In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned. A huge wind blew up, churning the sea. They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, “It’s me. It’s all right. Don’t be afraid.” So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.
The next day the crowd that was left behind realized that there had been only one boat, and that Jesus had not gotten into it with his disciples. They had seen them go off without him. By now boats from Tiberias had pulled up near where they had eaten the bread blessed by the Master. So when the crowd realized he was gone and wasn’t coming back, they piled into the Tiberias boats and headed for Capernaum, looking for Jesus.
When they found him back across the sea, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “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.” — John 6:16-26, The Message
We get really caught up in the miracle of Jesus here. Why wouldn’t we? I mean it’s like a scene out of a movie. A storm rises out of the lake and then in the distance who do they see? Jesus! He’s walking on the water. I mean come on! Amazing!
The thing is, it’s all a set up.
John is setting us all up for the punchline.
It’s that moment when Jesus says, “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.”
Jesus called the people out for seeking to use him.
They understood Jesus in transactional terms. He knew that the were not amazed by the miracle of the loaves and fishes. They simply wanted more free food.
Jesus was nothing more than a magic food talisman.
This is true for us too. We use Jesus all the time. When we don’t get what we want we blame Jesus.
It’s not surprising though. This is the gospel that we have been preaching for a long time is it not? “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life…” so the saying goes. If you make a decision for Jesus and pray this prayer then everything will be wonderful for you. This is the false gospel that has been preached and continues to be preached all over the place. It’s a gospel of services rendered. It is transactional. Give Jesus everything and your life will be wonderful.
What happens when our lives don’t turn out to be wonderful?
Then we realize the gospel we believed was false.
Jesus, wasn’t having any of this false gospel stuff. He knew the people were coming for another transaction.
The deeper reality that Jesus wanted them to see was God in him.
It’s so much easier to make a transaction.
It’s much more difficult to cultivate a life and ministry where people see God.
That is slow work. It’s hard work. It’s long work. It demands change and transformation in us. It requires authenticity.
I think it’s worth it though.