Today we join Jesus in Capernaum. He got here by unusual means; walking on water across the sea. He had just finished feeding the multitude the previous day. Now He has a different meal He wants to invite everyone to partake in.
I love how John starts out the story. When night fell after dinner the crowd saw Jesus put His disciples in the boat and send them off. They also knew He didn’t have a second boat to leave the area in. So naturally they looked for Him in the obvious place; where they last saw Him. He wasn’t there, so they decided to follow where His disciples went. Low and behold Jesus was there too! How did that happen?! They ask Jesus straight up about it but He doesn’t share that answer with them. Instead He goes straight to their motivation for looking for Him.
What Jesus did on the other shore was nothing short of a miracle, but it wasn’t the only miracle of the day. I find Jesus’ comments about their motivations interesting. People had been flocking to Him because and for the miracles He had been doing. That was what brought this crowd to begin with. But apparently the miracle of the bread and fish topped them all. I was thinking about why that might be and I came up with one possibility. When Jesus ministered healing to someone, that person received the direct benefit. Their family might benefit too, but the common spectator didn’t really receive anything. With the bread and fish miracle, EVERYONE received something. No one was left out.
The people were still enamored over the meal, and I don’t blame them. So Jesus used their focus to try and bring them a deeper “meal.” “Don’t work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal” (verse 27).
The people bit right away! “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (verse 28). Did they truly want to know what they were missing or were they thinking that they were already doing what needed to be done?
Jesus gave them the ONE CORE THING they needed to do. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (verse 29). That one “work” is the foundation of everything else with God. It is the beginning of our Father-son/daughter relationship. If we try any other way, we won’t make it.
The people’s response leaves me with my mouth hanging open in surprise! “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do You perform?” (verse 30).
Seriously?! Have you been sleeping? What has Jesus been doing since stepping onto the scene? Why did you come to see Him in the first place? Wasn’t it for the signs that He had been doing? And to top it all off, He just fed you! Reminds me of that song, “What have you done for me lately?”
Ok, their comparison with Moses and the manna was a good one, but Moses didn’t do the miracle for them. God sent the manna down to them. Jesus broke and gave and broke and gave and broke and gave them the food. That miracle came directly at His hands. Jesus makes sure that they are pointed back to God as the giver, even of Him, to the people. He is the true bread from Heaven.
The people made the right response, but from the wrong motivations and source. “Sir, give us this bread always” (verse 34). But they wanted bread for their bellies, not for their spirits. They couldn’t get past the physical ideas and grasp the deeper things Jesus was addressing.
“Jesus said to then, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe (verses 35-36)… For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me’” (verse 38).
Of all that they could get perturbed about they pick His heritage. Yes, I understand their natural tendency to look at things with their natural eyes, but Jesus’ works had been shouting about His true nature since the beginning.
Jesus wasn’t upset about their unbelief. He told them that no one could come to Him unless the Father drew them. That was the special revelation knowledge God had graced His closest disciples with. These people were still blind to the truth. Jesus was the only one to know the full truth. Even His disciples had sections hidden from them.
Now Jesus “goes in for the kill.” “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (verse 51).
“WHAT?! Eat His flesh! Surely not!” Jesus topped it all off with, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink” (verses 54-55).
If I didn’t know Jesus was speaking metaphorically I would be backing up too. But he was speaking of spiritual food; food that lasts for eternity! This is the “food” He came to give us. Thank God He did! We would still be dead spiritually if He hadn’t. But this was not the news they were ready to hear. Many people would stop coming to see Jesus after this. This lesson was too hard for them, so far. There was going to come a time though when God would allow these truths to sink in. God would remove the blinders.
Thank You Jesus for being willing to share the hard stuff. More than that though, thank You for being willing to be our salvation! You are the bread of life. The ONLY way to the Father. I FULLY believe this.
Thank You God for drawing me to Jesus and Yourself. Thank You that You removed the blinders from my eyes too. “Open my eyes Lord!” Help me to see clearer every day. And to the question earlier, “what have You done for me lately”, You give me air to breathe every moment of the day! That’s not even counting the fact that You brought me into Your family for all eternity! I can never say it enough; THANK YOU!