Sunday, August 4, 2013
What are you REALLY Looking for?
John 6:26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
John 6:27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
John 6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”
John 6:29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
John 6:30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?
John 6:31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
John 6:32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.
John 6:33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
John 6:35 ¶ Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Jesus had fed the 5000 and soon after disappeared. His disciples were looking for him. As you may recall, after feeding the 5000 there were twelve baskets full of food left over -- one for every one of those disciples. Not only had God provided for the entire crowd, but he had given them on-going provision. This was pretty neat! Maybe if they kept following him around he would keep giving them enough food to eat every day, and so they wanted to know where he had gone.
This is where our story continues today, as the disciples meet up with Jesus and he rebukes them for having the wrong attitude. He is able to read their hearts and he knows that they are not there because he is the great miracle worker, but because he can fill their stomachs! But he wants to change their focus from the temporal to the eternal and here is the change in focus for us as well. We are not to work for the things that perish, but we are to work for the things that are eternal. Things that are eternal will come from Jesus, himself, but there is a catch, you must have faith, believing in who he is!
The response of the disciples is stunning. He's just been performing miracles for days and has fed a massive crowd, as well as provided for their personal needs and they ask, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe in you? What work are you performing?" I can imagine Jesus looking at them in bewilderment wondering, "Really!? Have you not been paying attention?" But he takes the opportunity to make this a teachable moment and reminds them that the miracle of the manna which lasted for forty years didn't come from Moses -- an earthly father, but instead was brought to the people of God on a daily basis from God himself. Bread from heaven is not the same as bread from the earth. Earthly bread sustains for a period of time but bread from heaven brings life -- eternal life!
Now, the disciples are excited. They want THIS bread, and they want it all the time. Jesus shifts their understanding to participation in him. If they will come to Jesus and partake of him (remember the invitation to be partakers of the divine nature!) they will never be hungry or thirsty -- for what we need is not earthly food, but spiritual sustenance.
As I contemplate this Scripture this morning I wonder about my own personal motivation. Why do I follow Jesus Christ? Have there been times in life when I have been tempted to follow him for what I could get out of that relationship? That's what the disciples were doing. They could only see the value of the relationship from an earthly perspective. Jesus had so much more in mind for them and they simply could not see it. There are times in life when we simply cannot see past the earthly or the temporal to the eternal. We can become hung up on the things that are directly in front of us and we wonder how in the world we will get past them and then Jesus comes and invites us to taste of him and experience a foretaste of things eternal.
Jesus was very misunderstood, even by those who were closest to him, because he had an eternal perspective. Today he invites us into that eternal perspective with him as we partake of him on a daily basis. The problem is that many of us are not really looking for eternal sustenance, but are looking for fulfillment from the things that the temporal can provide. To be able to participate with Christ, to be able to have an eternal perspective on the events of life, this is what Christ has to offer us. We must move beyond the circumstances of this life, beyond the daily grind, and move into the beautiful and sustaining sphere of Jesus' manna. It is in this place that our taste buds experience things beyond the earthly and we are satisfied to a depth that we never could have imagined. The peace of Jesus overflows and gives us the grace to live into each day with a sustenance that the world cannot see. This is what Jesus wanted to provide for every one of his followers. Sadly, they were looking for the wrong thing and it took them a long time to catch on to what Jesus REALLY had to offer. Jesus invites us to partake of him today and to find the real bread that will sustain us eternally. What are you looking for?
Lord, thank you for your sweet bread which provides such satisfaction. Amen.