Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:29 (NLT)
Take a moment and think about how you experience God’s accounting of your normal everyday life. What sort of emotions come up? What are you expecting Jesus’ response to be? Do you think you will get “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Or do you have a nagging fear that you haven’t done enough to make the grade?
For us in a Western mind-set it is very easy to fall under guilt like this, never feeling fully adequate. However, in John 6 Jesus starkly contrasted this mind-set by telling us that “this is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” Why? What is so important about belief and believing in the one God has sent that it would be described as the only work God wants from you?
Let’s look at the context for this verse. Jesus has been teaching his disciples and ministering to crowds through many healings and is worried that they’ll faint on their way home, so he provides them with a miraculously multiplied packed lunch. They all go satisfied, and he sends his disciples over the lake of Galilee to give them a breather. He goes up the mountain to spend time with his Father; then in the middle of the night he walks down the mountain and keeps on going over the water to meet with his disciples.
Those who had been healed and received the supernatural packed lunch wake up and realise that Jesus and the disciples are gone, so they jump in some boats and come to find Jesus. Jesus has demonstrated without question his superiority over physical bodies (healing), food supply, and the sea. They are in no doubt of his power, but Jesus sees that their hearts are not focused on him, but rather on what he can do for them. Jesus declares: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
From Genesis we have been given the mandate to bless the world, to bring the Kingdom into every sphere, from animal names to horticulture, from discipleship to family life. However, we blew it, instead trying to get more for ourselves. Not being satisfied with who God said we are and what he gave us, we looked for the blessing for ourselves. The rest of the story of Scripture is a sad emphasis of that same story; over and over we see God’s people hoarding the blessing God gave them instead of releasing the blessing to others. This is what Jesus saw in the hearts of the crowd that came to him on that shore. That was what he was confronting with his declaration of the true work of the Kingdom.
God sent Jesus not because the world needed saving, but because he loved the world. True love is for the benefit of the other party. In John 20:21 Jesus explicitly tells the disciples, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And in John 14:26 Jesus promises that even though he is going back to the Father, the Holy Spirit will be sent in Jesus’ name. The work of God is to believe in the one he has sent. That is Jesus. That is Holy Spirit. That is also you. As we choose to activate our faith and believe not simply in Jesus, but also in what he is saying to us, we start to build the Kingdom.
How are you believing today?
Ian is part of the leadership team at YWAM Seamill. He shared his thoughts on belief at this year’s first Open Evening, a monthly gathering for worship, teaching, interaction, and community held at Seamill. Open Evenings are open to anyone– check the YWAM Seamill Facebook page for upcoming dates!