Believe in Him, and He will feed you.
Felicity O’Brien, 29 July 2009,John 6:24-35. All rights reserved. PDF
Jesus had just fed the 5000, as we heard in last week’s Gospel reading. But that was not enough for the crowd – they wanted a sign. What did they expect? Wasn’t feeding a crowd from a lunchbox enough? But Jesus tells them not to work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures. He was referring to himself.
In today’s Old Testament reading we heard about the manna from heaven which the crowds at Capernaum alluded to –
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.“
This last sentence was a test or challenge not only for the sojourners in the wilderness, but also for the Capernaum crowd, and for us too. When God said they had to go out and gather enough for that day, it can also be taken to mean that if we want to take up Jesus’ offer of himself as the bread of heaven, we need to gather Him to us, open our hearts, invite Him in. We cannot sit by waiting for him to come in uninvited.
They asked what they needed to do to perform the works of God. The answer was that they needed to believe in him. This is our answer too – to believe in Jesus. Jesus went on to explain why – that the bread of God gives life to the world. Everyone wants life, but life has many meanings. Is it just physical existence? Or health? Or wealth? Life in Christ is all these things, and more. It is knowing that God is real, he is ever-present, he hears our cries and provides our needs. It is about relationships with others, knowing that we can make a difference too. From today’s epistle:
“speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”
Even when we are not able to help people in a physical way, we can be of very real life-giving assistance by praying for them. When we are less able in our bodies, we are more able in our spirit.
Jesus makes a great “I am” statement –“I am the bread of life” as the climax of this passage from today’s gospel reading. Whoever comes to him will never be hungry, and whoever believes in him will never thirst. Of course, there may be hunger and thirst in the natural, but the soul will be satisfied, by knowing that we belong to God, he loves us and has redeemed us, by sending his son Jesus Christ, who is as present with us now as he was for the crowds in Capernaum 2000 years ago.