Jesus said not to labor for food that perishes and not to worry about what to eat, drink or wear. There are a few who believe this to be, not working for money and not to own anything, have resigned from their jobs, sold everything to live by faith. In this post, we will explore what Jesus actually said and where they have erred.
Do not work for money
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
The above verse is quoted most often by those who claim that Jesus doesn’t want us to work for money and we must resign from our jobs. Even though Jesus said, ‘do not labor for the food which perishes’, what food is He talking about? Isn’t it the same food which Jesus Himself provided to the people? Let’s have some context around this and how it is misrepresented.
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.John 6:26
Jesus feeds the five thousand and some follow Him because of the food they ate. Hence, Jesus is saying to them, don’t labor to come to me for food that perishes but food that endures to everlasting life.
Live by Faith
Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.Hab 2:4
Jesus never taught us to live by faith. The “faith” in the above verse is actually a reference to His first coming. As we saw in the previous section, did Jesus give ‘food that perishes’ to those who came to Him in faith seeking after it? Absolutely not. This is because, the Father had already cursed man to sweat and work to eat his own bread to live.
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.Matt 6:31-33
The only place where the teachings of Jesus seems to be similar to ‘live by faith’ are the above verses. Here, Jesus is not teaching anyone to become homeless but rather not to serve money or seek after money. He is asking us to store our treasures in heaven and not to sell everything including our basic needs. This teaching is very clear when compared with the same teaching in the gospel of Luke in Luke 12:13-34.
Matt 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Let’s go back and read what Jesus is actually teaching. If we seek His kingdom and His righteousness, He will add all things the Gentiles seek after. i.e, more money. The reason why God gives more to those who do not seek after money is because they will only take what they really require for their needs and distribute their abundance to the poor and needy of His brothers and sisters. If Jesus is wants us to become homeless, why is He adding all things the Gentiles seek after.
If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. … So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.Luke 14:26-27,33
The place where ‘forsake all’ occurs is in Luke 14:26-33. Is Jesus asking us to ‘hate’ in context of forsaking our parents, brothers, sisters, children? Absolutely not. In Mark 7:10-13, Jesus is totally against forsaking parents in any shape or form, and condemns the Pharisees and scribes for their practice of Corban. Jesus Himself did not forsake Mary even at the cross but handed over His worldly responsibilities to John. When Jesus said to ‘hate’, He is explaining the cost of following Him when persecution and pressure arises from those we love and those we require for our living. This is consistent with all other passages that speaks about forsaking all. e.g, Matt 19:29, Mark 10:29, Mark 10:30, Luke 18:29. In other words, if anything or anyone that comes in between us and Christ, we must forsake them. If TV causes us to sin, break it. If internet causes to sin, disconnect. If friends cause to sin, depart from them – Just as Jesus taught us to cut off our own hands and legs, and pluck out our eyes if they cause us to sin. This is by no means we have to become homeless to be His disciple.
Jesus was not homeless
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air [have] nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay [His] head.”Matt 8:20
The most common verse that is used to claim that Jesus was homeless, is the above verse where He said, He has nowhere to lay His head. Many forget that the above was a temporary situation of Jesus in Capernaum. We know this because, He went back to Nazareth, to His own house five chapters later in Matt 13:57
Disciples were not homeless
Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.Matt 19:27-28
The disciples have left all to follow Jesus and He promised a throne for each of them judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Peter who said this, had invited Jesus to his home in the past (Matt 8:14).
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.John 21:3
Peter left all that He had but haven’t sold his boat.
For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.John 20:9-10
We also know that all the disciples who left all to follow Jesus never sold their houses or became homeless.
Jews cannot sell their land permanently
‘In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another. … The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land [is] Mine; for you [are] strangers and sojourners with Me.Lev 25:13-14,23
The law of Moses which Jesus and His disciples were following strictly forbids in selling the land permanently. The only exception to this rule is of the walled cities like Jerusalem (Lev 25:29-30). Jesus and His disciples were not from any walled cities.
Jesus never taught us to resign from our jobs and become homeless to be His disciples. Forsaking all does not mean we must be a homeless monk but rather to forsake everyone and everything that comes in between us and Christ.