33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things (Mark 6:33–34, NKJV).
As the crowds pressed around Jesus and His apostles, finding time to rest a while (or even eat) was difficult (Mark 6:31-32). Instead of being anxious and upset at the people for interrupting their search for a place to retreat, Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw the multitude (v. 34). He saw them as untended, scattered, and wandering sheep. Consequently, Jesus began teaching them many things. We correctly conclude Jesus knew the solution to this problem was hearing God’s word. Why? Because faith comes by hearing (and receiving) the word of God (Rom. 10:17; Luke 6:46). Teaching God’s word to feed lost, struggling souls is an act of compassion (Matt. 9:35-38). Most likely, lost souls do not know what they truly need. Jesus did not begin by addressing what people thought they needed (i.e., their “felt need”). Instead, he gave them what they actually needed, the word of God, that fed their souls the food “which endures to everlasting life” (John 6:27, 33-35, 44-48). More than physical food, we need the teachings of Christ to lead us to green pastures, still waters, and paths of righteousness that restore our soul (Psalm 23:1-3; Matt. 11:28-30). Let us show His compassion and teach others His word of salvation and eternal life.
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31–33, NKJV).
Jesus drives to the heart of the matter. When physical goals and concerns consume us, we start asking the wrong questions. Worry (anxious care) distracts us from God, who knows and supplies our needs. When we seek (crave intensely) physical needs (food, drink, and clothing) before and instead of spiritual needs (the kingdom of God and His righteousness), we are like the faithless Gentiles (those who have no hope and are without God in this world, Eph. 2:11-12). Our primary craving must be the rule and reign of God in our lives and righteousness by faith through the gospel of Christ. We trust God to give us the things that are necessary for our temporary journey on earth. At times we struggle to keep these spiritual priorities in place. The world presses us to conform to its values and expectations. Let us be strengthened in faith and trust the Lord to provide our daily bread as we live for eternal things that will not pass away (Ps. 37:25-26; 2 Cor. 4:17-18).
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 So why do you worry about clothing” (Matthew 6:25–28a, NKJV)?
Our heart reveals our treasures, our vision reveals the light we follow, and our service reveals our master (Matt. 6:21-24). These principles form the basis of Christ’s extended passage on trusting our heavenly Father to provide for our daily needs (Matt. 6:25-34). We express this trust as we pray, “give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). We affirm our faith that God will do so by refusing to yield to anxiety over daily necessities. Anxiety distracts and debilitates us from laying up heavenly treasures and serving God (“seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” Matt. 6:33). Please note, Jesus discusses necessities of life (food and clothing), not luxuries (the pursuit of which contributes to increased anxiety). Our goal is a contented faith that refuses to be distracted. First, consider God’s constant care of the birds. He feeds the birds, and we are far more valuable than birds (Lk. 12:24). Therefore, recalling this helps us avoid being disturbed and diverted from faithfully following God. Second, worry does not accomplish anything productive. It cannot increase our height, and it cannot provide for our needs. Anxiety is futile, fruitless, weakening our faith in God’s constant care and provisions. Trust the Lord; He provides for our needs.
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him (John 6:27, NKJV).
Some people followed Jesus because they expected Him to work a miracle and feed them. Jesus rebuked this shallow, selfish, faithless view of Him (John 6:26). Jesus contrasted their misguided motive for seeking Him with working for the food that produces everlasting life. He was by no means saying do not work for your daily food (“If anyone will not work, neither let him eat,” 2 Thess. 3:10). Jesus said to be concerned primarily with working for the food that leads to everlasting life. The work God gives us to achieve that result is to “believe in Him who He sent” (John 6:29). Jesus is the “bread of life” in whom we must believe to eat “the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:35, 51, 58). By faith, we do so when we receive and obey His words (John 6:63-68). Unbelievers do not trust and follow Jesus; believers do. When we accept and obey His word, we have not earned everlasting life; we have only done a servant’s duty (Luke 17:10). The gospel call is, “You who have no money, come, buy and eat” (Isa. 55:1-3). The question to ponder is, “Why are you seeking Jesus?” To gain some temporary, physical advantage, or to labor “for the food which endures to everlasting life?”
18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.” (Mark 7:18–20, ESV)
The Law of Moses contained dietary restrictions for Israel which distinguished between clean and unclean animals (Lev. 11). Jesus removed those limitations, explaining that food does not defile a person (Col. 2:14-17). Evil that comes from within our heart defiles us (Mk. 7:21-23). Demanding abstinence from certain foods as a way of holiness is apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Yet, some faiths that forbid certain foods in the name of Jesus. One example is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose Word of Wisdom (Doctrine and Covenants 89) forbids “hot drinks,” which Church leaders have explained means abstaining from coffee and tea (“Vaping, Coffee, Tea, and Marijuana,” New Era, August 2019). Seventh-day Adventists typically follow a vegetarian or vegan diet due to supposed revelations of Ellen G. White (“What Do Seventh-day Adventists Eat?,” seventhdayadventistdiet.com). By contrast, the Bible says that “food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse” (1 Cor. 8:8). When it comes to righteousness, we must be more concerned about what comes out of our hearts than what goes into our stomachs. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).
25 And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You come here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” (John 6:25–27, NKJV)
These people had seen Jesus miraculously feed five thousand souls the day before, from only five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:1-14). The next day they had traveled around the Sea of Galilee to find Him. They had not followed Jesus out of faith in Him as the Messiah. They were driven by their bellies to seek another meal. Why are you following Jesus? Is it out of faith or convenience? Jesus can give you spiritual food that produces everlasting life, but you must have faith in Him to follow Him according to His will. The Father endorsed Jesus by the miracles He worked. Be sure you are following Jesus for the right reason – for everlasting life – and not to fill a self-serving interest.
15 “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 7:15-16)
The heart is the spring well from which comes all things both good or evil. Israel was commanded to observe food restrictions under the Law of Moses (Lev. 11). But, what Jesus Christ taught on this occasion made all food pure (Mk. 7:19). The food that goes into a person’s body does not defile that person before God. It is the “evil things” coming out of the heart (in the form of thoughts, words and actions) that defile a person (Mk. 7:23). Jesus urges us to listen carefully to what He says. We cannot let evil things proceed from our heart and think we are pure before God: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mk. 7:21-22). Put away evil. Cleanse your heart through Christ and His gospel (Eph. 4:20-24).