 6:22-40

This morning we will continue from where we left off in our study of the Gospel of John 2 months ago. We were in chapter 6 where Jesus fed a crowd of five thousand with just five loaves of bread and two small fishes. In today's sermon we see the people's response to this miracle. And we will be a little disappointed at their response. In summary they went around looking for Jesus, but it was only because they wanted Him to keep on feeding them and doing miracles for them. They wanted to have all the benefits He could offer to them, but not the commitment that He required of them.

The situation in the world today is still about the same. Many people would gladly honour anyone who will provide the best benefits to them, and who is able to carry out whatever the people want them to do. This usually becomes evident during election time. If a political candidate is able to do what our Lord Jesus did, in feeding a crowd of 5,000 miraculously at his election rally, he would become an instant success. 

And if someone who had the same power that our Lord Jesus had were to run for election, he would probably win all the votes, because he can easily work miracles to feed and provide anything and everything that the people want. There would be no inflation because he provides all the food, water and basic necessities that are needed. There would be no more fear of hand foot mouth disease or dengue because one word from Him will instantly heal all the sick and eliminate all the aedes mosquitoes. 

If terrorists were to try to come into our shores secretly, He would know it beforehand and stop them before any harm could be done by them. He would also know where Mas Selamat is hiding and put him back into detention. Can you see how nice and convenient everything would be if only a person with the same kind of power that Jesus had would stand for election? 

But that is not the reason why Jesus came down from heaven. He did not come to provide people with all the material blessings we could wish for. He did not come to be a dispensing machine that gives us whatever we want when we press the right buttons. He did not come to be the solution to our material needs, our wants and our greeds. What then did the Lord Jesus come down from heaven for? He came to restore us to a right relationship with God. He came to be our Lord and claim His rightful ownership of our lives.

And what this means is that when we come to Jesus, what we should seek above all things is to give ourselves to Him. It is utterly wrong for us to come to Jesus if our motives are to find a convenient way of having all our material needs provided for. In today's study from John 6 we want to see the right way in which we ought to come to Jesus. Let us turn our Bibles to John 6 and read from verses 22 to 40 (read). In the outline you will notice that there are three steps in coming to Jesus the right way. The first step is to:

I. Seek Him for the right reasons (vv. 22-26)

In vv.22 to 25 we notice that there was a large group of people who were seeking for Jesus. These were the same people who had eaten the food that Jesus had multiplied just the day before. But now they could not find Him there because Jesus had already left. Let us read v.24,25: 'When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also took shipping and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?'

This question that they asked Jesus reveals one of the reasons why they were seeking for Him: they were intrigued by His miracles. They were amazed at how He could suddenly appear at Capernaum, when there was no transport to take Him across the lake. According to v.22, the people knew that there was only one boat that had left the place where Jesus had fed the 5000, and only His disciples had left in it. 

Jesus really had no way to reach Capernaum about 11 km accross the Sea of Galillee and to be there by the very next day. It was clearly a miracle. And so they asked Him, 'When did you arrive here at Capernaum?' What they did not know of course, was that Jesus had miraculously walked on the water accross the sea of Galillee the night before until He came to the boat His disciples were in and then He joined them for the rest of the journey. We know that this happened from our study of the preceding verses 2 months ago. Nevertheless we see that the people took the trouble of crossing the Sea of Galilee because they were primarily interested in the amazing results of His miracles. And what they expected from Him was more miracles and more miracles.

Many people today seek Christ for the same reason - not because of who He is, but because of the so-called miracles that are being performed in His name. But miracles by themselves cannot save or satisfy the soul. Only Christ can do that. Those who seek for miracles, signs and wonders will always need to see more miracles and more signs and wonders. They will not remain satisfied with the miracles they have already seen, but will always crave for more of the same thing. If you were to do a Google search on the Internet for the word 'miracles' and you will find over 20 million websites on them. And some of things that happen at miracle rallies are really strange - gold dust falling on a crowd during a meeting, dental fillings changing into gold, holy oil oozing from a person's palms with a smell of frankincense and myrrh. There are many who have an insatiable appetite for things that are miraculous and strange.

Coming back to our text, we see that in v.30, the people who looked for Jesus were just like this. They asked Him for another miracle. They said to Him, 'What sign shewest Thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?' We find this quite strange. Had they forgotten so quickly that Jesus had just performed two great miracles in feeding the 5,000 and in arriving at Capernaum without a boat? No. They just wanted to see more, and even greater miracles from Jesus. 

Let us be careful that we do not seek Jesus for this same reason. His miracles were not an end in themselves, but a means to an end - to authenticate His identity as the divine Son of God and our Lord. We notice that Jesus did not answer the question they asked Him in v.25 'When camest Thou hither?' He did not tell them when He arrived. Why? Because that would only have fed their appetite for more juicy amazing happenings.

Instead he said in v.26 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.' Here Jesus reveals the hidden agenda or the real reason why the people sought after Him: They simply wanted to get more free meals!

We must be careful that this does not become our reason for seeking Christ. It can easily become that. The world today has become increasingly pragmatic. We tend to measure everything in terms of its usefulness or benefits to meet our desires to solve our problems. If something can help us to advance quickly in life, to increase our well-being and status, we say: 'Make full use of it.' But if something cannot do these things for us we say, 'Don't waste any time or effort on it.' Unfortunately this pragmatic approach is also carried over into the church. There are Christians who make their service and devotion to the Lord conditional upon His material blessings in return to them. If God does not bless them and give them all that they want in life, they will forget Him and resort to some other means to get what they want.

Dearly beloved, we must be careful not to treat God this way. We must also be careful that we do not misrepresent God in our efforts to win people to Christ, by telling them, 'If you will come to Him, you will get all the success and material benefits you desire.' Listen to what Martyn Lloyd Jones, the famous pastor of Westminster Chapel once said, 'Any teaching that starts with us and our needs rather than the glory of God is unscriptural and seriously unscriptural. That subjective approach is what has led many astray for so many years.'

The term that is used for th)s approach is 'seeker-sensitive' and it is very popular now in the church growth movement. This means finding out what the people need and then giving it to them. Hence they will first conduct a survey of the community to find out what the people really want. Then they will seek to satisfy those needs in the church - e.g. a running a fitness centre, cooking classes and a cafeteria. But these are only meeting the felt needs of the people and not their real need.

In contrast to this, listen to what Jesus said in v.27- 'Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you.' Let us not labour for the meat which perishes. Don't get caughtkup in the materialistic and consumerist trends of the world today. We all need to work in order to earn an honest living to support ourselves and our family. 

But there are definitely more important things in life than just food and drink, property or success, popularity or influence, wealth or health. Jesus said that a man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses. God's Word tells us to set our priorities on spiritual things, on things that are above, and on our relationship to God. This is what we should be seeking Christ for, at all times.

So when you come to Jesus, please make sure that you seek Him for the right reasons: Not because you want to see miracles happening, or because you want material blessings from Him, but because you want to live in a right relationship with God - this is life in its fullness: to know your Creator and to love Him.

Now we go on to look at the Second step in coming to Jesus. And this is to:

II. Believe that He is the True Bread from Heaven (vv.26-33)

In v. 27, Jesus said 'Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto You: for Him hath God the Father sealed.' 

We observe that the emphasis here is not so much on what Jesus will give, but on who Jesus is - He is the One on whom God the Father has placed His seal of approval. In v.29 Jesus said, 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.' In v.33, Jesus describes Himself as 'He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.' We notice that in the whole passage our Lord keeps on emphasizing His own identity - that He comes from God and that He is the One sent by God to be the only divinely-appointed means of salvation and the only One who is worthy of our faith.

What does this mean when we come to Jesus? It means that when we come to Him, it must always be on the basis of who He is and not on what we want Him to do for us. Anyone who comes to Jesus must acknowledge that He is rightfully the Lord of all heaven and earth, and the Lord of our lives, with all the rights and privileges thereof. 

But in our text, we observe that the people did not regard Jesus this way. They misunderstood who He was. They came to Him without properly understanding and acknowledging His true identity. In v.31 they compared Jesus with Moses, saying 'Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat.' This implies that if Jesus would do the same miracle of producing manna everyday for 40 years as Moses did, then they would acknowledge that He is as great as Moses.

But Christ cannot be compared with Moses at all. Moses was only a man who became a great prophet. Christ is very much greater than him, being God Himself in the flesh, the Lord of all, the One by whom all things were created. When we come to Christ, we cannot acknowledge Him as being anything less than that.

Jesus pointed out how much greater He is than Moses, in v.32, as He said: 'Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world.' The manna that Moses gave to the Israelites in the wilderness was not the true bread of heaven. It was only a symbol or type which ultimately points to Christ. In v.35 Jesus says: 'I am The Bread of life.- Jesus is the one and only Unique Bread from heaven that can give life not only to the Israelites, but also to the world. There is absolutely no one else who can rightfully make this claim. 

To come to Jesus in the right way, we must therefore fully agree with this, and we must fully aknowledge that this is what He is to us. To believe in Jesus is not just entertaining the possibility in our minds that what the Bible says about Him is true. It is to be fully convinced that Jesus is all that He claims to be, without any doubts at all. To believe in Jesus is to be so fully convinced, that one is even willing to act and respond to that knowledge with simple child-like trust and full commitment. This brings us to the third and most important step in coming to Jesus the right way:

III. Commit our lives fully to Him alone to save and keep

No one can say that he has come to Jesus until he has committed his life fully to Him. It does not matter how many miracles of Jesus a person has seen, or whether he has talked with Jesus face to face like those in our text did: Unless a person has committed his life fully to the Lord Jesus, he has not come to the Him yet. 

In v.36 Jesus Himself stressed this principle to the people who came looking for Him. He said 'But I said unto you, that ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.'

Why did Jesus say this to the people? Had they not shown great zeal in looking for Him? Had they not taken a lot of trouble to sail across the Sea of Galilee to look for Him at Capernaum? And yet Jesus said that they do not believe, and that they have not come to Him, for if they had really come to Him, he would not cast them out. When I think about this situation I am reminded about the many people who take great pains to make long pilgrimages to so-called holy places, all in Jesus' name, who climb up mountains and bathe themselves in holy waterfalls, thinking that this will somehow please God and gain them some special privilege or blessing from God. 

How futile it is to do all of these things. These actions seem to display some form of devotion, but how deceiving they are. The people who came looking for Jesus at Capernaum asked Him in v.28 'What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?' To them, obtaining salvation and eternal life consisted in finding just the right formula of things to do, to please God. It is like they were asking Jesus, 'Please just tell us the secret code that will open the combination lock on God's safe of salvation.' And they expected Jesus to prescribe for them a list of tasks that they could do and get over with to meet all of God's requirements. But what did Jesus answer them? 

He said, in v.29 - 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.' He said: All you need to do is accept the gift of God. Simply commit your life entirely to Him and depend entirely on Him - that's all. It is such a beautifully simple and fundamental response, and yet it is not easy for people to respond this way. Why? It is because commitment means full surrender of our lives to Jesus Christ. When a person commits himself to Christ, he must abandon his trust in everything else and he must even abandon trust in himself. He is then able to say, like the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1:12 - 'For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.'

But the sinful nature and pride that is within every one of us dislikes commitment, because it means we no longer live this life for our selves but for someone else. Commitment involves swallowing our pride, and humbly but willingly giving up to Christ every right that we claim for ourselves. Man's self-centered nature does not like this at all, and he would rather settle for some works that he can do to fulfill the requirements, works that he can just get over and done with quickly, without commitment; works that will boost his ego when he can accomplish them and then say with pride - 'I have done them! Mission accomplished.'

In commitment to Christ, one can only humbly say 'Not I, but Christ! Christ has done it! And by the grace of God I am what I am.' In our commitment to Christ we also will not have any grounds to boast that we by our own good judgment and will, have overcome our pride and committed ourselves to Christ, because even that would not have been possible if God the Father had not changed our hearts and given us to Christ first. In v.37 Christ says 'All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.' and in v.44 He stresses again, 'No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent me draw Him.'

But how can you know whether you are one of those whom the Father has given to the Son? How can you tell if you are one of those whom the Father has drawn to Christ? The answer is that there is no need for you to know what you cannot possibly know on this side of glory. You only need to come to Jesus. And when you really come to Him and make Him your Saviour and Lord, then the things that Jesus says in vv.37 and 44 are true of you.

Dear friends, if you have not come to Christ yet for salvation, God commands you to do so today. Coming to Christ is actually the most important step in your life. God holds you responsible if you refuse to do this. Come to Him now and do not delay. And you have the assurance from Jesus Himself that when you come to Him, He will certainly receive you and welcome you. He will not turn you away. 

I am glad for those of us here who have already come to Christ. If you have committed your life to Jesus Christ, you have the most wonderful, blessings for life and for eternity. In v.35 Jesus says that anyone who comes to Him and believes in Him shall never hunger and never thirst. This does not mean that you can stop eating and drinking, but it means that there is now a deep and lasting satisfaction, a satisfaction of your soul that no material blessing in this world can ever give to you. 

And in v.40 Jesus gives us the wonderful assurance that 'every one which seeth the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life: and I will raise Him up at the last day.' The blessing never departs from us. It will always keep us right till the very end of time. Once saved, always saved! But if you have not come to Jesus for salvation you have none of these things. It may be possible that there are some here this morning who have not come to Jesus yet, even though you have been attending our worship services regularly. 

Only you can tell as you look into your own life and search your own heart, whether you have really received Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord or not. 

And if you discover that you have not, please do not delay, but come to the Lord Jesus right away. Please do not end up like the people in the text we have just studied: They came seeking for Jesus, and they even heard His words of life, but they were not willing to commit their lives to Him. They had come so close to being saved, but they missed it. Why? Because they sought Him for the wrong reasons and they did not acknowledge that He was the True Bread of God from heaven, the Life-Giver of the world.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25