Is Jesus worth the effort?

On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking 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, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking 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 to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (John 6:22-27)

In the bad old days, billboards were allowed to promote cigarettes. Everyone smoked and the cancerous result was either not known or squashed or ignored as health concerns arose over the decades. Some advertising tag lines stick. One of these that lasted for decades is Camel cigarettes’ “I’d walk a mile for a camel!” which first appeared in the 1920s.Did you know that Camel was the first pre-rolled cigarette? Anyway the ad’s tag line indicated that the product was so good that people would expend effort such as walking distances in order to get it.

One of the earliest appearances of ‘walking a mile for a Camel’, 1921


Duke Digital Collection, Billboard 1942


UPenn photo, Billboard Times Square 1998, when ‘Walk a Mile’ was retired

The fact that the ad campaign lasted 70 years is a good indicator of just how powerful appealing to a fleshly desire is.

When the newest Star Wars movie was to premiere, many camped out in line, some fordays, to ensure that they would get tickets:

Oftentimes, football fans expend the effort to decorate themselves in team colors.

Credit: Steve Debenport E+ Getty Images

There are lots of activities that I could name which we think nothing of spending lots of time, money, and effort to perform – if it fulfills some kind of fleshly desire.

What Jesus was saying in John 6:26 when He said that “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” was that the people who followed Him up the mountain and down the mountain and walked miles around the lake, was that they were…

…motivated by a superficial desire for food rather than any understanding of the true significance of Jesus’ person and mission. They had only purely materialistic notions. ~John MacArthur Study Bible note

They walked up mountains. They sailed dangerous lakes. The traversed dusty deserts. Thousands of them thought nothing of it. Why? They wanted food. They wanted to be healed. They wanted to satisfy their lust of curiosity and excitement.

They didn’t want Jesus.

Do we do the same thing today? Follow someone or something, or do something that takes lots of time and energy if it will get us what we want, but expend significantly less energy and time to ensure we pray, read the Bible, get to church, help a neighbor? Do we want Jesus? Or the loaf?