This past Sunday our Gospel lesson for the day was from John 6. I love the book of John; it is my favorite of the four Gospels, and possibly my favorite book in the whole Bible. Chapter 6 includes an exchange between Jesus and a crowd of people that I have always found quite interesting. This exchange takes place right after Jesus has fed the 5000 (which was actually more like 15,000 or 20,000 because they only counted the men) with five loaves of bread and two fish, and there were 12 baskets of food leftover afterwards. The people had witnessed quite a miracle first hand and now they wanted to know more so they followed Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:25-29.
I love Jesus’ answer! It is so simple, just believe in Him. That is the work of God that we must do. He will do the rest in us and through us. Wouldn’t you think that upon hearing this great news after having witnessed His miraculous feeding of so many, that the people would have jumped for joy? But instead, they ask for something more.
So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” John 6:30.
They had witnessed a miracle, and many more before that, but still they ask for another miracle. Jesus goes on to tell them that He is the bread of life come down from Heaven. Then a mere 36 verses later many turn and walk away from Him because they find this teaching too hard. “Believe in Me” is all He asked, and it was too hard.
But isn’t that the very teaching that so many find too hard today? People want a way to earn their own salvation. They want to know “what must I do?” They find it too hard to believe that Jesus has already done all that is necessary and their only “work” is to believe that He has done so. Sometimes I think it is a pride thing. As long as salvation is a matter of what I can do myself, then I can take the credit for what I have done. The hardest part about the work of God is that He gets the glory.
Personally, I do jump for joy at the thought that all I need to do to do the work that God requires is believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He did all that was necessary for my salvation. It requires humility and the recognition that I cannot do it myself to do this work, but that’s okay. As the 17th century Baptist preacher Charles H. Spurgeon once wrote:
The lowest station in the Lord’s house is better than the highest position among the godless. To bear burdens and open doors for the Lord is more honor than to reign among the wicked. Every man has his choice, and this is ours. God’s worst is better than the devil’s best.
The devil will let you hang onto your pride. It is the best he has to offer. It is his crowning glory and what got him thrown out of heaven when he sought to exalt himself above God. See Isaiah 14:12-15. But every man must choose whether to exalt himself above the Creator of the universe, or humble himself to believe in the One He sent to save us.
I choose to do the work of God and believe in my Savior. I will gladly give Him all glory for my salvation and for all the good that I do by the power of His Holy Spirit. I would rather be nothing and have nothing in the hands of my loving God than be ruler of all the universe with earthly riches beyond measure. I don’t need to see any further miracles than the change He has made in me.