John 6:27-29 – Lesson #65

After witnessing Jesus miraculously feed over five thousand, many followed Him across the sea to Capernaum. But when they came to Jesus, He accused them of coming simply to fill their stomachs; “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26). The people had seen the miracle but had completely missed the meaning. The sign pointed to Jesus but all they could see was a free lunch. Jesus then continued to lead them in truth.

John 6:27-29
“‘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.'”

Those who approached Jesus that day had an initial focus of physical satisfaction. They had a need and Jesus had proved He could deliver. But Jesus saw their motivation and revealed the folly of their priorities by contrasting food which perishes with food which endures. This is the same message delivered by Isaiah 700 years earlier; “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good” (Isaiah 55:2). The food which endures is that which leads to everlasting life. But notice that Jesus applied the word “labor” to both types of food.

Everlasting life is a true gift from God, “not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:9). And yet Jesus spoke here of labor. Elsewhere He said; “Strive to enter through the narrow gate” (Luke 13:24), and also; “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Yes, salvation is a free gift, but our call is always to labor, strive, and seek Him with all your heart. The result is a gift from the One who has the seal of God – the One who is authenticated, authorized and appointed by God.

The message of a gift was lost on those who were gathered. Though they appeared to understand something about everlasting life, their questions were immediately directed toward self-effort; “What shall we do?” They were looking for a list – a formula – which would result in God’s approval. They were wanting to be told of the “works” which were pleasing to God, but Jesus said there was only one “work.” He identified the one and only work of God as belief – absolutely necessary, completely sufficient.

We must continually prioritize our labor. What is it we really value? Does our time and effort (and worry) tend to be spent on that which will perish? Jesus told the woman at the well that if she would only ask, then “He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). And to this group in Capernaum He said to labor for food which endures, the food which is Himself, the “bread of life” (6:35). All else will soon perish! So let’s begin His work today. Let’s labor for the precious gift of everlasting life by believing in the One sent by God.

Have a Great Day!

Steve Troxel
God’s Daily Word Ministries