When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking 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 to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing 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, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who 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 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. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 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.” John 6:25-51 (ESV)
Every now and then fast food restaurants have giveaways- we have all seen the promotions where one can get a free cone at the DQ, or a free taco at Taco Bell on a certain day or with a specific coupon. Lots of people line up for the free food- and often buy more food to go with their freebie. Whenever people have the perception that they’re getting something for free, rest assured, such promotions draw crowds. Giving away free stuff gets a business noticed.
Jesus drew crowds also when He fed the multitudes. Everyone wanted to follow Jesus when free food was involved. Yet it was Jesus’ aim to provide something far better than tangible, physical, edible bread. Jesus had come as the Bread of Life, not as a gimmick to sell stuff or to hawk His wares, but to give Himself away for the salvation of the world.
We have a tendency to look for signs- the gimmick so to speak- but Jesus teaches us that faith is a gift of God, and that the Father draws us to Him. The work of Christians, regardless of our specific vocations, is to believe God and trust in Jesus- God Who took on human flesh and lives among us. There are no points to earn, no ladder to climb, though there will be crosses to bear. We are called to walk by faith and not by sight. We may not see signs. We may only have the sign of Jonah, that Jesus was swallowed up by Death, and released from Death on the third day. (Jonah 1:17)
He fed the multitudes with physical bread, but that sign was to point us to the reality that HE is the eternal Bread of Life, that HE is the Life.
We are given an even greater gift, a greater provision than the Israelites had as they ate manna in the desert as they wandered for forty years. We receive both our daily bread- our physical provision along the way- and our eternal provision, Jesus, the Bread of Life from the hand of God.
Thank God that Jesus has come to put death to death. He has risen, and He gives us His very Body and His very Blood so we who the Father draws to Him in faith may share eternal life with Him.