Many people followed Jesus hoping to see miraculous signs and wonders. When Jesus fed the five thousand (John 6:1-13) the door-way to free food was opened, at least in the eyes of the people. Shortly after the smorgasbord on a hill in Galilee, Jesus was approached in Capernaum by a large crowd of people, who incidentally had been part of the five thousand. (John 6:23) Jesus confronted them by telling them that one of the reasons they were following Him was because they sought another free meal. (John 6:26) Today Christianity seems to have taken on a different understanding of the Gospel message. It is more like a faith that caters to the physical needs of the seekers, rather than seeking to promote the image of God within them. As in Jesus’ day more and more Christians are drawn to the physical realities of the Kingdom than they are to spiritual truths. They are more concerned with the outer man than the inner man. On this particular day, a group of sign seekers were looking to fill their temporary needs. Jesus, on the other hand, was focusing on the eternal. He told them to work for the spiritual food that would lead to eternal satisfaction. (John 6:27) In response to their inquiry Jesus told them that the work they were to do was to “believe” on Him. (John 6:28) The crowd wanted Jesus to validate His authority just like Moses did in the wilderness with the manna. (John 6:30, 31) (Had He not already done that with the feeding of the five thousand?) Why are we so taken up with seeking miracles as validation of God’s love? Do we, like Thomas, want to “see” before we really trust and believe? (John 20: 25) When are we going to take God at His Word instead of asking Him to prove Himself with signs and wonders?
When Jesus told the people that He was the “bread of life” which came down from Heaven to satisfy their spiritual hunger, they continued reasoning by verbalizing their doubts. It was not feasible to accept what Jesus said, for some knew Joseph and Mary so how could He have come down from Heaven? (John 6:41, 42) (It is interesting to note that Joseph was still alive at this point in Jesus’ ministry!?) Jesus used the same illustration that the people were using when they referred to Moses and his feeding of the multitude. He said they truly ate of the temporary “Heavenly Bread” that Moses gave them, but they died. Then Jesus said if they would eat Him, the Bread of Life, they would live forever. (John 6:58) His carnal followers could not grasp the reality of what He was saying and as a result, many walked away from Him. (John 6:66) As the crowd began to disperse in disgust, He asked His chosen twelve if they would also forsake Him. Peter boldly proclaimed that they would not leave for He had the words of eternal life and besides that, they believed He was the Son of the living God. (John 6:66- 69)
Many of Jesus’ teachings were filtered by people’s reasoning instead of accepting it by faith. Jesus attempted to get man to look beyond the temporal to the eternal. What Jesus did that day in Capernaum was to get the people to see that Moses gave temporal and diminishing bread while Jesus was offering them Living Bread. As food answers the craving of the flesh, so the accepting of Jesus will fill the spiritual craving. Consume Jesus and life will take on a different meaning. Just as one eats and drinks the necessities of life and is “filled,” he who eats of the eternal bread will not only experience fulfillment in life but eternal life. (John 6:51). He was speaking figuratively, which they were hearing literally. A simple analogy so sadly missed. How much of Jesus’ teachings have we missed because we have filtered His word with human reasoning? If we read the Bible void of spiritual understanding, we should just put it on a shelf to gather dust, for it will be nothing more than words.