“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (John 6:28)
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6:29)
This chapter in the Gospel of John highlights the fact that people seek after the Lord from many different motives. For a lot of people, Christ is seen as a miracle worker (John 6:2), able to meet them at the point of their need and do the impossible. These people come to be reliant upon the Lord and what He can do in their life; and they seek after Him as their Lord and Saviour.
For others however, following Christ is not based on any spiritual work He has done in their life, but on having their natural appetite appeased (John 6:26). For them, their so-called ‘faith’ is a matter of convenience; so long as its demands are ‘reasonable.’ These people look to Christ in a superficial sense for the benefits they receive among the people of God.
It is in this second scenario that we have an important principle to use in examining our own motives: Do we seek to serve Christ because we know Him as our Sovereign Lord and Saviour; or do we find ourselves simply going through the motions, the aim of which is to satisfy ourselves? The answer reveals the Glory we give to God, and our blessedness therein.
The Apostle Paul discussed this same principle, when he made mention of the preaching motives of others. Among these motives were envy, strife, contention, and insincerity; but also good will and love. (Read Philippians 1:15-17.)
Brother Paul summed up his own feelings, regarding the motives of others’ preaching, in the next verse:
“What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18)
The fact is that many preachers and ‘Christians’ were operating with the wrong motive. Sadly, the same thing can be said in the church houses of today, where nominal Christians ‘believe’ everything, but do not stand for Truth. While Paul rejoiced in the fact that Christ was being preached, it is inescapably true that those preaching with the wrong motive will be dealt with by God (James 3:1).
This is true as well for the glory-seeking ‘followers’ of Christ in John chapter 6. Scripture teaches us that their heart was not right with God, and so they were reproved for their spiritual blindness: they had no perception of the miracle as it was done in multiplying the loaves, but rather were focused on the satisfying of their fleshly lusts. Jesus then admonishes them to labor for spiritual nourishment – “… meat which endureth unto everlasting life…” (John 6:27) – that can only come from Christ Himself, who is the Bread of Life (John 6:35).
Still unfazed by this reproof, these glory-hungry, but spiritually blind individuals ask Jesus the secret to working the miraculous works of God. The answer Jesus gives to them reveals their unbelief, and shows the Sovereign hand of God in salvation: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29b).
These people considered themselves to be followers of Christ, even asking to exercise the Power of God to do mighty works. But like so many nominal Christians today, they were completely oblivious to the working of the true miracle within them. Only God can give you a new heart, giving you new desires as you are made into a New Creature. This is God’s working in us (Philippians 2:13).
Have you experienced the true work of God in a regenerated heart; or do you seek to ‘serve’ Him as a means of fulfilling fleshly lusts? God is not mocked by our outward expressions of religion, but looks upon the heart to discern our true motives in service. His is the Glory, and our blessedness is known when we bring Glory to Him, rather than ourselves.