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.
Pursuing the Right Food
There is not one of us here this morning who does not want a breakthrough or turn around in the difficulties we face in life. Anyone with a long-term illness would love to have God intervene in a mighty way and give a complete healing of mind and body. Those who struggle with finances seek the Lord’s blessings in employment or business to find a way to make ends meet. We all suffer losses, set backs, and a variety of hindrances that if the mighty hand of the most high would touch, we would be released from these problems and free to give God our best praises.
Let me be the first to say there is nothing wrong with seeking a blessing and change in our difficult circumstances. As children of the Father, we have every right to bring our cares and concerns to Him in prayer. If a blind man, Bartimaeus, had sense enough to call out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me,” then we also have the ability to do likewise. And if Jesus had the power to cure this and any other blind, mute, leprous, demon-posessed, and dead man; surely we can know and have faith that he is able to heal whatever we are going through today. Some of us in here this morning remember how the doctors couldn’t figure out how you got up from that hospital bed so quickly. Somebody in here knows that the door that opened for you should have remained closed. And if we are honest with ourselves, we all can think back to a moment where we should have been dead and laying in our graves. But, because He shows his usual love and kindness and is better to us than we are to ourselves; the Lord woke us up this morning, started us on our way, put food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and gave us another day to praise Him.
But, let us not be so shallow in our faith that we overlook the value of endurance in our walk with Jesus. In fact, I would dare say that when we look to Christ only for breakthroughs and blessings, we may find ourselves at a distance from him. Please note the scriptures. The men who were fed from those two fish and five loaves saw that Jesus was the Prophet who could change their lot in the world and wanted to enforce him as their earthly ruler. And when He perceived this is what they were thinking, Jesus got away from them and later walked across a stormy sea to further distance Himself from them. Those men got it twisted. When Jesus called the disciples, He said, “Follow Me.” But, these well-fed breakthrough finders wanted Jesus to follow their preconceived notions and meet their worldly expectations. To follow Christ is to submit to going wherever He leads and not the other way around. When He does the miraculous, it is an invitation for us to submit, not to make Him our meal ticket.
And too often, this is how we see the Lord. We want fish and loves, garment hems, second touches – even with mud made from his spit, we want His word to speak to us so that we can rise and walk. But, what we need more than the miracles is the endurance to keep going forward with Jesus no matter what forward means or where forward leads. Sometimes forward means going across the sea to the other side away from the crowd and their popular opinions. And in the midst of that journey from popular crowd opinion, things can get dark and confusing. In fact, the journey will even get difficult with the winds of life blowing hard against us. It is in these moments of darkness and storms that Jesus shows up, calms our fears, steps in our boats, and brings us to our destination. This is the joy of being a disciple, a follower of Christ. Not simply that He steps in with great miracles. Not that we think we ought to impose Him as the earthly king of an earthly nation. The joy of the Christian is knowing that if we simply go forward and follow Him, he will be with us even when life becomes difficult. If we are willing to endure, He will bring us to our destination.
And Jesus knows who is willing to endure with Him and those who seek things from him. “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Had those men had the right idea about the Christ, He may not have left them in the first place. Had those men submitted themselves to be followers rather than desire to make him their king, perhaps they would have gone straight to Capernaum like the disciples did rather than return to Tiberias where the miracle took place. Isn’t it a shame when people get so stuck on one miracle that they keep going back to the same place in their mind and walk rather than get their heads right and move forward? A breakthrough is a good thing. But, when played over and over again, it becomes a broken record. Repetition has its place in our journey. But, unless it leads to true discipleship and following Christ, repetition becomes redundant noise and wasted effort.
Yet, despite the error of these men, Jesus is merciful not to condemn and curse them. He calls them out on their error, “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.” Let us know that Jesus will call us out on our mistakes. Sometimes it will be in the quiet of our prayer closet, maybe our guilty conscience, maybe a word from a co-worker, neighbor, friend, or enemy. So, we can’t be too quick to reject or answer back any criticism aimed at us. That criticism may be to our benefit, especially if the criticism comes with a correction. “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life.” By his mercy, Jesus calls us out and gives us correction so that if we listen, we may be saved.
And the correction is this. Don’t struggle so much for temporary satisfaction. But, seek after Jesus because He is the Son of God who gives our souls eternal nourishment. Food is a necessity, we can’t survive without it. But,no matter how nutritious and well prepared it may be, food can and will spoil. The same can be said for the other good things we desire and pursue the Lord about. We ask for financial breakthroughs to pay our bills and eventually the money is spent. We ask for an anointing on our relationships for stronger families and eventually death will separate us. We ask for a reasonable portion of health and strength and eventually we will all lay down in a coffin. It is good that we pray for and seek after such things. But, if this food is the only or the main thing we seek after, we are missing the whole point of why Jesus came into the world.
And the point is this, that we will have everlasting life. Therefore, let us strive for those things that lead to this goal. As we go to restaurants, we see a menu of good things to eat. As we go to our prayer closets, we have a menu of good things we want God to do for us and others. May I suggest that in the scriptures, there is a menu that Christ gave to the multitudes in the Sermon on the Mount with each dish having a promise of eternity. The poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven. The mournful receive comfort. The pure in heart will see God. The peacemakers will be His Children. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled. It is these and the other things on our Lord’s menu, the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, that we must seek more so than any anointing, breakthrough, or blessing.
I pray the Lord will bless us and bless us really good where ever we are in need in this world. But, I pray that we will fill ourselves with the food and be blessed with the gifts that endure for the world to come.