Everywhere Jesus went crowds followed him. In the gospels people follow often follow him because they want more of his miracles or handouts rather than because they want more of him. In John 6 the crowd was great and so was their appetite. Jesus’ disciples knew that 8 months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite, and they did not know where to get food (v.5-7). One disciple, Andrew, did find a boy with some small loaves of bread and fish, yet that was not nearly enough. Jesus knew just what to do. He gave the disciples instructions to organize the crowd and he miraculously multiplied the food. People ate as much as they wanted and they even had 12 baskets full of leftovers. Oddly enough, there were 12 disciples who had their faith increased that day. They discovered Jesus was more than a miracle worker but a mighty God.
Disciples want more Jesus and less Jesus Jr.
Jesus knew the crowds sought him for his miraculous signs and they wanted him to do more. He told them they were looking for the wrong thing. God wants your faith to be in the Messiah not the miracles. The object of your faith does matter. And faith in a Jesus genie is not real faith. The Jesus of society is a lesser Jesus – Jesus Jr.
He is a created god made up in man’s image… one who caters to man’s comfort and convenience. Jesus Jr. makes us feel good inside, making us laugh and keeping us ‘happy’. He doesn’t challenge, confront or convict us; he keeps things casual. In reality, this is no Jesus at all; at least certainly not the Jesus of the Bible.
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” John 6:27
There is a difference between Jesus and Jesus Jr. In continuing to examine John 6 you can see the superiority of the real Jesus.
Superiority vs. Substandard
Jesus gives eternal life to those who participate in his life through faith. It is “real food” and “real drink”. It is bread come down from heaven, meaning that what Jesus offers has a specific and unique quality that is far superior to anything else. Knowing and participating in the life of Jesus gives the believer eternal life that is both quantity and quality. In contrast, Jesus Jr offers food that spoils and that will not last (v.27). His life may have fine appearance but it lacks substance. In all, the life of Jesus is superior and not substandard.
Teens must realize what truly matters in life. They must wade through the flash and fluff of the world. It takes discernment to see that faith in Jesus has a value that is greater than the world.
Faith vs. Fake
As Jesus offered the crowds to follow him and receive eternal life, he told them it starts with faith. “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (v.29). Jesus’ teaching of faith went beyond following a list of works or deeds to gain favor with God. It also was more than a mental assent but total heartfelt devotion to Jesus. The object of faith could not be in self-works to gain God’s acceptance. It must be fully placed in the one God sent to fulfill the standard for righteousness and the punishment for failing to meet that standard. Jesus does this, therefore only faith in him is gains God’s acceptance. Where is your faith?
Commitment vs. Carelessness
Jesus is the bread of life. He used this as an example to show that his followers should join him as a person becomes one with the food they eat. He says, “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world… I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (vv. 51, 53). He is not calling for carnivorous disciples but for people to radically join and participate in the life of Jesus; which was one of sacrificially obeying God and loving people. Jesus calls for radical participation in his life rather than a careless take him or leave him approach to Jesus Jr.
The world has the same view for teenagers. It is assumed teens are careless and apathetic. This may be true in many cases but it does not have to be so. God calls for teens to commit to a life of daring faith that accomplishes extraordinary purposes. However, only a life truly connected to the real Jesus can realize its potential and created purpose.
TAKING IT HOME
– What are some things that teens are taught not to want too much of… to have things in moderation or manageable portions?
– Do you think most teens want more out of life than just playing video games, sports and waiting until adulthood to do anything significant? Explain.
– How is Jesus like bread? Be creative but serious with your answer.
– What percentage of Christians do you think follow Jesus for his miracles and handouts… what he can do for them? What percentage of Christians do you think follow Jesus to personally know and obey him?
– Explain the difference between Jesus and Jesus Jr.
– Why are people afraid of commitment? What are some things you are committed to? How do these commitments compare to your commitment to Jesus?
– Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, saw the crowd’s faith of Jesus and understood the contrast Jesus sought. His response to these different Jesus versions was: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:68-69 What is your response to Jesus?
– What are some things we can do to fuel more hunger for Jesus rather than Jesus Jr.?
– Memorize John 6:27 and 6:68-69.