John 6 24-35
The next day the crowd that was left behind realised that there had been only one boat, and that Jesus had not gotten into it with his disciples. They had seen them go off without him. By now boats from Tiberias had pulled up near where they had eaten the bread blessed by the Master. So when the crowd realized he was gone and wasn’t coming back, they piled into the Tiberias boats and headed for Capernaum, looking for Jesus.
When they found him back across the sea, they said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs – and for free.
“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s works?”
Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.”
They waffled: “Why don’t you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what’s going on? When we see what’s up, we’ll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.”
They jumped at that: “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!”
Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
You are looking for me, Jesus says, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves. Jesus’ disciples are always demanding a “sign” from Jesus—some kind of magic wonder working sign–as if healing the lame weren’t enough; as if making the blind see weren’t enough; as if his entire life up to that point wasn’t evidence enough by now, no – they want a blinking, neon sign that screams to the world “this is Him! This is THE ONE!! Come see the Hebrew peasant wonder worker! Step right up!” Perhaps it is being uncharitable to those faithless disciples, yet it does seem that they keep insisting that Jesus continues to “top” himself; to make his miracles and signs ever more bold, more astonishing, more dramatic.
Yet, what does Jesus really do? He puts his hands in his pockets and comes up with real bread, yes, but also pulls out deep metaphors that, if understood, will satisfy. Time and time again he directs our gaze not to a loaf of bread, but to the fact that there is bread that will gratify us for all time. We may clamour for real bread, but Jesus tells us that the gifts from God, if truly absorbed, could slake our hunger forever.