What are you going to be when you grow up? It’s a question we asked kids while they are at a fairly young age just to see what they like, to see what interest they might have. What are you going to be when you grow up? The crowd following Jesus asked Him a similar question, and that question has two answers, one that He said and one that He did. So let’s look at the one that He did today.
Jesus fed the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish just the day before. Then while the apostles sailed to Capernaum that night, Jesus walked on the water in the middle of a raging storm. When morning came, the crowd found Him on the” other side of the sea” as it say in John 6:25. The crowd knew he didn’t get into the boat with His disciples, so when the crowd found him they asked him a warm up question to what was about to come. They asked Him, “When did you come here?”
After he fed the five thousand the crowd wanted to take him away and make Him King, and now that He mysteriously showed up on the other side of the sea the curiosity of the crowd was just overwhelming. This guy was unlike any other. The crowd wanted Jesus to be their earthly King; to set them free from the rule and reign of the Roman Empire. But Jesus came to establish a spiritual empire – His church – and to set all men free. So Jesus gave them a mild rebuke and said, “You don’t seek me because you saw the miracles, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.
Ow, ow, ow … that hurt. The intentions and desires of the crowd were wrong. They were following Jesus for the food. They were following Jesus out of their own selfish desire. They were following Jesus for what they could get out of Him, not for what He was about to do for them. They were following Jesus because he gave them some bread and fish, but Jesus multiplied the bread and fish that they might know He was their Messiah. They missed the point all together!
Jesus told the crowd in John 6:27”Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to everlasting life”. Confused and befuddled they asked, “What shall we do that we may work the works of God?” The crowd thought they could achieve eternal life by doing the pious good works. If they could do more good things than bad; if they could be better than the guy down the street; if they could help the elderly across the street; if they could feed the poor, if they could make it to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Surely these are the works of God, and they would have eternal life.
But like so many today trying to earn their way to heaven, the crowd was sadly mistaken. Jesus responded, “This is the work of God, believe on Him whom He sent.” Jesus told the crowd, it is not what you can do, it is what I will do! The crowd responded in verse thirty, “what sign will you perform that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?”
What work will you do? What work would Jesus do? This is the question. This is the question for all of mankind. What an unknowingly powerful question for the crowd to ask Jesus? They didn’t know he was the only Son of God. They didn’t understand His purpose for coming to this earth. They didn’t know that His work was to suffer and die upon the cross of Calvary, to shed His blood. They didn’t know it was His death, burial and resurrection that they should believe in for eternal life. This is the work that He would do to set men free from the penalty of sin.
Years later the apostle Paul would write to the Corinthians, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but it is by His grace in which he saves us. Our work is to believe upon Him whom He sent, to repent from our sin and to turn to God. If we confess with our mouths, and believe with our hearts we shall be saved.