The Labor of the Lord - John 6:28-35Video Link
MS Word Doc Link
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.
Sometime people really don’t understand what they are doing or what they are seeking or what they are hoping to find. We see this very clearly in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. It is a serious even deadly mistake. A mistake that people are still making today and with consequences that are eternal.
The Crucial Sixth Chapter of John
This chapter is one of the most important chapters in the Gospels in explaining how salvation occurs. We will come back to it in the near future and mine its depths. It is also one of the most misunderstood passages because like the people of John’s day, there is a serious preconceived idea about how a person is saved. Today we are doing to center our sermon on that error.
To show how important this passage is just look at that takes place in its 71 verses.
Vss. 1-14 Jesus Feeds the 5000
Vss. 15 The People Try to Force Jesus to Be King
Vss. 16-21 Jesus Walks On the Water and Saves the Ship
Vss. 22-27 The People Find Jesus and Question Him
Vss. 28 - 59 The Bread of Life Discourse
Vss. 60 - 71 The Winnowing of Followers
We are going to focus on the question that begins the Bread of Life Discourse it is found in vs 28. “What must we do to work the works of God.” But lets back up to vs. 22 so that we can better understand why the people who had seen the miracle of the loaves and the fishes would ask this question.
Full Stomachs but Empty Souls – 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.
Seeking A Meal and Missing Eternity
The miracle of the Loaves and fishes had taken place just the day before. When Jesus perceived that the crowd meant to make Him King by force, He sent his apostles ahead away from the political storm on land but into a physical storm on the lake. But he does not leave them to face the storm alone.
John 6:18–21 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
He walks out to them on the water, through the storm and when they take Him into the ship, miraculously the ship they had tried all night to row across the lake is “immediately” at the land where they were headed. That right, long before Scotty and Captain Kirk or Star Trek, the Lord was using a transporter to rescue His away crew.
Sorry, that was a flashback to when I was a Trekkie.
Back on shore the people awake, and they can't find Jesus, their King by acclamation and they board ships and themselves sail to Capernaum, where Jesus lived.
When they find him in the Synagogue they ask Him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" They are also asking, "Why didn't you tell us you were leaving? Don't you know we want to follow you? Don’t you realize we want to make you King? Jesus, don’t you know you need us?”
Jesus’ answer to them begins the shifting, winnowing process that will culminate at the end of this chapter with most of his followers leaving him. It is very shocking and is so sweeping that Jesus even asks the 12 if they will also leave him. His answer to the King makers, the bread eaters, shows the difference between real followers of Christ and those who are only seeking self-fulfillment and trying to use the Savior for their own purpose.
Jesus tells them, “You seek me not because of the miracles but because you were filled. It isn't the spiritual things you seek, but the physical blessings which you think can come through me.”
He is very blunt, very straight to point in 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.
He is telling them, “Don’t search for, don’t strive for physical food that doesn’t last but for spiritual food that endures unto eternity. Spiritual sustenance that is a gift from the Son of Man that God the Father appointed to this purpose.”
What Do We Seek?
Consider the words of Jesus in light of our present Christian age. How many people, how many churches, how many of us are trying to negotiate with God, make a deal of Jesus? Trying to get from the King of Eternity, tit for tat, quid por quo in exchange for following Him?
Is the only reason we come to church is because we believe God will physically bless our family. Do parents send their kids off to Sunday School so they can hear about the Bible, learn morals and grow up to be good citizens who behave themselves? Do people tithe and give offerings in order to buy God's favor? Is that how its supposed to work?
The far extreme side of this make a deal with God belief system is seen in the health and wealth charismatic preachers. The concept of “seed faith” giving is the ground upon which their mult-million dollar empires are built. We have the idea much like these that if we appear sincere in seeking Jesus that he will bless us in the physical things of life.
Illustration: 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.
Not a bad deal. $500 dollars to God in exchange for a strong family and a five-bedroom house. When you read and hear things like this, you realize in many ways our days are much worse than it was when Jesus reprimanded the ones who came seeking a meal in exchange for making Him King.
The true prophets of God’s word had much to say about such people.
Matthew 15:8-9 Quoting Isaiah, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Ezekiel 33:31-32 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.
God is not fooled, God is not manipulated, God does not play games with His blessings. If we are seeking Him in order to benefit from my idea of blessings then I’m seeking the wrong god. I’ve come looking for the wrong Jesus.
Transition: When these false seekers hear the word Labor from Jesus’ answer they think they have found something they understand. Something that fits in their give a little get a lot relationship with God. Look how they respond in vs. 28.
Open Ears but Deaf Hearts – 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.
Seeing Only The Physical
Wanting to Work, But Needing to Believe.
They asked Jesus, "What must we do?" It’s a straight forward question. And Jesus answers in like manner with a simple straight forward answer, "Believe on me."
Their question shows their misunderstanding, a serious deep, eternally damning misunderstanding. They believe they can work and do something that will earn God’s favor. This is what they had been taught by the Pharisees. Keeping the law was the way you could earn your way to the resurrection. Doing what they said the law required of them. Now they are asking Jesus, “What do we need to do for God?”
Jesus tells them, “Just believe, believe in me the one whom the Father has sent. Believe in Christ. Believe in the Messiah. Believe in the Son of Man. Believe in the Son of God.
Seems pretty plain but notice how they respond to this plain declaration of the need for faith.
Wanting a Sign, But Needing a Savior
Vs. 30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? They are asking saying, “Okay, ten what sign will you do, that we may see and believe in you? What work are you willing perform?” And they have a plan for exactly what they want Jesus to do for them, at their insistence at their near command, they tell him “You know what, our fathers, our ancestors they ate the manna in the wilderness. Why don’t you do the same?
Jesus sets them straight and tries to get them to see the much bigger picture. He tells 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.”
Did you notice the tenses? Moses gave, past tense, but God now gives, present tense. He clearly tells them God has given me, the true bread of life, the fulfillment of the symbol of the manna that fell during the Exodus. God through Moses gave but now God is giving you eternal life through me.”
Wanting a Meal, But Needing a Master
And look at their understanding. I should say their total misunderstanding. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. In other words, “Lord give us a meal that will never end!” In a sense they are looking past eternal life in Jesus Christ and willing to exchange if for a lifetime supply of Chic-fil-a chicken or never ending coupons for pulled pork sandwiches at Dickeys. Now I really like both those meals but they are a poor substitute for eternal life.
You can almost feel the frustration, the sense of shock as Jesus hears this and then tries to removes any vagueness or ambiguity as to what he is saying, vs. 35 "I am the Bread of Life. He that comes to me shall never hunger, he that believes on me shall never thirst.
Seeing The Eternal
If we are to avoid the mistake of these people in John 6, if we are to see the truth of eternity and not be blinded by the wants of today, then we must first really hear Jesus. We must listen to the word that he speaks directly to our heart.
To often we hear a Christian philosophy, or we hear a good entertaining sermon, we may even hear a wise teacher, but what we must hear, what we need to hear is God the Son. Jesus Christ who has come down to earth to reveal God to us.
Hebrews 1:1-3 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, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Secondly, we must hear Him not on our terms, our wants or in our understanding but strictly what He is saying and he never speaks without making it clear and plain. Don’t listen to him like these people did.
You can’t filter His word though your Wants. Wanting to Earn Salvation. Wanting a Sign. Wanting a Meal.
Instead, we simply need to do what Jesus plainly says to do. We need to believe
The people that day, struggled with this. Just believe? We can define it. I like the way the Amplified Bible states it, vs. 29 “that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in Him whom He has sent."
We can illustrate belief. I once helped in an outdoor evangelistic service in Cooper, Texas and at the invitation two or three young men came forward to ask questions. The preacher was a Jim McBroom who was in college with me and had been more experience preaching while in the army in German working as a chaplain’s assistance. He talked to one of those young men, trying to get him to understand what it meant to believe in Jesus. So he used and illustration. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a small pen knife that he always carried and he told the young man, “If I offer you this pocket knife, you don’t have to do anything except reach out and let me put in in your hand. But you have to believe that I will give it to you.” He then held out the knife and the young man reached out and took it from Jim. Jim said, “That what salvation if like, you must accept the gift of Jesus Christ, given to you by God the Father. Just reach out and it’s yours.” They man began to weep and they bowed their heads and praying, thanking God for His wonderful gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Jim told me all this afterward and he smiled and said, “You know I’ve lost a few good knives with that explanation, but it’s worth it.”
We need to believe in Jesus not try and work for salvation, we need a Savior not a sign, and we need a master not a meal ticket.
We must come to Jesus on his terms not ours. We cannot bargain with Him. We don't ask what's in it for me. He offers eternal life. He offers forgiveness of sin. He offers the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. What do we have to bargain with? His gifts are too great to be treated as tokens for exchange. Just believe. Just accept the gift. Just answer His call.
Scripture: Come unto me all ye that are weak and heavy laden and I will give rest to your souls.
I must come realizing I am weak and cannot save myself. I have no hope of heaven or forgiveness without Jesus. I cannot work for it or earn it. I have nothing of worth to offer Him.
I must realize I am a sinner. Born, bred and living as a sinner. My sin separates me from God and makes my life a misery for which there is no escape from the pain and suffering it causes.
I must come to Christ. There is no other means there is no other person there is no other hope it is Jesus and it is Jesus alone.
He alone promises I will give you rest.
Transition: Just one more thing as we bring the sermon to a close.
Open Eyes but Blind Minds – 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 every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Seeing Jesus but Not The Son.
Jesus tells them, “You have seen me but you don't believe in me.” They had seen the miracle of the loaves and fishes, but instead of seeing the Son of God they only saw the carpenter’s boy from Nazareth.
It is not necessary to read their hearts to know they don’t believe, it is a far easier and obvious reality, in vs 37 He says, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” You don’t believe, because if you believed then you would come. You would come.
He again plainly spells it out that He is not who they think He is, vs. 38 “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”
He then explains the will of God, vs. 39 “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 every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Just look at the will of God is so full of Grace. Jesus says, … All the Father has given Jesus will lose none. Not one, not under any condition of my emotion, any circumstance of life or any scenario in the future. Jesus will not lose a single person who once put their faith in him and believed.
Jesus promise that He will raise them all up again at the last day. That is His promise, if I believe in him when he offered me salvation then I better understand that salvation is eternal and cannot be lost or else Jesus did not tell the truth her. And if that could be true then there is not salvation at all for anyone under any condition. It is eternal or it is nothing.
Jesus promises it is God’s will that everyone who sees the Son and believes on him has everlasting life and be raised up on the last day. These verses are powerful proof of the eternal security of the soul. You can’t make them say anything else.
Seeing The Savior
The man Jesus of Nazareth has not walked on this earth for over 2000 years but the Jesus Christ, the Savior has never left it.
The man was limited to be in one place at one time, but the Savior is in a all places at all times, calling to all people at all times the Gospel is preached, "Come unto me."
Jesus the man shed his blood for us, the Savior took that precious outpoured sacrifice and presented it before God to make a way for us to be reconciled, redeemed, brought back to God who created us for fellowship with Him.
If you would see salvation then you must see Jesus in all the reality of who he was, who He is and who He will be when He returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lord.
How you see Jesus will determine your eternity.
Conclusion: Have you seen Jesus?
If you haven’t seen Him in the way you need to see Him, then I can tell you He’s here all you must do is behold Him with the eyes of faith. See Him who did the feed the thousands, see Him who walked on the water and stilled the storm. See Him who ascended Mt. Calvary and gave His life and cruel cross. See Him who calls out, Father, forgive them.
See Him who even now stands before you in the power of the Gospel and calls out to us, “Come unto me.”
This is the Jesus we must see and believe. This is the Jesus we must see and share. May God give us the vision to do both.