When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 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. 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.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 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. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:25-33
Observation: What are the passage’s basic facts, such as the meaning of the words? Jesus was often followed by a multitude of people for one reason or another. In this case, the people followed Jesus because they wanted Him to give them bread as He did when He fed the 5000. Not surprisingly, many of the same people who ate from the multiplied bread and fish came to greet Jesus on the other side of the lake.
Jesus’ response to the multitude who greeted Him on the other side of the lake reflects his frustration with them. He knew their intent was purely selfish. They just wanted more food. But Jesus did not come to fill people’s bellies with food. The greatest gift he offered was spiritual food and water. So He chided them for their greed and exhorted them not to work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life.
The multitude expressed a desire to do "the work that God requires" by asking this very question of the Lord. This opened the door for Jesus to emphasize His identity as one sent by God for the salvation of the world. Jesus simplified his response to the question and told the crowd that believing in Him as the Son of God was tantamount to doing the work God required.
Interpretation: What did the author mean in his historical setting? Jesus’ response in verse 29 is a brilliant answer. Indeed, how can one do what God requires for salvation without believing in Jesus as the messenger of God and the physical manifestation of God? Just as faith without works is dead, works without faith in God through Christ Jesus are meaningless. For, our best deeds are but filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:16).
It is faith in Jesus that triggers our spiritual ability to do the work of God. Without that faith, we are operating under our own strength and are quick to give up when we face adversity or struggle with spiritual attacks. Faith in Jesus helps us to operate with authority and live with spiritual confidence. It is that faith that legitimates our kingdom service and gives us the credibility to proclaim the message of salvation.
Evaluation: What does this passage mean in today’s culture? In verse 30, the people asked Jesus for a sign to help them believe in Him. Well, that is precisely the point. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We can’t wait for signs so we can believe. Faith is always a leap in the unknown. It is the conviction of our hearts based on our trust and confidence in God.
The Israelites struggled in their exodus journey out of Egypt because they wanted to walk by sight instead of faith. They continue to demand proof of God’s benevolence. They complained when they were hungry and thirsty. They delayed in entering the Promised Land because they did not believe the Lord had given victory over the people of the land.
The crowd used the example of manna in the desert as an example of Moses providing signs so their ancestors can believe. Two things with that example. First, Jesus is greater than Moses. After all, they just saw the way Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish so He can feed a multitude of people that exceeded 5000, not including women and children. That should have been enough for them not to ask for any sign. Second, Moses did not give them the sign. It was God Himself who provided the manna to alleviate their concern that they would starve on their way to the Promised Land.
Notwithstanding, the example of manna in the desert was a poor example to use to justify their need for a sign. Just as parting the Red Sea so the people can journey to the Promised was enough sign of the faithfulness of God. The previous miracles of Jesus were sufficient signs of His identity as the Son of God. But since the people were spiritually sluggish, they struggled to understand how faith in Jesus was the only sign they needed to do the work of God.
Application: How can I apply what I learned to how I live my life? Believers are called to live by faith and not by sight. Yet, we are often tempted to ask God for signs and wonders as evidence of His love for us. Every day we wake up is a sign that God’s mercies for us are renewed, and His providential love is still sustaining us. This should be enough fuel to charge our spiritual engine and get us revved up to do the work of ministry.
Our faith in Jesus Christ should inform the way we live in every aspect. We should face every challenge, defeat every enemy, resist every temptation, and live out our calling in life with faith in Christ. Faith in Jesus is not just a religious experience. It is our identity, and that which gives us the credibility and authority to help shine the light of Christ into this world of darkness.
Those who do not claim Jesus as their Lord and Savior are making the ultimate gamble with their soul salvation. Jesus has taught us not to make such a gamble. Instead, we are to embrace the opportunity to enter into a more meaningful relationship with the God of heaven and earth through Christ Jesus.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, I thank you for sending your Son Jesus to save me and restore me into a right relationship with you. Please help me to increase the intensity of my faith in Jesus and draw closer to you through faith in Him. May my faith in Christ be evident in the way I live my life; and please help me to be more intentional in helping others to grow in their faith in Christ as well.