Life is a struggle. We get up everyday struggling to move forward, struggling to find purpose in this daily grind that we call life.
We feel life’s struggles are innumerable, that no matter how many times we overcome, there’s just another struggle. But the question is, what are you struggling for?
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Jesus reduces the number of life’s struggles to two – we either struggle for food that rots or food that lasts. Food that rots is temporary – achievements, awards, money, a pat on the back and an “attaboy” from your boss.
Food that endures, that lasts, is anything that lasts for eternity. How do you get this food that lasts? It is the food which the Son of Man will give to you. It is not bought. It is not earned. It is a gift, given freely by the son sent for the salvation of the world. We can run around frantically (boy, do we!!) on a day to day basis struggling for the food that rots and things that are temporary, but the food that is eternal, that does not rot, is simply given to us.
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Um, ok, I know it’s free and all. It’s a gift, I get it. But seriously – how do I pay for it? The question of disbelief. The disciples didn’t get it. We still don’t get it. We all miss the point. Didn’t Jesus just say eternal food is that which the Son of Man will give to you?
He’s giving us a free gift, and we simply refuse to receive it. Even when we decide to accept His gift, we want to take out our wallet and reimburse Him for the cost. He says, again, it’s a gift. You don’t need to pay for it.
We say we understand, but continue to show we don’t. We take out our checkbook – “Can I write you a check?” Or…maybe we can do some work around the house. Can I cut the grass??
Imagine you were the gift-giver. Sooner or later you’d be insulted if someone kept trying to pay you back for a gift you gave them. If you’re dad reached into his wallet to pay for the tie, or your mom kept trying to write you a check for that new Keurig machine. They are robbing your joy in giving them the gift.
How often do we rob God? Do we ever think that maybe we are insulting Him when we try to pay for His gift? If we are offended when people turn our gift into a bribe, how much more is God offended?
Look at how Jesus answers their question. Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. He doesn’t tell them to pray more, doesn’t tell them to memorize bible verses. He doesn’t tell them to give more. Doesn’t say try to be perfect, follow this set of rules, repeat this ritual.
What about good works? What about good character? We don’t need either go get into Heaven?
No. Good works and good character are required. But there is a problem. We have neither.
You’ve probably done some nice, good things in your life. Just not enough to get into heaven. No matter how much you’ve given, no matter how great your gifts, they are not enough to earn entrance.
You’re probably a very good person. Go to work. Pay your taxes. Follow the rules. But being very good isn’t good enough. As Paul tells us – “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 NLT
Just believe. That is our part. The work is done. Done by Jesus on the cross.
“Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:16 NLT. It’s that simple. It’s that easy. Except there was nothing easy about it. The debt was huge. It would have crushed you. It would have destroyed me. So He paid the price.
It is simple. It is a gift. It is not easy. Nothing about it is easy.
It is grace. Grace only He can give. A gift given, which you can only accept for yourself.
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.””
John 6:27-29 ESV