Week of August 7

Do You Desire Just a Meal or a Home?

Read: 2 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 34; John 6
“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.’”
John 6:26–27, ESV


“I’ve put in all this effort for nothing,” sounds the cry of deep personal regret. Jesus warns His listeners in John 6 not to invest all of their energies in “bread” that will not satisfy for eternity. They had been sated the day before with the loaves and fish, so they quite naturally came back for more. There is a spiritual lesson in this scene that will challenge us to seek the true bread that is from heaven.

Understanding the Bible Context

A deeper lesson in the loaves
This miracle is the only one that is mentioned in each one of the Gospels, so its significance should be obvious to us. The miracle of the feeding of 5000 forms the beginning of a longer section of John’s Gospel that reaches to 11:55 (NAC). The time of the miracle was the spring, just before the observance of the Passover (6:4). There may have been groups of pilgrims that were on their ways to the feast in Jerusalem. There are parallels between the passage and the Israelite Exodus, where the Hebrews were rescued and God feeds them in the wilderness. These Jewish folks were quite familiar with the Passover Seder and the remembrance of rescue from the sea and the feeding of manna.

John wants the reader to connect the story of the crossing of the lake with what had occurred the previous day (6:22-25; “the next day”). He is moving the reader to connect the dots and reflect upon Jesus as “the Bread of life.” Jesus’ actions were intended to plant gospel seeds; however, a movement of a certain kind was in danger of sprouting (6:15, 26a, “you are seeking me, not because you saw signs”; see also 6:64-66).
Questions that lead to life eternal
The people went searching for Jesus and decided to see if He were in Capernaum at a home of Jesus’ friends or relatives (cf. 2:12; NAC). John writes that when they “found” Jesus, they asked Him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” (6:25). This is a theme that John has woven into his account previously (1:41, 45; 5:14; 7:34). They ask familiar questions, too: “whence?” “whither?” “how?” and “when?” He wants his readers to consider the implications of such questions (NAC). These questions usually set the stage for a deeper revelation about Jesus. Well, let’s get in the boat and head to Capernaum and see what we can learn!
The question: why do you follow after Jesus?
Jesus does not answer the question per se, but picks up the discussion at a deeper level (6:26; cf. 1:48; 2:19; 3:3; 4:10). They were interested in chronology, and He was focused on their basic reason for “chasing after Him.” The “verily, verily” statement introduces a crucial idea from Jesus. He knew their hearts, and I guarantee that He knows mine—and yours. He knew exactly why they followed Him around; because of the food supply, not for the bread that faith supplies.

They ignored the signs. They were largely blind and deaf to the “sign” in the miracle. For our purposes, the “sign” in John’s Gospel points beyond the physical to the spiritual. They are intended to provide people with insight into who Jesus is. This begs a question from Jesus to us (cf. questions above)!

Applying the Passage to Our Lives

I had a hairstylist at one time that had begun feeding stray kitties that happened onto his rural property. I recall that he had gone out of town and, upon his return, discovered that some of his feline friends had moved on. He was saddened at their departure. However, some of the cats had stayed. Some cats obviously were there only for a meal while others had found a home. We obviously are not cats, but the anecdote provides us with a moral picture of two types of hunger. Some people feed the body wherever it can be found, while others seek the hand of care that feeds body and soul. Jesus feeds our whole need.

From our perspective: Ask, “Are we following Jesus for selfish purposes?” I believe that the question is fair to ask, considering the message of John 6. Instead of rushing after Him to receive food that spoils quickly, He invites us to seek food that endures (6:27; i.e., eternal life). He adds a fresh bit of revelation to the truth.

From God’s perspective: The Heavenly Father has placed His stamp of approval (seal) upon the Son’s actions. God was the one feeding and reaching out to humanity (6:27; cf. 3:33-36; see John 3:16)! The call today is to make certain that our efforts to follow Christ are sincere. He offers eternal life, so we dare not settle for less.

Reflecting Upon and Discussing the Passage

1. It always helps to review our prayer lists to see what we have placed there, and then to ask ourselves why we placed certain requests on the list. Sometimes we are guilty of desiring the physical benefit to the neglect of our relationship with Christ. Who or what are you seeking more than anything?

2. For Families: Today's message can be interesting for your children if you make some special “bread of life” this evening for supper. Prepare a roll of refrigerator croissants with your meal, but form them into letters instead of their normal crescent shape. Spell out each letter of the word, “LIFE,” and bake them to come out of the oven with this message. They will be puffy letters and fun for the children!

As you serve them, share with your kids that some people in the Bible followed Jesus just because He gave them something to eat. But Jesus wants more of us. He wants us to give Him our lives and to love Him with all of our hearts, not just for what He can give us. Your family eats this “bread of life” tonight as a reminder that He is the Bread of Life for the whole world, the one who saves us from sin and gives us a home in Heaven.

As you eat your bread, share with each other something you love about Jesus that starts with the letter you are eating (for example, L is for listens when we pray, I is for incomparable, F is for forgiving, E is for Emmanuel; the list is endless!).

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock