Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 24, 2016
Open your Bibles to John 6:22-40. If you recall, last week I gave you some homework. The homework was to saturate yourselves in John, chapter 6. The reason I asked you to do this was because in chapter 6 there are mentions of massive and glorious truths that are pillars that hold up your faith and your destiny. However, for many of you, you have never seen these truths before. Yes, perhaps you have read the Gospel of John before, but you have never stopped and pondered what you are actually reading. In addition, you, perhaps, have never attended a Church that truly taught the Bible. Instead your past Church experience has been full of quaint and superficial storytelling, not true Bible teaching.
Here at Cornerstone, we reject that approach. Our approach is a Biblical approach. Our approach is to preach and teach the Bible, week in and week out. Our desire is to create a people who are like the Psalmist in Psalm 119:15-16 who said, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” This is what I want us to do in John 6, fix your eyes on God’s word, delight in what he says, and never forget these glorious truths. As I said last week, I want you to believe what you believe because it is what God has said, not because I have said. I want you to see and believe for yourself. I want you to wrestle with God in regards to some of these verses. The main reason, I am encouraging you to do this is because of the sermon I will preach next week.
Review of the Feeding of the 5,000
Before we read our text for today, I want to review what we covered last week. Last week we examined John 6:1-21. In those verses we saw the miracle of Jesus feeding a crowd that numbered 5,000 men, and is estimate to be somewhere up to 15,000 if you include women and children. The reason Jesus performed this miracle was because they were hungry and he had compassion on them. The way in which he fed this massive crowd was by taking five loaves of barely and two fish and multiplying them to the point that everyone was completely and utterly satisfied. There bellies were full. In fact, there were even left overs, 12 baskets of leftovers; one for each of his disciples. This God-like miracle of creating food out of no where caused the people to desire to make Jesus King of Israel by force. Jesus, knowing all things, perceived this and went up the mountain to be alone and sent his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee by themselves. While they were crossing the sea, Jesus came to them by walking on water, got into the boat with them, and they were immediately at the shoreline.
This miracle of multiplying the loaves of bread, as I stated last week, was for the primary purpose of setting the stage for some of the things that we are going to be unpacking today and the next couple of weeks. As we have seen, this is not uncommon for Jesus to do. He would commonly do a miracle to create a platform to preach a sermon. So with that said, let us look at scene 2 of John 6.
In Search of Jesus
I want you to put yourself in the shoes of these people. They had followed Jesus out into the middle of nowhere. They did this somewhat mindlessly. No one, except for one single boy had thought about bringing any food. Jesus came to the rescue and fed all of them by supernaturally creating food. They ate until their bellies were full. The show was over, they laid down to rest, and a short time later, morning arrived. And what do you do when you wake up? You start looking for breakfast. Your stomach starts to growl, you begin to crave food. However, for this crowd, they had a problem. They were still in the middle of nowhere, and now, they were without Jesus. So they had a choice to make, go and seek food, or go seek the one who creates food.
They pick the option 2 and go looking for Jesus. They put two and two together and said he must have somehow gotten to the other side, so off they went; thousands of people piling in boat after boat and crossing the Sea of Galilee seeking Jesus. And when they find him we are told in verse 59 that Jesus is in a Synagogue. Why is he at the Synagogue? Because he was looking for an audience to preach. Jesus says this in Luke 4:43 says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
Look at verse 25, “when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” In response to this question, Jesus could have said, I walked on water, but he didn’t. Why? Because the miracle of walking on water was not for the crowd, it was for the disciples. It was to increase his disciples faith, not the crowds. Instead Jesus wanted to talk about something else. He wanted to address their sin. So Jesus, as only Jesus does, completely ignores their question and goes straight to their problem. Verse 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.”
What drew these people to Jesus was not his glory, it was the grumbling in their stomachs. Jesus was not their greatest treasure, Jesus was their genie in a bottle. Jesus was merely a means to an end. These people desired a Jewish nanny state, with Jesus as their chief sandwich maker. And Jesus knew it. Remember in John 2:24 where it said, “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” Jesus knew exactly why the multitude had came to the synagogue, and he knows exactly why you have come to Church. He knows your motivations, whether they be good or bad. As I look out on each of you, I have no clue why you came to Cornerstone this morning, but Jesus does. You can't fool him. In fact, he knows why you are here better than you know why you are here.
Then Jesus says this in verse 27, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Gather has set His seal.”
Do Not Work for the Food that Perishes
And this is where I want to spend the rest of our time, in verse 27. First let us look at the first part, “Do not work for the food that perishes.” What is Jesus talking about? What Jesus is talking about is, in my opinion, the greatest problem that the visible Church in America is struggling with in this moment. And it may be the greatest problem the visible Church here at Cornerstone is struggling with in this moment.
It is the problem of worshiping the created things of this world and not worshiping the Creator. It is the problem is seeing this world as your eternal resting place, verses Heaven. It is the problem of selling your soul to gain the world. It is the problem of materialism.
Day in and day out, many of us spend of all our energy and all of our focus and all of our time on things that in 100 years or less won't exist. As Jesus says in Matthew 16:19 we are laying up treasures where moth and rust destroy. We have drank the poison of the American Dream, and it is foolish. If what we claim to believe is true, which it is, and we live forever, either in Hell or in Heaven, investing all of our time in the first 100 years of life is insanity.
This is why the Bible so frequently warns us to not pursue the food the perishes. One that rings in my ears this week is the parable Jesus taught in Luke 12:16-21.
This week I can't help but think of Prince who was found dead in an elevator in his $10 million estate. Prince spent his adult life pursuing the passions of his flesh, leveraging the sin of millions to make millions. The house/compound that he lived in was named Paisley Park. It totaled 55,000 square feet. It was massive. Truly a house for Prince. One quote from the Daily Mail said, “A virtual tour of the Paisley Park estate in Minnesota, released a couple of years ago to fans, showed the extravagant complex, where the 57-year-old was found unresponsive in an elevator on Thursday, in all its glory.” For 57 years Prince lived an luxurious life, there was nothing that he couldn't buy. For 57 years, he ate until he was full. Last Thursday, he left all that behind and stepped into eternity. That night his soul was required of him, and what did he have to give God, but the dust of this world and the sin of his heart.
The material of this world is the food that perishes. We were not created to worship bread, or bins, or compounds, or money, or gold, or your business, or your house, or your wardrobe. You were created for something far greater. Something that is infinitely more valuable. Something that will never rust or be destroyed. Something that will endure. You were made for Jesus.
Work for the Food that Endures
Verse 27, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Gather has set His seal.” We were made to work for the food that endures. We are told in verse 29 that this work is believing in Jesus. “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
The food we are told to pursue is Jesus Christ. Verse 35, “I am the bread of life.” Verse 48, “I am the bread of life.” Verse 51, “I am the living bread.” This crowd has the same problem that the women at the well had in John 4. She could feel the void in her life and she spent her entire life working to fulfill this food through adulterous relationships. This group, instead of sex, they pursued the materialism of this world. The symptoms are different but the disease is the same.
The answer to our deepest desire is not more bread or more sex or more government or more money, it is more Jesus. Once again 750 years before Jesus walked this earth, the Prophet Isaiah proclaimed these words on behalf of God.
As Jesus stood before the great crowds he declared that this day has arrived. “Come...he who has no money, buy, eat!...delight...be satisfied...live.” This call that rang out 2700 years ago, rang out in the Synagogue of Capernaum, and still rings out today. Jesus, through the preaching of is eternal Words calls out to us to come and eat of the living bread of Christ, and find life in him. Lay down your perishing pursuits and grab hold of what your heart was created for. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Do not worship the God of your belly, but worship that God who holds together the World by the Word of his power.
We as a Church, must encourage this way of living. We must stop living in accordance to the World who uses God as a means to an end, instead we are called to live differently. We are called to be like the disciples who left their job and their family and their homes and followed Jesus, day after day. Why? Because as Peter says in John 6:68, ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Peter understood that pursuing bread makes absolutely no sense. They were in the presence of Jesus, they were welded to him, not living for this World, but preparing for the next.
He is No Fool
In the 1950's there was a small group of Christians who gave up the American Dream and obeyed the call of God and became missionaries to Auca Indians in Ecuador. Life for them was not easy. Week after week and month after month the labored to establish relationships with the locals. Finally in January of 1956 they were able to meet with some and start telling them about Christ. On January 8th, 1956 something went tragically wrong and five of the missionaries were speared to death. One of those men was Jim Elliot. He was 28 when he died. The death of Jim Elliot was not in the elevator in a lavish compound, it was in the jungles of Ecuador. His short life was not devoted to sex, money, or the American Dream. It was dedicated to Jesus Christ. He did not sell his soul to gain the world, he crucified the world and laid up treasures in heaven.
Before his death on October 28, Jim wrote these words in his journal, and I hope these words stick in your head for the rest of your life, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”