Last week the people became so focused on what they thought about God, they missed His work right in front of them. This week they become so focused on what Jesus is doing, they misunderstand what it means.
After the events of his second trip to Jerusalem, Jesus decided to leave go back to the Sea of Galilee. By this time, Jesus has gained quite a following. He has performed many miracles, spoke and taught people, and traveled around the country showing everyone that he is the Son of God. Sitting with his disciples, he asked a crucial question, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” (John 6:5, NASB). Jesus receives an answer claiming that it would be impossible even if there was somewhere to purchase the bread — 200 days worth of wages to buy enough for everyone to have a little bit. Jesus’ response is to take what little a nearby boy is will to offer and multiply it so much that the disciples then gather up twelve baskets full of food.
“To know God as the Master and Bestower of all good things, who invites us to request them of Him, and still not go to Him and ask of Him — this would be of as little profit as for a man to neglect a treasure, buried and hidden in the earth, after it had been pointed out to him.”
— John Calvin
The story then shifts to getting across the sea. Jesus retreats from the crowd and the disciples choose to go on ahead without him. In the cover of night, the sea began to swell as a storm erupted around them. After traveling only a few miles across the Sea of Galilee from Tiberius toward Capernaum, the disciples see a figure appear out of the dark which frightened them. Then the figure spoke out to them, “It is I; do not be afraid” (John 6:20, NASB) and the disciples recognized it to be Jesus. “So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” (John 6:21, NASB).
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
— Matthew 6:33, NLT
The next day, Jesus began to teach in Capernaum. He was followed by the crowd that he fed, and calls them out for only following him because he fed them. “Truly, truly I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal” (John 6:26-27, NASB). This section seems to mirror the encounter with the Samaritan woman back in chapter 4. Where Jesus tells the crowd not to look for food, but eternal food, he told the Samaritan woman not to look for water, but “living water” (John 4:10). In both sections, Jesus calls his audience to believe in him. In both cases, Jesus gives them the thing they are supposed to seek. Through the living water, people will never “thirst again’ (John 4:14); through the bread of life, people will “live forever” (John 6:58, NASB). Seeing how these statements caused trouble for the disciples, Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63, NASB).
“God bestows His blessings without discrimination. The followers of Jesus are children of God, and they should manifest the family likeness by doing good to all, even those who deserve the opposite.”
— F.F. Bruce
In this section, Jesus is addressing several crowds to show who he is. Until this point, he has let this job be for other people and even reveals himself to individuals. Now word has spread about who he is, and he has to make sure that people do not misunderstand. At first, he has a crowd that is following him because of a particular miracle. They turned Jesus into their meal ticket. The Jews thought he was speaking blasphemy, and the disciples could not understand what he was teaching. Everything Jesus was doing in this chapter was showing how God provides for us. He certainly does not have to do this but chooses to out of love. God loves us and wants to provide us with the things we need. He can even provide us with even more (12 extra baskets full)! However, we cannot treat God as a meal ticket. He provided for us but that does not mean we should expect it. We must pay attention to Jesus’ words because they are “words of eternal life.”
Have you been treating God like a meal ticket? As someone who’s sole responsibility is to provide for you, with no thought of what you should do in return? We are called to do something; love God and love others. Are you fulfilling this role or merely saying yes to God in order for Him to give you something?