- 2 Samuel 11:26 - 12:13a and Psalm 51:1-12 OR
- Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15 and Psalm 78:23-29
- Ephesians 4:1-16
- John 6:24-35
Thoughts on the Word:
So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
This week we continue our journey through the 6th chapter of the Gospel according to St John. We see something extraordinary in this reading, Jesus actually refers to himself as the bread of life! However I want to start by examining what Jesus tells us in the first portion of the Gospel reading... "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life..." Now we must understand here that Jesus isn't advocating that we all give up our jobs and go on the dole. He isn't saying that we shouldn't work to feed ourselves or our families. What he is saying to us is that these material things should not be our focus, they are a necessary thing, but not where our heart should be set. It is something that I myself have lost track of in the past - my focus was on work, money, paying the bills, ensuring that we had all the best of everything that we could get. Where this led me was to a dark place, where my focus on these matters of material needs and wants was all I could think about, and when things got hard and the pressures of this world came to bear - as they inevitably do, I didn't know where to turn. I was a Christian at the time, but I just didn't have my mind and my heart focused in the right direction. It didn't occur to me that I had my priorities wrong and that by turning my attention to Jesus rather than focusing on the material problems, I may be able to see some light through the darkness. No for me the focus was on just 'coping' with the issues as best I could ...
When I finally realised the problem was that I had my priorities wrong, and changed my focus to Jesus, I finally began to truly understand the meaning of passages of scripture like this one. At the very beginning of John, we learn that Jesus is the light of the world, he shines in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome him! When we place our focus on Jesus, we are focused on the light, and as a result we can see clearly, we will not stumble. It is when we turn away from him that we find ourselves stumbling around in the dark. Likewise when we spiritually hunger and thirst, there is one we can turn to for solace, and be fed. Jesus fulfills all of our spiritual needs, he bridges the gap for us to the spiritual perfection that we as a species were designed to live in. While we cannot live in that perfection in this life due tour fallen nature, we can however experience it through our relationship with Christ, and we can move towards that perfection through sanctifying ourselves in obedience to him.
We should also understand that just like the Israelites wandering in the desert, we will be provided with this bread from heaven, even when our movement towards sanctification stumbles through sin. The Israelites were provided with Manna even when the were less than appreciative, we to will always have access to the bread of life, even when we stumble. Our own virtue is not a prerequisite to receive a this nourishing food, but through feeding on it we move closer to God, and thus further away from the darkness that causes us to stumble.
As we move into the week, let us ask ourselves where our focus is. Is it on fulfilling only our material needs and wants - or are we focused on fulfilling our spiritual hunger through eating of the bread of life?