In John 6, at every point, Jesus didn’t deal with the verbalized questions or the expressed needs. He dealt instead with the real questions and the real needs. (For example, the people asked Jesus, “When did you come?” And Jesus answered with an explanation of why.)
This crowd needed four things…the same four things you need. And they were unaware of their need (as you may be).
The crowd really needed someone to help them.
There is a process in John 6:28-29. The crowd started with the physical (looking for something to eat); they moved on to the moral (“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”); and then Jesus took them one step further to the spiritual (“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent”).
Jesus didn’t deal with the verbalized questions or the expressed needs. He dealt instead with the real questions and the real needs.
Most people who come to Christ pass through a process. First, they think that if they’re good enough, God will love them. They try and try only to fail every time. At that point, they either go to Christ or they give up. If they go to him with the question, “Jesus, I’m really tired and I just can’t make it. What can I do?” his answer is always, “Child, you have the cart before the horse. First, you need forgiveness and then you need power. You get both from me.”
The fact is, we need help and Jesus is that help. Ask him for love, purity and obedience.
The crowd really needed someone to accept them.
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of running around trying to get people to accept me…but I still do it anyway. Don’t we all? I need someone who will accept me—really accept me—just the way I am.
In this life, you should consider yourself fortunate if you have only two or three real friends…because our masks stand in the way. We’re afraid to let anyone look behind our mask. If they see the garbage, they might not like us.
The good news of the Christian faith is that, if you go to God, he won’t cast you out. For once, someone will accept you without first checking out how much you smile, how pretty or smart you are, how much money you have, or how pure you are. Just come. God will not cast you out. He said it and he doesn’t lie.
The crowd really needed someone to hold them.
“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39).
You are accepted by God. Not only that, you are accepted forever. Once you come to him, God will hold you forever.
A young man came to me for counseling a while ago. He seemed hesitant to talk, so I told him, “Look, there is nothing you can tell me that will shock me and probably nothing you can tell me that I haven’t heard before. And there is nothing you can say that will cause me to reject you.” As I watched his eyes, I saw him thinking to himself, “I don’t believe that, but we’ll see.” Then some of the most profane and frightening confessions came pouring out of his mouth. When he finished talking, I asked, “Do you think you shocked God or me with that?” He said, “Well, I tried.” I said, “Well, you didn’t.” From that point on, the young man was open to what the Bible had to say to him.
What happened? The young man found out I accepted him…but he also found out he could say anything and I would still accept him. I learned that from the Father. He showed me how.
Many Christians believe that, once you become a Christian, you’re on your own from then on. If you blow it, you lose it. I think they simply don’t know how bad they really are. If I believed God accepted me but will let me go if I get out of line, I couldn’t sleep at night because, in his grace, God allowed me to see how bad I really am. A contract has been signed, not in my blood, but in his. God holds me. I don’t hold him. This crowd needed to hear that and crowds still do.
The crowd really needed someone to raise them.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
I once had a Christian friend ask me, “Steve, do you know what I’m going to do for the first million years in heaven?” I allowed that I didn’t. He said, “I’m going to sit on the front porch of my mansion in a rocking chair and look out over the Kingdom.” He continued, “Do you know what I’m going to do the second million years in heaven?” I shook my head. He said, “Then I’m going to start rocking.” I like that. I have a million years to sit, a million years to rock, and a million years to waste if that’s what I want.
You have a need for eternal life. It’s expressed in any number of ways--maybe in the busyness of life, in jumping from one thing to another, and in the constant complaint that things aren’t fair. But your need is real and the Father knows.
Those who follow the world will die when the world dies. But those who follow Christ will die when he dies…and he never will. If you already have eternal life, thank God for it. If you don’t have eternal life, ask God for it.
Jesus put it this way: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (John 6:27).
Jesus meets our real needs--both then and now.