MONDAY SCHOOL for Pentecost, October 1, 2017, Tuesday Morning Prayers – thoughts from the sermon The King of Bread (Not).
John 6:13 So they gathered them up and filled 12 baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. Verse 14. When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, “This is indeed the prophet who has come into the world.” They were amazed because of the bread. Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, the king who would provide everyone with all the bread they wanted, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
He literally walked away from them because what they wanted was the bread. And notice: they had high energy. They were highly committed, fully devoted followers of Jesus. They were followers of Jesus Christ that would do anything to get closer to him. Look at the next verse after the walking on water part. Verse 22: On the next day, the people who remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. However, boats from Tiberias, the other side of the Sea of Galilee, came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the people saw that Jesus wasn’t there, nor his disciples, they themselves got in the boats and went to Capernaum to seek Jesus. “Where’s Jesus? Where’s the guy who has all that bread? Because I need me some bread.”
Verse 25: when they found them on the other side of the sea, a long hard trip. They said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” I think you can hear in those words, “we like to know your schedule. We like to know where you’re going to be because we know that where you are, there’s going to be plenty to eat.” Now, if you’ve ever been starving, you can kind of understand that motivation perhaps, the desperation that people have when they have nothing. But the important point is why do they have this intense desire to follow Jesus? Jesus names what it is.
Jesus names what it is. Remember the 12 basketfuls; these are apples not bread but still there’s a lot of apples there. There is a lot of bread in 12 baskets full. Verse 26, “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you.'” Whenever he says that he really means it. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me not because you saw the signs–“ and the purpose of the signs was to help you believe. “You seek me not because you saw the signs, because you ate your fill of the loaves.” They didn’t want him. They wanted the benefit that he brings. They wanted to be full. But what kind of full are you seeking? Is it a fullness of bread and the answer to your prayers or is it the fullness of Christ to be filled up with faith?
It might be more acceptable if these people were starving, but they had lots of energy to chase after Jesus. It seems more to me that in Jesus they saw a sure thing, one who would provide for all their needs … if they were close to him. And so their desire was for what he could provide, not a desire for him. They did believe in him … but what they believed is that he would give them what they wanted. It’s a question we should ask ourselves: are we here because of the benefits of our faith?
If that’s all that’s true, we have a faith that will last as long as the bread lasts. It’s a faith focused on our own self-interest and perhaps also on fear of punishment or abandonment. A psychiatrist once asked a troubled child why he loved his parents. “That’s easy,” he snorted. “They’re bigger than me and they have the food.”
And if we get a better offer, we’ll be following someone else. In time, Jesus knew, some of these seekers after bread would cry out “Crucify him!” Everything is fine until the bread runs out.
How important are answered prayers to you? How do you feel when God says “No” or “Not yet” to your prayers? Will you still be faithful if you don’t get what you want? Would you still follow Jesus if it got a little harder? When the hard times come? Or while the bread lasts?
The photo “farm-1183991_1920” is by judymccleary and is from Pixabay.
This post is based on the sermon series Out of the Chair, Into the World at Kinmundy United Methodist Church. Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_Aug_2017.html
All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.