Fringe Benefit Followers

Bible Book: John  6 : 63-66
Subject: Following Jesus

We are all acquainted with the term “fringe benefits.” It usually makes reference to the benefits or privileges received by merely being associated with something or someone. For instance, some of you may enjoy the fringe benefit of an excellent medical insurance plan through your job. Some companies allow certain employees the use of a company vehicle. Other companies offer their workers double time-and-a-half for working on holidays. These benefits are received merely by being associated with a particular organization.

On the other hand, we sometimes enjoy certain fringe benefits from our association with particular people. For example, my wife and I used to be closely associated with a Christian chiropractor. One of the fringe benefits of that friendship was free chiropractic treatment anytime we needed it. Though we certainly didn’t befriend this individual and his wife for the ulterior motive of getting free care, it was a beneficial outgrowth of our relationship. On the other hand, one of the fringe benefits of his kindness to us was that we frequently recommended him to other people, so both of us benefited from our mutual friendship.

In the sixth chapter of John’s gospel, we are told of a group of people who associated with Jesus solely for what they could get out of it. They followed Jesus for selfish reasons. You may be thinking, “God forbid that that sort of thing should happen in our day!” But, dear friend, it does happen. Some have joined churches, and even made a profession of faith for no other purpose than to influence some special girl or boy in their life. Some politicians and businessmen are quick to speak of their association with a church in order to appear honest and trustworthy before the voting public. These are “fringe benefit followers.” They lay claims to Jesus only for what they can get out of it. The sad fact however, is that any supposed benefits from this type of relationship with Christ will not help them in eternity.

Look with me at some of the fringe benefit followers of Jesus’ day. You’ll find that they were not so different from those of the present.

I. Some Followed Him Because Of The Miracles He Performed

A. They Were Thrilled By The Miracles.

1. The miraculous healings excited the masses.

John 6:2 “And a great multitude followed him because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.”

Matt. 11:5 “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

2. A marvelous meal enthralled the masses.

John 6:10-14 “And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.”

B. They Were Not Transformed By The Master.

In spite of Jesus’ great miracles, many did not believe on Him.

John 6:36 “But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.”

This type of response to Christ’s miracles was not uncommon.

John 2:23-25 “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”

It isn’t enough to believe in the miraculous. One must belong to the Master. The main idea fostered by these verses is that many associated themselves with Jesus merely as religious thrill-seekers. Verse 23 indicates that because of the miracles Jesus performed, “many believed in his name.” That simply means that they had confidence in Jesus as a miracle-worker, but had not committed themselves to Him as their Savior. This is made clear by the statement that, “…Jesus did not commit himself unto them…” (v.24). In other words, Jesus did not recognize them as true believers.

A lot of folks in our day could care less about being in God’s house unless it is entertaining. When it comes to the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, they don’t have time for that. Some people will associate with Jesus, so to speak, if you preach a “health and wealth gospel,” or a “signs and wonders experience,” because that excites the flesh.

II. Some Followed Him Because Of The Monarch They Perceived

John 6:14-15 “Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.”

Jesus had just miraculously fed five thousand men, plus women and children. Apparently, some in the crowd connected this miracle with a similar miracle in Moses’ day, when God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness. Because of that association, they determined that Jesus was to be their leader.

These folks had missed the point. They saw in Jesus a leader in the fight against Roman tyranny—someone who could ease their plight—to make their lives better.

In like manner, there are a lot of people today who view Christ and the Church merely as vehicles to accomplish their own personal agendas.

The Jews wanted to force Jesus into being their king. But Christ’s kingdom was to be given to Him by the Father, not by man (John 18: 36). The motive of the Jews was a selfish one. They simply viewed Jesus and His miracle-working power, as the means to overcome Roman tyranny. In much the same way, some people of our day will profess Christ as Savior thinking that doing so will ease the pressures of their troubled life. That however, is the wrong motive for coming to Christ, and therefore does not result in salvation. The fact is, these folks’ motivation for chasing after Jesus was all wrong.

“I’m so depressed and I can’t get any dates,” the 300-pound man told his minister. “I’ve tried everything to lose weight.”

“I think I can help,” said the minister. “Be dressed and ready to go tomorrow at 8 a.m.”

Next morning, a beautiful woman in a skintight exercise suit knocked on the man’s door. “If you can catch me, you can have me,” she said, as she took off. He huffed and puffed after her.

This routine went on every day for the next five months. The man lost 115 pounds and felt confident that he would catch the woman the next day. That morning he whipped open his front door and found a 300-pound woman in a jogging suit waiting for him. “The minister said to tell you,” she began, “that if I can catch you, I can have you.”1

III. Some Followed Him Because Of The Meal He Provided

A. They Had Witnessed A Miracle.

Mark 6:41-44 “And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42 And they did all eat, and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments, and of the fishes. 44 And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”

B. They Had Missed The Miracle’s Meaning.

Many in this crowd saw Jesus’ miracle merely as a free meal.

John 6: 26 “Jesus answered them and said, 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.”

The point of this meal was to illustrate the nature and purpose of Christ’s ministry.

John 6:27, 33, 35 “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. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

Through the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes, Jesus was illustrating the essence of his ministry. He was the One sent down from Heaven (v. 33), not to fulfill the temporal physical needs of mankind, but to supply their spiritual need for eternal salvation (v. 27). As food nourishes the physical body through eating, even so Christ meets the needs of man’s spirit by being invited into his heart by faith. Oh that men and women of our day would come to realize that Christ is powerful enough to meet all their needs, and give them complete satisfaction.


He is the First and Last, the Beginning and the End!

He is the keeper of Creation and the Creator of all!

He is the Architect of the universe and the Manager of all times.

He always was, He always is, and He always will be…

Unmoved, Unchanged, Undefeated, and never Undone!

He was bruised and brought healing!

He was pierced and eased pain!

He was persecuted and brought freedom!

He was dead and brought life!

He is risen and brings power!

He reigns and brings Peace!

The world can’t understand Him,

The armies can’t defeat Him,

The schools can’t explain Him,

And the leaders can’t ignore Him.

Herod couldn’t kill Him,

The Pharisees couldn’t confuse Him,

And the people couldn’t hold Him!

Nero couldn’t crush Him,

Hitler couldn’t silence Him,

The New Age can’t replace Him,

And Donahue can’t explain Him away!

He is Light, Love, Longevity, and Lord.

He is Goodness, Kindness, Gentleness, and God.

He is Holy, Righteous, Mighty, Powerful, and Pure.

His ways are right,

His word is eternal,

His will is unchanging,

And His mind is on me.

He is my Redeemer,

He is my Savior,

He is my Guide,

And He is my peace!

He is my joy,

He is my comfort.

He is my Lord, and He rules my life!

I serve Him because His bond is love,

His burden is light, and His goal for me is abundant life.

I follow Him because He is the wisdom of the wise,

The power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers,

The leader of leaders, the overseer of the over comers,

And the sovereign Lord of all that was, and is, and is to come.

And if that seems impressive to you, try this for size.

His goal is a relationship with ME!

He will never leave me, never forsake me, never mislead me, never forget me, never overlook me, and never cancel my appointment in His appointment book!

When I fall, He lifts me up!

When I fail, He forgives!

When I am weak, He is strong!

When I am lost, He is the way!

When I am afraid, He is my courage!

When I stumble, He steadies me!

When I am hurt, He heals me!

When I am broken, He mends me!

When I am blind, He leads me!

When I am hungry, He feeds me!

When I face trials, He is with me!

When I face persecution, He shields me!

When I face problems, He comforts me!

When I face loss, He provides for me!

When I face Death, He carries me Home!

He is everything for everybody, everywhere,

Every time, and every way.

He is God, He is faithful.

I am His, and He is mine!

My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world.

So, if you’re wondering why I feel so secure, understand this…

He said it, and that settles it.

God is in control, I am on His side,

And that means all is well with my soul.2

The purpose of God’s goodness is not so man can experience the “goodies of God,” but that he might see his need for the “grace of God” in Christ. Paul says, “…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Rom.2: 4b).

Unfortunately, we still have some of these folks around today. Their only interest in the church and Jesus is what they can get out of them. They have no intention of committing themselves to Christ. Years ago, a man stopped by our church, in Springfield, Missouri, where I served as Minister of Music. He was looking for a handout. He was pleasant until the pastor questioned him about his need for salvation. He didn’t want any part of that. He was only interested in what the church could do about his physical needs.

IV. Some Followed Him No More Because Of The Message He Preached

A. Jesus Preached That Man’s Efforts For Salvation Are Useless.

Jesus made this plain.

John 6:63 “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

The Apostle Paul reiterated this principle.

Titus 3: 5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Eph. 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Salvation isn’t acquired by man’s works for God, but by faith, accepting the finished work of Christ on Calvary, as full payment for man’s sin.

7000 Protestant youth from many denominations were asked whether they agreed with the following statements:

“The way to be accepted by God is to try sincerely to live a good life.” More than 60% agreed.

“God is satisfied if a person lives the best life he can.” Almost 70% agreed.

“The main emphasis of the gospel is on God’s rules for right living.” More than half agreed.

Despite the efforts of evangelists, parachurch ministries and local churches, the percentage of American adults who are born again Christians is no different now than in 1982, according to a study by the Barna Research Group.

The study found that 34% of all Americans can be identified as born again—that is, they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, and say they will go to heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior.

Among those surveyed, 62% said they had made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their lives today. However, among those who have made a commitment to Christ, only 55 percent believe they will go to heaven because of accepting Christ as their personal savior (the basic belief in the “born again” movement)...Most of those surveyed said they would go to heaven because of living a good life, or obeying the 10 commandments, or because all people will go to heaven. Others who said they had made a commitment to Christ said they were unsure about what will happen to them after they die.3

B. Jesus Preached That Man’s Problem Is Unbelief.

John 6:64-66 “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”

1 Contributed by Allan C. Boyer in Reader's Digest.

2 Author unknown. Acquired at

3 Reported in Inland Northwest Christian News, March 1990, p. 3.