Jesus broke five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed fifteen thousand people. They all went home full that day. They fed on the richness of His teaching as much as they had on the goodness of the food. They had also witnessed many beautiful miracles that set captives free, strengthened limbs, and opened eyes. When Jesus sent them home, they went as a crowd who had witnessed amazing things the rest of humanity had never seen. Would it soften their their hearts to repent?
The crowds also saw that Jesus didn’t get in the boat with His disciples. He let them go on ahead as He dismissed the crowds. Then He headed up on the mountain to pray. Yet the very next day, they saw that Jesus had somehow made it to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Now He was here with His disciples in the synagogue at Capernaum. How did that happen?
“‘Rabbi, when did You get here?’” they asked.
“‘I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.’” Jesus knew that these people did not come to Him with faithful hearts. If they were looking for signs, it meant they were looking for the Messiah. But they weren’t. What grief He must have felt as He poured out the grace and power of God on them day after day. They liked to see thrilling wonders, they wanted to be healed of things that made their lives difficult, and they enjoyed being filled by miraculous food. Their hearts were willing to take these things from Jesus, but they would not give Him their faith. They liked the gifts of the Kingdom, but they did not want to have to live the life of repentant righteousness that is the mark of those who live in it. They were not worthy subjects for the Kingdom of the Living God! The Lord Jesus went on:
“‘Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.’” These crowds trusted in the outward things of this world for their happiness and hope. Jesus was looking for those who would put their hope and trust in Him. The key to the Kingdom of God was faith in Jesus Christ Himself, not what He could do for them.
The people were confused. They didn’t understand what this Teacher wanted. So they asked, “‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’”
Jesus told them, “‘The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.’”
It was that simple. Believe. Yet the people in the crowd began to say, “‘What miraculous sign will You give that we may see it and believe You? What will You do? Our forefathers ate manna in the desert; as it is written; ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Manna was the miraculous food that God provided for the young Israelite nation as they traveled through the wilderness with Moses. Every morning for forty years, the children of God would go outside their tents and find this manna lying on the ground waiting for them. It was a beautiful sign of God’s constant care. One of the beliefs that the Jews had about the coming of the Messiah was that God would begin to send the manna again through Him. Jesus had just given bread to 5,000 men for one meal. But during the time of Moses, God sent manna for millions of people every day. The crowd was rejecting the glorious things Jesus had done for them…they were demanding more and more.
Jesus said, “‘I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who give you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’”
Did you understand that? Jesus is saying that the Bread God was offering them was no longer the kind made with flour. It was a person. When the Israelites were in the desert, God saved their lives by providing for their needs. Now He was providing something far greater. Jesus could give eternal life! Would they take it?
“‘Sir,’ they said, ‘From now on give us this bread.’”
Jesus said “‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and He who believes in me will never be thirsty.’” Wow. The words “I am” are very powerful. They are the same words that God used when he told Moses who He was at the burning bush. Jesus knew that when He said “I am,” He was saying that He was the same God. He was not talking about a hunger that could be fixed with food or a thirst that would go away with water. Jesus was telling them that He was the answer to the deepest needs of their hearts.
The human soul is broken and twisted with sin. Each person is the crushed image of God! The brokenness and distance this creates with the Lord causes a vast, empty need in each person. It is the yearning of dissatisfaction, the longing we all feel in the quiet loneliness at night. It is the pain we bury with our preoccupations and distractions. It is the wanting that nothing seems to answer. Jesus is the only one that can fill it, and He can only do that for those who believe in Him. He went on:
“‘But as I told you, you have seen Me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.'”
Do you hear the tone of a lover in His voice? Do you hear the longing for His beloved? Then He said:
“‘For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given Me but raise them up at the last day. For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’”
Wow. This is the love of Christ for His Father. It is the love of the Father for the Son. Do you see their epic plan for all time? Do you see how those who believe are wrapped up in their amazing story? Whoever God has chosen to give to Jesus for salvation is certain and absolutely sure to have eternal life.
Notice that salvation begins with the work of God, and it completely comes from Him. Not a single one of the those He has given to Jesus will be lost. They will all have the amazing hope of rising from the dead and going with Jesus into the permanent, glorious joy of eternal life. Those who are saved by God’s grace will keep drawing to Him in faith because they belong to Jesus.
Eternal life is also called everlasting life. It will go on forever and ever. It will have no end. Most people on earth only live here for seventy years or so. Those seventy years seem like a very long time to us now, but imagine how tiny it will seem when you have lived in perfect, everlasting wonder and hope for a thousand years. All of the suffering and pain of this life will seem like a blip next to all the magnificence and joy we will have. And the wonderful thing will be that we will never have to worry about it ending. Our bright, brilliant happiness will be constant with no end in sight, ever. We will be able to completely rest in utter security that we are the perfected children of the King of Heaven. This was the incredible offer Jesus was presenting to the whole region of Galilee, and all they needed to do was repent!