When it’s wrong to want more of Jesus – John 6:22-51, Part 1

If you attend church worship services, why do you go to them? Whether you wake up on a Sunday morning in time to participate, or whether you give up valuable free time on Saturday night, or any time you attend a worship service, why do you go? I suspect that there are a variety of possible answers. Here are few. Did you think any of these?

I enjoy it. I want to praise God. I want to hear from God. My parents make me. It’s tradition, how I grew up, and so it feels right. I feel lost without it. It’s a duty. I want to get on God’s good side. I want God’s blessing. If I go to church regularly, I believe I will earn God’s favor. I need to be fed from God’s word. To see my family and friends. To make sure my kids go to Sunday School. I don’t want people to think I’m an apathetic Christian. 

Some reasons sound good.  Some not so good.  I’m referring to the motivation of our hearts.  Turn to John 6, verse 22. This week on the blog we’re going to learn about a very interesting conversation Jesus has with people, revealing their motivations. 

Before we start reading the passage, let’s take a minute to review, because this passage is directly related to what we studied last week.  Last week, starting here, we studied John 6, verses 1-21, where Jesus miraculously multiplied a boy’s lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish, feeding 5,000+ people, leaving 12 basketfuls of leftover pieces of bread.  Then Jesus went off by himself, while the disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee toward their hometown, Capernaum.  On the way, a dangerous storm kicked up, and then they saw a figure walking across the stormy waters to them.  They were terrified until they realized it was Jesus.  When they got him in the boat, immediately the boat reached shore. Last week it was miracles galore.

What happened next?  Look at verses 22-24. 

“The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.”

The previous day the crowd was massive.  5000 men, plus women and children.  Total of 10,000?  15,000?  We don’t know.  It was a lot of people.  Did they all just camp out there overnight?  I doubt it, because in verse 22, John describes the people as “the crowd that had stayed,” which likely means some did not stay.  How many stayed?  We don’t know. Perhaps the crowd thinned out quite a bit. Yet a decent amount of people remained the next day, and they were still looking for Jesus.  They are eager for more of him, which sounds good, right?  To be eager for Jesus.  We should be eager for Jesus, shouldn’t we?

This reminds me of the hymn, “More About Jesus.”  Hymnary.org tells us that the author of the hymn, “Eliza Edmunds Hewitt was born in Philadelphia, in 1851. As an adult she became a teacher. However, she developed a spinal malady which cut short her career and made her a shut-in for many years. During her convalescence, she studied English literature. She felt a need to be useful to her church and began writing poems for the primary department. She was in a body cast when she wrote many of her poems, of which we have hundreds, including ‘More About Jesus’.”  

The hymn’s chorus says “More, more about Jesus…/More of His saving fullness see/More of His love who died for me.”  The lyrics are predominantly self-focused, though there a couple lines that say, “More of His grace to others show” and “More of His kingdom’s sure increase”.  I’m not saying that hymn is wrong, or that we shouldn’t sing it.  I’m simply suggesting that most of its lyrics sound a lot like the crowd that day.  The lyrics and the crowd seem like their motivations are good, for more of Jesus. But were their motivations as pure as it seems?

It doesn’t seem like the people looking for Jesus were singing those few lines in “More About Jesus” that encourage us to look beyond ourselves.  The crowd searching for Jesus in John 6, verses 22-24, seem rather focused on “More Jesus, more Jesus, more for me.” 

That’s what I want us to think about as we continue reading what happens through the rest of the week.  What is our attitude about Jesus?  Is it “more Jesus for me”?  While the idea of wanting more of Jesus sounds excellent, I wonder if it might be rooted in a self-focused attitude.  Do we want more of Jesus because it makes us feel good?  Because we hope to get more blessings?  Because we want eternal life for us?  What is our motivation? 

I ask these questions because what we’ll learn is that Jesus doesn’t seem too thrilled with the idea that people want more of him.  You’d think Jesus would be ecstatic that a crowd was seeking after him, right?  Isn’t that the goal?  That more people would want Jesus in their lives?  As we study the rest of the passage, see for yourselves.  In the next post we’ll learn how Jesus responds to the crowd.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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