I’ve been continuing my journey through the Gospel of John along with a commentary about the New Testament and it has really been like reading the gospel for the first time. Today I wanted to share a few thoughts on John 6 about the multitude. It says that Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee and “a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.” The the chapter tells of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. Later Jesus’ disciples go to Capernaum and Jesus walks on water — joining them in Capernaum. The multitude also went to that city looking for Jesus and asked him when he had arrived (vs. 25).
But it Jesus’ response that illuminates for the reader the multitude’s motivation in following Jesus. Beginning in verse 26 Jesus says, “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. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”
The multitude wanted their physical hunger provided for. They did not follow Jesus out of belief that he was the Messiah. We are not converted when we look to Christ for selfish reasons.
I see a striking resemblance to the multitude in many churches today. The “felt-needs” and seeker-driven movements have brought many non-Christians into churches across the country (and quite possibly around the world) with promises to meet their material and earthly needs and as a result the Gospel has been minimized at best, perverted or removed at worst. And it shows. When the people inside the church are no different from the world because they are embracing sin rather than fighting against it in their lives, it shows. When so-called Christians are so illiterate of the Bible that they don’t know what the 10 Commandments say, but they think “God helps those who help themselves” is in the Bible!
Churches have invited the world in and rather than preaching the gospel and seeing the lost converted, the churches become more and more like the world. This has to change! We must return to the Gospel. We must return to preaching Christ crucified and risen and stop trying to make the message more attractive to the lost. It isn’t Biblical and it hasn’t worked.
On a more personal note, if we’re one of the people sitting in churches week after week, but no transformation has occurred we need to examine ourselves honestly and against the truth of Scripture to know if we are saved or have been living under self-deception.