Spend your Light on the Eternal

John 6

April 3

Jesus had just fed 5000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Pretty amazing. It’s no wonder the crowds tracked him down the next day:

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.

John 6:25-27

Isn’t that the truth of human nature? We are led by our cravings, our desires. Paul frequently refers to this as ‘the flesh’. Another way to say that is just doing what comes naturally to us. Jesus is telling the crowds (and us) in this short exchange that the things that come naturally to us will perish. But, he adds, there is something that lasts.

He’s calling for a perspective shift.

Another time he did that was in the home of his friends, Mary and Martha (Luke 10). We’re told that Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she is a little put out that her sister is simply sitting with Jesus, listening to him.

Jesus doesn’t scold Martha, he sees her. He acknowledges all she’s doing, even validating what she was feeling  distracted. He says, “You are worried and distracted by many things, there is need of only one thing.” He’s telling her to focus on what’s most important now…the rest is a distraction from what really matters.

Martha wanted to serve the Lord with her actions, but it seems that she was striving to do that at the expense of simply spending time in his presence. And at that moment, just being with him was the most important thing, it’s what would last.

…Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life…

This isn’t an instruction to not do jobs that provide our groceries. Paul, after all, tells the Thessalonians that “Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” What it is, is an instruction to hone our focus, to pay attention, to look up.

Sometimes we need to take our eyes off of the busy-ness, off of the tasks (even really important and valuable tasks) and take a moment to look for the eternal. Sometimes the eternal may be in the tasks, perhaps with an attitude shift. Other times the things that matter most might include being still for a time.

I love this poem by John Milton:

When I consider how my light is spent,

   Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,

   And that one Talent which is death to hide

   Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

   My true account, lest he returning chide;

   “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”

   I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

   Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best

   Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed

   And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:

   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Milton began going blind in his early 40’s and this poem is a bit of a lament at his fate. Maybe you’ve felt like that before…wondering how you could possibly serve God in the circumstances you find yourself in.

The wisdom of the last few lines of the poem is just the perspective, I think, Jesus was pointing us to. God doesn’t need our gifts, he’s the King. We can serve him in our running around without rest; and we can also serve him in our stillness. The key is our perspective, it’s the considering of the moment rather than simply doing, simply being. Living intentionally.

Jesus wanted the crowd to pursue him because of who he was and how their lives, their eternity, could be changed because of him…not because their stomachs were empty. He was asking them to consider what they were spending their light on.

He wanted Martha to take a breath and just be with him, instead of being distracted by other things (even well-intentioned, important things). She needed to consider if she was, in that moment, spending her light on the eternal.

Today: Consider how your light is spent.

-Susan Landry

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:

  1. Do you find it easy or difficult to be intentional in the way you live? Why do you think that is?
  2. Are you in a season of serving God with a lot of busyness/tasks or a time of serving him in the standing and waiting? How can you be more purposeful in whichever season you find yourself?
  3. Consider taking out your calendar or planner and praying over it, asking God to show you ways you can be more intentional in the way you spend your time. (It’s been said that our true priorities will always be seen on the pages of our planners/calendars – how could this work similarly for screen time?).
  4. Try starting your day with a short prayer asking God to help you focus on what matters that day.

Easy Life vs. Eternal Life

John 6 27 a

John 6

 

John 6 is a great example of the total disconnect between Jesus, and what he had to offer, versus the people following Jesus, and what they wanted.

The chapter starts with Jesus feeding 5000 men.  (I don’t even have space to discuss Jesus’ walking on the water right after that miracle.)  Once his followers enjoyed a free meal, they wanted more.  The chapter then has this recurring theme where the people want more food, and Jesus wants to focus on something more eternal.

I’ll paraphrase the story:

Jesus: You’re only following me to get more food.  You shouldn’t focus on food that spoils, but the food that I’ll give you that will endure eternally.

People:  Do a miracle for us.  Moses fed our ancestors in the desert. (Hint)

Jesus: I’m the true bread from heaven to give life to the world.

People: Feed us.

Jesus:  39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

People:  Grumble

Jesus: 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

People:  Grumble about eating Jesus’ flesh.

Jesus: 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.  58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

People: Desert Jesus.

Jesus then asked the twelve disciples, “Are you going to leave too?”

I love Peter’s answer, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

 

Application:

In Jesus’ day, I assume the people had to work pretty hard to acquire food.  If Jesus could have just supplied all the food they would have needed for the rest of their lives, life would have been so much easier.  After all, God wants us to have an easy life, right?

Jesus was focused on doing God’s will, and looking forward to the resurrection.  Four times in this chapter, Jesus repeats that he will raise people up at the last day.  Five times he talks about eternal life.

How often do we focus on (and pray for and long for) God making life easy for us?  Jesus is clearly pointing out that we just need to “believe in the one he [God] has sent.”  Live for Him, and look forward to the resurrection.

So, where will you focus today?

 

–Steve Mattison

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