“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. (John 6:24-26)
Remember when I said that Jesus accused the crowd of seeking him because they wanted more free food? What I did not remember was that Jesus comes across (at least to the writer of the gospel of John) as being very patient with their limited understanding. Jesus uses this opportunity to try teach them something about God and himself. Do you, beloved reader?
“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.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” (Verses 27-31)
When the earthly world is set beside the heavenly/spiritual world, and cross connections are made, it can be hard to figure out which means what. Jesus is telling the crowd that it is more important to put ones energy and effort into living a good authentic Christian life than to acquire and retain earthly possessions and treasures. It does not mean starve to death. I think the crowd understood this based on the questions they asked Jesus. Or at least the writer of the gospel of John has significant people in the crowd understanding. Or maybe they are just asking for more food.
“Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (Verses 32-35)
These verses echo Jesus’ offering his disciples the cup and the bread at the Last Supper. At this point in the gospel the first time reader of John would not be aware of how this concept will show up again. But the writer of the gospel of John knew, at this point, how Jesus’ ministry would end and so these sentiments from Jesus now set up what will come later.
I had pressed the point last week (yes, I saw that it accidentally posted one day early!) about whether we follow Jesus because we like the “benefits” and “perks”, or whether we follow out of devotion and commitment. Although those who have suffered for their faith would tell you they have experienced few “perks” and “benefits”. Faith in God is supposed to be life changing, turning priorities upside down from what modern (or any earthly/non-faith based) society would have us believe in and work for.
Do you need signs and wonders, wonder bread and food to fill you, before you will believe and live for God? Perhaps it is good that the miracles that the Divine does are more hidden, so that we believe not because we have seen “magic” but because we have heard the Spirit call us. Selah!