John writes in his gospel that a great multitude followed Jesus, because they saw His miracles which He did on them that were diseased (John 6:2). Jesus had compassion on a great company (5000 people) who had come to Him when the passover was nigh (John 6:4-5). When this great company was without food, Jesus fed them with five barley loaves and two small fishes. After feeding the 5000 people, His disciples gathered up the fragments that remained and filled 12 baskets with these fragments. After performing this miracle, Jesus departed again into a mountain Himself alone just to avoid these people making Him a king. The following day, the same people came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus (John 6:24). On seeing them, Jesus told them,
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for Him hath God the Father sealed" (John 6:26-27).
The great multitudes followed Jesus because He performed miracles and healed them and also because He performed the miracle of feeding them. Jesus told them that they sought Him not because they saw the miracles but because they did eat of the loaves and were filled. They saw the miracles but not believed on Him for salvation. After the ascension of Jesus into the Heaven, there were only 120 disciples waiting for the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room. The end-result of the ministry of Jesus was the gathering of 120 disciples only. The great multitudes did not care for their spiritual food which the Lord gave them. But their primary concern was their physical need for perishable food. Out of the thousands of people who were healed and fed by Jesus, there remained merely a remnant of 120 disciples. But this small group of believers became mighty witnesses after being filled with the Holy Spirit. This small number of disciples did not care for the perishable meat but tarried for the Holy Spirit and received Him into their lives.
These days also, there are great multitudes following Jesus for miracles not for their salvation but for their perishable meat. They see the miracles but do not accept Him as their Savior and Lord. Thousands receive the material blessings and the ministers of God who are the channels of these blessings glorify in publishing testimonies of such people. All these great multitudes labor for the meat that perishes and not for the meat that endures unto everlasting life. The ministers of God concerned publish reports of miracles and healing that take place through their hands.
People may eat the loaves given by Jesus and are thus filled but they may not get saved. People may see the miracles before their eyes but they may not get the spiritual meat that endures unto everlasting life. Jesus marked a clear line of demarcation between the perishable meat and the non-perishable meat. I do not say that the perishable meat is not important for us. But I say what is more important is the gift of salvation that Jesus offers us.
These days, millions flock to hear the ministers of Jesus Christ only for the perishable meat. They labor for this perishable meat but neglect the precious gift of salvation for their souls.
These days, the same Jesus looks for a small number of disciples for Him who after eating the non-perishable meat from Him would "turn the world upside down" (Acts 17:6). Jesus looks for disciples for Him though in a small number and not devotees in large numbers who after eating the perishable meat would go away from Him.
The ministry of a servant of God is evaluated not by the yardstick of the great number of people that attend his meetings/church services but by the yardstick of the small number of people who have accepted Jesus Christ and become His disciples. A ministry is not evaluated by the great number of reports on miracles and healing but by the small number of people who have eaten the non-perishable meat of salvation for everlasting life.
Modern day preachers are exhorting the people to seek wealth and money and they do not lay emphasis on the spiritual meat that endures unto everlasting life. Jesus spoke of the parable concerning a rich man who had thought of building greater barns for storing all his fruits and goods, saying to his soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry". But God said unto him, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?". Jesus said ultimately, "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21).
We do not know whether that rich man was God-fearing or worshipped the God of Israel. But the Bible says very clearly that he was a rich man intent upon building and extending his godowns for storing what he had earned. Legally speaking, he was not at fault because he wanted to store what he had earned through his hard labor. The whole problem lay with his soul. He was not concerned about his spirit. He wanted his soul to enjoy the goodness of his life. He was a carnal man and not a spiritual man. God called that rich man, "Thou fool". He was a fool and not a man blessed of God.
A minister of God has to minister to the spirit of a man first so that the blessings of God may percolate down to his soul from his spirit. The spirit is more important than the soul.
If a rich minister of God bequeaths to his children assets in the form of buildings, trusts, or lands, God would call him "Thou fool". If he lays up treasure for himself or for his legal descendants without caring for the widows or the poor saints who are of the household of God, he "is not rich unto God". Worms of corruption will eat these goods stored inside the earth.
Let us not labor for the perishable meat but for the meat that endures unto the everlasting life.