Going Deeper 07.30.2021

The Gospel reading for Pentecost 10... John 6:24-35

So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

There is a verse here which brings some perspective to the age-old question of the role of good works in our relationship with God.  Someone from among the large crowd which was following the sign/miracle-producing Jesus asked Him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?"  Of course, the predominant understanding was that doing certain works -- and not doing certain other things -- brought about salvation from God.  But Jesus points to what really counts, to what is first and foremost: "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."

This is indeed where it all starts.  Salvation is a gift we receive when we believe that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and Messiah, the One sent by the Father to work our whole salvation.  Some would point to believing as being a type of work, something we do.  But wanting to give credit where credit is certainly due, we say that even the act of believing is something inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God.  As Martin Luther wrote in his Small Catechism, "I believe that I cannot, by my own understanding or effort, believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him.  But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel..."

There is a bit of paradox here... perhaps mystery is a better word.  We do have the choice to reject God, and because of our broken nature, that is what we are inclined to do.  And, yes, we are involved in the act of believing.  But again... we want to give all the credit for our salvation to God.  Salvation is a gift received.  Spirit-empowered believing opens our hearts and lives to receive the gift.  The good works we are to do from that point on are simply done in response to that gift.

With You in His Grace,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"