Join us as we learn that Jesus didn’t come to take away all our troubles,
but rather He came to take away THE most significant problem we have… a sin problem.
January 7, 2024
by Ben Caldwell
Intro. If you have been attending services here or if you’ve been joining us online, you have probably noticed that when I preach, I generally cover three points. That is really I feel that I can explain, make as a point, and apply to our lives in the time that I have allotted each week to preach. But today’s passage is difficult. It is huge, and I really believe that it should be taken as a whole. So I going to try to explain this passage… very briefly… I’m going to try to make points and apply the information to our lives. If you want to understand this passage, then please really try to focus and stay with me this week.
Announce passage. Would you turn in your Bibles to John 6, beginning in verse 16. John 6:16
In last week’s passage, we talked about how Jesus tested Phillip by asking him to provide food for the crowd of over 5,000 people who were gathered. Phillip acknowledges that it is impossible, but the disciples do the best they can to scrounge up 5 loaves and 2 fish. And by giving that to Jesus, they take a step of faith, and Jesus does the miraculous.
The passage we are going to look at today is the evening that followed that miracle. So let’s take a look. John 6:16 and following:
John 6:16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. Now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 The wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19 When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus, approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
The book of Mark tells us that Jesus had sent the disciples out to the surrounding villages and towns and gave them power to do the miraculous. So they get back, hungry and tired. And they all tried to get away from the crowd. But the crowd showed up again. So that evening… this evening that is being described here is the second attempt to get away. And Jesus seems to have an escape plan. He sends the disciples out in the boat. And Jesus stays with the crowd. So the Disciples get away. And then Jesus crosses the lake by miraculously walking on the water in the middle of the night. But when He comes close to the boat, the disciples are terrified. And Jesus says, “It is I.” Literally what he says is “I am; don’t be afraid.” Interesting because “I am” is the name that God gives himself in the book of Genesis.
The point I want to make is: Practically Speaking… which is the theme, because I don’t really know how else to tie all this together. But to call all of this practical, beneficial information. So Practically Speaking:
1. Jesus Reaches the Disciples Despite the Storm
Why does that matter? As I researched this passage, I found over and over scholars and pastors see this moment as a kind of metaphor for our lives. Being a follower of Jesus does NOT imply that everything will be fun, happy, and easy for you. Like these guys on the boat, you might find yourselves in some dark, scary places. You might even look at God and say, “You are frightening me right now? Why don’t you change things? Why don’t you do something about this?” The disciples have been tired and hungry. They have dealt with the crowds. And now they have been rowing this boat against the winds and waves for hours and have only moved three to three and a half miles. It has all been dark, hard work marked by fear. And Jesus says, “I am. Do not be afraid.”
Maybe you are in the middle of problems, illness, temptations, unanswered prayers, and like these disciples you feel that Jesus is not with you in your dark hour. But you need to know that the wind and waves are no obstacle for an almighty God. Even when you don’t see him or know He is there. He knows exactly where you are. So keep going. Keep fighting. Keep trying. He will reach you.
One of the most famous preachers of the 1800’s was a guy named Charles Haddon Spurgeon. And even if you have heard the name, you may not realize that Spurgeon suffered from bouts of depression. And one pastor describing Spurgeon’s sermon said: “He said it is no comfort to know that Jesus will return. Because you never know how long you will have to push and fight and… Row in the darkness. I’m not comforted because I don’t know how long I will have to suffer. But what does bring me comfort is knowing that Jesus suffered such tremendous pain for me in the past.” And He references Hebrews 12:2 which says: Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Folks, there might be trouble in the darkness, but joy will come with the morning.
1. Jesus Reaches the Disciples Despite the Storm
22 The next day, the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake, realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but they had gone away alone. 23 Then some boats from Tiberius landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats, and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you were looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the work God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent. “
Jesus reprimands the crowd for trying to use Him to get something for nothing. But Jesus uses this as a teaching moment. He tells them if you are going to exert time and energy on something, give it to the things that will last. Use your time and energy to seek eternal life.
2. Not All Who Seek Jesus Are Saved
At the outset, these people are following Jesus. And they are looking for him! And if you are like me, you read that and think, “Oh good. They want to be where Jesus is. They are followers of His! But then Jesus sees through their intentions. He knows what they really want is not Him. Its not a relationship, it is not to understand what He is all about. They just want more food. And He is right. We are going to see that in just a second.
Did you know that there are all kinds of reasons why people come to church?
I heard a pastor quote a study this week. The study said that 22% of people who go to church are avid spiritual followers of Christ. It said, 19% of people who go to church are moderately spiritual or religious. 29% of people who go to church are nominally spiritual or religious… think about that. 29% are spiritual in name only. And 30% of people who attend are not spiritual, religious people at all.
What? Why would you come to church if you aren’t seeking God? Lots or reasons. Habit (maybe). To meet someone else’s expectations… momma really wanted me to come. Because the other people who are there are loving and kind to you. One pastor said a young man told him outright that the only reason he came to church was to meet cute girls. The pastor asked him, “Well, have you met any?” The young man said, “Yes, but they aren’t interested in me.” That makes me think, “Hum… they’re cute and smart.” I really do believe if you are truly seeking Jesus, then it is wise NOT to closely align yourself with people who aren’t really seeking after God. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says it like this:
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
And that is not just talking about dating. It means in any area of your life, believers should not make unbelieving people their inner circle, because you aren’t seeking the same things.
The point here is that not everyone who asks about Jesus is saved. But we will have to read on to see more about that.
30 So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
The crowd is basically minimizing what Jesus has already done for them. They are saying, even though you did a miracle yesterday and fed 5,000 of us men… probably feeding a lot more people, because there were likely women and children also present. Even though you did that for us yesterday, we want you to give us another sign… so that we will believe in you.
3. We Must Want God, Not His Miracles
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus says, “33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The number one thing for us should be that we want God to be God in our lives. We should not show up to church and ask God to be our Holy Coke Machine: God, I came to church today because I have a list of things that I want you to provide for me. I’ve been placing bets on my favorite football team, and I haven’t won anything in a while. So I’m here so you can bless me financially. God I’m hear because my loved one is sick and I need you to heal them. God I’m praying today from home which I never do, because my marriage is in trouble, and if you’ll help them I’ll throw 25 cents in the offering basket at the church,” as if God needs your money. And let me just be clear, God doesn’t NEED anything that you or I have to give Him. Well, then what does God want?
In Romans 10, some Jewish people are condemned because verses 2 and 3 tell us:
Romans 10:2-4: 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
And that is really the point there. God wants to be God in your life. He wants you to seek HIM and then believe, trust, put your faith in the things He tells you, the things He leads you to do.
C.S. Lewis uses the illustration of trying to take some inner city kids on a vacation to the beach. And them saying, “No. We’d rather stay here and make mud pies.” And their reason… they don’t know what a beach is. Never having experienced what a vacation at the beach is like, they don’t know what they are missing. In the same way, if you are living your life for what God can do for you, but you’ve never really trusted God to be God in your life, you are that inner city kid content to make mud pies when there is something infinitely better being offered to you.
32 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on, give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 As I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.
The crowd has basically said, “Sure, Jesus, you gave us bread for one meal, but Moses gave the people this manna, this bread from heaven every day, three times a day, for 40 years. Now to be fair… There is this passage of scripture in Deuteronomy 18 where through Moses, God tells the people that another prophet like Moses is going to come. So maybe the people are suggesting that Jesus could be that prophet. But they are still saying, “We’re here for the free food.”
Jesus’ response is: Moses didn’t give you anything. God gave it to you. AND God has provided you with something way bigger and better by allowing me to come to you to provide you with eternal life. And it isn’t about you getting lunch; it’s about you believing in ME! I’ve told you, but you still don’t believe.
Do you remember in John there is a contrast between seeing miracles and really hearing and understanding what Jesus was all about? We are seeing it again here. The crowd has seen the miracle and now wants magical bread, but they are not interested in who Jesus is or what Jesus says.
4. Believing (Not Doing) is what Saves
It is wrong to do, but I think it is a natural human reaction to think, “I need to work for God’s approval.” With any relationship… when we are in the dog-house… its natural to think, “I should do something to make this up to the person that I am in bad standing with.
There are these jewelry commercials out there that depict husbands in trouble with their wives for buying them vacuum cleaners, gym memberships, power tools, and bath robes for gifts. The solution in the commercials is to go out and buy them jewelry! Uh… men, if you find yourself in the dog house with your wife after Christmas because you bought one of these things… I’m not guaranteeing anything up here. I’m just saying, we believe we should do good things to get back into our wives’ good graces. Right?
The Harvard Business Review has an article entitled “How to Get Out of the Dog House at Work.” And it offers a number of steps on… how-to get into the good graces of the higher-ups at work.
Incidentally, I looked up how-to-get-out-of-the-dog-
So the point… Humanly speaking, we have in our minds this idea that when we break a relationship, the obvious thing to do is try to work our way into a better place. So it blows our minds a little when we find the Bible saying, Ephesians 2:8-9 “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Or we read about Jesus here in John 6 saying, “Just Believe in Me.” And we begin to realize, God isn’t a person who needs anything. He is God. He needs nothing. He just gives us the gift of reconciliation for our relationships with Him. When we act, we should act out of gratitude that God has restored us, not in order to be restored. It is His work and our trust, faith, belief that make things right.
37 All that the father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” 41 At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” 43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the profits: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the father and learns from him comes to me. 46 No one has seen the Father, except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.
Jesus highlights this tension: Only Jesus has seen the Father, but everyone can listen and learn from Him. And Jesus is saying, “If you listen and learn, then you’ll come to Him.”
5. Listen and Learn to Come to Jesus
Or put another way Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Study God’s word. Read the Bible in order to develop faith.
Isaiah 55:10-11 says: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
47 I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 51 I am the bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Jesus keeps pushing this idea: “listen to what I say!” I am not brining you an infinite supply of bread! I’m here to teach you. If you trust the things that I say… no, if you put your trust in me, then you will have eternal life, you will be made full. You will be made whole. This statement that Jesus makes,
“I am the Bread of Life.” Is one of the 7 great I AM statements found in John.
Jesus says, “I am Light of the world.” “I am the Door.” “I am the Good Shepherd.”
“I am the Resurrection and the Life.” “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
“I am the True Vine.” These are powerful theological statements.
But Doesn’t it seem here that Jesus is making harder for the people who just want the miracle? I mean he states the truth plainly a couple of times. But when they don’t listen, Jesus seems to be intentionally saying things that are going to drive them away. “You have to eat my flesh and drink my blood!” And they are like “What? We can’t accept that.” And that is exactly what Jesus means to do. If we are not willing to listen to what He has to say, then why make it easy for us?
6. Jesus didn’t Come to take away all our troubles.
He came to take away THE most significant problem we have… a sin problem.
1. Jesus reaches the disciples despite the storm.
2. Not all who seek Jesus are saved
3. We Must Want God, Not His Miracles
4. Believing (Not Doing) is what Saves
5. Listen and Learn to Come to Jesus.
6. Jesus didn’t Come to take away all our troubles.