John 6 contains a powerful narrative that gives great insight into the most testified sign of his ministry: the feeding of the 5,000. The account here is unique from the other gospels because it records Jesus’ post-miracle conversation with the crowd on the other side of the lake. Over the next several posts, we will be diving deeper to the fallout between Jesus and the crowd in that exchange. Studying this can inform and improve our own conversations with Jesus.
Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. -John 6:26
The day after the crowds were fed, they are unable to find Jesus and cross the lake to Capernaum to track him down. When they find him, they ask him a question to start the conversation: “Rabbi, when did you come here?” (John 6:25). The multitude does not care about the answer to this question, as the context makes this clear.
Instead of answering the question, Jesus uses his response to set the terms of the conversation and cuts to the truth behind their motivation: their stomachs (v. 26). This enduring truth we must take from this passage: before we even start speaking with Jesus, he knows what drives us and what the true content of our hearts and minds are.
Our immediate reaction to this fact is, “Of course I know that.” From the first sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:11) to the interaction here in John with the multitude to even today we know that God knows. However, if we take a moment to think over honestly how our prayers sound, we will find too often that we use the same strategies and language that we use to present ourselves as “better than we are” to other people. We seek to make ourselves look better by offering excuses or providing reasons, and we delude ourselves into believing that we succeed in convincing the God of the universe that we are something we are not. In reality, all that happens in the sight of Jesus is we cover ourselves with our own filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
However, if we take a moment to think over honestly how our prayers sound, we will find too often that we use the same strategies and language that we use to present ourselves as “better than we are” to other people.
When we speak with Jesus, he will confront us as who we really are, for his righteousness cannot bear falsehood. Often, what we’re confronted with is the truth about ourselves that we didn’t even realize. When this comes there are two responses reject His words and turn away as many in the crowd did (John 6:60-66) or accept His words and commend their value (John 6:68).
When we speak with Jesus, he will confront us as who we really are, for his righteousness cannot bear falsehood. Often, what we’re confronted with is the truth about ourselves that we didn’t even realize.
Although accepting that all is laid bare before him (Hebrews 4:13) is terrifying, for the believer it is also a great encouragement. His judgment is true, and he reveals our motivations not because he desires us harm but because he loves us. Be encouraged that when the Holy Spirit confronts you that it is done out of that same love, and respond in honesty and repentance. In your prayer & reading, allow space for Jesus to confront and correct through His Word and Spirit. Ask Him to reveal the hidden motivations in your heart and to turn your eyes toward Him.