Dinner And A Show?

Text: John 6:22-35

To Him who loves us and has washed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

The people just kept coming back to Him.  Who wouldn’t?  They had received multiplied bread and fish from Christ and they wanted more.  The problem though is that during the night Jesus had crossed over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.  Their food supplier left them.  Therefore, when the crowd woke up, they began to search for Jesus, which led them to the other side of the sea where Jesus was. 

Obviously at first glance this seems like a good thing.  Is it not good when people seek out Christ and go to Him?  Should we not applaud and be excited when people go closer to Christ?

Well, here is the catch; this group of people came to Jesus with motives that were mixed, if not downright wrong.   Keep in mind that the day before they were about to take Jesus by force and make him their King.  Jesus was like a rock star and they were like hungry paparazzi following His every move.  They would have liked nothing more than to crown Him king and to have Jesus fulfill their desires of overthrowing the Romans Empire.  They wanted Him as their King, which is commendable.  However, they wanted Him as a king that would be in debt to their ambitions and their desires.  These self-centered desires are only amplified and become real obvious as we listen to our Gospel reading from today more closely.  In our Gospel reading we heard that Jesus fleshes out their true desire for seeking Him. 

There is an ugly reality to the motives that we have for following Christ.  It should come as no surprise to us that we as Christians often do not have the best track record or motives for following and seeking out Christ.  From our Gospel reading we hear that this group of people were not drawn to Jesus on the basis of His teachings but were drawn to Jesus because they were entertained by His miracles and because their bellies were filled full from food provided by Jesus.  Free food I might add. 

Now keep in mind that the miracles that Jesus performed were holy and just.  These signs of healing the sick and multiplying the food were to serve as Jesus’ credentials, the proof that He was who He claimed to be, the Savior of the world.  These signs were to grant faith to the people.  Jesus was not trying to entertain and fill guts, but wanted to create faith and serve the crowd’s physical needs.  The problem was not with the actions of Jesus but with the crowd’s response and interpretation of Christ’s actions.   

So, from the perspective of the crowd, Jesus provided free food and free entertainment, who could not be for this?  Hasn’t free food and free entertainment always drawn a crowd?  Sadly, has anything changed in our day and age with the church?  Generally speaking, food and entertainment are powerful motives.  Give us good food and good entertainment where we can be “wowed” and where we can have a full stomach without having to pay anything and we are in!  Even if the entertainment isn’t that great, if there is a free meal, many of us are so cheap that we lunge at this!  Frankly speaking, the motives of the crowd were selfish at best.  In other words, what was so important that they had to track Jesus down on the other side of the lake?  Food and entertainment!  They saw Jesus as a bread vending machine that was broken and just spit out food without needing any coins while showing a great movie flick. 

Considering this, is this who Jesus is, one who merely entertains and feeds?  My friends, Christ is so much more!

We want to be entertained and fed; there is no doubt about it.  In of itself, there is nothing wrong with enjoying some good food with friends, but when this becomes the main motive to go to church or to be a Christian we have serious problems.  As I think about this story I am reminded of a time while I was serving in a church in Southern California.  Every year the church down the street would actually appeal to people’s need to be entertained and fed by advertising far and wide that there would be free “In and Out” Hamburgers at their worship service along with bouncy castles and games.  Because our worship service time was a little ahead of their worship service time, we would have our service and then after our service many of our parishioners would go down to that church for a free meal and some good fun.  Why not?  Just thinking about this, it makes me chuckle.  The church was trying to attract people and it did, a handful of faithful attenders of the church that I pastored at.  The parishioners from my church figured, “why not take in a free meal.”  

Besides this being kind of funny, the problem with this mentality and the problem with this kind of temptation for the church in our modern day and age is that to appeal to these motives of feeding and entertainment is really a distraction.  In fact this is quite easy to do.  It is extremely easy to draw a crowd my friends.  But here is why this is so detrimental, if the church gathers a crowd by entertainment and appealing to the stomach, if this is the reason why people gather, generally speaking this will be the very thing that will be needed to keep the crowd.  In other words, this crowd that surrounded Jesus looked upon the signs of Jesus as entertainment.  They thought it was great to get free food.  The next day, they wanted more.  

“Fill our stomach more Jesus, show us something more amazing! Jesus, give us a sign… impress us, wow us, make us excited and then give us food… then we will continue to follow you.” 

My friends, Jesus is so much more than mere entertainment and so much more than a bread machine.  Think about what we heard in our Gospel reading, the bread ran out from the day before, and they came back looking for more.  I am sure that Christ could have made some more bread; He could’ve done some more miracles, but He was not content to let them merely marvel at His gifts and not see Himself as the Messiah.  The reason why? Jesus was and is so much more! 

Christ exposes the crowd’s motives and He goes right for their jugular. Listen to what Jesus said: 

“Truly I say to you, you are seeking Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves.  You had your bellies filled and you want me to do it again!  Stop worrying about your bellies and start worrying about your eternal life!”

Dear friends, if we are totally honest with ourselves we can’t help but admit that we all struggle with the same motivations.  As we contemplate our own motives there are so many times that we look to Christ and we want to be “wowed.”  We may say,

“Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know that old Gospel story, but God do something that I want.  Give me a great sign, feed my belly and show me something that will make me want to come back the next week for more!  I don’t want the ordinary, I want something extraordinary, impress me.  Wow me; give me that exciting feeling!” 

Truthfully we have our own wants and desires and our own plans.  Yes, there are times where our intentions are wrong and sinful.  There are times when we call upon Christ, not as our Savior and Deliverer but as an entertaining bread machine.  We worry too much about our bellies and not enough about our eternal life.   

My friends in Christ, the reality is that you and I have been given every sign that we need to have faith.  Just look to the Cross of Christ and what more could we ask for?  The day that Christ was crucified, the earth shook, darkness came on the land, the curtain was torn and Christ proclaimed, “It is finished!”  Do we honestly need another sign?  The tomb is empty my friends.  Christ rose from the grave.  What else do we possibly need?  

Furthermore, God doesn’t merely fill our bodies with food that is temporary; He fills us with His Body and His Blood.  This is a gift that grants us forgiveness of sins and ministers to the depths of your soul.  Mere food cannot do this my friends.  In the Lord’s Supper our souls are ministered to and the Lord’s Supper has eternal ramifications.  Basic food merely goes into your stomach and lasts for a while, but the Lord’s Supper is so much more!

God also has chosen not to simply entertain you into the kingdom; rather you and I are baptized into the kingdom of God.  We are washed.  We are brought from death to life.  We are counted as members of a new household.  We are marked by God. 

Can you imagine having a Lord who would have to “woo us” into the kingdom by entertainment and food?  That kind of Lord would be a pathetic, powerless joke!  Christ is so much more my friends.  No—I take that back, He is not more, He is completely different.  He is not a bread machine.  He is not an entertainer.  He is not some street performer.  He doesn’t entertain you, but comes to you and grants you and me faith bringing us from eternal damnation into eternal life.  He does not try and hold our attention by performing signs that distract us from other alternatives; His sign of the cross and the empty grave actually do something for us!  In Christ, we are declared righteous; in Christ our sins are actually forgiven.  He doesn’t merely feed us with temporary food that only lasts awhile, but He is the bread of heaven that has come for you and me.  And now we are given the eternal Word of God that feeds our souls… the Word that will never perish.  

Baptized Saints, Jesus is not a circus entertainer or a rock star entertainer or a life coach or an example.  Jesus is not some mere inspirational guru that we use to get to a different end.  But rather, Jesus is the crucified and resurrected Savior who gives you certain signs and proof of God’s love for you, which surpasses all worldly understanding.  Jesus is Lord. 

In Christ, you have been Adopted as a Child of God; you have been declared not guilty of sin; you have been converted from death to life; you have been rescued from hell, the devil and God’s wrath; you have been Given the Holy Spirit; you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit; you have been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm.  Jesus promises never to leave nor forsake you; He has authored your faith and promises to continually perfect it.  In Christ, you are accepted, accepted, accepted, accepted… 

Jesus is not a bread machine, but the bread of life.  Receive Him; believe upon Christ my friends, for He is your sustenance. 

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

CLICK HERE to join in the conversation on Facebook. 
CLICK HERE to follow on Twitter.
CLICK HERE to Subscribe to Sermons on iTunes.
CLICK HERE to Subscribe to Sermons on Podbean.