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John 6:27

Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures unto eternal life…

If this is a command, what can be said of modern Christianity? If this is just advice, why did the disciples obey?

Matthew 4:19-20 ESV

19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 19:27 ESV

Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”

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  • nothing is casual advice in the bible. It is a command.
    – Michael16
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 15:41
  • So what of modern Christianity? Do you know anyone who does not work to put food on the table? Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 17:49
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    While all are called to follow Jesus, not all are called to "leave everything" to preach. If you are asking about modern Christianity, then this question should be moved to Christianity SX.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 21:26
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    If by "casual command" you mean an instruction of Jesus that can be ignored, the answer is a resounding "NO". See John 15:10, 14:15, etc.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 21:32

2 Answers 2

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What Jesus said here was a warning to crowds of people who had pursued him after he had miraculously fed thousands of them with hardly any food. They were interested in another free lunch. This is how he prefaced his warning:

"Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." John 6:26 A.V.

Then he warned them that it was pursuit of spiritual 'food' that leads to everlasting life that needs to be more important to them than physical food that is put on tables but which only has temporary benefits.

They didn't understand, supposing that when Jesus said, "Labour not for food that perishes..." he meant they had to do some special kind of work, for hard, physical work is needed to produce literal food. They asked him what they had to do, to do the works of God (vs. 28). Jesus' answer?

"This is the work of God, that he believe on him whom he hath sent" (Ibid. vs. 29)

And how are Christians to believe on Jesus, the One sent by God? There is only one source given to us, and that is the written record of God's word, the Bible. That is what is to be preached by those who follow Christ - the Christ of scripture. To go to any other source of information about Jesus will lead us to 'another Jesus,' a false Jesus who is not the biblical Jesus. Jesus himself warned us (in the New Testament) that many false Christ's would arise and mislead many:

"For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many." Matthew 24:5 and see also verse 24, A.V.

With regard to that, you ask what can be said of modern Christianity, which does not show everyone claiming to be a Christian actually following Christ - why would they ignore what Jesus said here? A basic reason why not is that they have no regard for the Bible as being the word of God, which shows us what we are to believe and to do, and how to avoid those false Christs. Here is a quote about that in this church sermon about the Bible:

"What does the Bible say? 'He that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.' [Mark 16:16] If this be the Word of God, what will become of some of you who have not read it for the last month? Aye, there are some of you who have not read it at all. Most people treat the Bible very politely. They have a small pocket volume, neatly bound, and carry it to their places of worship. When they get home, they lay it up in a drawer till next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat and goes to chapel; that is all the poor Bible gets in the way of an airing. There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write 'damnation' with your fingers.

I tell you blunt words, but true. What will God say at last? When you shall come before him he shall say, 'Did you read my Bible?' 'No'. 'I wrote you a letter of mercy; did you read it?' 'No'. 'Rebel! I have sent you a letter inviting you to me: did you not ever read it?' 'Lord I never broke the seal; I kept it shut up.' 'Wretch!' says God, 'then thou deservest hell. If I sent thee a loving epistle and thou wouldst not even break the seal, what shall I do unto thee?'

Oh, let it not be so with you. Be Bible readers. Be Bible searchers." C.H. Spurgeon printed sermon at Exeter Hall, Strand, evening of March 18th, 1855, Ref. NPSP.15 SP. 198

If that was the state of some Christians attending Church in 1855, what kind of a state do you suppose it is in now? Do we have more Bible readers who are Bible searchers, or less? Therein lies the answer to your second question. For if people will not search the Bible to find the living Christ, they will be 'starving' Christians who will be spiritually dying.

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It is worthy to note that in John 6:27, Jesus was absolutely not talking literally about food. He was disappointed that people came to Him just for 'physical' food for this life, and not knowing there is 'spiritual' food that endures to eternal life.

The words in John 6:27 is neither a command nor casual advice. If it was a command, Jesus will not use a metaphor but words with clarity, and Jesus never give casual advice.

There is a statement Jesus always bring forward; "Whoever has ears, let them hear" (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 13:43; Mark 4:9, 4:23; Luke 8:8, 14:35). He explained why he taught in parables

13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ (Matthew 13:13-15)

So John 6:27 is a declaration. People who have ears to understand will work on the spiritual food for eternal life. People whose hearts became calloused will have their eyes closed and ears deaf, continued working on the physical food for this life.

P.S. about two OP questions 'If this is a command, what can be said of modern Christianity? If this is just advice, why did the disciples obey?'

In my point of view, 'modern Christianity' is a hazardous term. It gives an impression that Christianity requires evolution to coup with the current generation, which is a danger to Christian who believe themselves 'modern', that might accept minor alternation of the gospel, ignorantly changing the path that Jesus declared. Secondly, the audience of John 6:27 was not the disciples, they were people who witnessed Jesus fed the five thousand.

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