Updated: Jan 26
The next day, when the people who remained after the feeding of the five thousand 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 is the Gospel selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 13. It will next be read aloud in an Episcopal church by a priest on Sunday August 5, 2018. It is important because Jesus scolds the pilgrims for being idol worshipers, rather than being him.
In this translation above, we read, “The next day, when the people who remained after the feeding of the five thousand saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there,” this is an incorrect paraphrase that acts to misdirect the reader from what was really stated. The Interlinear Bible for John 6:24 shows:
“when therefore saw the crowd that Jesus not is there , nor the disciples of him , they entered themselves into the boats , and came to Capernaum , seeking the [one] Jesus .”
From the real words written (maintaining the ordering and segmenting of them), one can see that “The next day” is an addition that was stated in verse 22, for the purpose of separating this reading selection and letting the reader know when this story is focused, relative to the event of feeding five thousand. Verse 24 does not state this setting, as it should be understood from the overall context. However, following that setting, the grouping of “neither Jesus nor his disciples” as one collective view of scope makes it appear that those pilgrims still in the area were looking for some theater troupe, whose act had moved to another town.
By seeing the segments as written and knowing that the punctuation of the Interlinear shows where one should pause and absorb a segment of words, before attempting to join other segments into one’s understanding process, reading, “therefore saw the crowd that Jesus not is there” has significant impact. That is a statement that a fraction of the five thousand awoke and found “Jesus is not there” in them. Then, seeing that meaning be revealed, “nor the disciples of him” can be read differently (using the same words written) as, “not the disciples of him.” The focus is not placed on some of the five thousand men, who had not been reborn as Jesus Christ, so they were not his disciples sent out into the world.
There were still some who took part in the miracle of spiritual food being dispensed that had not been transformed into Apostles. Again, referring to the word written in the unread verse 22, the word translated as “crowd” is the Greek word “ochlos.” That word does mean “crowd,” which bears the most common meaning that says, “A large number of persons gathered together; a throng.” When one sees that translation in context with “the feeding of the five thousand,” one is misled to envision the vast majority of that number getting “into the boats.”
The number can be seen as much fewer when the word “ochlos” can simply mean “the common people,” which is an acceptable definition coming from the word “crowd.” Thus, “the people who remained” were “the common people,” those whose “perception” of the world was “not [that of] a disciple of Jesus,” because “Jesus was not there” within them (… like he was there in the disciples who handed out bread and fish).
Simply by being able to focus one’s sight on that absence of Jesus Christ in a handful of those who were reborn as him by the Holy Spirit, from being fed spiritual food, one is not confused by the question and answer that follows. The question: “Rabbi, when did you come here?” is actually a statement that says, “Because we have not been reborn as you, not knowing where the external Jesus is at all times, we have come to see another one of your miracle shows.” Jesus’ answer then addresses their lack of faith, while seeing their belief as reason to want to be near to Jesus, but not make the sacrifices necessary to be Jesus reborn.
Jesus saying, “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,” says he understood not everyone would receive the Spirit. Those folk were too much into their intellect, and too little into opening their hearts.
They loved the sermon Jesus gave to the five thousand. They wanted to hear more. They had eaten their fill of physical bread; but even though the hearts and minds of most of the five thousand immediately opened wide to the divinity that just a small morsel contained, these common people missed that boat. All of the pilgrims that came to Judah and Galilee for the coming Passover obligation were looking for their Messiah. Most of the five thousand (plus family that were women and children) found that Jesus was the Christ that became them. The miracle of five loaves and two fish was unknown to them, thus signs did not transform them into the earliest Christians. Most of the five thousand had become the Son of Man, still feeding on the “food that endures for eternal life.” A small “crowd” of them (maybe those served by Judas Iscariot … or one-twelfth of them [5000/12=417]) wanted Jesus to repeat what he had done the day before.
Before any more analysis can be presented on this reading, I want you to think about the prophecy of this exchange between those Jews-Israelites and Jesus. They wanted to come sit on the grass on a regular basis and listen to Jesus teach some encouraging things about Scripture. Then, they wanted to be given some tiny morsel of physical food, which would last them until the next time visiting Jesus.
Can you not see this foretelling of the lackadaisical state of Judaism and Christianity, where no one is ever filled with the Holy Spirit, thus transformed into an active minister of the LORD as Jesus Christ reborn? Both Christians and Jews just sit there and enjoy the signs of pageantry that expresses to their brains, “Aren’t I special?” However, they keep their hearts closed to God and their minds heavily guarding the almighty self-ego and all the physical ‘bread’ that common spirit brings.
It becomes important to grasp that most of the pilgrims who received the spiritual food that was passed out by disciples, who were themselves the projections of Jesus Christ [the essence of a true Apostle-Priest-Saint], were not jumping on boats and setting sail to Capernaum. They were out passing on what Jesus had given to them, even if that meant they were just as poorly received as was Jesus. It was the rejects that kept following Jesus around, where “rejects” is defined as: “Those who reject becoming Jesus Christ, via marriage to the One God – the Father – and baptized of sin by the Holy Spirit.”
With that said, look how those rejects then questioned Jesus, asking: “What must we do to perform the works of God?” This question, which was asked in the conditional voice – “that we might perform” – is on the level of intellect. It is like those who want to know the conditions of this “new agreement” Jesus was proposing, when the Jews and Israelites had spent a lot of time memorizing (intellectualizing) the Covenant made between God and Moses. This question wanted to know how many more external, written rules were necessary to confess belief in, in order to be able to say they were doing the works of God. After all, were not Jews doing the works of God just by being Jews?
Let that concept settle into the reader’s mind now.
Ask oneself if Christians are not similarly asking Jesus for the steps to righteousness. Is it not enough to be doing the works of God simply by going to church, paying tithes, donating to charities, voting for political candidates that say they believe in God, and doing (of course) the Ten Commandments … for the most part?
Can you see how this question implies asking, “If I score a 75% on the Christian test, then that means I go to heaven, right?” How would you feel if you hired a lawyer with those credentials? Or, a doctor that graduated last in his or her class?
Jesus responded to that question by saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
That brings up the “belief” word, which is misleading. It is like when the young rich Pharisee (probably Nicodemus) went to Jesus and asked how he could be assured of going to heaven. Jesus said, “Well there is the Law,” to which the rich man said, “Every day I uphold the Law!” Then Jesus said, “Okay. Now sell what you have, give it to the poor, and become me.” “Belief” means more than just following some steps written on a piece of paper (that is always locked away in a box).
The Greek word that is translated as “believe” is “pisteuó.” In the response by Jesus, John wrote “pisteuēte,” which stated the conditional, “you should believe.” Still, the word has more meaning when translated as, “you should have faith,” such that faith implies a stronger level of “belief,” just as one being assured of going to heaven requires a stronger path in obedience to God than those stated in Law. That faith is only possible when it come from being “in whom [God] has sent.” That means faith is becoming Jesus Christ reborn, because that is the only way to do the work of God.
Maybe Jesus was on a pier and Peter could not see that in the dark, filled with fear?
[Reminder: Every time the disciples cried out in fear, they believed in Jesus; but Jesus would say, “Oh you of little faith.”]
The rejects (obviously) did not understand what Jesus just said to them, which is the same reaction most Christians have when they read this selection as well. They heard the words, but they flew way over their heads … because Jesus was not there in them. So, in an argumentative spirit they said, “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.’”
The word translated as “sign” is “sēmeion,” which also means, “miracle, indication, mark, and token.” These rejects asked for a sign worthy of belief, after the great majority of the five thousand were given the “mark of Christ” when they were fed spiritual food. Those immediately acted from the faith of personal experience with the Holy Spirit and God, just as Jesus of Nazareth was then doing in Capernaum.
Still, by seeing the feeding of a multitude with five loaves and two fish as a miracle, there were some common people who believed that was a magic trick. Because it could have been good theatrics, they needed to get more than an “all you can eat” buffet of physical bread. After all, Moses did work a miracle of God that lasted forty years in the wilderness … which none of them witnessed personally, but they believed. Jesus, a relative unknown, needed to do a verifiable miracle before their eyes, or those common rejects were not about to stay his fans much longer.
Jesus responded to their challenge by saying, “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.”
Jesus straightened out the facts of the Exodus story of the manna, saying God rained bread from heaven, such that Moses only told the Israelites what to expect from God. Still, the manna was spiritual food, which afforded the Israelites life in a wilderness that had little life to offer human beings. Still, when Jesus said, “It is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven,” Jesus just restated, “The work of God” is “life to the world,” and, that when “you believe in him whom [my Father] has sent,” then you become “the true bread of heaven” that never stops feeding the soul. Eternity is a greater feat than forty years.
*Cue the sounds of a flock of ducks flying overhead, because the rejects heard “bread” and could only think in physical terms.*
I don’t get it.
They said to Jesus, “Sir, give us this bread always.”’
They were still expecting everything to be handed to them, without any work of God performed. Just like some Masoretic scholars believe about God’s gift of manna – that some Israelites lazily laid on the ground outside their tent and caught the manna as it drifted down to earth from heaven – they wanted Jesus to make it rain bread. They said this to Jesus as if the only way he could prove he was sent from their God, was to hand out free bread for the rest of their lives, like God did when they complained to Moses. They wanted to be given that gift then, on the spot.
Tongue in cheek, perhaps. I think they expected Jesus to actually deliver on that demand, about as much as hurricane disaster victims actually expects FEMA to give out $100 Walmart gift cards forever.
First come, first served. Only 500 available.
Since Jesus was fully able to read the hearts and brains of the reject doubters, being always filled with the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Christ, he made this statement: “I am the bread of life.”’ Jesus affirmed that he was the manna sent from God, but this time the “bread” was “of life,” not simply for staying alive in a wilderness. Life meant staying awake and vigilant, as an escape of mortal death and the reincarnation that follows a soul’s sleep state. It meant the hands, lips, teeth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines had nothing to do with consumption of Jesus bread. Only the heart could take in God’s gift of love.
When Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty,” the same problem with having a low expectation of the meaning stated in “come to me” and “belief in me” is why Christians go to church on Sundays, but would never ever dare to tell someone, “I think I am Jesus Christ reborn.” Humans are always hungry and thirsty; but souls hunger for hope and salvation and thirst for redemption and promise. As such, “come to me” means being reborn as Jesus Christ, so one can perform the same miracles of faith that are only possible in Jesus Christ.
As the Gospel selection for the eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry for the LORD should be underway – filled with the bread of life – the message is to face up to the rejection of doubters. Just as the young rich Pharisee walked away from Jesus when told, “Oh, there is much more than external rules to learn. You have to become the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which means self-sacrifice and works!” … many do not want to hear that message because they know they are too weak to do that.
A minister of the LORD knows the sacrifices demanded. The vast majority of those who are cleansed by the Holy Spirit and adopted by the Father as His Son (regardless of human gender), reached the bottom, in one way or another, and cried out for God’s help. Hope becomes the beginning of a spiritual rise from that depth, with hope the inspiration that comes as the spiritual food one needs to find life in service to God. A minister to the LORD knows this path to salvation and is ready to assist one who seeks to find the value of that service’s reward of heaven and eternal life.
Paul wrote about hope and said anyone who hopes for what one already knows, then that is not true hope. People know worldly riches and goals, whether or not they have achieved them. True hope is desiring that which cannot be seen in this world. The common people who could not see themselves as Jesus, who followed Jesus to Capernaum, they could not understand that proof of Jesus being the bread of life is impossible in a worldly state. Only within one’s heart and mind can one prove that to oneself. Only from one’s soul can one know this truth. Therefore, no minister of the LORD can prove what only faith can prove … not simply belief.
If one studies the Gospels just a little, one finds that Jesus answered more questions with other questions, rather than state concrete answers that can be judged as true or false, based on the powers of observation and physical measurements. When one hears Jesus ask a question, in response to a personal question, the Holy Spirit is whispering guidance. Those who test that guidance find their own answers, and that personal experience changes belief into faith that is personally proved. A minister of the LORD can treat seekers as disciples, and give more explanation, just as Jesus privately told his devoted students. Still, it is ultimately up to the student to prove to him or herself what it is the teacher is teaching.
When the pilgrim rejects said to Jesus, ‘Sir, give us this bread always,” this is like kneeling by one’s bed as a child and praying, “Lord, please let me be a doctor when I grow up.” (Or lawyer, or professional actor, or movie star, or some wealthy professional.)
God does answer those prayers. He says one must learn that science, craft, or art until one has ownership of it (mastered it completely). The problems come when people who pray for such dreams are not willing to listen to advice and do what it takes.
Some advice now: It is easier to get what you want in the physical world than it is to get what you want spiritually … if you do everything alone and without help. Some people are actually self-made millionaires (breaking many laws along that journey). However, no one has ever reached heaven by selfish means.
Text copyright by Robert Tippett