What to Do

The people who had stayed on the east side of the lake knew that only one boat had been there. They also knew that Jesus had not left in it with his disciples. But the next day some boats from Tiberias sailed near the place where the crowd had eaten the bread for which the Lord had given thanks. They saw that Jesus and his disciples had left. Then they got into the boats and went to Capernaum to look for Jesus.

They found him on the west side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you for certain that you are not looking for me because you saw the miracles, but because you ate all the food you wanted. Don’t work for food that spoils. Work for food that gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because God the Father has given him the right to do so.”

“What exactly does God want us to do?” the people asked.

Jesus answered, “God wants you to have faith in the one he sent.” (John 6:22-29)

It is hard for people to see past the obstacles in front of them. What excited the crowds was not what Jesus had said. What moved them was not the healings or the exorcisms. What really got their attention was when he fed them for free.

Jesus compared the food that he had given them—food that could spoil—to the food that they should really want: the bread that could give them eternal life. Jesus then promised to give them that food. They could have it for free, too.

And what was their response? To wonder what they had to do to get it.

We advance in school because we do our homework and pass our tests. We get paid because we do our jobs. We obey the traffic laws to avoid tickets. In life, we receive reward or avoid punishment on the basis of our behavior. So it was only natural, when Jesus berated the people for coming to him only on account of the free food to think, “ah there’s something he wants us to do. Something that he thinks God requires.”

Instead, all Jesus asked them to do was to trust him. And that’s all Jesus asks of us today: we don’t have to perform a mighty deed. We don’t have to answer a difficult riddle. We don’t have to follow a list of rules. All Jesus needs us to do is to trust him.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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