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 6:28-29)
-Claire of Assisi
Our verses for today illustrate the willingness of the crowd to know and to do their duty regarding the requirements of God. They were totally convinced the “food that endures” that Jesus had spoken of (verse 27) would be theirs at the completion of such works. They presented both a serious and humble question in response to Jesus’ words; willing to do the work, they now sought to know what the work was.
I can so relate to their inquiry! We live in such a works oriented culture, do we not? Ever pushing ourselves to do more and more–get up earlier, stay up later–push, push, push, work, work, work, do, do, do. We even come back from our vacations needing rest! Sometimes I wonder what underlying factors propel our motivation toward this frenzied lifestyle–pride, insecurity, a continual desire for more, greed, power, selfishness, a desire to blend, a desire to stand out–you fill in the blank. I know what it definitely is not–it is not God’s requirement for our salvation. Scripture tells us:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Our works will never be good enough because flawed people do flawed works. Simply put, we lack. This is why we need a Savior; we simply cannot save ourselves no matter how hard we try.
“The Spirit of God first imparts love.”-D. L. Moody
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Jesus gives the people an answer quite contrary to their works oriented thinking.
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Do we believe in the One He has sent?It is God who does the work of faith; the one thing necessary for us is that we believe or trust in the One He has sent. Jesus, sent from the Father, full of grace and truth, came to seek and to save that which was lost–which is everyone:
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10)
Take It to Heart
While grace is lavishly and freely poured out to those who believe, it came as a great cost to God. The cross of Christ was the price of grace. Sometimes I think we, as modern day believers, have the gift of grace down so well we are trampling upon it. Grace is not a license for licentious living, rather it is the ultimate response given in the law of love by our Lord. It calls every believer to a higher calling through His power. This love is found in the hearts of those who believe, transformed by the power of the precious indwelling Holy Spirit.
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:13-19)
“It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us.” (Oswald Chambers)