Seaside With Jesus: What Are We Working For? - John 6:22-35
A young man was looking to buy a saw to cut down some trees in his backyard. He went to a chainsaw shop and asked about various chainsaws.
The dealer told him, "Look, I have a lot of models, but why don't you save yourself a lot of time and aggravation and get the top-of-the-line model. This chainsaw will cut a hundred cords of wood for you in one day."
So, the man took the chainsaw home and began working on the trees. After cutting for several hours and only cutting two cords, he decided to quit. He thinks there is something wrong with the chainsaw. "How can I cut for hours and only cut two cords?" the man questioned himself. He decided to begin first thing in the next morning and cut all day.
So, the next morning the man got up at 4 am in the morning and cut and cut and cut until there was no daylight left, and still he only managed to cut five cords.
The man is convinced it is a bad saw. He knew the dealer had told him it would cut one hundred cords of wood in a day without any problem. He decided to take the saw back to the dealer.
The morning the man woke up and drove back to the chainsaw shop and explains what is going on. He said, “I feel pure-t-mommicked by this saw and you…I’ve cut for two days and only managed to cut seven cords of wood.”
The dealer, baffled by the man's claim, removed the chainsaw from the case. The dealer says, "Hmm, it looks fine."
Then the dealer then grabbed the handle and pulled the cord, starting the chainsaw. It roared to life.
“Wait a minute,” the customer said, startled, “what’s that noise?”
Last week, we watched as Jesus, tired from all the healings and controversy with the religious self-righteous of His day, sought to retreat and rest by the Sea of Galilee and when folks followed Him there, he tried retreating up the side of the mountain, and the folks followed Him still. He sat them down, and then prayed over the largest church dinner the world has ever seen—a meal that started with only five loaves and two fish and fed, most likely, upwards of 15,000. As night fell, the crowds went to their homes and Jesus and the disciples traveled to the other side of the Sea of Galilee once more, maybe once more trying to get some rest.
The next day, however, with tracking skills better than a sixteen-hundred dollar bloodhound, the crowd tracked Jesus down, finding Him on the opposite side of the Sea from where they had encountered Him the day before and began questioning when He had left (because Jesus had not been with the disciples when they saw the disciples take the only boat).
Jesus said, “Y’all didn’t come over here looking for me because of the miracle you saw yesterday and realize who I truly am…you’re coming because I gave you something to eat (how many times have I heard it said, if you want people to come to church, have a meal and they’ll show up) and now you want some more…you’re only thinking about your current wants…you’re thinking with your belly.” (Something many of us do while sitting in worship, wondering just when we are going to eat lunch…and how long the preacher is going to go on, especially since we are having Communion today.) Then Jesus said, and these are our key verses for today… “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that the Father has set his seal…for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
It may not sound like it, but Jesus hit them hard. Jesus is telling them that they made all the effort and put in all the hard work to find him, but they were simply thinking about their tummies. They had spent all this energy to get another morsel of bread and another piece of fish, and Jesus tells them, “you chased after this and tomorrow, you’re going to be hungry again.” They probably had not thought they had done anything wrong or were pursing the wrong thing, after all, they needed to eat…so his statement caught them off-guard…and they got defensive…they wanted to know, “Hey Jesus, do you think you’re greater than Moses…look he gave the people manna from heaven when they were wandering in the wilderness…can you top that?”
You know…if we listen to those words of Jesus, we might get a little upset and defensive too, as We have grown up in a culture that values and emphasizes hard work…and often makes light of folks who do not work. In that face of that, Jesus says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life…”. What are we working for…what are we laboring for?
What hungers are we putting all our efforts into fulfilling?
Are we working for a new boat, a new house, a new car, or a mountain hideaway…those things that we may enjoy for a brief time, but a Harvey, Irma, or Maria, and earthquake, or a rockslide could take out in a matter of minutes…meaning all of that labor has been only for that which offers a temporary pleasurable fulfillment.
Are we working for hard to gain a new position…to move a little bit higher on that corporate ladder…to have a few more people working under us…positions of prestige and power that we may enjoy briefly, but that could be wiped out quickly by a company buyout or bankruptcy.
Are we working to make a name for ourselves…laboring to gain a pat on the back from our boss…working to have our name etched on an “employ of the month” plaque? Are we putting all our efforts into gaining our “15 seconds of fame” only to have be forgotten next month when a new employees name goes up or someone else gets a pat on the back from the boss.
Are we working to fill up our bank accounts for a rainy day…saving up for retirement…trying to have plenty on reserve in case something comes up…are we hungering for security in a world where stock markets crash and interest rates bottom out…forgetting that we may be called before The Throne tonight…long before tomorrow’s rainy day.
Am I saying that a new car, a job promotion, being employ of the month, and saving for retirement are wrong? BY NO MEANS. Just like Jesus did not say that it was wrong to want to eat flounder and light rolls (otherwise he would never have fed the people). The question is, is that the focus of our labors…is that what we are working for…is that what we are putting all of our efforts into achieving? Because if it is, then we are using our lives like the man using the chainsaw without cranking it…we may be accomplishing something, but not all that we can…we are simply attaining the bread that perishes.
So what should we be working to attain? Where should the bulk of our efforts be focused? We should be striving after the Bread of Life, the Bread of Heaven that is Jesus. We should be working to grow as Christians…putting our time into His Church…that He may feed our souls with the food and drink that will never run out. Where do we find this food that will never run out? By making time for Sunday School, for Worship, for Bible Study, for Prayer Time, for Service in His Name.
This morning we are going to come and receive bread and juice from Christ. We are going to come to Christ’s Holy Meal in which He seeks to feed us. Now if we missed breakfast this morning, we know that the little pinch of bread dipped in grape juice is not going to stop our stomachs’ from rumbling, especially as we think of what might be on the grill this afternoon. That’s the point…Christ did not prepare this meal to meet the needs of our physical hunger, but he has prepared this meal so that if we open ourselves up before Him, we will find all of our hungers and all of our thirsts fulfilled…all those places that seem empty in our lives…whether we are hungering for joy, happiness, love, forgiveness, or acceptance, we will find those met here at this Table…and if we come and receive the Body and Blood that was shed for us, and the grace that God bestows through it, we will find that we never hunger or thirst again…for we will be filled by the Bread from Heaven…
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.