Last week we heard about Jesus feeding the five thousand. It was pretty impressive stuff . . . it is not every day that five thousand plus people get filled to the brim with food that is derived from five loaves of bread and two fish. The result—besides full tummies—was that the people realized that they had been in the presence of the Holy . . . that they had witnessed a miracle. Knowing this they were quite surprised the next day that Jesus and the disciples were nowhere to be found. So they got into some boats and high-tailed it over to Capernaum where they found Jesus.
Having found him they begin to question him . . . after all, inquiring minds need to know. What exactly is it that they need to know? Well, they need to know what exactly happened and what did it mean . . . they liked what they had experienced and they wanted more of it. They liked the fact that this itinerant preacher had produced food out of nothing . . . they liked the results of what had happened. But, Jesus knew that they did not understand what had taken place . . . he knew because their focus was not on the one who provided, but on what was provided.
Jesus tells them: “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.” It was a nice start, but the wrong start. It was not the food that was important . . . no, it was the one who provided the food through grace and love . . . it was the Holy . . . it was God.
Jesus explains that the bread that they are seeking is perishable . . . that it won’t last; but, the bread that they should be seeking is the eternal bread . . . the bread of life. Jesus then explains that this bread only can be found and had through him . . . through the words that he speaks, through the actions that he takes, through the example that he lives . . . to believe in him and to do as he does. This is the bread that never ends . . . this is the bread that one will never run out of no matter how much one eats . . . it is the gift of life.
When Jesus fed the five thousand he satisfied the people in what they wanted. Now the crowd wants more satisfaction. If Jesus had fed them once, he could do it again . . . with bread. This was something that the people would willingly take from Jesus. But, this is the bread that perishes . . . it was not the bread of life. That bread was offered by Jesus in what he preached about the Kingdom. It is what he offered them through his insights. It was what he showed them in his actions . . . through his love. It is what he offered them through the acts of God. This was the bread of life that Jesus offered . . . it was not one of taking, but of giving. The giving of one’s self to God and to others.
Jesus explained that the bread that they were seeking would spoil, while the bread that they need and really desired stood before them. This was the way that God had chosen . . . this was the way to life . . . to the bread of life.
One of the commentators that I read this past week asked the question: Are you a “news hound?” Do you like to watch new talk shows or listen to political debate? Do you like to engage others in discussions of politics? Why?
I thought that was an interesting question in light of the recent number of people on Facebook who mention that they are getting fed up with the debates and news that they read on their Facebook pages. If you like conflict, often nasty conflict, head over to Facebook and read what gets posted there. It gets pretty nasty and mean as people express their thoughts and opinions about the latest so-called news that they just watched or read. It seems that the battle lines have been drawn . . . that there are opposing camps squared off against each other . . . conservatives versus liberals . . . everybody wanting things their way.
Amazingly, when people tell me how tired they are of all this constant bickering . . . I tell them to quit Facebook; but, they never do. So, like the commentator, I ask, “Why?” Why do you keep doing it if it is so darn irritating?
Joe Friday, the character played by Jack Webb on the show Dragnet, used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” That is what we are missing in most of our news today . . . just the facts. What we really seem to be getting anymore is soundbites, opinions, and gleanings of what individuals want . . . and, they call it news. Rarely are the facts dealt with. But it sure does get the blood boiling. Everyone has an opinion . . . everyone likes to complain. But, why?
Nothing gets done . . . nothing gets solved.
These are not the important things that dictate our lives, but these are the things that seem to take up a lot of our time in our lives. These are not the things that bring us life . . . these are the things that take away life. No matter how much we moan and groan . . . no matter how much we express our opinions . . . the issues are still there. Why?
Jesus says, “What are you going to do about it?”
Again, we are reminded that it is not in what we get—or take—that brings life, but in what we give. Over and over again, Jesus reminds us of this . . . in his words, in his actions, in life. And, we are reminded, by Jesus, that nothing is ever going to change unless we get involved.
Like the crowd in the story, we too, are seeking the “bread of life”. And, like the crowd in the story we are looking in all the wrong places. What we are seeking is standing before us in the shape and form of Jesus . . . in the words that he speaks, in the actions that he takes, in the love that he gives and, in the life that he lives. This is the bread that brings life. To receive this bread one has to believe and participate.
Jesus calls us to believe and to come along with him on the adventure of the Holy. Jesus calls us from the sidelines of life to jump in with both feet and to get involved in life. It is one thing to sit on the sidelines and complain, it is another to get involved and bring about change. Jesus reminds the crowd that it is not the past that will change the future, but the present moment when people participate and seek to make a difference. Jesus does not tell the people to sit there and he will be back later . . . no, he tells them to come and follow . . . come and be a part of life to find life . . . life that never ends.
This is the bread that we all seek.
Sometimes the best advice comes from the most unlikely sources. In a simple little song by the Beatles—The End, I think that they sum up what Jesus is attempting to get across to the people. The last line of the song says it best: And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
This is the bread of life . . . this is Jesus. Amen.