In the confusion of a stormy night on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the raucous crowd lost touch with Jesus.
In spite of the storm, in fact by walking on the face of the turbulent waters of the storm, Jesus had rescued His disciples from shipwreck. He transported them to the other side of the waters. Not to be put off, the people found boats themselves and sailed/rowed across Galilee to reconnect with Jesus.
“And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him,
“Rabbi, when did You come here?”
Jesus read their minds like a well-crafted scroll. He knew that while some sought Him for legitimate reasons—healings yet to be delivered, teaching for their starving souls—many more had less lofty or pressing needs. His answer to their question, brought hidden things to light.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs,
but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
Realizing the mix of good motives with bad, Jesus resigned Himself to seize the moment as a teaching opportunity.
“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
Motives were important in the Kingdom of God. They may have thought that under the Old Covenant, behavior, not motivation, was the important thing. It was never so, but the behavior of people is observable and enforceable while motives are hidden and beyond measurement. Matters of the heart have always been of supreme importance to God.
Motivations and Rewards
In the Kingdom of God, motives and rewards are connected. God always rewards those whose hearts are right regardless of the wins or losses visible to human eyes. Today we may look at large, “successful” ministries and think the heavenly accounting mirrors that of human assessments. Not so. Faithfulness and true-heartedness are coins of the realm in the Kingdom of God. The pastor of the small church, unheralded by any other than those who know him/her, is just as successful in the eyes of God as the famous minister with a large following. Prominent or private, each servant of God has the same work to do: to labor for “the food which endures to everlasting life.”
What is the Work of God?
The heart of the crowd was turning toward the true issues of life and away from the peripheral or self-serving. They asked the question that lies at the heart of the issue.
“Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
This is such an important question. The answer will be relevant to the discussion to come about what it means to consume the substance and life of Jesus.
“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
The “work of God” is to believe in Jesus. No record of good deeds stands on its own merits. Belief in Jesus rescues Christianity from the ranks of philosophy. A relationship with Jesus defines every moment of effective Christian life and witness. At the Lord’s table when we eat the bread and drink the cup, it is not the eating and drinking that makes the difference; it is the faith we hold in our hearts—our belief in Jesus, the Lord of the Table.
On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone — however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks — when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Lord Jesus, I believe! When I drink the cup at the Table, I believe in the power of Your blood. When I eat the bread at the Table, I believe in the power of Your Life. When I praise You it is because I believe in You. When I fulfill my calling to serve You, it is because I know You have called me to serve You. When I fellowship with Your family, I believe I have a place in it no one else can fill. I will labor for the eternal reward I believe You have for me. Lord Jesus, I believe! Amen.
Because We Believe
Words and Music: Nancy Gordon and Jamie Harvell
1. We believe in God the Father
We believe in Christ the Son
We believe in the Holy Spirit
We are the Church and we stand as one
Holy, holy holy is our God
Worthy, worthy, worthy is our King
All glory and honor are His to receive
To Jesus we sing because we believe
2. We believe in the Holy Bible
We believe in the virgin birth
We believe in the resurrection
That Christ one day will return to earth
3. We believe in the blood of Jesus
We believe in eternal life
We believe in the blood that frees us
To become the bride of Christ
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.