Gospel Quest 17: Jesus and The Ultimate Question
Text: John 6:28-35
Joke: Two Minnesotans, Sven & Ole, walk into a pet shop near Brainerd. They head to the bird section and Sven says to Ole, "Dat's dem."
The owner comes over and asks if he can help them. "Yah sure, ve'll take four of dem dere little budgies in dat cage up dere," says Sven.
The owner puts the budgies in a paper bag. Ole and Sven pay for the birds, leave the shop, get into Sven's pick-up and drive to the top of some big cliffs near Brainerd Lake.
At the cliffs, Sven looks down at the 1000 foot drop and says, "Dis looks like a grand place." He takes two birds out of the bag, puts them on his shoulders and jumps off the cliff. Ole watches as Sven falls all the way to the bottom, killing himself dead. Looking down at the remains of his best pal, Ole shakes his head and says: "By yumpin' yiminy, dis budgie yumping is too dangerous for me."
VAIT!!! Dere's MORE!
Moments later Knute arrives up at the cliffs. He's been to the pet shop, too, and walks up to the edge of the cliff carrying another paper bag in one hand and a shotgun in the other. "Hey, Ole. Vatch dis." Knute says. He takes a parrot from the bag and throws himself over the edge of the cliff.
Ole watches as half way down, Knute takes the gun and shoots the parrot. Knute continues to plummet down and down until he hits the bottom and breaks every bone in his body. Ole shakes his head and says, "And I'm never trying dat parrotshooting either."
BUT VAIT!!! Dere's MORE , you betcha!!
Ole is just getting over the shock of losing two friends when Lars appears. He's also been to the pet shop and is carrying a paper bag, out of which he pulls a chicken. Lars grasps the chicken by the legs, holds it over his head, hurls himself off the cliff and disappears down and down until he hits a rock and breaks his spine.
Once more Ole shakes his head. "First der was Sven with his budgie yumping, den Knute parrotshooting ... and now Lars, hengliding. Der got to be better way to have fun.”
Now those jokes illustrate a serious lack of understanding. When it’s a joke its funny, but when its about eternal life, it dangerous, dangerous to you soul. In John chapter 6, we see just such a dangerous misunderstanding, people thinking they were seeking one thing but instead of finding what they thought they were looking for they were completely lost.
Selfish Seeking - John 6:22-27
The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) 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? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. 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.
Selfish Seeking - John 6:22-27
John tells us in chapter 6:1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.
This great multitude, who were part of the Passover crowds on their way to Jerusalem, was now also seeking Jesus because of the miracles they saw or had heard about from their friends. Then Jesus saw them, he was moved with compassion for them and he sits them down and feeds them. Over 5000 people were fed by the Lord from 5 loaves and 2 fishes. The miracle, the only one recorded in all the Gospels, was so overwhelming, so undeniable and so popular that the people then try and take Jesus by force and make Him their King right there and then. When this happens, Jesus retreats away from the crowd to a nearby mountain, and later sends his apostles away. They go ahead of Him, sailing for the other shore. The crowd notices this and they stay on the shore near to their prophet, their miracle worker, their free food supply and future King. (Sounds a little like politics in America today.) When it is dark Jesus slips away from the crowd and walks across the water to find and rescue his disciple from a storm that had come up suddenly and was threatening the ship.
The next day the people Jesus left behind, wake up they and when they can't find Jesus, they board some ships and sail to his home base in Capernaum. Once there, they ask, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" As if to say, “How did you get here without a ship and why didn't you tell us you were leaving? Don't you know we want to follow you?”
Jesus’ answers them in much the same way he answered Nicodemus and the woman at the well. He basically tells them; you are asking the wrong question and you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Look at it in 6:26, “You seek me not because of the miracles but because you were filled.”
It isn't the spiritual truth you seek, it is not the Messiah who did these miracles that you seek, but you are only seeking the physical result of a miracle that fills your belly.”
He then redirects them to what they should be doing in John 6:27 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: for him hath God the Father sealed.”
You are working hard, seeking everywhere for things that don't last. Instead you should be working and seeking that which will bring you eternal life.”
Seeking Jesus or Miracle Max?
You could apply Jesus’ words to many people today, many of our churches and they would be still ring true. Some churches and denominations flourishing upon the idea that following Jesus means you never be sick, never be poor and have anything that you can name it and then claim it. The same idea is in our politics when one particular party promising free college, free healthcare, free energy, and just about anything else they can think to promise, if we will just follow their leaders.
And before we get to self-righteous, we can even see that same attitude too often in our own lives. We make bargains with God, try to negotiate tit for tat, quid por quo and then we’ll follow God, go to church this Sunday or give our tithe more regularly. We go to church because we want God to give us something us. We tithe and give our offerings in order to buy God's favor or avoid His punishment.
We often have much the same idea as this multitude, that finding Jesus means finding the pot of gold, winning the lottery, or at least finding a $20 dollar bill laying in the road.
Robert Tilton's Miracle Magazine pg. 12
Terri was desperate. Things had gone from bad to worse; and the worse things got, the more she blamed God for her problems. One day as she watched our television program, her hope was sparked. That day she vowed $500 and wrote a five-point petition to God for her needs. Within weeks, God restored marital and family relationships, renewed their spiritual life, supplied a five bedroom home, and improved the family's finances. A petition is a written request made to a superior authority. Most of our prayer are actually verbal petitions requesting something of God. When petitioning the Lord, it is good practice to write down exactly what you are believing God for. Not only will this help your faith as you expectantly stand to receive your answer, but it is also written evidence of a covenant with God. Most people don't realize they can enter into a covenant with God. They don't know they can promise certain things (a vow) to God and then expect Him to fulfill certain things (a petition) for them.”
Wow, not a bad deal. $500 dollars to Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Crefalo Dollar, Joyce Meyer or any other Prosperity, Health and Wealth, Name it Claim It false prophet and you get a five-bedroom house.
When you think about the people there at the seashore were just looking for another meal, What must Jesus think of what is being done in His name today? Jesus called them on it then and the same reprimand condemns all those who are still doing it today. “You seek me because you want your belly filled.”
Now let me say this at this point, God does bless his children, Jesus wonderfully blesses his followers and many of those blessings do come in physical ways right here and right now. I have found a check in the mail, just in time to keep the lights on and the rent paid. I sincerely believe that LeeOra is a true blessing from God. I trust God for food on the table and clothes on my body. (Maybe I should trust for less food and smaller clothes but that is another sermon.) The point is yes God blesses and rewards those who seek Him, but, and this is a big….preposition. I know what you thought I was going to say. Here is the difference, if you are seeking Jesus so you can get physical things from Jesus you are laboring and seeking in vain. That’s what Jesus condemns these people for in John 6. Just as works must follow faith, a right relationship with Jesus must come first. If you have the wrong motive, if you are seeking wrong things, then you’ll miss both Jesus and the blessings.
So Jesus sets the multitude up with his statement, “Don’t labor for food that perishes but labor for food the lasts forever.” Just as he had done with the woman at Jacobs well, when he told here about living water, now he tells this crowd about food for eternal life. And like the woman at the well they misunderstand. Look at verse 28 of John 6.
Salvation Seeking - John 6:28-35
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, 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 unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Asking the Ultimate Question
The people on hearing Jesus tell them to labor, to work for eternal food, ask the ultimate question, “What shall we do, what we might work the works of God?”
This question, is about eternity, about heaven, about God and man’s relationship with God.
The Philippian jailer asked the ultimate question Acts 16:30 Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
The day before Jesus was crucified some Greek proselytes were wanting to ask the right question when they requested of Phillip, John 12:20-21 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
The people who heard Peter preaching on the Day of Pentecost asked the question when they called out, in Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Paul asked the ultimate question on the Damascus Road, in Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
And these people who had camped out all night to be near Jesus, who had sailed across the sea and tracked him down once again, they also ask the ultimate question, but they didn’t know what they were asking. Jesus had to deal with their attitude and ignorance before He could fully answer the question.
They asked, "What must we do?" A simple straight forward question. Jesus answers in like manner with a simple straight forward answer, "This is the work of God, believe on him whom he hath sent." Here is what God wants you to do, Believe on me!
Now this was new to them, as Jews who were raised to believe they must work and earn God’s favor. Now they are being told, “just believe in God’s Son, just believe in Jesus Christ. You can’t keep the law and the commandments instead simply, fully and completely, just believe on Jesus.
So how do they react to this direct answer to their ultimate question? Instead of acting on the answer, they ask for something else, they ask for a sign. “If you want us to believe in you then, "Bring down manna from heaven, as Moses our greatest prophet did." They need a savior, but instead want a sign. They need to have faith, but instead they want some food.
Jesus again replies, It wasn't Moses, it was God, it was my Father who gave the manna and right now, this moment is giving you the true bread of life. And to make sure they understand he add, “The bread of life is he which comes down from heaven and gives life.”
Do they now understand? Do they now get what Jesus is saying? For they say, “Lord, evermore give us this bread.” So close but so very, very far away from the truth. Just like the woman at the well who says, Give me that living water, the people here are still thinking of physical things. They still don't understand and what they are saying in essence is, "Yes, Lord give us never ending meals from heaven.”
Now, Jesus speaks directly and to the mistaken idea of another free meal, He gives them the ultimate answer to the ultimate question, "I am the Bread of Life! He that comes to me shall never hunger, he that believes on me shall never thirst.”
That is always the ultimate answer no matter how the question is asked, the answer is always Jesus the great I AM.
Not Understanding the Ultimate Answer
Often times we also have a problem hearing and understanding the answer Jesus gave then and still gives today. We don’t hear Jesus, because we don’t hear Him speaking to us personally. We hear a philosophy, we hear sermon, we hear a teacher, but what we must hear is God the Son. He has come down to earth and revealed God to us. We must hear Him speaking directly to my heart and soul.
Hebrews 1: 1-2 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, …
We must also hear Jesus and the message he gives us, on His terms not ours.
We are wanting to hear how to earn Salvation, He is telling us, “Believe On Me.”
We are looking for a Sign, He is telling us, “Look to me I am your sign.”
You know the biggest reason we don’t hear the ultimate answer, because we really don’t know what we are looking for, we don’t know what we need to see, but its really not hard to understand. What we need is to truly see Jesus, we don’t need any other sign than who He is and what He has done. He has proven who He was and is. We must see Jesus as He was and as He is…
We must see Jesus, arrested and taken to an unlawful court, there beat by those who falsely accused Him. Jesus, spat upon, struck, slapped and even his beard pulled from His face. Jesus, being scourged by the soldier. Each lash of that nine tailed instrument of torture woven with jagged pieces of bone, pottery or metal, so that it would cut lacerate and rip the flesh from His shoulders and back. We need to see Jesus, mocked and beaten by the soldiers, who put a crown of terrible thorns upon his head. Jesus, as carries His own cross to Calvary.
Here is what we must see, Jesus nailed to that cross. His hands and feet cruelly pierced by the spikes of iron. Calling out to the father, "Forgive, them for they no not what they do."
Jesus dead. His body hanging limply from the cursed tree. See the soldier drive the spear into his side through his lungs and into the heart that loved us.
Yes, we need to see Jesus dead and laying in that sealed tomb, but then you must see Jesus, resurrected, standing glorious before Mary, walking through locked doors to the greet the fearful apostles.
See Him there on seashore calling those same apostles to, "Come and Dine."
Can you see Him as He ascends back into heaven and the throne room of God?
Oh and can you see Jesus, one day returning, riding a great white war horse, leading the heavenly host to earth to claim this world as His kingdom forever.
It is Jesus that we need to see, Jesus we need to hear and if you don't see and hear Him today, then a hundred signs will not convince you!
Son Seeking- John 6:36-40
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 to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Seeing but Not Believing
Jesus told the people that day, you see me, but you don’t believe in me. You don't believe in me because you will not come to me.
Before their eyes could be fully opened, before they could fully understand what they were seeking and the answers the so desperately wanted, they had to come to Jesus. He promises if they come, they come will not be refused. If they come they will never be lost.
He says listen this is God’s will. All the Father has given I will never lose. I will raise all those who believe at the last day. He says, this is God’s will that everyone, everyone who sees the Son and believes on him may have eternal life and I will raise those believers from the dead on resurrection morning.
Facing Our Ultimate Question
Here is our ultimate question today, here in this place and time, What will you do with Jesus?
What will you do with the one you have seen today? What will you do with His gift of eternal life? What will you do with His declaration, “I am the bread of life?” What will you do with Jesus’ promise that if you will believe in Him, he will never lose you and one day, one glorious, bright, eternal day He will raise your body from the grave it was laid in and you’ll join Him and all those who believed, in heaven for all eternity. What will you do, believe or walk away?
The crowd that day asked Jesus, "What must we do to work the works of God." Jesus said, “Believe in me.” That is the only answer, the only one that can ever be accepted by God.
The Matchless Pearl -- Author Unknown
David Morse - American missionary to India - became great friends there with the pearl-diver, Rambhau. Many an evening he spent in Rambhau's cabin reading to him from the Bible, and explaining to him God's way of salvation.
Rambhau enjoyed listening to the Word of God, but whenever the missionary tried to get Rambhau to accept Christ as his Savior - he would shake his head and reply, "Your Christian way to heaven is too easy for me! I cannot accept it. If ever I should find admittance to heaven in that manner - I would feel like a pauper there...like a beggar who has been let in out of pity. I may be proud - but I want to deserve, I want to earn my place in heaven -- and so I am going to work for it."
Nothing the missionary could say seemed to have any effect on Rambhau's decision, and so quite a few years slipped by. One evening, however, the missionary heard a knock on his door, and on going to open it he found Rambhau there.
"Come in, dear friend," said Morse.
"No," said the pearl-diver. "I want you to come with me to my house, Sahib, for a short time -- I have something to show you. Please do not say 'No'."
"Of course I'll come," replied the missionary. As they neared his house, Rambhau said: "In a week's time I start working for my place in heaven; I am leaving for Delhi -- and I am going there on my knees."
"Man, you are crazy! It's nine hundred miles to Delhi, and the skin will break on your knees, and you will have blood-poisoning or leprosy before you get to Bombay."
"No, I must get to Delhi," affirmed Rambhau, "and the immortals will reward me for it! The suffering will be sweet - for it will purchase heaven for me!"
"Rambhau, my friend - you can't. How can I bear you to do it - when Jesus Christ has suffered and died to purchase heaven for you!"
But the old man could not be moved. "You are my dearest friend on earth, Sahib Morse. Through all these years you have stood by me in sickness, in want - you have been sometimes my only friend. But even you cannot turn me from my desire to purchase eternal bliss...I must go to Delhi!"
Inside the hut Morse was seated in the very chair Rambhau had specially built for him - where on so many occasions he had read to him the Bible.
Rambhau left the room to return soon with a small but heavy English strongbox. "I have had this box for years," said he, "and I keep only one thing in it. Now I will tell you about it, Sahib Morse. I once had a son..."
"A son! Why, Rambhau, you have never before said a word about him!"
"No, Sahib, I couldn't." Even as he spoke the diver's eyes were moistened.
"Now I must tell you, for soon I will leave, and who knows whether I shall ever return? My son was a diver too. He was the best pearl diver on the coasts of India. He had the swiftest dive, the keenest eye, the strongest arm, the longest breath of any man who ever sought for pearls.
What joy he brought to me! Most pearls, as you know, have some defect or blemish only the expert can discern, but my boy always dreamed of finding the 'perfect' pearl - one beyond all that was ever found. One day he found it! But even when he saw it - he had been under water too long... That pearl cost him his life, for he died soon after."
The old pearl diver bowed his head. For a moment his whole body shook, but there was no sound. "All these years," he continued, "I have kept this pearl - but now I am going, not to return, and to you, my best friend - I am giving my pearl."
The old man worked the combination on the strongbox and drew from it a carefully wrapped package. Gently opening the cotton, he picked up a mammoth pearl and placed it in the hand of the missionary.
It was one of the largest pearls ever found off the coast of India, and glowed with a luster and brilliance never seen in cultured pearls. It would have brought a fabulous sum in any market.
For a moment the missionary was speechless and gazed with awe. "Rambhau! What a pearl!"
"That pearl, Sahib, is perfect," replied the Indian quietly. The missionary looked up quickly with a new thought: Was not this the very opportunity and occasion he had prayed for - to make Rambhau understand the value of Christ's sacrifice? So he said, designedly, "Rambhau, this is a wonderful pearl, an amazing pearl. Let me buy it. I would give you ten thousand dollars for it."
"Sahib! What do you mean?"
"Well, I will give you fifteen thousand dollars for it, or if it takes more - I will work for it."
"Sahib," said Rambhau, stiffening his whole body, "this pearl is beyond price. No man in all the world has money enough to pay what this pearl is worth to me. On the market a million dollars could not buy it. I will not sell it to you. You may only have it as a gift."
"No, Rambhau, I cannot accept that. As much as I want the pearl, I cannot accept it that way. Perhaps I am proud, but that is too easy. I must pay for it, or work for it..."
The old pearl-diver was stunned. "You don't understand at all, Sahib. Don't you see. My only son gave his life to get this pearl, and I wouldn't sell it for any money. Its worth is in the life-blood of my son. I cannot sell this - but I can give it to you. Just accept it in token of the love I bear you."
The missionary was choked, and for a moment could not speak. Then he gripped the hand of the old man. "Rambhau," he said in a low voice, "don't you see? My words are just what you have been saying to God all the time."
The diver looked long and searchingly at the missionary, and slowly, slowly he began to understand. "God is offering you salvation as a free gift," said the missionary. "It is so great and priceless that no man on earth can buy it. Millions of dollars are too little. No man on earth could earn it. His life would be millions of years too short. No man is good enough to deserve it. It cost God the life-blood of His only Son to make the entrance for you into heaven. In a million years, in a hundred pilgrimages, you could not earn that entrance. All you can do is to accept it as a token of God's love for you - a sinner.
"Rambhau, of course I will accept the pearl in deep humility, praying God that I may be worthy of your love. Rambhau, won't you accept God's great gift of heaven, too, in deep humility, knowing it cost Him the death of His Son to offer it to you?"
Great tears were now rolling down the cheeks of the old man. The veil was beginning to lift. "Sahib, I see it now. I have believed in the doctrine of Jesus for the last two years, but I could not believe that His salvation was free. Now I understand. Some things are too priceless to be bought or earned. Sahib, I will accept His salvation!"