24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
Jesus the Bread of Life
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi,when did you get here?”
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’[a]”
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heavenand gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
This reading was the lectionary gospel reading last week and I heard two different sermons on it. One focused on the physical side and the other on the spiritual side. When I heard the first one, at first I was frustrated because I thought that the preacher had completely missed the point. All she seemed to be focusing on was the physical side, in that we need food to sustain us. This was the view that the crowd in the reading had had – they had witnessed the amazing miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 in the verses prior to this one but all that had happened is that they had full stomachs, not the faith to go with it…
But then in the second sermon I heard that day, focused a lot more on the spiritual side – that Jesus himself was the bread of life! The bread that Jesus is talking about in this reading is that which “comes down from heaven” and which “gives life to the world”. In John’s gospel this is exactly the same kind of language which is used to describe Jesus himself. He is the one that gives life to and sustains the world!
After what has been a very manic week for me, this idea of allowing God to sustain me just kept coming back to me over and over again! Sometimes we try to fill that void, whatever it may be with worldly, physical things. But the problem with that is, it is that ‘food’ that perishes. What Jesus is offering here is something eternal, something that endures.
When Jesus says that he is the “bread of life”, it means that he is God’s life-giving and life-sustaining gift to the world. We do not have to do anything to earn this gift. We only have to trust God and accept it freely. So today, don’t choose this ordinary, perishable food because you will constantly be wanting more. Ask for this life-giving and life-sustaining food that God offers through Jesus, so that you may never go hungry or thirsty again!