When Jesus came on the scene preaching against legalism and proclaiming to be God, He made quite a stink among the religious of His time.
Jesus didn’t mince words; He spoke with authority; and He backed up all He said with miracles which testified to the truth of His words.
This naturally drew more and more spectators daily. Masses of people walked far and wide to catch a glimpse of this Man and hear His words. They saw Him do mighty works and knew -- This had to be the Messiah!
And when Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two small fish (John 6:5-14), the people got excited and tried to force Him to be King (v. 14). But instead He fled the multitude (v. 19).
The next morning the multitude tracked Jesus down. But their motives in seeking Him were not pure, and He called them on it.
He told them that they were searching for Him not because of the signs He did (i.e. the sign of manna from heaven) but because they were hungry again (v. 26).
Were they looking for the Messiah? Or did they want another free lunch?
As they stood there looking confused, Jesus told them:
“Do not labor for the food which perishes but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (v. 27).
Interestingly enough, the multitude still didn’t get it. Instead they asked Him about works. They asked, “...What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (v. 28)
Did they completely misunderstand? Jesus is telling them that He is the Bread of Life and that they should desire Him --their Messiah and King-- more than food, and instead they ask for some kind of ‘work’ they can do to be saved.
Naturally, Jesus saw through their works-based confusion, telling them: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (v. 29)
Now think about this carefully.
Is salvation found in doing?
The religious leaders of that time sure thought so; they heaped rules upon rituals in every effort to be righteous.
But unlike the religious leaders, Jesus told the multitude not to work but believe.
It is not by doing that we are saved; it is not by works (Eph 2:8-9); and it is certainly not by racking up a bunch of brownie points!
Perhaps you are reluctant to let go of ‘works’ or perhaps you like ‘doing’. If so, fine.
Go ahead and do great things for the Lord! Joyfully work out your salvation with fear and trembling! (Phil 2:12) But be careful not to confuse service with salvation.
Salvation is by faith.
What is the work of God? -- To believe in Him who He sent!
Do you believe?