A Reflection on John 6:24-35
(for the Tenth Sunday After Pentecost, August 2, 2015)
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 lake, 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.’ 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.”’ 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. (John 6:24-35, NRSV).
The same crowd among whom Jesus divided five barley loaves and two fish is searching for Jesus. Prior to this miracle feeding they sought Jesus for his teaching.
Now, however, their motives have changed.
The possibility of another free lunch is what causes this return. They seek a second easy meal.
They look for the ‘perishable’ among the ‘eternal’.
Of course, Jesus wants more. The work of God is to believe, to trust, in the one who stands before them. This is the hope of the ‘sign’ previously given: that they will trust the one the miracle points to.
For that, however, the crowd manipulatively claim the need for another ‘sign’. They suggest an echo of Moses’ wilderness manna: ‘Make more food’. Stuck on a theme!
The only bread Jesus will offer today is far superior. Jesus’ loaf is both ‘true’, ‘heavenly’, and ‘life-giving’. Their hearts are changed: ‘Sir, give us this bread always’.
And ‘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”.
‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ ‘Come’ to Jesus and ‘believe’. Jesus’ call to humanity.
Who knows where such a reorientation may lead…