In John 6:28 Jesus is asked a question…
“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
This is a great question BUT, in the context of the passage, what was the heart behind the question? What was the heart of these ‘Jesus chaser’s? Was it a genuine seeking of God’s Kingdom come here on earth as it is in Heaven? I feel the answer to this has much relevence for today’s Christian culture as well.
Before we look at the answer to this and also Jesus’ response let’s have a look at a similar situation in Acts. This is where Simon the Sorcerer (or ex-sorcerer) sees what the apostles were doing and wanted to do the same.
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” NKJV
Wow, Peter doesn’t mix his words here! Simon wants to ‘work the works of God’ and will pay money for that priviledge. Simon saw what the apostles were doing, he was focussed on the power of the Holy Spirit and he wanted that for himself. Is this a bad desire? NO, the desire in itself is not a bad desire BUT when it comes from a self centred desire to have the power instead of a God centred desire it is completely wrong. Coming out of a life of sorcery, Simon saw the Holy Spirit as a power he could add to his ‘ministry’. That is, the plans and purposes of the Kingdom of God came in a poor second to the kingdom of Simon.
The Lord will not share his glory with another!
“I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. [Isa 42:8]
But hold on a minute, didn’t He give His glory to Jesus? Answer: Jesus was God, God wasn’t sharing His glory with Jesus. Jesus was God and God was Jesus! He and His Father were one.
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? ANYONE WHO HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I AM IN THE FATHER, and that THE FATHER IS IN ME? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, IT IS THE FATHER, LIVING IN ME, WHO IS DOING HIS WORK. 11 Believe me when I say that I AM IN THE FATHER AND THE FATHER IS IN ME; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
But hold on another minute, doesn’t God share His glory with us? Isn’t He changing us from glory to glory? Answer: As we become less, God becomes more, so it is God shining through us, not God sharing His glory with us.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that ALL OF THEM MAY BE ONE, Father, JUST AS YOU ARE IN ME AND I AM IN YOU. MAY THEY ALSO BE IN US so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I HAVE GIVEN THEM THE GLORY THAT YOU GAVE ME, THAT THEY MAY BE ONE AS WE ARE ONE: I IN THEM AND YOU IN ME. MAY THEY BE BROUGHT INTO COMPLETE UNITY to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Getting back to the John 6 passage, these ‘Jesus chasers’ were focused on the ‘works of God’. In other words, they were focused on the ‘Spiritual tricks’ Jesus was doing rather than on God Kingdom come. They saw it and they wanted it. Looking at the context (check it for yourself) maybe they were looking for their ‘miracle’ breakfast.
It any case, Jesus used the situation to give the Spiritually correct answer…
Jesus answered and said to them,
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Sounds easy doesn’t it – just BELIEVE! Believe in miracles? NO! Believe in Jesus!
Let’s move down chapter 6:
53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, UNLESS YOU EAT THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN AND DRINK HIS BLOOD, YOU HAVE NO LIFE IN YOU. 54 WHOEVER EATS MY FLESH AND DRINKS MY BLOOD HAS ETERNAL LIFE, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 FOR MY FLESH IS REAL FOOD AND MY BLOOD IS REAL DRINK. 56 WHOEVER EATS MY FLESH AND DRINKS MY BLOOD REMAINS IN ME, AND I IN HIM. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so THE ONE WHO FEEDS ON ME WILL LIVE because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 THE SPIRIT GIVES LIFE; THE FLESH COUNTS FOR NOTHING. THE WORDS I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU ARE SPIRIT AND THEY ARE LIFE. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” NIV
On the surface this seems a hard (and offensive) teaching but Jesus gets to the heart about what belief in Him really is.
To understand what Jesus is saying let’s go over to the woman at the well…
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
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. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
What was Jesus’ food? Answer: To do the will of His Father and to do it now (not in 4 months time). To live, breathe, eat the Kingdom of His Father.
What is our food? Answer: to eat, drink, live and breathe Jesus. To completely consume and be consumed by Jesus and therefore be Jesus and do His will (which is the Father’s will)
May the Spirit bring you understanding.