25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” 30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
I love the contrast Jesus gives here, of the kind of fulfilment the world can provide and what only He can provide. His disciples knew of the way God had provided for the Israelites in the Old Testament with manna for them to eat (Exodus 16.4) and had seen Him provide food for the 5000 just prior. Yet here, Jesus is saying that He is the bread of life, providing eternal fulfilment.
Two things strike me here. Firstly, this passage refers to two situations where there was direct and miraculous provision for physical need – both the Israelites in the desert and the 5000 people following Jesus earlier in John 6 all needed food to eat, and food was provided to them in a supernatural way. Yet the disciples are still asking for a sign, that they may believe that Jesus is who He claims to be.
Secondly, there are needs that we each have that can only be met spiritually through relationship with Jesus, the ‘bread of life’. No physical object or commodity will satisfy, though often we may try.
This causes me to question – where has God provided for me but I missed it because I was looking for something different, or simply just not noticing? And where am I looking to find deep spiritual fulfilment in the physical (belongings, relationships, success etc), when only Jesus can provide this?
God, search my heart and open my eyes to the areas where you are working in my life. Help me, that I may see where you have provided for me previously and are providing for me now, and where in my life I am attempting to find fulfilment outside of you. Let me rely on you, the bread of life!
Written by Madelaine Tarasenko