Why Jesus Is Not Looking for Employees

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March 20, 2017

John 6:22-29

22 The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

CONSIDER THIS

Two kinds of food: 1. Food that spoils, and 2. Food that endures to eternal life.

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life,

So how does one work for food that endures to eternal life? At this point it would be very easy to read into the text many things that might be true but aren’t actually there. For instance, we might misread it to mean we must work for eternal life, as though it could be earned. We might interpret it to have something to do with the building up of one’s soul or their character. After all, doesn’t Paul say to the Philippians something like, ” that he who began a good work in you will be faithful to bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6).

I may be wrong, but I doubt that John had read Paul’s letter at the time of his writing. We need to look for clues in the larger context of the Gospel to try and understand what he means here. Remember when Jesus was at the well with the woman and they were talking about water. Remember Jesus’ reply when his disciples asked him if he wanted something to eat?

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

Wouldn’t it stand to reason for us too? The food that endures to eternal life “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

So if this is our “work,” what did Jesus mean when he added, which the Son of Man will give you. He will give us the food that endures to eternal life which we must work for. How does that work? Herein lies the mystery. The people are tracking with us.

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

And here comes the money pitch.

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

This is not a to-do list or a set of tasks or a magic formula. Neither is it a doctrine, creed or proposition to assent to or agree with. This is a relationship. Just as Jesus abides in relationship with his Father, so he invites us to abide in relationship with him.

We don’t do the will of God apart from God as though we were working for God. No, the work of God, which is the will of God, is the fruit of Jesus’ love for us and our love for Jesus. This fruit is born in and manifest through our love for one another.

The working will of God, the deepest and most satisfying nourishment of life, happens as we live in such close relationship with Jesus that his love for the world can be directly made known to others through us.

Bam! That’s it!

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, whom to know is eternal life. Fill us with the courage to entrust our whole lives to him. Yes, Lord, this is our work, to trust Jesus. Come Holy Spirit and bring it all to life for us. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. What do you think it means to work for food which does not spoil but that endures to eternal life?

2. How do you see the difference in working for God vs. Jesus working through us by the power of the Holy Spirit?

3. If working means believing in this instance, what kind of perishable food are we devoting our lives to working for?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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