Lesson 32

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

6:22 On the next day, the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except the one which his disciples had entered, and that Jesus hadn't entered with his disciples into the boat, but his disciples went away alone. 6:23 However boats from Tiberias came near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 6:24 When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus wasn't there, neither his disciples, they themselves got into the boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 6:25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?"

6:26 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly I tell you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. 6:27 Don't work for the food which perishes, but for the food which remains to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For the Father, even God, has sealed him."

6:28 They said therefore to him, "What must we do, that we may work the works of God?"

6:29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

 Today's Lesson

Today's scripture begins the confrontation between Jesus and the multitude. This section takes up the bulk of chapter 6. This section contains important statements from Jesus concerning His person and mission. Chapter 6 also establishes conclusively the antagonism between Jesus and the Jewish leadership and gives the bases for that antagonism as expressed in the Gospel of John.


The day after the five thousand were fed on the mountainside, the same multitude began looking for Jesus again. They knew that Jesus' disciples had left in a boat, but He had not been with them. They searched for Him, and when they cannot find Him they board boats and return to Capernaum seeking Him. They find Jesus and question Him as to how He had returned to Capernaum without a boat.


Jesus' answer to their question is in the same vein as His answer to Nicodemus. He tells them they are seeking Him because they ate the bread that He had multiplied and were filled. They should not work for the bread that will perish, but the food that will bring them eternal life. The Son of Man is capable of giving them the bread that will bring them eternal life. He is capable of doing so because God the Father has sealed Him.


When Jesus speaks of the sealing of the Son of Man by God the Father, He is most likely speaking of the gift of the Spirit of God. The Spirit is referred to many times in scripture as the "seal" that God places on those who are sanctified to His service. The presence of the Spirit is the validation of the presence of God in the lives of His servants much as the seal of ancient kings was validation that documents were official and had the force of law.


The question of verse 28 and the answer of verse 29 are significant statements on the theological perspective of the Gospel of John. Having been told not to work for perishable bread but to work for bread that would lead to eternal life, someone in the crowd asks how they may work to achieve the works of God. This is essentially the same answer that the woman at the well gave when Jesus said that there was one who could give water that would well up to eternal life. How may we work to get this bread (water) that leads to eternal life?


Jesus responds that there is one work that will please God. The work of God is to believe the one whom He has sent. The "work" that God requires of us is faith. We must believe. Moreover, we must believe what God does. He has sent His Anointed One. God has chosen one man to bridge the divide between Him and His creation. Our work, our job, is to believe in the one that God has selected and sent.


Our concept of working for God can sometimes be far from the response that Jesus gave to these people. We fill our Christian lives with things that we think will make us useful to our Heavenly Father and we frequently forget His most vital message to us. As He said to the people of the Old Testament, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. What need does He have of the sacrifice of bulls and goats? He does not yearn for our daily labors to draw near to Him. He longs for us. He yearns for His children to believe. There is no greater gift that we can give the Father than simple faith.


Heavenly Father, we offer you this day our simple trust in the one that you have sent. Our faith and our lives are in His hands. We will rest in Thee. Amen.


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