Watch for the Warning Signs

August 8, 2021

Pastor John Hering

John 6:24-35

John 6:24-35

24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered them, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: You are not looking for me because you saw the miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not continue to work for the food that spoils, but for the 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.”

28 So they said to him, “What should we do to carry out the works of God?”

29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God: that you believe in the one he sent.”

30 Then they asked him, “So what miraculous sign are you going to do, that we may see it and believe you? What miraculous sign are you going to perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said to them, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the real bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said to him, “give us this bread all the time!”

35 “I am the Bread of Life,” Jesus told them. “The one who comes to me will never be hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.

You take your religion and faith seriously.  I know because you’re here.  You might take your faith so seriously that you not only come here for Bible study and worship, but watch videos and listen to podcasts to learn more about Jesus.  The people in today’s gospel were doing the same thing.  They heard Jesus’ amazing teachings, watched him heal and provide for people and told their relatives and friends about this great teacher!  You would do the same thing.  If someone you trusted told you that today at Cowboys stadium he had a mega-rich friend who was going to give away money, you’d probably go there to check it out.  And if that mega-rich friend dropped you $5,000 and told you there was more where that came from, you might go there again.

That’s what was going on in John 6.  They were following this great teacher who provided food for thousands and healed the sick.  They wanted more, and so would we!  But, today there is criticism and confrontation, and it came from Jesus!  The problem wasn’t that they were looking for more from Jesus, but they were looking for the wrong stuff!  They wanted a loaf of bread and a fish fry.  Jesus wanted to deal with their hearts and give them life with God.

We have experienced so many blessings from Jesus living in the USA and we want more.  But, there is such a thing as following Jesus for the wrong reasons. So, we want to be careful to avoid the mistakes these people made. Let’s learn from them to see where they went wrong and interact with Jesus so we can

Watch Out For The Warning Signs

When Earthly Treasures Are More Important Heavenly Treasures

What a great day it was!  They were full and happy people.  But, Jesus and his disciples had disappeared! 24 When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. Then they found him and I suspect there was a little crankiness in their voice. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?  The thing is they were asking Jesus who could see their actions and read their hearts, so he responds by getting right to the point. 26 Jesus answered them, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: You are not looking for me because you saw the miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Most of the people I know are just like these people—they worry about their life right now.  So, it’s hard for me to criticize people who are doing what comes naturally.  But, there’s something deeper here, and Jesus knows it.

Here’s the context.  Jesus is talking with people who were descendants of the Old Testament Jewish nation that struggled to get on the same page of God.  God saw them as sinners on the way to hell for their lack of faith.  They saw themselves on the way to heaven because of who they were—”God’s people who deserved a good life.”  God sent them a Savior to forgive their sins and free them from punishment in hell.  They wanted a general who would free them from the oppression of their enemies—Romans, sickness and hunger.  To God heaven was having his children by him forever; to them heaven was having health and happy tummies.  The problem was not that they wanted more bread, but they were more worried about their bread than they were about their relationship with God.  Jesus set them straight: 27 Do not continue to work for the food that spoils, but for the 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. 

This has been mankind’s struggle since The Fall.  We are trying to get things from Jesus that he hasn’t promised.  I was speaking to a neighbor who admitted he hadn’t been going to church, but now he was, and his business was doing much better.  He wasn’t looking to God’s Word to feed his soul, but to make him rich.  But we know better, don’t we?  Think about this: when do you pray to God?  When you need something like a better paycheck or better health?  When do you come to church to worship God, when everything is going well, or when your life is turned upside down?  When you open your Bible to read it, is it because you have a feeling life would go better if you did?

Let’s be clear.  Jesus taught us to pray for our “daily bread.”  There is nothing wrong with that.  But if we begin to think that our Earthly Treasures are More Important than our eternal treasures, that’s a warning sign!  Jesus pointed it out to them, to work for the food …. that endures to eternal life.  We understand what Jesus is saying.  He is telling us to present out lives to the Gospel in Word and Sacrament—the tools the Holy Spirit uses to create and strengthen faith.  This points us to Jesus as our Savior.  But the people didn’t get it because they didn’t have our perspective. Listen: 28 So they said to him, “What should we do to carry out the works of God?  They had been incorrectly taught that their relationship with God was all about what they did for God.  That is natural man’s religion—obey God’s laws and you will be blessed.  Jesus corrected their thinking, 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God: that you believe in the one he sent.  He didn’t say, “This is your work,” but rather this is God’s work!  It isn’t what we do for God, but what our gracious God does for us. He created us, saved us, and brings us to faith.  St Paul was inspired to write it out clearly for us. Indeed, it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9).

It is a big warning sign when we think we can work out our salvation or establish a relationship to God based on what we do.  We are so blessed that the Holy Spirit has led us to believe that Jesus offered his life and death in our place and that we are declared forgiven.  It is by God’s grace that we are here to worship him as our Savior.  And we have been set free in Christ to use all our skills and talents to serve him.  And we are so convinced of this that we’re ready to give our time and energy, skills and gifts so that the truth of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed here at Divine Peace, and together with many more churches, to the world!  Let us be about this work and Watch Out For the Warning Signs so that

The church’s Work doesn’t become more important than the Mission

Does this statement make sense to you?  Let me explain.  Even the best of Christians can use their time, energy and skills at church but when these become more important than taking care of the faith God has given to us, we need to watch out.  Yes, we work for others, but don’t forget to feed your faith.  Yes, we serve on the Executive Committee, Kingdom Kids, Young Adult’s Group or other committees, but we don’t commit to reading God’s Word at home or at church.  We spend lots of energy for the church, but we are too tired to remember our baptism or say our prayers before we fall asleep.  Watch Out For The Warning Signs. We can spend hours planning a stewardship emphasis, and spend little time thinking about what God is doing for us at the Lord’s Supper.  Let me summarize the warning signs: if we spend more time thinking about what we can do for God than what God has done for us, then we’re close to making the same mistake the people in Capernaum did and forget the mission of the church. Yes, let’s work faithfully in the church, but let’s also be eager to work on the church—the mission of proclaiming the gospel to others.

Listen: 30 Then they asked him, “So what miraculous sign are you going to do, that we may see it and believe you? What miraculous sign are you going to perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’  They saw Jesus’ miracles already, but if Jesus was going to represent himself as the Savior from heaven, they wanted to see more than a few cured lepers and mountainside potluck.  They knew all about God’s representative, Moses!  He was their hero!  He delivered God’s people from Egypt, parted the Red Sea, gave them the law and brought God’s people to the Promised Land!  You can just hear them!  “You want us to believe in you?  Then be like Moses and give us bread every day!”

Of course these people weren’t in our worship last Sunday to hear all about Moses.  They forgot that God’s sacrifice of blood for them was always the power behind Moses’ abilities.  Moses gained what so many of the Old Testament believers, and many of Jesus’ day never did—a relationship with God based on God’s grace to forgive their sins through the blood.  Jesus explained, 32 Jesus said to them, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the real bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.  There it is.  Jesus pointed to himself as the food for their souls.  We understand this, but the people didn’t. 34 “Sir,” they said to him, “give us this bread all the time!  Their answer almost seems sarcastic and demanding.  “Jesus, if you want us to believe in you like we believe in Moses, then give us what we want!”  Jesus’ responds in love, 35 “I am the Bread of Life,” Jesus told them. “The one who comes to me will never be hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty. Rejoice that Jesus is our Savior who fed our souls with forgiveness, eternal life and deliverance from the devil!

Dear friends, be aware that we have our own Moses right here.  Our Moses is a multisite ministry called Divine Peace and it’s easy to be impressed with its power.  We worship in this beautiful building with AC and heat.  The chairs are comfortable.  The music includes a pipe organ, piano and instruments.  We have another site in Rockwall that is amazing!  It has a beautiful chapel, fellowship gathering area indoor and outdoor.  We have great coffee, great preaching, with lots of little kids!  People can come here and see a vibrant group of people!  The Lord has done great things at Divine Peace—no doubt about it.  But, let’s Watch Out For the Warning Signs!  If the work of the church become more important than the mission of the Church, if we think the power of the church is more important than the forgiveness of Jesus Christ proclaimed at our church, we need to heed the warning.  Whether we are sitting in a grand church or a small mission like Amarillo, Texas, Jesus offers the same forgiveness that establishes our relationship with God.  Jesus did use his miracles to heal and feed people, but it was all to draw them to his forgiving love.  Jesus wants to point us to his cross where he died for us and by God’s grace, gave us faith to trust in his forgiveness.  This is the grandest power of all.  Let the mission of Sharing Jesus Love and Forgiveness always be properly supported by the work of the church.

Yes, we want to take our religion seriously.  But, may we always follow Christ for the right reason.  It’s not because Jesus is going to hand out thousands of $$$$$ at Cowboy’s Stadium or make our life here better.  Rather, let us take to heart the warning signs of today’s lesson and be on our guard to avoid following Jesus for the wrong reasons.  Follow Jesus to get rich on heavenly treasures.  Follow Jesus to carry out the mission of the church to proclaim his forgiveness and love to all.  Then we’ll be in a good place to Watch Out For the Warning Signs and by God’s grace, never lose what they lost—Jesus.  Amen.

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