25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ 26Jesus 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. 27Do 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.’ 28Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ 29Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ 30So 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? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” ’ 32Then 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. 33For the bread of God is that which* comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ 34They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’
35 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.
All of us will, over the coming days, partake in the American tradition of Thanksgiving. We will probably gather (or people will gather at our house) with family and friends to enjoy a huge feast. If it is anything like my house, there will be stories told (most of which are true), there will be laughs had, and there will certainly be bread broken as we all gather around a table together.
The scripture for this Sunday comes on the heels of one of the most famous “breaking bread” stories in The Bible, the feeding of the 5,000. You of course know that in this story (the only miracle in all four of the gospels) Jesus preaches to a huge crowd of people and then multiplies 5 loaves and 2 fish into enough food for everyone to eat. The leftovers were more than they had started with! After this miracle, Jesus tries to get away to the other side of the Lake but the people follow him because they want to make him the King and see more miracles “so that they may see he is the Messiah.” It becomes surreal when some of the people in the crowd ask how they can perform the miracle.
In looking for more signs, however, they miss the point. The point of the feeding of the 5,000 was not to be a sign pointing to something else or to be a sign that Elijah or Moses is coming back. The crowds were looking for a certain kind of miracle from a certain kind of Messiah. Jesus, however, was something different.
Whereas the people came to Jesus and wanted to make him King because of the signs that he performed, the truth is that Jesus performed these signs to show that he himself was what the people really needed. Whereas the people ate bread that Jesus had miraculously multiplied and thought that Jesus was the messianic prophet, the great salvation giving truth is that Jesus performed the sign to show that he WAS THE BREAD. “For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven to bring life to the world (v. 33).”
Jesus as the true bread of life for all people makes this story especially relevant for the Thanksgiving holiday, when we gather and give thanks for our many blessings. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Good family? Loyal friends? Job? The food we will eat? How about the true bread of life?
See you Sunday!
ps – Question of the week: What is the place called where the feeding of the 5,000 occurred?