Unsatisfied by Jesus’ answer about the work of God, the crowd asked for a sign.
When they asked what work God desired from them, Jesus had told them the truth, “The work of God is to believe in Him.” but this was not enough.
“What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You?
What work will You do?”
To justify their request, they cited the manna in the wilderness—bread as a sign from heaven. Could Jesus match that?
The historical record was clear: Moses did not provide the manna; God did. A greater opportunity was before them.
“My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
This was confusing to them. Bread could not be a person. If there was something in their generation better than heavenly manna in their fathers’ generation, they wanted it. Why confuse the issue with reckless personification?
“Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”
Two days into this wilderness trek to find Jesus, one day after they had eaten a miraculous meal, the morning after a terrible storm, and following an impromptu trip across Galilee, these people were in no mood to be denied.
“Lord, give us this bread always.”
The Bread of Life
As He often did, Jesus paused before answering them. He knew they would not like the answer. Still, there was no other answer to give. He had to somehow move their minds from the literal to the metaphorical. The Word of God so often comes in metaphor, requiring the use of the imagination God had given each of us. When they were all intently listening He answered them.
“I am the bread of life.
This simply would not do. They knew what bread was and it wasn’t a man! A murmur of impatience shuddered through the multitude like a cold wind. Jesus went on.
“He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
The cold wind of rejection grew from murmur to a vocal complaint. Jesus raised His hand, the same hand that held the bread and fish when He blessed it, to quiet the crowd.
“I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.”
With this they agreed—they did not believe. A hungry multitude on a two-day hike needed more than words. Their protests peaked only to subside as Jesus continued to explain.
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me,
and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”
He went on, raising His voice over the storm of their protests, to explain His mission and the iron-clad promises connected to it.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Words do not make a sign.
They had asked for a sign and all He gave them was more words. There was bread from Heaven but it was not to their liking.
Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Lord Jesus, You are the Bread of Life. Your Word feeds my mind. Your presence feeds my spirit. Your health feeds my body. Every day is a feast of Living Bread come down from Heaven. This is better food than the manna in the Wilderness. It is always fresh and warm and nourishing. Help me today to do the work of the Kingdom—to believe in You! I will do Your will and tell Your story. Lord Jesus, You are the Bread of Life. Amen.
Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer
Words: William Williams; Music: John Hughes
1. Guide me, O Thou great *Jehovah, [*Redeemer]
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand.
Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.
2. Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliv’rer, strong Deliv’rer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.
3. Lord, I trust Thy mighty power,
Wondrous are Thy works of old;
Thou deliver’st Thine from thralldom,
Who for naught themselves had sold:
Thou didst conquer, Thou didst conquer
Sin and Satan and the grave,
Sin and Satan and the grave.
4. When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death and hell’s Destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved