After miraculously feeding five thousand men and walking on water, Jesus went to Capernaum. When the crowds Jesus had fed discovered he was gone, they followed him and, upon finding him, asked when he had arrived (vs. 22-25). Jesus knew that they wanted only another free meal, and so admonished them, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life…” (vs. 26-27).
Our Lord knows that we need to devote some attention to work for material necessities like food (Gen. 3:19), so he is not telling us that we shouldn’t work for physical food. Rather, he is telling us to not give our primary attention to the material things of this life. Our primary focus should be on obtaining that which will give us eternal life (Col. 3:1-2; Matt. 6:25-33).
It’s no secret that God tests our faith and loyalty to him (Gen. 22:1-12; Heb. 11:17). It’s easy for us to sing None of Self and All of Thee…but do our actions back up our words when tested by God? On Super Bowl Sunday at churches that offer evening worship services, will we choose to not assemble to worship our God and learn from him because we’d rather watch the Super Bowl…or will our focus be primarily on what will help us obtain eternal life? Today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter, will we take a decent amount of time before or after work to study God’s Word and pray to him…or will recreational activities or more work be more important?
God tests our loyalty every day. Are we passing his tests? Are we truly laboring for the food that endures to eternal life?
After Jesus prophetically and miraculously revealed to the Samaritan woman that he was the Messiah (John 4:5-26), I find it very interesting that the woman did not keep this information to herself. She immediately went back into town and told people about Christ (vs. 28-29). This in turn caused the townspeople to come out and meet Jesus (v. 30) and ask him to stay with them, which he did for two days (v. 40). As a result, many of them believed in him…initially because the woman cared enough to tell them about Jesus (v. 39); however, this led to many more believing due to hearing Jesus for themselves (vs. 41-42).
Christians, are we like this woman? Every week, we gather together to hear the words of Jesus and take time every day to meditate upon his Word (Ps. 1:1-2). Are we like the Samaritan woman and actively look for people with whom to share his Word? Or do we keep the seed of the Word inside the barn by refusing to share it with the lost whom we know? (Luke 8:11; Hag. 2:19)
Do we really want the church to grow and the lost to be saved? Our actions will always answer these questions more honestly than our words ever could (James 1:22-25). Many believed because the woman didn’t keep Jesus to herself. Likewise, God will help us to grow if we actively share his gospel with others (1 Cor. 3:6-7). Let’s make this goal our top priority in 2013!
Perhaps the most famous verse in the world, this verse is also one of the most misunderstood and misapplied. Interestingly, the first part of the verse is rarely taught wrong. I never hear of religious people who profess Christianity denying God’s great love for all of mankind, or that he sent Jesus his Son to die for us. However, there is distinct disagreement over the second part of the verse which proclaims that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Atheists deny this latter saying because of a lack of faith in God in general, in spite of the overwhelming evidence (Rom. 1:18ff). Religious people who do not profess Christianity deny this verse because they believe Jesus is not their Savior, even though he said he is the only way (John 14:6). Many who profess Christianity at the least argue over the various translations’ wording of the statement (1 Tim. 6:4), and at the most define faith as a simple belief and acknowledgement in the existence of Jesus and that he is the Messiah…even though the same chapter correlates obedience with faith and salvation, along with other scriptures (John 3:36; cf. Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 5:9; James 2:14-26).
Perhaps there is so much disagreement over the part about faith because, taking into account everything God says about faith, it would require us to obey even to the point of sacrifice…whereas focusing only on God’s love requires nothing of us. May we focus on both! (Rom. 6:1-2; Tit. 2:11-12)