"Feasting On Living Bread Part II"
In part 1 of this series, we examined the crowd’s behavior the day after the feasting of the 5,000 (John 6:23-24) and we ended with the people questioning Jesus about when He arrived on the other side of the lake.
When we examine the crowd’s principles, based on their question to Jesus, “When did you get here?”, His response, according to John 6:26 (MB), is very revealing: “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs – and for free.”
Christ’s point: It’s OK to search for me but your search should be motivated by a good principle. Christ goes on to say what that principle is, in John 6:27 (NIV): “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.”
Many of us follow Christ for the loaves of bread we can get and not for the loads of love He offers. If we come to Christ (or to church) and have no more to show for it other than running after a great sermon and a beautiful prayer, then people do have reason to suspect our motives and ask why we are a Christian and why we are following Christ.
So we should check our motives. We should not follow Him for the loaves of bread, as the crowd did, and we should not come just following the crowd, either. We must come to be made disciples and to perform Christ’s ministry.
It is a wonderful thing to see that Jesus is willing to let himself be followed, found and spend time with such hypocrites. One lesson here for those who want to put the hypocrites out of the church is that Christ’s example shows we should not and that we should rather join them in communion with Him.
Christ actually did this, when He broke bread with Judas, before suggesting to Judas that he leave to do what he was born to do: betray Christ.
After exposing the crowd’s corrupt principle, Christ then points them toward a higher principle: “Work for the living Bread which endures forever and that leads to everlasting life.” (John 6:27). After they ask, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”, Christ says, in John 6:29, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One (Jesus) He (God) has sent.”
Christ’s response has two levels of meaning. On the first level, it means believe in Him. On the second level, it means believing in the servants, (pastors, deacons and church leaders) whom God sends into our midst to serve Him.
Paul, in Romans 13:1; 2-5, teaches us the same principle, noting, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.
The authorities that exist have been established by God.” In this passage there is a promise and a consequence is mentioned, further on, in Romans 13: 2-4, that the rebel will bring judgment on himself and the obedient will be commended for believing.
Which brings us to the motives and principles of the personalities mentioned in the Barbara Walters TV special The Secrets of Billionaires.
Walters gets behind their motives and principles by asking billionaires Lynn Tilton, John Paul De Joria and Tony Hsieh about their life stories and their motives in becoming rich.
In each story the answer is similar: All failed at something else first, all were passionate about what they are doing now and all felt compelled to give back something. Though they’re billionaires, the obedience to the principle of giving back seemingly reveals they have not been corrupted by their wealth.
If we look closely at the documentary, we see that though not Christians, the billionaires work from this same higher Christian principle and God is truly blessing them as a result.
In my final installment in this series, we will examine what it means for us and the billionaires to “Feast on the Living Bread.”
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org