Those with a desire for Christ are those to whom it is given by the Father. He draws them to his Son (v. 44), and Christ safeguards their salvation (v. 37). These and other passages throughout John 6 were personal favorites during my teen years as I transitioned to Calvinism, and they still amaze me, not merely as proof texts for the doctrines of grace, but as truths to cherish in difficult times.
But what I love even more now, as an adult who is painfully aware of his weakness and sin, is the way Jesus answers the masses when they ask, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”
This is what we do: “Believe in him whom he has sent” (v. 29).
In other words, “Look upon the Son” (v. 40).
Or simply, “Behold.”
So often I fall into the mindset that to please God I must do and work and earn. But Jesus said our “work” is to believe in him, who DID and WORKED and EARNED on our behalf. When we sin, suffer, or backslide, our hope for rest and reconciliation doesn’t lie in our works; we need only to gaze upon the beauty of Christ and believe in him.
“Do you want to be healed?” (v. 6)
This Jesus asked the paralyzed man outside the pool of Bethesda — a man who suffered for nearly four decades, without a friend to carry him to the water. He certainly had a need to be healed. But the question posed here is one of DESIRE, and the answer reveals the stark difference between belief and unbelief.
Already at this point in John’s gospel there’s a division between those who desire healing and salvation, and those who don’t. Elsewhere in the gospels, when the Pharisees criticize Jesus for spending time with sinners, Jesus reminds them that only those who are sick need a physician. Those who are “well,” who don’t acknowledge their need, don’t desire a savior.
But for those who do, Jesus satisfies that desire with his own desire to heal and to save. That’s the relationship Jesus has with his people; our desires and his are fulfilled in the wondrous work of salvation.
If the marks of true belief are NEED and DESIRE, then may my answer to Jesus’ question ever and always be “Yes!”
Much like the wedding miracle in Cana, Jesus often worked behind the scenes and purposely far away from those in power. At the faintest whiff of fame, he snuck away to — of all places — Samaria. And there takes place one of my favorite encounters with a sinner, the woman at the well, whose sexual sins, like mine, Jesus knew well, yet he dealt with her so gently. In the end, her testimony of Christ caused many other Samaritans to believe.
Soon after, Jesus offers himself again to the Gentiles with the healing of an official’s son, which also results in belief and salvation. Unlike the Messiah people expected, Jesus performed his miracles in small circles of poor, sick, needy, and unexpected people.
This is good news for those who feel they can’t approach Jesus. His actions in John 4 and throughout the gospels prove his heart is soft toward sinners who know their need for him — and his love is greater than their sin. As A.W. Tozer said, “Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless, He is the one who loves you most.”
What always surprises me about the story of Jesus turning water into wine in John 2 is how Jesus performs the miracle but it’s the bridegroom who gets the credit.
“When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’” (v. 9-10)
This is Jesus’ first miracle and yet all the honor goes to the one who did nothing and deserved no praise.
To me, it’s a picture of how God saves us. We’re saved by Christ’s righteousness alone, and yet in the end, because of his work on our behalf, the Father will look at us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”