Our Diving Deeper lesson title comes from Jesus’ words in verse 27 – “Do not labor for the food that perishes”.
• In the last two weeks, we examined both the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water.
• In today’s text, Jesus warns those who benefited from His displays of power not to miss the main point.
• He gives this warning in John 6:27.
• And His words reveal a simple but remarkable insight that should have revolutionary implications in the life of the Christian as well as the unbeliever.
• I hope to uncover some of them as we dive in to Jesus’ words.
• But first, let’s look at a couple of other helpful observations shared by John.
Firstly, John’s peculiar play-by-play:
• In verses 22-24, we are given an oddly specific account of the crowd’s realization that Jesus is gone.
• The crowd discerns that the disciples’ and their boat was gone, that Jesus did not leave with the disciples, and yet Jesus is gone.
• However perplexed by Jesus’ method of exit, the crowd then sought to find Him in Capernaum.
Secondly, Why Capernaum?
• Matthew 4:13 (ESV) — 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,
• Jesus had apparently moved there and so it had become the base of operations for His Galilean ministry.
1) SEEKING JESUS
John 6:24-25 (ESV) — 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”
An act of grace:
• The crowd can teach us a couple of valuable lessons
• (1) Notice when Jesus is gone
• (2) Jesus is worth pursuing
(1) Notice when Jesus is gone – “the crowd saw that Jesus was not there” – John 6:24.
• This is a fairly simple statement, but it is profound in its implication.
• Why did the crowd know that Jesus was gone?
• The simple answer is that they saw Him yesterday, but today they did not.
• But the profound answer is that it was God’s grace that assured that the crowd would know Jesus was not there.
Before one’s absence can be known, one’s presence must be made known.
• This is easily established by looking at the obituaries – in most cases you would never know these folks were gone.
• But, by His grace, Jesus made Himself known to the crowd in such a powerful way that His absence would become wonderfully obvious.
• He miraculously fed them when they were hungry and left them wanting more.
How does God, in His grace, continue to make Himself known to all people that they may sense His absence?
• Objective Morality
• Presuppositions for the foundation of reason and knowledge
And for the believer, do we examine our lives to see where Jesus may be missing?
• Possibilities include our marriage, our parenting, our free time, our job or our church.
• We need to be honest with our weaknesses so that we can improve.
(2) Jesus is worth pursuing – They “…went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus [and] they found him…” – John 6:24-25.
• Again, this is another fairly simple statement, but it is significant.
• One must do more than just recognize Jesus’ absence; one must also pursue and follow Him.
• And the crowd can be commended for getting in their boats and doing just that.
And for the believer, do you pursue Jesus?
• What is the evidence in your life that you do so?
But Jesus takes it up a notch when he challenges the crowd’s reason for pursuing Him.
• Let’s take a look at that now.
John 6:25-26 (ESV) — 25 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, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
How to pursue Jesus:
• Apparently there is a wrong reason to pursue and a right reason to pursue.
• In our text today, Jesus equates the right reason with seeing signs – “not because you saw signs” (v. 26).
• And he equates the wrong reason with meeting worldly needs – “because you ate your fill of the loaves” (v. 26).
• Let’s take a look at each.
Right Reason – “you saw signs”:
John 5:36 (ESV) — 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
John 10:25 (ESV) — 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,
• In John 5, Jesus revealed that signs give testimony to who He is and who sent Him.
• Signs are a “confirmation of intervention” in Jesus by the Father who sent Him – BDAG.
• In other words, the signs themselves aren’t the point; it is what they point to.
o We even saw last week that the disciples stumble with this right pursuit from time to time.
• The feeding, “was a symbol-laden miracle, a ‘sign’ that pointed to the gospel itself, to Jesus himself” – D.A. Carson.
o So the right reason for pursuing Jesus is to pursue the Father’s Jesus not the world’s Jesus.
o The Father’s Jesus, the one John is teaching us about, is ultimately the cross and Gospel.
Wrong Reason – “ate your fill”:
Philippians 2:21 (ESV) — 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:19 (ESV) — 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
• Jesus discerns their motives and condemns the reason for their pursuit.
• A pursuit of Jesus that seeks to meet earthly needs only is a selfish pursuit and a wrong pursuit.
• Why do people pursue Jesus for the wrong reasons?
• How is it that anyone can pursue Him for the right reasons?
o Nicodemus would know the answer.
o And in the coming weeks Jesus also provides additional insight into this question.
Warren Wiersbe sums up their wrong pursuit as follows:
• “In grace, our Lord fed the hungry people; but in truth, He gave them the Word of God. They wanted the food but they did not want the truth; and, in the end, most of them abandoned Jesus and refused to walk with Him.”
Jesus then makes a statement about the right pursuit of Him that sets up His Bread of Life discourse in the remainder of John 6.
• It is a profound statement about priorities and what really matters.
• We will look at it next.
2) WHAT DO WE LABOR FOR?
John 6:27 (ESV) — 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
• Jesus “is rebuking their purely materialistic notions of the kingdom” – D.A. Carson.
• Jesus wants them to realize what matters – “food that endures to eternal life”.
• This is exactly what he was trying to tell the woman at the well.
o John 4:14 (ESV) — 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
• Food and water sustain physical life, but Jesus gives both physical life and eternal life!
• Jesus makes the point in Matthew’s gospel as follows:
o Matthew 5:6 (ESV) — 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
o I want to be satisfied in Jesus!
Then Jesus addresses the source of this food – “which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
• Jesus is the source, and as we will see in His Bread of Life discourse, because He is the food!
• Notice that His argument, His reason for us to labor for His food, like John 5, is rooted in the Father.
• Jesus says the food comes from Him because the Father “has set his seal” on Him.
• And the Father has set His seal on Jesus via all the ways Jesus taught us in John 5.
o What were the ways Jesus spoke of?
BTW – It must be pointed out that when Jesus speaks of “do not labor for”, He is not talking about works but priorities informed by a right understanding (as already discussed) of who He is.
• The crowd, as they often do, makes this mistake as we will see next week in John 6:28.
How do we labor for “the food that endures to eternal life”?
• When we earn our paychecks, do we do so for money, food, to pay the bills, to provide for our families, to go on vacation?
• Clearly, we do.
• But, Jesus seems to be saying that these reasons are not the right reasons.
• He also says as much here:
o Matthew 6:25 (ESV) — 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
To be clear, Jesus clearly made us to work and we are to work.
• Ephesians 4:28 (ESV) — 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
• Colossians 3:23 (ESV) — 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
• 1 Thessalonians 2:9 (ESV) — 9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
• 2 Thessalonians 3:8 (ESV) — 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.
• 2 Thessalonians 3:11 (ESV) — 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
So what does it mean to labor for the food than endures while at the same time earning money to pay bills?
• I think an analogy may help us here.
• Since Jesus is speaking of food, we will expand the metaphor.
A junk food diet:
• I think it can be said that when we work for ourselves instead of Christ, it can be said that we are forsaking a healthy diet for a junk food diet.
• To labor for ourselves and even for our families instead of for Christ is laboring for “food that perishes”.
• And I find it interesting, in fact, that 1/3 of the American diet consists of junk food – “food that perishes”.
Bad things happen on a junk food diet AND when we labor for “food that perishes”:
• Junk food – Depression // Food that perishes – Spiritual Depression
• Junk food – Weakened Immune System // Food that perishes – More Susceptible to Doubt
• Junk food – Obesity // Food that perishes – Spiritually Apathetic in our Relationship with God
We must retrain ourselves to work for Christ.
• It is Christ’s glory we seek, not ours.
• We must learn to do things, or not do things, that elevate Christ even at the expense of our pride.
Paul puts it like this:
• Colossians 3:23 (ESV) — 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
• Philippians 2:13–16 (ESV) — 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.