Oh, how I wish that we had a time-machine. Do you know what I mean by a “time-machine?” It’s a make-believe machine which can take us to another place and another year. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to travel to any event in history? Maybe you’d like to see George Washington crossing the Delaware River in the middle of winter. Perhaps you’d like to watch those brave men signing the Declaration of Independence. Or maybe you’d like something more simple – just to see your grandmother when she was your age. One of the things I’d do with a time-machine is go back to some of the events in the Bible. Maybe like this one of which we just read.
Our time-machine would take us to the eastern shore of a large lake – called “Tiberias.” The Lord Jesus is there – He wanted to take His disciples away for a little holiday – a short vacation. But these were the very few days of Jesus’ popularity – almost everybody liked Jesus. As the disciples sailed across the lake, there were people running along the shore, watching the boat, waiting for it to come to land. And almost immediately, other little fishing boats began to pull up along the shore where the Saviour was. First, there were a 100 people, then 500, then 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 hungry souls – maybe more. That’s as many people than what lived in Post Falls, when I first moved here.
As the sun began to set, sending beautiful colors across the lake, Jesus asked His disciples what they thought about feeding so many people. 10,000 McDonald’s Happy Meals with chicken nuggets would cost – $25,000 – a whole lot of money. But then, they didn’t have to have all that money, because there weren’t any McDonalds. However there was a little boy – maybe your age – who had brought his lunch. Jesus asked if He could borrow that lunch, after which he broke it into pieces and fed all those thousands. Immediately recognizing a miracle, the people’s excitement was so great that they were ready right and then there to proclaim Jesus “King of Israel.” But Jesus had not come to earth to be king; He came to die – to give His life to save people from sin. So He forced His confused disciples back into the little boat and to return to the other side of the lake. Jesus then sent the crowds home while He began to hike up the nearby mountain in order to pray. Eventually, after several hours of Jesus’ prayers and the disciples’s rowing, the Lord came down off the mountain and walked on top of the water across the lake toward the boat. When He arrived, the ship miraculously arrived at her destination at the town of Capernaum.
All of these things bring us up to the Bible verses which we read a few minutes ago. Many of the people who ate the little boy’s lunch were looking for more. Some of them found the Lord, just when He was about to go into the Jewish church in Capernaum. And this led into the discussion about the bread which it’d like to share with you today.
The first thing Jesus said, was “Labour not for the meat which perisheth.”
That is His way of saying, “Don’t work too hard for food which doesn’t do you much good for very long.” The people who ate the bread and fish on the east side of the lake had followed Jesus – wanting more of that free food. It was not only free, but it was probably very, very tasty food. I don’t think that any of Jesus’ miracles ever tasted bad. Like your mother’s cakes; it doesn’t matter what flavor or type, it is always really, really good. That bread and fish was better than Skippers, better than Ivar’s and better than Red Lobster’s food. And those people wanted more of that good food – today, tomorrow and next week – forever. They went to a lot of work to find Jesus, so He could feed them again.
And where was it that they found the Lord again? Back across the lake going to church in Capernaum. But this too was a miracle, because they saw with their own 10,000 eyes that His boat left without Him. So when they found Him, they asked, “When and how did you get back to city?” Verse 26 says that Jesus answered them, but it was not to answer their question. Do you ever ask your Dad a question, and he replies with something like: “Why do you want to know?” Or does your Mom ever say, “You are asking me, because you want something.” “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” Jesus said, “You are asking about ME, because you want more of the bread and fish.” Christ Jesus is not only smart, but He has the mind of God, knowing everything.
And then Jesus rebuked them – He chewed them out, just a little bit. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” The people had eaten a miracle meal, but they failed to use their hearts to see what was really important. They were far more interested in another Happy Meal than they were in the Lord Jesus. They had their bellies filled, but they didn’t realize that Jesus could fill them in other – better – ways. They wanted more peanut and jelly for their tummies, but they really didn’t care anything about their hearts and souls. They were nothing more than animals – pigs – butting, grunting and pushing their way up to the feeding trough.
The ruins of this synagogue, where Jesus talked to these people, has been located. I am told that across the front of that building was a carved picture of Israel’s history in the wilderness. It showed people out early in the morning, picking up manna which the Lord had left for them to eat. Every morning, six days a week, there was a tasty, white food on the ground. It wasn’t dirty; it didn’t have ants on it, and it didn’t smell bad – it was clean and wonderful. There was enough every day to feed over two million people – day after day. It was perhaps the most remembered miracle from the early history of Israel. And as the crowd gathered around Jesus that day – in front of that synagogue and its historical picture. It was as if the Lord lifted up a finger and pointed, while saying, “Labour not for that meat which perisheth, but that which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.”
Can you remember one of your suppers last week – one which you really, really liked. I won’t even try to guess what is your favorite food – your favorite meal. But let’s say that you ate and ate and ate your favorite food, until you didn’t have room for another bite. You went to bed with a full tummy. But I’m pretty sure that you woke up the next morning wanting to eat again. You see, mother’s meals give us food which our bodies use and use up. That good food “perishes” in us – it dies so to speak, and so we need more food and more food. But Jesus tells us to think about food which lasts for ever; it is food which only He can give us.
For years Israel walked out their tent doors each morning and gathered free food. At first they loved it, and probably put on a few pounds, because the supply seemed unlimited. But the day came when they grew tired of God’s old gift, and they wanted something more and new. “Give us different food; give us new flavors; give us different flavors.” They still wanted peanut butter, but they wanted different kinds of jelly and different kinds of bread.
Try to picture the people to whom Jesus was talking.
As I said, they had been hungry, but then Jesus miraculously fed them – thousands of them. When they wanted to make Him their King – the King of Israel, He dismissed them and went hiking. How many of them went back to their farms, their fishing boats, their books and their baking? Most of them I’m sure, but some went all the way to Capernaum to try again.
Some of these people were smart and they had lots of enthusiasm and determination. There is nothing more important than finding the Lord Jesus Christ. Those people tried to figure everything out. They counted the ships on the sea; they watched which way Jesus went, but they lost sight of Him. But oh, how they wanted more of what Jesus had given them. They figured that He would show up in Capernaum sooner or later, so they headed in that direction.
These people were using their heads, and they are to be commended for that – they should be encouraged. They are like so many people today who really do want the blessings of the Lord Jesus. Oh, but they aren’t smart enough to understand all the lies which are in found in the world and churches. Most people wind-up worshiping false Christs, imitations, and substitutes for Christ.
But if they would just listen to Jesus’ words – there is hope. Pray that those who minister to us will present the true Christ and the true gospel. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall given unto you, for Him hath the father sealed.”
The Lord Jesus is the One who serves the most perfect food – the perfect bread – the perfect meat.
Jesus called himself the “Son of Man,” and indeed He most definitely was. But He is so much more than that. Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the only special son of God the Father. When this Person gives someone bread, the eater will be full and completely satisfied.
Still talking about Himself Jesus said, “for him hath the father sealed?” He was saying that God the Father had sent Him with all the authority of Heaven, to give away this miraculous and eternal bread. Any old angel can give away manna by the grace of God, but saving grace is eternal food – and that is the work of God alone. This Son of Man has been authorized by God the Father to feed people who are properly hungry. He tells us and later shows to us that He has special food for our hearts and souls.
Does your mother ever use a cookie cutter, making cookies in a special shape? Maybe she has a star-shaped cookie mold, or a cookie-cutter in the shape of an animal. When Jesus spoke of Himself, saying “for him hath the Father sealed” – He was saying that He was in the special shape that God the Father wanted Him to be. Jesus was saying: I am only one authorized or given a seal to feed you bread which feeds people unto everlasting life. God the Father has inspected and approved me. That is what all Jesus’ miracles were about – authentication and proof that Jesus’ was God’s miracle food. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Only Christ Jesus can feed us with eternal food.
And what is that special food?
Do you enjoy going to the fair – the Kootenai County Fair, the Spokane Fair or the Clayton Fair? A couple summers ago, I went to the Clayton Fair with Sahalie. There were lots of cows, sheep and pigs. There were chickens, ducks and rabbits. In one of the buildings were lots of different kinds of vegetables, fruits and even baked food. Some of those exhibits had been given ribbons – blue ribbons, sliver ribbons, gold ribbons. There is certainly nothing wrong with winning a silver ribbon for your 6-grain, 2-vegetable loaf of bread. But according to the judges, one tasted better than all the others. There is always only one loaf of bread that is the best of the fair.
Christ Jesus doesn’t tell us NOT to eat our mother’s casserole, but just remember that tomorrow you’ll have to have her spaghetti because today’s supper will not last you for ever. While we eat today’s lasagna, we must not forget that our souls and hearts need food too. And only Christ Jesus has that kind of food. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall given unto you, for Him hath the father sealed.” Elsewhere He said, “What is a man profited if he gain the whole world and loose own soul?” And I ask you same question: how much value is there in anything that shall not stand for ever? My little neighbors, David and Abigail, built several snow forts in their front yard earlier this winter. That was a day when we had warm snow – not the cold snow of today. But then came one week this month and their snow forts melted into nothing. What good is a house that melts into nothing? What good is food which last only for a day, when our souls need to be fed for ever.
Mrs. O is a great cook – I don’t tell her often enough. The fact that I am a bit fat is a testimony to her good cooking. But I have never yet eaten one of her meals kept me from wanting more food after a few hours. But I have tasted Christ Jesus and He has met the needs of my soul every moment since 1964. “I am redeemed and I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.”
Christ Jesus offers us this food which cannot perish, because He is the “incorruptible” Saviour. That means He is perfect. And the Bible says to Christians – “Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever.”
We taste Jesus, we eat Christ, when we believe and trust Him to forgive us of our sin. He has the Father’s permission to do that forever. Have you tasted Christ or is your soul starving away because you eat nothing but meat that perisheth? Are you trusting Jesus Christ to give you life that will never die?