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John 6:25-30, NIV
25 When they [the people in the crowd] found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" 26 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs 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. 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."
March 28, 2011The people in this passage had participated in the miracle of the multiplication of the five loaves and the two small fish. Actually ate food created directly from the hand of Jesus and now were back for more. They were very much like those of us who use our senses to get whatever we can from life. Whenever there is something unusual to be seen, we go for it and send u-tube clips to all our friends. We listen for the latest news, music, fads, hot tips and hot picks. The people in this crowd even got to touch, taste and smell the product of Jesus' latest miracle.
So Jesus knew how highly they valued and relied on the physical world. They were totally absorbed by what they could experience with their senses. On this day they were in the mood for more but instead of giving them what they fancied, Jesus told them something they didn't necessarily want to hear and which they failed to appreciate. Why? Because what Jesus said they really needed they could not experience with their senses.
It could not be handled, consumed or relayed in the usual manner. The "food" they really needed had no expiration date but would live on eternally! The "food" they really needed would never get stale, go out of vogue or fail to satisfy. The next meal Jesus wanted to give them held God's seal of approval. It would even outlast their body. They could begin now and continue eating until they met Jesus again in heaven's banquet hall!
There's much more to this life than what we can taste, smell, touch, see or hear. There is another realm waiting to be explored. A few verses later, Jesus would inform them that he is "the bread of life." That statement comes with an invitation to feed on him. Clearly, this will take some time to process and discover what Jesus means.
More journal entries
January 14, 2002Onlookers could see that something fishy was happening here on the shores of Galilee. How did Jesus get from one side of the lake to the other and make his way back to Capernaum? Were they trying to hone Jesus in and confine him within the predictable laws of physics! "How and when did you get here, Teacher?"
April 6, 1983Jesus never answered that question. He changed the subject instead--from when he got there to why they were looking for him. Jesus felt no obligation to stay and feed them again. The crowd wanted to know when and how Jesus got to the other shore? Jesus wanted to talk about food and work, believing and receiving.
The feeding of the 5000 men began with people swarming around Jesus asking for physical healing for themselves and for their loved one. I can imagine all the additional people who would flock to Jesus now thinking they should receive a free meal. People were poor and lived day to day. Normally they worked for food and that occupied their days. But if Jesus would feed them, they could eat without working.
Unlike his other miracles, when Jesus fed the crowd there were no bystanders. The loaves and fish were a gift to each person who was present. They all experienced this one and benefited personally. Everyone was invited to partake, as much as they needed, until their hunger was satisfied
January 15, 2002The crowd wasn't done with Jesus yet and Jesus wasn't done with them either. He acknowledged what their motives were and why they were concerned about him and followed him around. Let's get this out on the table honestly: You seek me not only to watch the miracles, but because I fed you yesterday. Now, while I have your attention, let me tell you something you need to know. . . .
Before the end of this chapter Jesus talks to 3 groups of people: 1) the people in the crowd, 2) critics whom John calls "the Jews" and 3) his disciples/followers/believers. He starts with group #1, but group #2 chimes in so he addresses them too. John concludes this chapter, this slice of Jesus' life, with the reaction of Jesus' disciples--the many without names and the 12 with names.
April 9, 1983Don't work for food that doesn't last! These were mostly poor people that Jesus was talking to. They knew that in order to eat, they must work. Whether they grew their own food, or bought it--work on their part was required. Jesus also knew that people need to eat. We don't live on dreams, ideas, or lofty thoughts. So why would Jesus make such a statement?
Jesus went on to say that food which endures unto eternal life is not something we work for. It is given to us by "the Son of Man", a term Jesus used when talking about himself. God has placed his seal of approval on him, that sounds like a guarantee to me. God's seal of approval--what higher honor could there be? The food Jesus gives is guaranteed for eternity too.
March 29, 2011If it's not to work for our daily bread, then what is the work that God requires of us? If our task in life is not primarily to survive, then what are we here for? If all our striving is for things which do not last, then what are the "eternals"?
Jesus begins the answer to these questions by telling these people the food which endures eternally is a gift which he could give them when they are ready to receive it. Just like yesterday when they had opened their hands to receive the miraculous loaves and fish, so now today and everyday, living food is available to all who believe. Jesus, the bread of life, is pure gift, just like the mountainside meal.
April 11, 1983What must we do? What is our true job in life? Believing in the works of God, believing in the one God has sent into our world. Belief is not passive. This is the food that lasts on into eternal life. Jesus didn't ask us to do an easy thing; belief is difficult. Simple yet hard, like forgiveness.
April 12, 1983Jesus worked--doing the will of God, being an eternal spring of water and source of food, giving his body, sharing his life and resurrection.
Jesus was God on earth--giving, teaching, saving, making whole. Jesus was the Word, revealing the story of God the Father. Jesus was the Light and Life of the world, the Lamb of God branded with the sign of God's approval and authority.
Although physically I must work for daily bread, mentally I am free to decide how to spend my time and thoughts. In that way I can opt for the food which lasts into eternal life. God, help me to make that decision, and receive the nourishment Jesus wants to give me.
The food that leads to eternal life is: giving, teaching, saving, making whole. Also for me, keeping my vessel empty so God can fill it up. Or in another analogy--a musical instrument; God is the musician, and my responsibility is to keep the instrument clean, tuned and in good condition.
April 13, 1983Father, guide my day that I may work for those things that lead to eternal life. Not asleep, but awake to your presence; not passing the time, but eagerly, expectantly, lovingly seeking you.
God sent Jesus into our world, like in the parable of the vineyard, because all else failed to bring his people to terms with God's covenantal love--to live by the spirit of the Law, to do justice, love righteousness and create peace. Jesus is the Way that leads to life. Foreseen by the prophets, expected by the devout. Yet mostly unrecognized, disregarded, treated like an impostor.
April 14, 1983Why would Jesus say that believing is work? The work of God for you is to believe . . . . As long as I can remember, I have always believed that Jesus was God's son sent to be our Savior.
But Jesus calls it work, not leisure, or natural (unless work is natural). Does work in this sense mean struggle, difficult labor, the curse of Adam? Obstacles to overcome like the weeds and thistles are to the gardener or the farmer? Or was Jesus talking about the joy and fulfillment of work? What I feel after a job well done. Or like yesterday after walking across town to Millersville? I felt healthy, alive, had good color in my cheeks, a good appetite and pride in accomplishment?
Work is a fair exchange for money. Eternal life is the fair exchange for doing God's work. My work is to believe in the one God sent--to believe in Jesus as God's man, God's voice, God's signpost pointing the way. And more than that, the bread of life without which I could not live.
How do you get what you want out of life? Most people might answer, "By working for it." How do you get eternal life? By receiving the gift God wants to give. By believing in the one God has sent to you. Believing is a powerful tool.
April 15, 1983I said "no" again yesterday--this time to substituting at nursery school the last Monday in April. How clear that decision was! To work for pay or to go and spend my time with the old folks at Conestoga View. To work "for food that does not last" or "for the food that lasts on into eternal life." The way seemed obvious and so I chose the latter. I wish all decisions could be that clear!