Summary: # 20 - in series Are we still missing the point - •Asking the Wrong Questions •Coming with the Wrong Motives •Working to Satisfy the Wrong Needs •Looking for the Wrong Signs
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 20
“Adventures In Missing the Point”
In 2003 Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren wrote a book which is a critique of contemporary American Christianity. Although I have not read the book yet I must admit the title “Adventures In Missing The Point” is very compelling. The premise of the book is an examination of how the church in modern America is living out the Christian faith in this new millennium. The question concerns whether we are doing what we’re supposed to be doing or if we still haven’t quite "gotten it"?
Today’s text concerns just such a problem among those who were following Jesus. They saw Him do miracles, they heard Him teach and yet they very much seemed to miss the point.
“On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone— (23) however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks— (24) when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Caper-naum, seeking Jesus.”
After Jesus had fed the multitude with just five loaves and two fish (6:8-14), the disciples boarded a boat and in obedience to the Lord’s command started arose the lake.
They are a little over half way across the lake when they encountered a terrible storm. Then according to (6:15-21) Jesus came to them in the storm walking across the waters and immediately they arrived at their destination.
The crowd had noticed when the disciples left without Jesus but when the looked for Jesus in the morning they could not find him. They knew that he had not gone with the disciples in the one boat that was available at the time and they were puzzled as to what could have happened to him.
So the crowd got in boats, crossed the sea, following the disciples and there they found Jesus in Capernaum.
Notice with me how the crowd missed the point in four different ways.
First, They Missed The Point By Asking the Wrong Question (v. 25)
“And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?”
It is interesting to note that when the crowd catches up with Jesus they ask him, “When did you get here?” (v. 25) Since John had already indicated that the people were puzzled about what boat Jesus could have used to get there, one would have supposed that they would ask, “How did you get here?” If they had understood how Jesus arrived at that location then they would have understood much more about Him.
But instead of telling them “when” he came he told them “why” they came. Which brings us the second way in which the crowd
missed the point.
Not Only Were They Missing The Point By Asking The Wrong Question But ….
Secondly They Missed The Point By Coming With The Wrong Motive (v. 26)
“Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.”
He could read their hearts and He knew why they had come. He knew why they followed Him. They followed Him because they had been fed once and they wanted to be fed again. They followed Him because they wanted something from Him.
There are still people who are only interested in the loaves and the fishes. Christian missionaries in 19th-century India used to describe those who came to the mission stations simply for food as "rice Christians" - so long you give them free rice, they’ll be back. This became a derogatory term for those who accepted Christianity out of hunger rather than genuine conviction.
So how does this play out in modern evangelical America? Many churches have done away with their Sunday evening service, and many churches no longer have a mid week service either. But morning worship attendance is still doing quite well, especially in big churches.
And the people like it. New people are coming in. Things are exciting! We’re getting lively music, neat sound equipment, cool spotlights, quality dramas, need-oriented preaching, and magnificent musicals. Morale is up. Attendance is up. Excitement is up!
But is godliness up? Commitment? Or, do we have bigger and bigger audiences who come to watch the performance, but don’t get serious about real Christian commitment. This growing problem caused Jack Hayford to say of this growing class of church people, ’they come for the show, but refuse to grow.’