Why Do We Look For God?
John 6:22-29 NIV
The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone.Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” (John 6:22-25)
Jesus had earlier fed 5,000 men. It would have been more if they had counted the women and children too. They tried to make him king by force, but he “withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:14-15 NIV). Then Jesus left for Capernaum, but the crowd looked for him, and found him there. Jesus’ response to them was surprising:
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for 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.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” (John 6:26-29)
The people were not looking for Jesus because they believed him through the signs he performed, but because he provided them food. They were more interested in what Jesus could give them physically. They wanted a Messiah who could provide for them and free them from their Roman rulers.
Jesus came to provide spiritual food and salvation of souls, but the people were looking for physical food and salvation from human enemies. That was why Jesus withdrew repeatedly from the people. He often withdrew by himself to pray. But we see here another reason — because the people wanted to make him their king.
Jesus explained to them the greater need to strive for eternal life and that it could only be achieved if they “believe in the one He (God) has sent”. They had to believe in Jesus and all the things he had taught them.
That is what Jesus wants us to do too. He wants us to believe in him.
If we truly believe in Jesus, we’ll focus on the spiritual salvation that he promised he’ll bring us. But do we focus on the physical solutions we want him to provide us? Aren’t we like that crowd if we do that? We need to focus on what Jesus taught about having a true relationship with God and work for “food that endures to eternal life”. God has given His “seal of approval” on Jesus, confirming Jesus as the anointed one. Jesus is the Messiah who has brought salvation to the world and we need to believe in him.
Jesus focuses on our spiritual needs, but he cares for our physical needs too. He fed the 5,000 because he saw their needs and he provided for them because he loved them. The people, on the other hand, didn’t see or love Jesus first, they saw what they gained from Jesus. Would we want our children to love us, or to love the things we provide? Even if we fail to provide adequately for our children, we’ll still hope that they will love us regardless. I am sure that my children love me no matter what happens, whether I can provide for them or not.
God is a provider and He will provide what we need. But we need to have the right attitude towards God. Just as we teach our children about relationship in our family, we need to teach each other what it means to have a true relationship with God. We are God’s family.
The fact is, God can provide and He will always provide because God is our Heavenly Father. It is in His nature to love and to provide. However, God’s ability to provide for our needs should not become the pre-condition for our belief.
It is an undeniable fact that God is our Heavenly Father and He loves us. There are more than sufficient signs we can rely on to trust God and believe in Jesus. God will continue to provide us but we must continue to believe in Him. God may occasionally withdraw himself from us like what Jesus did, but the fact that Jesus died on the cross for us shows that God is always faithful. God is righteous and He will stay true to His promises.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.