The Food that Endures Forever (John 6:22–40)
This week we will study John 6:22–40. So let’s read the passage, “On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking 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, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking 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 to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing 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, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who 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 shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.””
Right to the Real Question
In John 6:22–40, we see that some of the crowd from the feeding of the five thousand realized that there was only one boat and that Jesus had not gone with the disciples. So the crowd went to Capernaum seeking Jesus and when they found Him, they asked Him, “when did you come here”. Jesus responded by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves”. We see that Jesus did not respond to their question, but instead addressed what they were truly seeking. This is something we see all throughout Jesus’ ministry, He has the ability to cut through what people say, to what they really want because He knows them better than they know themselves. There are two reasons I think He is able to do this: the first is His omniscience (Hebrews 4:13); the second is that He knitted all of us together and gave us His image (Psalm 139:13, Genesis 1:27).
Not the Gift but the Giver
When Jesus says truly truly we know that He is about to reveal something that we should all pay attention to. In this case, we see that Jesus was revealing something about who He is, how to live forever with Him, and why the crowd was seeking Him. Jesus said, the reason they were seeking Him was not because of the signs He did, but because they ate their fill of the loaves. I think this is something that still happens today, we would rather have the gift than the giver. This is especially prevalent in several doctrines in the church today, we will look at two of these, quickly. The first is the prosperity gospel and the second is fire insurance. The prosperity gospel’s message is that when you accept Jesus into your heart or increase your faith, everything in your life will be easy, you will have no more problems, and you will be wealthy. That is why, when faith based on the prosperity gospel is tested it will crumble, because it is based on our understanding of what is best for our lives, so when something happens that we consider unfair, we start to question the existence of God. The truth is that when you accept Jesus, it may not be easier, it may even get harder, but He will be with you and He gives you peace and comfort. The other is fire insurance which is less of a doctrine and more of a reason why some people accept Jesus. Fire insurance is the tactic of making people believe by scaring them into accepting Jesus because if they don’t, they will burn in hell forever. This is not untrue, but is not a tactic that I think we should employ, because it makes it difficult to have a flourishing relationship with Jesus. I think there is also a danger in going too far the other way and never talking about hell.
Food that Endures Forever
Jesus continues by saying, not to work for the food that perishes, but to work for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him, God the Father has set His seal. The crowd then asked a really good question, that we should all be asking, which is, “what must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answers them by saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” This is the same today, that the work of God is to believe in Jesus. See that is what Jesus is explaining, the way to have eternal life with Him is to believe in Him. If you would like to accept Him as Lord and Savior of your life, all you have to do is to admit that you are a sinner, repent of your sins (repent means turn away), believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and God raised Him from the dead, then confess Him as Lord and Savior of your life (Romans 10:9).
We Want More Signs
The crowd asks Jesus, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” The people always wanted another sign, they had just seen the bread multiply to feed them and He had just miraculously crossed the sea. The truth is that no matter how many signs you see, they will not cause you to have faith, because faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). That is why no matter how many miracles the Jews saw, they did not believe because they had already made up their minds about Him. Both of the signs written in John 6 were signs that point to one thing, it pointed to the fact that Jesus is God. Both had a different symbolism, but both pointed to the same conclusion. The Jews picked up on part of the symbolism in loaves and fish. Yes, it did point to the manna in the wilderness, but it was not saying that Jesus was the new Moses, it was revealing that He is God and that He was trying to draw them to Himself. The other sign in John 6 is Jesus walking on the water. There is so much symbolism that points to Him being God in this miracle. But, I will point out two, the first of which was the Spirit hovering over the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2) and the second was the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus. It pointed to the fact that He was greater than Moses and is God (Hebrews 3:1–6). Both of these signs were meant to call you to the fact that He is God. The Jews did not come seeking anything, but more of what Jesus had already given them; they were looking for provisions and blessings instead of what Jesus came to give us, which is eternal life with Him. It is so easy to get wrapped up in what Jesus gives us, that we miss the ultimate gift He came to give. Don’t miss His real reason for coming and dying for you, because you are looking for blessing and provision, that is the whole point of this entire passage. Jesus’ signs are pointing you to His real reason for being here. It is not about provision, but mankind’s restoration back into the family of God through Jesus. God knows what you need long before you ever think to need it, so trust Him, He knows what you need (Matthew 6:25–34).
Bread of Life
The Jews continued by saying, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from Heaven to eat.’” See Moses had become everything to the Israelites and they thought that it was Moses who gave them all that God did for them in the wilderness. Jesus tells them that it was not Moses who gave them manna, but it was His Heavenly Father who gave them the true bread from Heaven. Jesus is the true bread that comes down from heaven and the Bread of Life, who takes away the sins of the world, and whoever comes to Him shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Him shall never thirst. It is a similar picture as at the well, with the Samaritan woman, He said, come to me and I will give you living water, and you will never thirst again (John 4:1–26). They had already eaten His bread and were hungry again, so they knew Jesus was not talking about physical food, but the crowd could not figure out what food He was talking about. Next week we will discuss more about this food, but for now, know that Jesus is the Bread of Life, who was given for you, so you can live forever with Him.
Even after all of this, the crowd still did not believe in Him. See no man can come to Jesus unless the Spirit draws them, and all that come to Him, He will never cast out. Jesus did not come to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him. And the will of the one who sent Him is that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, so that He will raise them on the last day. This is why Jesus came, because He wants to know you and have a relationship with you, so that you can have eternal life with Him and He will raise you on the last day, if you believe in Him. So, today if you have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, what better time than now, there will always be a temptation to wait, but know that we are not promised tomorrow. Accept Him right now, no matter where you are, you do not have to be in a church, you do not have to wait until you clean your life up, Jesus is calling you just the way you are, that does not mean that you can continue sinning, but once you come to Him, He will put new desires into your heart. Also, this week know that God’s ways are higher than ours and that we may not understand everything, but He is in control, and He will be with us no matter what. So, trust Him with your all!
Check out the other blogs in this series A Study through the Gospel of John