Summary: A short sermon given at a midweek communion service. The answer to our searching is much closer than we can possibly imagine.
When I was quite young, I seem to remember an occasion when my Mother announced that she had lost her glasses. We are a family of spectacle wearers, and I know for myself that the loss of my glasses can be a big problem. Well, I was sat in front of the television and Mum was searching around in every room, calling out to ask if anyone had seen her glasses. It sounded as if she was ransacking the whole house, and potentially creating a week’s worth of tidying up in the process. Anyway, after much searching Mum eventually gave up her rummaging and sat down on the sofa looking quite disconsolate. She said, “I’ve looked and I can’t find them anywhere.” It was only at that point that I took a real interest in her plight and took my eyes off the TV screen (I often wonder if it was too much ‘Telly’ that led to me needing glasses my self). I looked up and found Mum’s glasses. “Mum”, I said, “You’re wearing them!” They were staring me in the face.
Has anything similar ever happened to you?
After feeding 5000 men (John 6:10) using 5 barley loaves and 2 fish (John 6:9) Jesus withdrew to a mountain by himself. There were people who wanted to “make him king by force” (John 6: 15). In other words, there were people who were misunderstanding the purposes and the mission of Jesus. However, the crowd found Jesus and in John’s gospel we hear about the conversation between Jesus and the crowd. I wonder if we can sense anything of ourselves in this conversation:
Jesus points out that ‘the crowd’ are searching for him because he filled their stomachs with food, not because he performed “miraculous signs” (John 6: 26). They are more concerned about what they can get out of Jesus, rather than who Jesus is. As always, we must ask ourselves, “Is that true of me too? Am I more concerned about what I can get out of Jesus?”
However, it does seem as if some in ‘the crowd’ genuinely want “to do the works God requires” (John 6: 28). Jesus says to them, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6: 29). At this point, even though Jesus has only just recently provided 5000 men with food using only a small boy’s picnic, the crowd ask what miraculous sign he will perform so that they will believe him! How bizarre is that? After giving the crowd physical bread to eat and thus demonstrating that he has power over creation; after providing bread reminiscent of the manna which God provided to the Israelites in the desert; still ‘the crowd’ asks, “What will you do?” (John 6: 30).
It sounds to me a bit like my Mum searching around for her glasses when they were right there all along. The answer to her searching was closer than she could possibly have imagined. Literally, her glasses were staring me in the face! The crowd had many motives and many questions. They were searching!
When Jesus fed them he was showing them who he was! He was staring them in the face yet they did not recognise him. The answer to their searching was closer than they could possibly have imagined.
There are two main points that I believe God has for us today: One is to recognise that we know people who are searching for truth, searching for meaning, searching for God whether they realise it or not. He is closer than they could possibly imagine, but we should not be too surprised if they do not recognise him at work. Indeed, God is at work in their lives through you, and they may not recognise it. Two is to receive these words of Jesus for ourselves and for the people that God puts in our path:
(John 6: 35) Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” He is closer than we can possibly imagine! Amen.