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woman looks over the sea October 14 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Mark 6:45-46; Matthew 14:22-36; John 6:16-24; John 6:25-71

Searching for Meaning in Life

People who are truly poor search for the most basic necessities— food, clothing, and shelter. Perhaps by the world’s standards you are not poor. What are you searching for in this life? Are you looking for a new car, entertainment center, stylish clothing, or a new house? Are you looking for a good job, a caring mate, wealth, prestige, or success? Are you looking for meaning in life? Where can it be found?

In Jesus' day the common Jews were poor, and many were slaves. They wanted someone who would feed them and save them from Roman oppression. Could this be Jesus, they wondered? Jesus genuinely cared about them and healed their diseases. He miraculously fed 5,000 men plus women and children by multiplying a mere five loaves of barley bread and two fish. Surely, someone with such compassion and power would be able to provide for them and deliver them. They were quite impressed with Jesus and wanted to make him king. Unfortunately, they had the wrong motivation for knowing Jesus. They sought political solutions to their problems. Don't we do the same thing? If we can just get the right politician in government he/she will save us from our problems.

In today's Bible reading, Jesus recognizes the wrong motivation of many of his followers and sends them away. He then teaches his disciples and us what is most important thing to search after.

The same night, after feeding the 5,000, Jesus sends the disciples away on a boat. He wants to spend time alone, praying to God, his Father. Later that night, Jesus walks on the waters of Galilee to join his disciples. They have been rowing hard against a strong wind on the lake. When they see Jesus walking toward them on the water, they are fearful of him, thinking he is a ghost. Jesus tells them not to be afraid because it is he, not a spirit. Without thinking, Peter asks to join him walking on the water. “Come!” Jesus says. Peter takes a few steps but then becomes fearful. Taking his eyes off Jesus, he begins to sink. He cries out to the Lord to save him, and Jesus reaches out to catch him.

Peter and the other disciples failed to remember that Jesus was able to do the impossible; they forgot how powerful he was to multiply the loaves and fish. It might be tempting for us to be critical of the twelve, until we remember that we, too, are human and are often subject to fear when situations seem impossible. We fail to remember the things God has done for us. Remembering these things gives us faith; forgetting them leaves us fearful. We become fearful and begin to sink when we take our eyes off Jesus.

The next day the crowd returns to look for Jesus. They know the only boat on the shore carried his disciples away, but Jesus did not go with them. Not finding him by the shore, they take off on boats and find him in Capernaum. Jesus knows, however, why they are searching for him.

Jesus says to them, “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” (John 6:26, NIV).

Why do we seek Jesus? Do we follow Jesus for what we can get out of him? Some people associate themselves with Christians because they know that many of them are kind and generous like the Lord. Christians are sometimes easily deceived but Jesus is not. He instructs the crowd,

“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.”

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

Jesus answered, “'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:27-29, NIV).

The instruction Jesus gives to the masses is not to work for their salvation but to believe the Son of God has been sent from his Father in heaven to give his life for the world.

Every parent knows how Jesus feels. Mom and Dad want love from their child or teen, not because they have the ability to give their children things, but because they gave them life and love. What is our motivation for seeking God?

To weed out the true followers from those who only follow Jesus for personal gain, he expresses himself to the crowds and his disciples in a way which might be interpreted as awful. Jesus says he is the bread of life which came from heaven, and that people need to eat him and drink his blood to have everlasting life. This sounds like cannibalism. People are disgusted and confused with Jesus, and they leave him. Even some of the larger group of his disciples leave.

What did Jesus mean when he said they needed to eat him and drink his blood to have everlasting life? We know what he means because Jesus later explains to his twelve disciples, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63, NIV). In other words, Jesus is communicating spiritual truth—he is the source of life, the bread from heaven who gives spiritual life to everyone who trusts (or partakes of) him for their salvation. Our search for meaning is complete in him. If we seek him and seek to do his will, we will find meaning in life.

Lessons to Live By

  • Remembering what God does for us gives us faith. Forgetting his faithfulness leaves us fearful, and we begin to sink.
  • Love God for who he is, not for what he can do for you.
  • Meaning cannot be found in things, accomplishments or people; it is only found through a personal relationship with our creator, God. We can have a personal relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ. Only he can fill the void within our souls. (more...)

Focus Verse

John 6:27 (NIV) “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.”

Watch this video of Jesus and Peter walking on the water

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law of Moses were respected by the people, but they were false. How can we tell what is True or False Religion? Join us for our Next Lesson.

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