The Prosperity Gospel and John 6

God's Way is Not Man's Way

Recently I read a daily devotional which was an exposition of John 6. John 6 is an amazing and wonderful part of God's revelation. Here Jesus feeds the thousands, and walks on water. The crowds were thoroughly impressed with this man who could make food multiply! They came from all over to get more free food. The devotional message on this section focused on the principles which, if we follow, can ensure a life filled with material prosperity.

As with other devotionals I have read that are along the lines of the "prosperity gospel," the author not only completely misses the point of Jesus' miracle, but points the reader in the wrong direction.


 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:14)
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:14)

The Real Food

Jesus feeds the multitudes. This is based on the donation from one person of just a few loaves and fishes. The people eat until they are full. Jesus then disappears. The people, enthralled with the idea of free food, seek out and find Jesus. It is at this point that Jesus explains the meaning of His divine act. He tells the people not to seek the bread that perishes (which in this case is physical food, but by projection can include any physical resources, including money) but to seek the eternal life that is in Him, as the true bread of life, and the Spirit and living Words that He gives, which both convey the divine life.


Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” (John 6:26-27)

The final lesson of the section is Jesus confronting the crowd, who is expecting the prosperity gospel of multiplying resources, with the blunt truth that they are seeking the wrong thing. Jesus goes to great lengths to show the flesh, the physical realm of food and money, profits nothing. It is the Spirit that gives life.

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." (John 6:63)

How to Attract Smaller Crowds

What happens at this point? The crowd that was seeking free food, or using the author's words, "multiplying of resources," was told flatly to go away, that they were seeking the wrong thing.

As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (John 6:66)

In other words, the writer of this devotional was 180 degrees contrary to the teachings of Jesus. The author points people TOWARD multiplying physical resources through generosity, using God to increase money. The writers' point was that if we are generous, like the lad who donated his small meal, Jesus will multiply our riches. This is the main lesson of the 'prosperity gospel." If we do good, God will bless us with material riches. On the contrary, Jesus points people AWAY from that principle, instead pointing them to Himself, as the embodiment of all true riches, the One with the Spirit and Word of God to give us, which blesses us with divine life within us to enjoy.

We read on:

So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69)

Peter got the message. Jesus was not here to dispense free food, to give free money, or tell us the secret of multiplying resources. The crowd wanted that. Jesus did not give them that. So the crowd, the majority, left Him. The proponents of the "prosperity gospel" are pandering to that same crowd, and giving people the exact wrong message, the opposite message that Jesus spoke. I think many people will appreciate the "prosperity gospel" since that is what most people want to hear. If you want more people in your church, go ahead and speak more messages like these. Your crowd, your prestige, and your offering box, will overflow. But if you desire to direct people to Christ, I suggest you follow His way. His way does not attract the big crowd, but thins and purifies the crowd.

Do you agree?

What is the main lesson of John 6?

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