What do you look for in a loaf of bread? When I’m in a new store, I go straight for the whole-wheat selection. After I find a suitably priced loaf, I check the list of ingredients to make sure there is no barley included, because I’m allergic to barley. Perhaps you are more concerned to avoid too much sugar, salt, or certain fats. Or is it the organic brands you prefer?
The crowd of over five thousand people that Jesus had fed in Galilee, would not buy His multiplication miracle as evidence of Jesus’ value.
They said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so 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 out of heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. . . . I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:30-35, 48-51)
It seems remarkable that anyone could shrug off a miracle. How ungrateful, after receiving a free meal just as the dinner time hunger pangs began. Yet, given their poor example, it’s amazing that we so easily display the same fickleness. Jesus answers a prayer, but our excitement fades within a day or two and we begin focusing on fresh needs.
But other things were on the minds of the Jewish crowd. They knew God’s promise to send His Messiah in the form of a prophet like Moses.1 Surely one sign of the true Messiah would be the delivery of that sweet, sticky angel food called manna.2 An unexpected feast of barley loaves and little fish was spectacular, but it wasn’t manna.
Not only were the crowd ungrateful and demanding, they were also confused. They expected the Messiah to come as God’s agent because they viewed Moses that way. But Moses was not the provider; the heavenly Father Himself had rained the manna down.
Jesus addressed their wrong thinking. He is no agent of God; He is the very bread of life. God sent Him to earth as spiritual bread to nourish the spirit. The Living Bread is One with God; feeding on Him results in eternal life. What does it mean to consume Jesus? It means believing in Him so strongly that we go straight to Him and select Him as the complete solution for every need. Relationship with God is the essence of eternal life.3 Every other selection from the crammed shelf of competing religious goods lacks the vital ingredient and leaves the consumer spiritually dead.
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