The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some 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 neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for 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, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for 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 for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
The prophet Isaiah advises us to “seek the Lord while he may be found, (to) call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). The people in this story were seeking Jesus and went to great lengths to find him, discovering him, at last, in Capernaum. “Rabbi, why did you come here?” they ask him, but instead of answering he asked them why they sought him? It was obvious they weren’t interested in spiritual well-being, it was for food, their physical well-being, they were concerned with.
In one way or another we all seek God. But what are our motives in looking for him? For the fulfillment of worldly desires (Lord, I need a job, a car, a house, a spouse?) or do we seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness? Because Jesus tells us the way to the first is through the second. “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
But in addition to seeking God for the right reason, we need to seek him by the right route, and that is through faith and works. We are not saved by works, because there is nothing we can do that can take us to heaven except faith in Christ Jesus, but our lives need to reflect our faith. As James asks: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? (James 2:14).
And, thirdly, we need to seek God through the right relationship. It isn’t merely religion and rituals that bring you closer to Jesus, it is relationship. It is getting to know the Father as a personal Abba and Jesus as a personal Savior, and this comes only from time spent alone with him. As Jesus says, “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:7).
And then he continues: “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8). God knows what we need; we should discover what God needs. And through these discoveries we discover Jesus; we find him.