Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 12 The all sufficient bread of life . Phoney seekers shrinking away from the faith

. Phoney seekers shrinking away from the faith

 

PHONEY SEEKERS SHRINKING AWAY FROM THE FAITH

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_JbfKdSBkoWQ/TVJRpYsw5CI/AAAAAAAADuQ/RYr1skvM4qY/following-christ_thumb%5B9%5D.jpg?imgmax=800John 6:22-29 (ESV) 22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Introduction.

In my previous sermon in this series we put our focus on the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ and stood still at this glorious miracle of Jesus walking on the water. It was not just one miracle, but four miracles. We saw, Jesus walked on the water, then Peter walked on the water and when Jesus climbed into the boat the storm immediately died down. Then lastly we saw that they instantly traversed to their final destination.

 

What we learnt from the text was three characteristics of disciple who grow in their faith. We firstly saw that real disciples obey. They follow Christ’s commands even though they do not know what is coming. Then we saw that real disciples desire to be in the presence of Christ and lastly we saw that real disciples worship Him as the Son of God. They have an understanding of who Christ is and they worship Him as such.

 

Today we continue this narrative from verse 22-29 where we return to the other side of the lake and we encounter once again at least part of the crowd that enjoyed the miracle of the feeding of the 5000. In this crowd we are going to see the opposite of what we saw in Christ’s disciples last week.  We are going to see people who do not obey, who don’t really want to be in the presence of Christ and who do not worship Jesus.

 

Now if you were to read the text flippantly you might disagree with me and say that these guys are actually real seekers after Christ. They stayed where they were, they were looking for Jesus and realized that He too had left and not only His disciples, they crossed over the sea to find Him, when they found Him they even asked what they must do to do the work the Father requires. These seem like great guys, they seem to be genuine seekers.

 

Well, let’s approach this text in a similar vein as last time and see if we agree. Let’s look at three thoughts about these guys.

 

Point 1. They were diligent seekers, yet disobedient. V22-24

Now remember the lesson that we learn from the disciples. Even though they failed the test of faith on a few counts, they were right there with obedience. And when they obeyed they experienced the power of Christ and what He alone could do and subsequently they grew in their faith which led to worship.

 

Now if you were here last time you will remember that we saw in Matthew 14:22 that Jesus gave two commands. One was to His disciples to get into the boat and to cross over and the other was to the crowds. He ‘made’ the disciple go away and He ‘dismissed’ the crowds.

 

The same Saviour yet different people. Now at face value, the people in the crowd seem to be those that we would like to have as church members, right? Before you write them off, let’s look at them.

 

They were a committed crowd. According to verse 15 they wanted to make Him King and it seems like they still had not given up on this idea. ‘Ok, let Jesus go and pray, but we will get Him tomorrow and make Him king’ might have been in their minds. This seems like real commitment.

They were a curious crowd. Now it is the next day and they are still there standing around scratching their heads. They had a mathematical problem. There was only one boat there the previous night, the disciples in utter obedience left in it and now 1 minus 1 is naught and they remember that Jesus did not get in, but He was no longer around, so where is Jesus? So this committed crowd soon became a curious crowd.  They couldn’t figure out where Jesus had gone or how He could have possibly gone anywhere. They had no idea that Jesus actually just walked across the lake. In the midst of their curiosity some boats arrived from Tiberias. Possibly they came there because they heard of the miracle that took place the previous day. People have not changed; they still run after miracles don’t they? We don’t know why they came, but it is a possibility. However soon they would be able to start a nice taxi service back across the sea.

 

There is something else about them. They were a persistent crowd24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.” They might have known that this was the adopted hometown of Jesus, or they might have heard Him tell the disciples to go there, whatever, but diligently they follow after Christ. They go to search for Him there.

 

But they were a disobedient crowd. What are they still doing there? When you have just experienced the Son of God feeding 15-20000 people with five loaves and two fish and He disperses you, you leave. Remember the disciples saw exactly the same miracle but when Christ told them to get going they went. The crowds should not have even been there, they should have been long gone. They wanted to make Him King because they believed that He was the prophet Moses spoke about, but they would not even bow before the simplest of commands. If God can’t trust you with the small things, how can He ever trust you in the big things? While they cared much about how they could use Him, they did not care two hoots about His authority.

 

Does Paul not teach us in Romans 6:16 (ESV) 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey,…” They had no desire to be servants of the Son of the living God; on the contrary they wanted Him to be their slave and to be available at their beck and call.

 

So they get into the boats, cross over and seek for Jesus. I wonder how many of them were around later to hear the teaching of Jesus in John 14:15 (ESV) 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 15:10 (ESV) “10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” John 15:14 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.” They were right there in the presence of Christ demonstrating His deity and they could not even obey.

 

So when they find Christ, they inquire about how He got there. I think if He told them that He walked over water they would have stuffed a crown on His head there and then, but He does not do that. This leads us to a second point.

 

Point 2. A discerning and confronting Saviour.  (VS.26-27)

John 6:26-27 (ESV) 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Here we see a discerning Saviour who again knows the heart of man as we saw last time. He knew exactly what was going on. I wonder how many people should hear those same words from Jesus. “I know your heart “you are not really after me for the right reasons, you just want to silence your conscience or whatever.” Jesus doesn’t deal with what they feel and WANT to know, He responds with what He knows they NEED to know.

 

The issue is not how or when He arrived there. The issue is why they have arrived there? The issue is not when I came, but why you have come.  This is what you need to hear about and examine. Unlike the disciples who desired the presence of Jesus, unlike Peter who wanted to be where Jesus was, these people came to Jesus with the wrong motive.

They did not obey as we saw under point one, but the next mark of a phony seeker is that they have no desire to be with Jesus. Their desire is what they can get out of Jesus. They came to Jesus not because of who He is, but because He filled their bellies. To emphasise just how radical this truth is, Christ uses the words “I tell you the truth.” Some translations will have “truly, truly.”

 

They were phony seekers. They seemed to seek after Christ; yes it is true, but for different reasons than what they should have. So Jesus exposes the thoughts and the intentions of their heart.  He is able to tell them with complete accuracy what has motivated them to seek Him. You see, signs point, and they point to Christ, but they missed what the sign was pointing to. They stood there and admired the sign.

 

Ill. Imagine a person on his way to Polokwane and he stops at the Polokwane 40 km sign and admires it and finds his security in it, but he misses our great city. Signs point; and the miracle of the feeding of the multitude pointed to the deity of Christ. He was not some earthly King, He was not a belly filler, he was not some seeker sensitive Guru, and He was not a genie in a bottle. They were not there for the right reason.  They were not there because they saw “signs”.  They were not there because they recognized His true identity, and His true mission and their true need.

 

Their love was for themselves. Their seeking was self-centred, it was man-centred, not Christ centred. They were there for bread that spoils. Man-centred desires and temporal desires, this is what motivated these seekers. When Jesus tells them that the only reason they were looking for Him was “but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” He is actually saying something interesting.  The word “fill” is 'egortaseite' in the Greek which comes from the Greek word 'gortos' which we find in verse 10, where Jesus told them to sit down on the 'gortos'..... The meaning is grass, hay or the stalks of the grain. It was the food that you would give to animals.

 

You know what He is actually saying to them?  "You're like a whole lot of dumb animals who are all foddered up and you're back for another load." This is exactly what happens in ministry today. Many churches and ministries bow to the self-centred, man-centred, temporally driven desires of seekers who are not being drawn by the Holy Spirit unto salvation in Jesus, but are being drawn by their fleshly desires and looking to Jesus to meet the desires of the natural man. They will keep coming as long as they have their fleshly-spiritual bellies filled, but when it does not do it for them anymore, they will quite willingly crucify the Lord. They will run after supposed miracle workers and all of this with the wrong motive.

 

Jesus never commits His power to the phony disciples.  That is why many of the miracle workers of today cannot show you one real miracle. When the true disciple seek only His presence, he also gets His miracle working power, doesn't he?  The phony disciple who wants only His miracles gets neither His miracles or His power...or His presence.  Christ kept sending them away.  "Come back when you're for real."

 

Do we realize today that our Saviour is not in need, we are?  Humanity is the one in need, and Christ is the answer, but He must be seen as the Saviour and we must be concerned for our souls. I love the way Mark puts it in Mark 16:15-17 (ESV) 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe…” and then He mentions a few things that will happen.

 

You notice that He does not say that they must follow signs, no signs will follow those who believe, and it will be unique. Not everybody has experienced what the disciples experience that night, because God works with all in a unique way. By the way, Jesus didn’t perform the miracle of multiplying the bread and fish to attract a crowd – the crowd was already there but in spite of them seeing this great miracle they missed it.

 

Jesus didn’t do a thing to have this crowd follow him to Capernaum.  They were seeking him because they were looking for a King and what a bargain it would be to have a miracle working King. So their desire to be with Jesus was not the right desire.

 

Point 3. A loving and clear directive that should lead to worship.

Right, so their desire was to have their bellies filled. It was not driven by a desire to be in and to rest in the presence of Christ as we see with real disciples. Far from pandering to their wrong desires, Jesus informs them of a right desire. Sadly like so many today they were labouring only for food that spoils and not for food that endures for eternity.  It is very much like the teaching of Christ that says that we must not only invest our money in that which is temporary but we must invest in heaven where no moths eat it, and no rust destroys it and no thieves steal it.

 

Here again you and I are challenged in verse 27 to put forth our work and our effort for the food that endures to eternal life. John 6:27 (ESV) 27 Do not labour for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…” Now it is Christ who gives food that does not spoil. The very same Jesus that fed the multitudes did not perform that sign as an end in itself; it was so that they will believe in Him who can give food for life eternal.

 

Very simply, it does not mean anything if your body is satisfied and your soul not. Jesus could just as well have added here His own words: “what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” And only Jesus Christ can satisfy the hunger of a soul.  This thought launches Christ into the rest of the chapter, a great discourse on the bread of life but more about that next week. So these phony seekers, phony followers after Jesus disobeyed, and they did not desire just to be in the presence of Jesus for who He really is. But you might now ask the question if they really disobeyed. Look at their words in verse 28: “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Some translations actually highlight their issue better than the NIV for example the NAS says: John 6:28 (NASB) “They said therefore to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

 

Do you see the self-worship here? If you don’t see it here you will see it in the results of this whole discussion in the next sermon. I don’t want to run ahead of myself, but notice what is happening here. Look again at their statement: “what must we do to do the works God requires.” Then Jesus tells them what to do and look at their response in the next section. John 6:30 (ESV) 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?”

 

What will Jesus do to prove Himself?  They just had their bellies miraculously filled and they ask “Then what sign do you do” to prove yourself to us. People this is not falling at the feet of Jesus in worship, this is them wanting Jesus to fall at their feet in worship. I am so reminded of the words of Christ here in Matthew 16:4 (ESV) 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.” Imagine Christ here saying to modern day sign seekers, “You seek a sign, you want to see miracles, helooo, have you missed my death and resurrection, if you are looking for signs, cheers, I have no interest in you.”

 

You see, they were all wrong to begin with, they couldn't do anything.  It's always this with the Jews "what do we do, what works, works, works, works?"  Quite an assumption that you could do anything.  But look how Jesus smashes their works with one devastating unbelievable smash. John 6:29 (NASB) “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

 

You want to do some works, then believe in Christ.  That's the only one you can do. And if you believe in Jesus Christ and that He is the Son of God, you will worship Him. So the true disciples as we saw last week obeyed, they desired to be in the presence of Christ and they worshipped, the phony seekers did not obey, their motive for following Jesus was wrong and they trusted and worshipped their own abilities instead of worshipping the Son of God.

 

Implications.

 

Many churches today think of the task of the church in terms of meeting the felt needs of people who need Christ.  It is the challenge that comes to the church of our time and says to us that the real need of the moment, and the thing which God would have us be about, is to discover what people without Christ want, discover what they are looking for, discover what they desire, discover what they will congregate in order to receive, and meet them at that point with a message connected to Christ that will have a positive impact on them.

 

We are told, along with this, that the old means of ministry are no longer useful.  No matter that God ordained them.  No matter that God has used them for 2,000 years.  Preaching is outmoded.  Personal evangelism in terms of a one on one encounter that challenges them to know about Christ and repent and come to Christ in faith is outmoded.  Public worship services that focus on the preaching of God’s word, and prayer and praise, must now be replaced or at least supplemented with elements of entertainment, and attention getting stunts and actors who perform drama or dancers who interpret song.

 

On the contrary we are told: -People love entertainment? Let’s give them entertainment. People are offended by the thought of hell?  Let’s not mention hell. People want to feel uplifted and affirmed?  Let’s not say anything negative. People don’t like preaching?  Let’s go heavy on music and give them a brief and creative “talk” complete with stage props and special effects.

 

There is a sad attitude today and it is based on business principles, namely that the consumer is sovereign but this is something thoroughly different than what you see in the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. Jesus would not allow these phony seekers to dictate the terms. God’s terms are: believe in my Son. And you and I know that unless the Spirit of God has done a work in their souls they will always seek Christ with a wrong understanding of things: 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

 

For this very reason the Word of God says: Romans 3:10-11 (ESV) 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.” Yes in human terms, the Jews were seeking but their minds were on themselves, yes they were seeking, but their minds were on material things, yes they were seeking but they did not seek wholeheartedly. I wonder what happened with most of these people when Jesus refused to feed them again in the way He did on the mountain. I guess they went home and had lunch, their own lunches.

 

Tell me today, are you worshipping the Son of the Living God, do you desire to be in His presence or are you anxious to get home and have lunch, and are you obeying Him? Your honest answers to those questions will determine if you are a true disciple growing in faith or a phony seeker shrinking away from the faith.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church:- 18 October 2015