10 July 2017

John 6:16-29

“Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (v. 26)

Psalm: Psalm 34:1-10


Time and again when we read John's Gospel it is so easy for us to be distracted this is because there is so much going on. In this chapter we have already read about feeding 5,000 people and 12 baskets of leftovers. Now we have the crossing of the Sea of Galilee in the dark, a storm at sea, a ghostly appearance of Jesus walking on water and what sounds like time travel as Jesus gets into the boat and immediately the boat reaches the land! There is so much we could explore; so many potential metaphors we could unpack. The key, as Jesus reminds us, is to identify what is important - not only in a particular passage of Scripture, but also in our lives.

Why did the people cross the lake? What were they seeing in Jesus? For some, no doubt they saw a celebrity - Was Jesus the first celebrity chef? It seems others were focused on having their fill: "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves".

Whatever was attracting the people to Jesus - he knew that in reality they were being distracted from what he had come to bring. For the crowds, it was more about their immediate situation and how Jesus might improve them. For Jesus the focus was on what he was ultimately offering them -  a living relationship with God who would be as well known to them as a loving parent.

So when the people ask Jesus "what must we do to perform the works of God" (v. 28) we can imagine that they are still focused on how huge crowds are fed from nothing. But Jesus is quick to reply: "This is the work of God, that you believe in whom he has sent" (v. 29). Our faith is our work.

To Ponder

  • If the work of God is to believe in the one who he sent, where does that lead you now?
  • What attracts you to following Jesus? To what extent are these attractions distractions from the purposes of God?
  • What do you do to work for food that endures for eternity?

Bible notes author

The Revd Paul Wood

Paul is a presbyter serving in the Connexional Team as Coordinator for Ministry Development. He grew up in Derbyshire and has served in Durham and Coventry.