Sunday, January 14, 2024

“You Are Looking For Me” [Matt's Messages]

“You Are Looking For Me”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
January 14, 2024 :: John 6:16-36

So often, you and I can be experts at missing the point. Have you ever missed the point of something? I sure have.

I can be quite good at it, really. If you need any points missed, I’m your man.

I just recently learned what the point is of that little loop on the collar of most jackets? You know which one I mean? You can stick your finger through it? It’s really small and right back there? Do you know what that’s for? Did you know it has a purpose?

It turns out that loop is for hanging up your jacket. Did you know that?! I just always hang mine up by the hood or on the collar. But, it turns out, if you hang your jacket up on that little loop, then it doesn’t take up as much room on the rack, and it doesn’t fall off of the hook like my coats are always falling off their hooks! Who knew?! I was only 50 years old before I found that out. My Mom probably tried to teach it to me, but I can be an expert in missing the point.

In this story, Jesus tells some people that they are missing the point of something much more important than coat loops. In this story, there is a big search for Jesus. They are looking for Him. But when they find Jesus, He tells them that they have been looking for Him for all the wrong reasons. They have been missing the point.

And Jesus is quite feisty on this point. He confronts these people and points out their error. He’s really quite strong with them, because He does not want them to miss the point any longer, and He doesn’t want us to miss the point either. So let’s try not to.

Before we get to the part where they are looking for Jesus, we have to start with a time when they were NOT looking for Jesus, and they found Him anyway. That’s the story starting in verse 16.

This story follows right on the heels of the story we studied last week, the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 men with just the 5 small barley loaves and the 2 small fish. Because of Jesus there was enough bread.

What was the point of that miracle? We don’t want to miss it. We said last week that when you factor Jesus into your calculations, the impossible can be done. That God provides all that He requires. That was the point last week, but there much more to that story to not miss, as we shall soon see.

After Jesus fed the crowd, He slipped away so that they couldn’t force Him to be a king. This wasn’t His time, and it wasn’t His way. He slipped off on His own.

And, apparently, He sent His disciples off on their own across the Sea of Galilee. Look with me at verse 16. “When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them.”
Twelve disciples in a boat. They had been on the east side of the lake, and they are headed for the west side. The lake is about 7 miles across at its widest, and it is night time. It is dark. And Jesus was, by His own design, left behind. ... And then the storm began. V.18

“A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.”

Can you imagine? I’ve never been at sea when it was rough. Heather has been. She told me about a time when she was on a ship and it was rocking and the waves were really high, coming up over onto the deck. These are twelve guys in a little boat at night. And these storms can come out of nowhere on the Sea of Galilee. It might have been really scary.

And then it did become really scary, because they weren’t looking for Jesus, but He came looking for them! V.19 “When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified.”

Walking on the water?! They were three and half miles from shore, and they saw Jesus coming towards them on the water. That’s like from here to Kylertown. Imagine if it was just a lake between here and Ruth’s house, and you’re in a boat that is in a storm, and you see a man walking across the lake on the sea from there to here.

How are you going to feel?

We tend to joke about this. There are all kinds of “walking on the water” jokes and memes on social media. It’s like a cartoon kind of thing. Something Bugs Bunny would do. 

But you can’t imagine it happening in real life. They were terrified! And rightly so. This is not normal. This does not happen.  You can’t just walk on the water! That breaks all of the rules.

Who is this Person?!

This is a Person Who rules the seas. This is a Person that all creation is under His feet.

This is a Person Who makes the rules, so He can break them if He wants.

So the disciples are scared. More scared by this Person than they are by the storm. And then He speaks to them. V.20 

“But he said to them, ‘It is I; don't be afraid.’”

And that makes all the difference. V.21

“Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”

That sounds like another miracle to me. They just hydroplaned across the rest of the lake. I don’t know. When they took Jesus into the boat, everything changed. They were safe. In fact, that’s the point I want to make this morning about this part of the story. If we find Jesus, then we find true safety.


It’s because they received Him into the boat that they were safe.

I’m not saying that Jesus is safe. I was working on this message yesterday, and I wrote that down as point number, “Jesus is safe.” And then I’m like, “No, I don’t think so.” Jesus is scary. He is so powerful. He is so in control. His disciples are terrified when they see Him come.

The waves are terrified when they see Him coming!

Jesus is scarier than the storm.

So if you are with Him, then you are safe.

The water lets Jesus walk on it. So if He’s in your boat, it will go where it’s supposed to go.

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the Apostle Peter walked on the water, too, for a short moment before He took His eyes off of Jesus. And Matthew also tells us that the men in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

But John leaves out all of those details to focus on this one thing that Jesus says, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”

There is no reason to fear if we find Jesus.

What are you afraid of?
Is it scarier than Jesus?
Is it more powerful?

Do you know Jesus? Then you have nothing to fear.

The words (in verse 20) translated, “It is I” are in the Greek “ego eimi.” And they can be translated “It is I.” That is correct, and it is what Jesus was saying. 

But they can also be translated, “I am.” I am. And those words “ego eimi” are going show up up again and again in the Gospel of John, especially the seven times that Jesus says, “I am” and then fills in the blank with some amazing metaphor to describe His true identity. The first one is coming up in verse 35.

And I think that we’re supposed to hear the echoes of Exodus 3:14 when Jesus talks like this. When He says, “I am,” a bell is supposed to go off in our brains that reminds us that God says that He is the “I am.” And if Jesus shows up walking on the water and says, “I am; don’t be afraid,” we should not miss the point that He is also claiming to be God Himself.

And that makes all the difference. If we find Jesus, and Who He truly is, then we find true safety.

“Don’t be afraid.”

Now, the next morning, you and I know where Jesus is and the disciples know where Jesus is, but the crowd doesn’t know where He is. And they are confused. V.22

“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” (vv.22-24).

I almost titled this message, “The Search for Jesus.” Where did He go? They are confused. And I’m not exactly sure how they figured out where He was. Perhaps those coming in the boats from Tiberias in verse 23 had seen Him and let everybody else know where to find Him. Either way, the crowd is still in hot pursuit. They found Him yesterday and got fed by Him. They are after Him again today. In search of Jesus. 

Is it good to look for Jesus? It sounds good. But it really matters why you are looking for Him. King Herod was searching for Jesus when He was a baby. He wanted to kill Him. 

Why did these people want to find Jesus? That’s the beef that Jesus has with them. Look at verse 25.

“When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, ‘Rabbi, when did you get here?’”

Almost like, He's doing something wrong. "We've been looking for you!"

By the way, here’s Jesus’ chance to say, “I got here last night by walking across the lake all by myself. Check me out!” But He doesn’t do that. He doesn’t try to impress them. And He’s not impressed by them. He’s not impressed by the crowd showing up the next day. So often, we’re impressed by the crowd. Jesus doesn’t care about being popular, if He’s popular for the wrong reasons.

And Jesus says, “I know why you are here. You’re here for all the wrong reasons. You’re here because you’ve missed the point.”

Look at verse 26. This is the verse that we get our title from. V.26

“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” 

You see what I mean about Him being feisty and confrontational? Yes, they were looking for Jesus, but not for Jesus. They were looking for Jesus to get more bread. Jesus knows their hearts. He knows that they saw the miracle yesterday. They saw His power. They saw 5 loaves became 15 loaves become 50,000 loaves. And all they are thinking about is...loaves.

They were looking for Jesus, but they were not looking for Jesus. They were missing the point.

Remember, all of these miraculous signs are signs. They are not just miracles but they are pointing towards something. They are pointing towards Jesus’s identity, towards Who Jesus really is. And these folks were seeing the miracles but missing the signs. We’ve seen that again and again in this Gospel, and we’re tempted to do it ourselves, aren’t we? To look for what Jesus can do for us instead of Who Jesus really is?

And the irony of that is that when we do that, we are actually setting our sights too low. We are thinking too small. That’s what Jesus says in verse 27.

“Do not work for food that spoils [disappears], 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.’”

In other words, “You guys are focused on your bellies. You are focused on the here and now. You’re focused on this earthly food. But I am offering something much greater than that. This perishable food is pointing towards something imperishable and eternal.”

“And you will get it from Me.” “The Son of Man will give [it to] you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.”

And here we are back to, “This is my Son, whom I love. With Him I am well-pleased. Listen to Him.”

We all are tempted to make this mistake, are we not?

We look for Jesus to make our lives better in the here and now.

We look for Jesus to heal our bodies and fill up our bank accounts.
We look for Jesus to fix our relationships and make our businesses flourish.
We look for Jesus to give us great sex lives and heal our nation and to make us happy. 

And to fill our tummies.

We do that, don’t we?

And, of course, Jesus cares about our bodies, our back accounts, our relationships, our business, our sex lives, our nation, and even our happiness and our tummies. That’s why we pray about them. But those things are all very small and temporary in the grand scheme of things. And Jesus does not exist to give them to us. They exist to point us to Jesus. Don’t miss the point.

Now, what do you think these folks heard Jesus say to them? What did they focus on. Jesus just said, “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.”

What key word do you think the Jews focused on in all of that? It was the word, “work.” He said all of that, but they just focused in on that little word. One of their favorite words, “Work.” look at verse 28.

“Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’”

“Now we’re talking. Is the answer going to be some kind of command from the Law?” They are always assuming that salvation is spelled, D-O. “What must we do?”

Do you think that “work” was the key word that Jesus would have had them focus on? 

Here’s a trick question for you: “When is work not work?”

Answer: When the “work” is faith. Because that’s not something we can boast about. It’s just trusting in the work of another. Verse 29. 

“Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’”

The key word that Jesus would have had them focus on in verse 27 is “give.” The food that endures to eternal life is given by the Son who has the seal of the Father’s approval. Given. And our job, is simply to believe in Him and what He has done. God spells salvation D-O-N-E. Done.

All these miraculous signs were pointing us all along to who Jesus is and what He has done, and if we believe in Him, then we will be saved!

Or as John says at the end of this gospel, “These [miraculous signs] are written [here] that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:31-21:1 NIVO).

Believe in the One that the Father has sent. That’s true safety! That’s salvation. Because God the Father sent God the Son to save us on the Cross and at the Empty Tomb.

Do you believe? If you have never put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I implore you to do so now. Because that’s why He came. Not just to give us happy lives in the short run but holy lives forever and ever with Him.

And happy lives forever and ever with Him. Because when we truly find Jesus, we find true satisfaction.


We don’t just find true salvation, we find true satisfaction. Just not the temporary kind that is here today and gone tomorrow. Those loaves that Jesus was multiplying were pointing towards something must greater and more lasting.

In verse 30, the crowd asks Jesus for another miracle. Verse 30. 

“So they asked him, ‘What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat'” (vv.30-31).

Again, they are experts in missing the point. And Jesus doesn’t let them get away with it. Verse 32.

“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘from now on give us this bread.’ Then 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. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe” (vv.32-36).

Now, we’re going to get into this more deeply next week, Lord-willing. Jesus is going to hit this again and again from different angles the rest of this chapter. And He’s going to say it even more striking ways. But you see the main thrust of it, right?

There’s another misunderstanding going on. Like the woman at the well and her water. And Nicodemus and the second birth. Here it’s the bread. They are focused on bread like the manna from heaven that God gave during the Moses years in Exodus and Numbers and Deuteronomy. They think that maybe the feeding of the 5,000 means that the New Moses is here and going to feed them all with some more bread and more bread and more bread as the kingdom is arriving. 

And they are not all wrong but they are still missing the greater point.

The loaves were not just about loaves.
The bread was not just about bread.
The bread was pointing, pointing, pointing, pointing to the True Bread from Heaven.

And that wasn’t just manna bread. It was Jesus Himself.

He said, “Ego eimi.” “I AM the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believe sin me will never be thirsty.” When we truly find Jesus, we find true and lasting satisfaction for our souls.

Earlier in this message, I asked you what you are afraid of and if it is scarier and more powerful than Jesus. Now, I want to ask you what are you chasing after and is it more satisfying than Jesus?

What are the loaves to you? (Like in verse 26.)

What are you tempted to find your satisfaction in?

Heather Joy asked me that question yesterday, and I deflected. I don’t think I want to think about what I tend to chase after to have my “fill” (v.26). But I need to. Because I am often aiming too low, thinking too small, thinking too much about the short-run and not about the long one, not about forever.

But those loaves are here and then gone. But when we come to Jesus (v.35), we never go hungry and we never are thirsty for all eternity.

That’s true satisfaction. Jesus was frustrated with these people because they have seen Him and even seen Him do these miracles and still do not believe. They missed the point. Let’s not miss the point with them.

Because Jesus is Who we are looking for. For safety, salvation, and satisfaction forever.