Read John 6:1-29
1Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. 3Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4The Jewish Passover Feast was near.
5When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!"
8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 9"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
10Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
16When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid." 21Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
22The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the people had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.
25When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
26Jesus 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. 27Do 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."
28Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
29Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (NIV)
We begin this section with John’s remembrance of the feeding of the 5000. There is a small detail that we miss when reading this miracle. It is the boy’s lunch. There are some clues to what a great offering it was. The first is that it is a boy who is willing to give up his lunch. Jesus lifted up having the faith of a child often. Here a boy is willing to help. The second thing we see is that is a boy from a poor family. Barley was considered food for beasts. Most bread consumed would be made of wheat. But the poor ate bread made of barely. Time and time again in my life, it is the poor who give to help others. They know the problems with it better than most.
John uses this miracle as a entry to talking about the concept of Jesus as the Bread of Life. We see in the passages that follow and the one we will read next week, that this is where he is headed with his Gospel. The feeding of the 5000 brings us closer to the Lord’s Supper. It is a simple meal where we see the wonder of Christ. It is an encounter with Jesus. This is what the people saw that day – the Son of God having compassion on the people and feeding them. When we come to the table at Holy Communion, we encounter a compassionate God who loves us, forgives us, and sustains us.
The people follow Jesus after this encounter and they are filled with questions. But Jesus tells them that they simply following him because he fed them and they want more. Here he tells them to work for things that are eternal which God will give them. And Jesus points to the one work we really do for salvation. It is the only thing we do to “earn” our salvation and that is to believe. If we do not believe, there is no salvation. But as we try, God gives us help in this regard by sending the Holy Spirit to help us to believe. The question is do we believe because we have seen miracles or do we believe because we have heard? Do miracles or experiencing God’s answers to prayer help you in your belief? Jesus gives us miracles to help us believe. But our faith should be more than just seeing or being part of a miracle.
The spiritual gifts of miracles and speaking in tongues are signifying gifts. They help people who do not believe see that God is present. But our faith must grow to the point where we don’t need miracles to keep believing. Our journey begins and continues with the statement, “I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.” What does it mean for you to say this statement.
Blessings and Peace