LOOKING FOR JESUS
At the end of last Sunday’s Gospel the people wanted to make Jesus King. They had seen the loaves sign but they had not seen it in a believing but in a self-interested way.
The faith-response of the crowd is deficient as they “look” for him for the wrong reasons. (V. 26) Fascinated by what he had done for them , they were caught up by the thrill of unexpected wonders and failed to “see” the deeper meaning of his miracle.
Vs 27 “Do not labor 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 has God the Father set his seal.” Jesus now asks them to look beyond the bread which man can eat and earn by the work of his hands to the mystery and meaning of his person and to seek him in the true sense. “Looking” for Jesus means turning towards him in faith as the transcendent one, approved by God and endowed with the power of God for he brings the ever-sustaining life of the Father to those who believe in him. (V.27)
V. 28 Literally, “What must we do to work the works of God?” Such faith in Jesus is not something they can achieve or work for because it is the work of God in the heart of the believer (vv.28-29) But their faith still remains limited to a longing for signs and wonders (v.30). “What sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?”
Vs. 32 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. Vs. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” Jesus not only gives them himself through his life giving word of revelation, but he is also the Fathers gift to them since he is sent by the Father on a life-giving mission to those who believe in him (v.33) Jesus makes it clear that the true giver of both the ancient manna and the true bread from heaven, that is himself, is the Father and not Moses.
Like the Samaritan woman, the crowd responds by asking (vs. 34) for this gift without understanding what they are really asking for (4:15). The crowd misunderstands, thinking (as the Samaritan woman did about not having to go for water anymore), that this bread would save them the trouble of baking their daily bread.
V. 35 Jesus now spells out the need of faith in himself, a faith which is a “coming” to him and an active movement of attachment to him. He is a source of life (“the bread of life”) for those who believe in him, accept his message or “come” to him (v. 35); but his listeners refuse to do so.
Jose Pagola asks: “After twenty centuries of Christianity do we not need to discover once more that the whole strength and originality of the church lies in believing in Jesus Christ and in following him? Do we not need to move away from the attitude of being followers of a religion of beliefs and practices, and instead to focus on living as disciples of Jesus? The Christian faith does not consist primarily in faithfully complying with a list of practices and new observances superior to those of the Old Testament. Definitely not, Christian identity lies in learning to live a way of life that is born of a living and trustful relationship with Jesus Christ. We become Christians in the measure by which we learn to think, feel, love, work, suffer and live like Jesus.”
In the following passages Jesus will continue to try to move the people beyond their need for physical bread, to an understanding that he was Spiritual Food.