Conversing with Jesus | Part 2
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.
"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 God the Father has set his seal." John 6:27
When the crowds follow Jesus, he wastes no time pointing out their true motivation and quickly moves the conversation in a new direction. Over the course of the passage, he will continue to focus their thoughts toward the spiritual, and this verse is the pivot for that shift. Examining how Jesus does this is an excellent insight into knowing his voice.
Notice that in Jesus’ response there is no gap between his condemnation and his exhortation. The crowd is not given a chance to respond to his unveiling their true desires in verse 26, and thus Jesus leaves no room for excuses. They are not given a chance to rationalize their actions away as inoffensive or understandable.
In doing so, Jesus removes the temptation to dwell on where they are. Instead, he switches topics and gives them fuel for a new direction. What’s more important is that in talking about bread, he meets them where they are and elevates the conversation. The key to this elevation is the subject: Jesus himself. He is not only the one who not only provided the perishable food (John 6:1-15), but He also is the “food that endures for eternal life” (v. 27).
Conversations with Jesus never leave us with the comfortable option to remain where we are. We are not given a chance to make justifications or explain or reasons to him, but must accept his evaluations of our lives as true. Facing the judgment of Christ is unpleasant at first, but following fast behind is his encouragement, which will give us forward direction.
Conversations with Jesus never leave us with the comfortable option to remain where we are.
This forward direction is key. Too often, we may buy into a self-destructive negativity that is not the gospel. We beat ourselves down with commands to “do better” and “be better” day after day, and while there may be truth in the commands, there is no life in them (like the Pharisees in Matthew 23:4).
Jesus’ words do lay things bare (as discussed in the last post), but they also bring life and hope. How? The answer to our present-day situation is the answer that Jesus gives to the crowds here by setting our sights on the person of Jesus rather than our present difficulties-by focusing on the solution rather than the problem. This is a great encouragement to the believer because every opportunity that comes his or her way is another opportunity to contemplate and witness the power of Christ.
The answer to our present-day situation is the answer that Jesus gives to the crowds here by setting our sights on the person of Jesus rather than our present difficulties-by focusing on the solution rather than the problem.
Ask Jesus to elevate your perspective so that your eyes rest on Him. Only when your eyes are focused in the right place will you grow in His grace and truth.