The notes today are by Heather.
The next few days are a challenging read as Jesus reveals more about where he is from and who he is. The crowd clearly do not understand, nor do the Jewish leaders or even the disciples. At least we have the benefit of hindsight and the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday we left the crowd in search of Jesus. When they find him, Jesus challenges their outlook on life and their lack of spiritual discernment. He has come to deal primarily with spiritual needs while their energies are taken up solely with the here and now of living. He offers them the free gift of ‘food which endures to eternal life’ (v27) ie spiritual food which would satisfy their souls, but they seem more concerned with ticking boxes, to ‘do what God requires’. Granted that Jesus is revealing a whole new concept to the Jews about what it means to please God, but still their priority thinking is self –interest. They want ‘this bread’ but they do not want it on Jesus’ terms.
They do not recognise or accept the possibility that Jesus could be other than who they think he is (v42). His claim to be sent from heaven by his Father with the purpose of giving eternal life was met with scorn and disbelief – ‘Who does he think he is? He’s only a local boy…we know where he comes from and his family’ (v 42). You would have thought that the miracles Jesus had already done, especially feeding the 5,000 with bread would have backed up his claim to be sent from God, but their memories are very short when it comes to committing themselves.
Jesus graciously persists with his teaching because he knows there are those who will respond to his offer, those whom the Father will draw to himself (v37), those who will grow in their understanding.
Why couldn’t the crowd or the Jewish leaders see it and accept, even without understanding everything? Because Jesus was not the sort of ‘saviour’ they felt they needed or wanted. They had fixed ideas of what was necessary and desirable. Does this sound familiar to our ears? I’m sure we have known people who have very strong ideas of who God is and what he should be doing, ie sorting out the evil in the world, the needs of the poor and all the trouble we hear about in the news etc and who ask ‘why doesn’t he do something about this…then I’ll believe!’ We too can often be guilty of making God in our own image, so that He is the sort of God we can live with.
Jesus reveals himself as the bread sent from heaven to satisfy our deepest needs, our deepest longings for acceptance, security, fulfilment and purpose, whether or not we realise that we have such needs, but it is offered on his terms and we need to come to God humbly, in believing faith as Jesus says, to claim this promise so that we will never be ‘hungry’ or ‘thirsty’ again.
Lord, thank you so much for being all that we need – we pray that today we may have a renewed assurance of our total security, acceptance and destiny in you and a renewed vision of what this means, so that we may always ‘feed on you in our hearts by faith’ and live our lives on earth with a confidence which impacts others for the kingdom of God.
We pray also for our world and for those we know and love who, like the Jewish crowd, seems so concerned for material and immediate needs, rather than spiritual ones, that they would seek for fulfilment and security in You.