“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. 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.” (John 6:24 – 27)
I approach this passage with skepticism. The crowds who were feed with plenty to spare came searching for Jesus, and asked in all innocence “when did you show up here?” Not because, according to the writer of this passage, they wanted to hear more from Jesus; but because they wanted to see another miracle and be fed. Jesus tried to instruct them in the better way to approach life.
“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.” (Verses 28 – 29)
Still wanting to find the easy road, they asked what they personally needed to do in order to have “enduring food”. And again, Jesus gave them the straight answer.
“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 30 – 31)
It seems that Jesus and the crowd (if indeed the crowd spoke with one voice) are talking at cross purposes. They want to have food and physical sustenance that comes easily. Jesus is talking about food for their soul. Now, all the questions and pondering I have about this passage I would direct at the writer of the gospel of John. Clearly Jesus knew that the crowd’s desire was “bread & circus” (to use an old expression). Yet his choice of words seems ignores this, and I suspect that the writer of John is crafting Jesus’ speech. Surely the crowd by now would have figured out that Jesus is talking about a different type of need, yet they persist in talking about physical 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.” (Verses 32 – 33)
And when finally the truth is clearly stated,
“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 34 – 35)
We still are not sure if the “crowd” understands what Jesus is talking about. Or if Jesus (through the writing style of the writer of the gospel of John) is deliberately using metaphors that are above their understanding. Because when a clear truth is said, it is still partially mystery cloaked.
But we understand, beloved reader. We understand. And maybe that that was the intention of the writer of the gospel of John. To present the mysticism of Jesus as only something a certain few can understand. And as I think & ponder about this, it occurs to me that maybe the coming of the Holy Spirit added something to humanity’s understanding of spiritual & Spiritual things. And if that is true, then most surely leading a good authentic Christian life should be a small bit easier. May you find it so, beloved reader! Shalom & Selah!