When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible on-line, please click hereand may you be blessed by the song, "Trust and Obey."

True and False Disciples
John 6:15–29

Good Morning, from the Voices of Hope Evangelistic Team, to all who are reading this message; I welcome each of you gathering by way of the internet. Once again, I praise God as we are able to share His Word all over the world.

The title of my message is “True and False Disciples” and the scripture is found in John 6:15-29 which we’ll read as we go through the message. If you would turn there, you will be able to follow along.

In verses 1–14 of chapter 6 Christ performs the miracle of feeding more than five thousand people. Prior to His feeding those people, He had been involved in teaching them all day long and in healing them of many different illnesses. He had been involved in meeting their physical needs in terms of sickness, their spiritual needs in terms of teaching, and capped it all off by feeding them late in the day as they were hungry. 

In spite of all that their reaction was very strange. They agreed that most likely He had some divine powers and they were greatly impressed by His power. In fact, they were so impressed that in verse 14 they said, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” What prophet? The prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15 by Moses who said there is coming one from the midst of thee like unto me, unto Him shall you hearken. That Moses had said this, they concluded, was THAT prophet. In other words, they were ready to receive Jesus as their Messiah, as their Deliverer on the basis of what they had seen Him do and heard Him say. 

But unfortunately, instead of falling in adoration before Him, they decided that they wanted to use Him. They had their own selfish ends. They would just as soon have a political revolution take place and get rid of Rome and they figured if this is a real miracle worker, if this is Messiah, let’s pick Him up and haul Him off to Jerusalem and get this revolution going as fast as we can. In effect, they looked at Jesus as if He was some kind of divine genie and they had the mistaken idea that they held the lamp that you rub and it was up to them and say, “Genie, number one, we want you to do this …” and their first thought was to make Him king by force and have Him lead a revolution against Rome. 

There was nothing of respect. There was nothing of adoration. There was nothing of worship. There was nothing of repentance. There was nothing of a cry for mercy. There was nothing of any of that, it was all, so You’re the one, well come with us, we’ve got something for You to do. 

They found somebody who could do super magic tricks and they thought let’s make the most of it. Sadly, it’s still true today. Many people see Jesus Christ as a prophet, as a great teacher, and they never see their need for Him in terms of the wrath to come. Many people see Jesus as some kind of super miracle worker and if they’re not involved in some kind of a so-called miraculous thing, they don’t think He’s even around; constantly seeking sensationalism. Other people who are content just to accept Him as whatever He is and use Him for whatever their purpose.   

Jesus read the minds of this mob; notice it in verse 15. “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take Him by force to make Him a King, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.” He could read their minds and He knew exactly what they were thinking. They were thinking, “Aha, here’s our shot at Rome, here’s our political power, let’s get Him and force Him to be king.” He read their minds, no problem for Him. 

Remember it applies to you and me as well. He reads us like an open book. In John 2 verse 24 He said, “No man needeth to tell Him what was in the heart of a man,” He knew what was in the heart of a man. And because of that, “In Jerusalem He did not commit Himself to those false disciples; He knew their faith was not genuine.” These people saw only a political victory. They saw that maybe they could kidnap this miracle worker and have Him do tricks for their benefit. 

May I say, Jesus comes to no man on man’s terms. Men come to Him on His terms. No one uses Christ. Nobody uses God … not now, not then and not in the life of Christ. Christ is not for our whims and our fancies and our wishes. Christ doesn’t commit Himself to any man until there is a cry for mercy and repentance. That’s when Christ commits Himself to somebody. They didn’t need to repent because they didn’t know they were sinners, they weren’t willing to admit that. 

Sadly, I think it’s true that Christians fall into the same error. For example, when we want comfort and sorrow, when we want strength in difficulty, when we want peace in the midst of turmoil, when we get really sick and we want help … all of a sudden there’s no one like Jesus. So we walk with Him and we talk with Him, we pray, we read our Bibles. Why? Because He’s got something we want. But on the other hand, when He comes to us and makes a stern demand and He challenges us to a great effort and He offers us a cross to carry, we don’t want anything to do with it. When He says to us, “Why don’t you go visiting the shut-in’s?”  Yuk … just give me what I want, don’t mess around with those demands. Aren’t we using Jesus? 

Just for a second, examine our own heart. It may just be that we love Jesus for what He does or can do for us. And when He comes with demands, we’re resentful and hostile to this demanding, disturbing Jesus. That’s exactly where they stood. They only wanted Him for what they could get out of Him. But instead Christ says, “Get away, I want to be rid of you,” and He sent the crowd away. Matthew and Mark both tell us He dismissed them and said, “Go away.” Jesus Christ never commits Himself to thrill seekers; He never commits Himself to the false disciple. He said, “leave,” and then He went up into a mountain alone to pray to God. 

But before He went into the mountain, He did something else. He told His disciples, Matthew and Mark both tell us this, He told His disciples to get into a boat and go back to Capernaum. “Get into the boat and leave.” He knew He had to get away from the mob and He also knew the disciples had to get away from the mob because it would have been very easy for the disciples to become involved in the carnal enthusiasm of that crowd and to get stirred up on this idea of forcing Christ to do something, so He just says, “Disciples, leave.” And then He went up into a mountain to pray. 

Now after Christ has sent His disciples away and sent the crowd away, we see two kinds of disciples, the fake and the real, the false and the true. We come to verse 16 and the character of real disciples. There are three characteristics of real disciples here in this account, verses 16–21. They are obedient, they are Christ-centered and true worshipers and we’ll see this as we look at the passage. 

First of all we shall see that the true disciple is obedient, verse 16. “And when evening was now come, His disciples went down unto the sea.” Matthew and Mark told us that Christ told them to go there. “They entered into a boat and they went over the sea toward Capernaum and it was now dark and Jesus was not come with them.” 

Now the disciples have been ordered by Christ to get in a boat and leave to Capernaum, so they did … complete obedience. It also notes for us in verse 16 that it was evening so it is nearly dark. They enter into a little boat and they begin the five-mile journey to Capernaum. 

So we see the tremendous test of obedience. To the disciples it didn’t make a lot of sense for Christ to send them away by themselves. Perhaps they didn’t understand why He sent them away not being able to read the mind of the mob, not being able to understand what they were thinking and what they were plotting. So when Christ said to them go away, it may have been a little bit mysterious but they obeyed. It may have been more mysterious as to why He sent them and didn’t come Himself, how was He going to get across, there weren’t any more boats? 

The Bible doesn’t say they fussed with those questions, the Bible says they just obeyed. And here you meet the first tremendous characteristic of real discipleship. Real discipleship is founded on an unquestioning, unhesitating trust and obedience. It’s not a matter of “Why, God?” it’s a matter of “Yes, God!” It’s not a matter of, “I don’t understand it,” it’s a matter of, “I will do it.” It’s a matter of not my will, but Thine be done, mysterious though it may be. And even in an obedience of ignorance; I like to think it was an obedience of trust, these disciples moved away from Christ alone into the twilight sea, not understanding. And that is the crux of discipleship, obedience that asks no questions, obedience that expects no explanation, a blind believing obedience. 

So these disciples in just a simple little way were obedient to Christ and it opened them up to another one of Christ’s miracles. 

There is a second virtue of true discipleship; they desired the presence of Christ. Disciples desire His presence. If I’m a disciple of Christ, I want to be with my Lord. If I follow my Master, I want to be where He is. And these disciples, I can see them going across that sea in that little boat saying, “I wish Jesus was here.” When the storm came up, they really started wishing Jesus was there. And it doesn’t say anywhere that they wanted Him to stop the storm, it only indicates they just wanted Him there. You see, that’s all discipleship is, discipleship doesn’t say, “Jesus, do this trick,” and, “Jesus, do magic,” and, “Jesus, do a miracle,” and, “Jesus, show me a wonder.” Discipleship just says, “Just as long as You’re here, that’s all I need.” That’s a disciple. They didn’t care so much about the power of Christ, they just wanted His presence. 

Verse 18 tells us, “And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew,” that’s a mild way of saying, “there came a storm.” Matthew and Mark tell us, the wind increased in intensity, they were pushed off course and Matthew says they wound up in the midst of the sea fighting the storm. Matthew tells us that it was the fourth watch, that is from three to six in the morning, that means they have been toiling for at least twelve hours to go five miles, thrown all over that sea. And if I know anything about those disciples, there was one person they were longing for more than anyone else and that was Jesus Christ. I know it because later on when He arrived they pulled Him into the boat and fell at His feet and worshiped Him. In the midst of any storm the presence of Christ is comfort enough. The true disciple doesn’t say, “I want Your miracle.” The true disciple just says, “I want You.” That’s enough. 

Perhaps they thought they were going to perish; the storm was very dangerous and they wanted Him. But, whenever somebody wants Jesus Christ in that way, whenever they long for His person, He arrives. That little boat was being flipped around in the Sea and when the right time came, Christ acted. You see, God can wait as long as He wanted because He was in absolute control of that sea, as is illustrated when He finally walked into the boat and the sea just calmed. Because omnipotence is combined with infinite wisdom and infinite love, it always acts at the right time. 

Verse 19, They’re out there being tossed around by this storm and somebody discerned the outline of a man walking across the tops of the waves. Matthew indicates that He was moving so fast that it looked like He’d go past the boat. And in Mark 6 it says the disciples said, “A ghost, a ghost.” Why did they say that? Matthew tells us they said that because they had forgotten the miracle of the five-thousand feeding because their hearts had become hardened. They forgot that this could be Christ. They were scared to death. Who in the world would be walking around out here? No one, obviously, but an apparition, a vision, a ghost. 

As He came a little closer they saw different, it was Jesus Christ walking on the water. No problem. He met them where they needed Him. And verse 20, “He saith unto them, It is I, be not afraid.” They were in a state of panic. It wasn’t bad enough to be in a storm, but here are ghosts walking on water. Matthew and Mark add, “Be of good cheer.” Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid. And He calmed their fears. For the real joy of the moment you have to go to Matthew 14. I mentioned the second characteristic of a disciple is he longs for the presence of Christ. I want us to see that illustrated with Peter. 

Big he-man Peter was the biggest coward in the boat because when he saw Jesus out there in the water, he couldn’t think of anything except getting to where Jesus was. In Matthew 14:27, “He answered and straightway Jesus spoke unto them saying, ‘Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid.’ And Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me to come unto Thee on the water.” Why? “Because I am scared in this boat, I want to be where You are.” Peter knew wherever Jesus was, that’s the place to be. For him just the presence of Christ is enough. Peter saw the storm and the boat and he saw Jesus and he said, “If You’re there, I want to be there.” Now the Lord knew that Peter would drown if He didn’t control this thing so in verse 29 He said, “Come, and when Peter was come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” 

I know they wanted Jesus so bad that Peter actually jumped out of that boat and went toward Him. I don’t think Peter knew what he was doing because in the next verse he saw the wind … you mean, he hadn’t seen it before? Listen, once Jesus got there he only saw one thing and that was Jesus. Now he looked up and said, “There’s wind and he was afraid and began to sink. He cried saying, Lord, save me. And then Jesus said to him, at the end of verse 31, O thou of little faith.” It wasn’t a matter of faith with Peter, it was just a matter of wanting to be with Christ. There is something beautiful about that desire in the heart of Peter to be where Jesus was.  

Listen, the true disciple just wants to be where Jesus is. It’s enough that He’s there, it doesn’t demand anything else. I love to think of John, that blessed disciple, John who was constantly reclining on the bosom of Christ, it was just enough for John to just put his head on the shoulder of Jesus. That’s all he wanted. He didn’t say, “Jesus, do this … Jesus, do that … do a trick … do a wonder.” No, no, just to be there. What a joyous thing it is that the disciple has the constant promise of the presence of Christ. We’ve got something these disciples didn’t have. What did Jesus say? “Lo, I am with you always, I’ll never leave you or forsake you.” We’ve got Him with us. 

Verse 21, “Then they willingly received Him into the boat and immediately the boat was at the land to which they went.” There’s another miracle, they got in the boat and whish, immediately they were at the land. That boat covered a couple of miles in a flash of a second. 

Back in Matthew 14 we read just this little account, “And when they were come into the boat, the wind ceased; then they that were in the boat came and worshiped Him saying, “Of a truth, Thou art the Son of God.” And there you have the third characteristic of a true disciple. Number one is obedience, number two is a desire for His presence, number three, worship. They fell on their face, true worship, humility, a sense of sin, a sense of frailty, a sense of wretchedness, a sense of inadequacy; falling at the feet of Christ in adoration. That’s real worship. That’s where every disciple spends his time, at the feet of Jesus Christ. Not saying, “Christ, do this for me … Christ, do that for me,” just there at His feet worshiping, adoring. That’s the way it’s going to be some day; Paul said to the Philippians in 2:10, “Some day at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.” That’s what He deserves. 

The real disciple, obedient, needs only the presence of Christ, and true worship. If you really love Him you don’t need to see His miracles. We don’t need to see any super power expressed by Christ, just to have Him is enough. 

In John 6 verses 22–29, I want us to see the character of the fake disciple. You’ve seen the real thing, true disciple, obedient, Christ-centered, just His presence is enough and true worship. Now I want us to see the very opposite. A false disciple is disobedient. He doesn’t want Christ’s presence, he wants His power. And thirdly, he doesn’t worship Christ, he worships himself. 

Verse 22. “The day following,” the disciples and Christ have arrived in Capernaum, the day following when the people who stood on the other side of the sea; wait a minute, what are they doing there? Christ told them to go away from Him, to disperse and leave. Well, that’s just one characteristic of false disciples, they don’t obey. Christ had said, “Go away,” they’re back again. 

In verse 23 they got a little help because it says, “There came other boats from Tiberias.” This kind of helps these people who are trying to figure out where Jesus went because verse 24 says, “When the people therefore saw that Jesus wasn’t there, neither His disciples, they took boats and came to 
Capernaum seeking for Jesus.” 

If all we had were those three words “seeking for Jesus” we could say this is a beautiful story … seeking for Christ. But, the problem is, they sought Him for all the wrong reasons. They sought Him because they wanted to use Him for what He could do for them. They were fake, they didn’t want to obey, they wanted Him to obey them. 

So they come to Him in verse 25, “And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, ‘Rabbi, when camest Thou here?’ ” In effect they’re saying, “How did You get over here?” The disciples, they’re thinking, took the boat, only one boat, You weren’t in it. We were lining the shore. You didn’t walk or we would have seen You. How did You get here? 

Jesus doesn’t answer them, incidentally. If He tells them what He’s just done, He’ll really have a problem with them. Can you imagine what He could have said?

“How did You get here?”
“I walked.”
“We were lining the shore; we didn’t see You coming along.”
“Who said I walked on the shore?”
“Where did You walk?”
“I walked across the sea.” 

Can’t you imagine what would have gone through their minds if He had said that? “And while I was at it, I picked up the disciples in a boat, whish, brought them along with Me.” 

Notice, Jesus never commits His power to the fake disciples. When the true disciple seeks only His presence, he also gets His power. When the true disciple seeks only the presence of Jesus Christ, he also gets all His miracles. The fake disciple who wants only His miracles gets neither His miracles or His power or His presence. Christ kept sending them away. “Come back when you’re for real.” 

So, Christ doesn’t even answer them. And then we come to their second problem, they desired His miracles not His person. That’s the character of a fake disciple as opposed to the true. They didn’t care about Jesus the person. Free food, that’s the whole deal. Hey, guys, it’s breakfast time, let’s find Jesus. That’s the whole deal. 

You think that’s not true? Look at verse 26, “Verily, verily I say unto you, you seek Me not because you saw the miracles, you seek Me because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” First you had some supernatural thoughts, now all you want is food. They couldn’t see the person of Jesus Christ, all they could see was their fat stomachs. Something interesting about this, Jesus’ choice of words is absolutely tremendous. Notice at the end of verse 26 He uses the word “were filled,” that’s one verb in the Greek and it comes from the Greek word meaning grass or hay. This is the word that was used when they foddered the animals. He says to them? “You’re like a whole lot of dumb animals who are all foddered up and you’re back for another load.” He compares them to a lot of foddered animals, just fed, that’s all you care about. And they had started out on a level of miracles and deteriorated to the level of their stomachs. 

It was breakfast time, let’s find Jesus. Can’t you imagine what they probably thought? If we can get this guy to knock off Rome, what a welfare state we can have. That’s exactly what they had in mind. The fake wants everything they can get from Christ, the real gives all he has. And the words of Jesus indict them. 

In verse 27 He says, “Labor not for the food which perishes,” that is physical food, “but for that food which endures unto everlasting light which the Son of Man shall give unto You for Him hath God the Father sealed.” [or approved, or authenticated.] In other words, “You Jews are satisfied with physical things. Why don’t you seek something that really satisfies the inner man?” It doesn’t mean anything to have your bodies satisfied if your soul’s not satisfied. 

Jesus said, “Seek for spiritual content, spiritual reality, spiritual nourishment, spiritual food.” That’s not what today’s culture seeks, in fact we’re hung up on food. It’s no longer a question of, “Thank You, Lord, for providing this food,” it’s “Gee, Lord, this is what I want tonight?” The fact that we are wrapped up in satisfying the body and missing the food for the soul. 

Where do we get this spititual food?” It says right there, “The Son of Man gives it.” And then He adds this thought, which was important to the Jewish mind, “For him hath God the Father sealed.” The Jew knew that all good things came from God, so what Jesus is saying, “God has approved Me as the dispenser of His good thing. I am the One approved by God to give out His supply of soul-nourishing content, spiritual reality.” And only Jesus Christ can satisfy the hunger of a soul. This thought launches Christ into the rest of the chapter, a great discourse on the bread of life. 

Now we see a third thing about these false disciples, they worship themselves, not Christ. Look at verse 28, “Then said they unto him,” notice the word “we,” “What shall WE do that WE might work the works of God?” They’re saying, “How do You do these tricks of making food? What do WE have to do to have this power, to have this constant nourishment?” You see, they were all wrong to begin with, they couldn’t do anything. It’s always with those Jewish people “what do we do, what works, works, works, works?” An assumption that they could do something. 

But Jesus smashes works with one devastating unbelievable smash. Verse 29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God that ye believe on Him whom He has sent.” You want to do some works, then believe. That’s the only thing you can do. So He smashes their works and says believe. Nothing but believe … believe, no works. 

That’s the message; if you’re a true disciple you’re obedient. If you’re a true disciple you want His presence, His power comes along. You just want to be where He is. If you’re a true disciple You worship Him at His feet, adore Him. 

On the other hand, if you’re a false disciple you’re disobedient. If you’re a false disciple you don’t care so much about His person, you just want what He can do for you. If you’re a false disciple, you don’t really worship Him, you worship yourself, satisfy yourself. To you false disciples, believe … believe, believe that He is of God, that He died for you, that He can change your life. And God shall satisfy the hunger of your soul.

Remember, the gospel is not a call to do something, but an announcement of what has been done. The gospel is 100% good news for us. “The gospel is so good, you’ve got to tell somebody.” 

Father, we thank You, this morning, for Your Word.