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.” (John 6:26-27 NRSV)
The Gospel of John is a strange and wonderful book. It is spiritualism to a high degree; it is deep and dense and difficult to understand. It has double-meanings and hidden messages. It is comforting and uplifting. We do well to read this Gospel with great care.
And in the spirit of great care, I write about John’s version of who Jesus is. To get a bigger picture, I point us to some of the “signs” of Jesus.
The first sign is the wedding at Cana. Jesus is an ordinary guest until the wedding party runs out of wine. At that moment Jesus is revealed for the first time: he brings life made new and spiritual life in abundance. We are called to share this new life with him.
Then Nicodemus comes to see Jesus in the dark of night. In this sign Jesus challenges us to come out of the dark into the light of a new understanding of God.
Next, we meet the Samaritan Woman at the well. In a long conversation, we meet the Jesus who breaks down barriers: barriers between men and women; barriers between Jews and Samaritans; barriers between “us” and “them.”
Recently, we viewed the fourth and fifth signs: Jesus feeds 5,000 people and then he walks on water. Jesus re-imagines the Moses story of manna in the wilderness and then he says, “Don’t fear. I am.” Manna comes not from Moses, but from God. It was “I Am” who provided for the Hebrews in the wilderness.
So far in John’s Gospel, five signs point to Jesus and reveal who he is. Slowly, the eyes of our heart are opened to see this man as the One sent by God. Yet, those who follow him around are easily confused. Their questions are based on their view of the world. Jesus speaks of the spiritual realm.
They ask a question, Jesus answers a question. Not necessarily the one they asked. The people are asking concrete questions. They’re receiving spiritual answers.
Bread of Life: he first fed their physical hunger. Now he offers them Bread of Life. Bread of life never perishes or goes bad. You don’t find mold or fungus on it. Bread of life endures. It’s stronger than any thing or any evil that the world can throw at it. It’s incorruptible. It’s alive and flourishing.
Bread of life continually comes to us from God. Bread of life is soul food that nourishes the emptiness. Bread of life doesn’t change. It’s the same bread that Jesus offered 2,000 years ago. It has nourished followers and disciples since then.
It nourishes you today. It nourishes us in the Eucharist, Communion.
Whether you’re able to come to the table or not, how will Bread of Life join you today? Will it be to fill the emptiness in your soul? Perhaps to stand with you in joy while you celebrate and remember the abundance? Do you need Bread of Life to remind you to whom you belong?
As you go out what will you take with you? Hopefully, an abundance of soul food. Enough for you and those you meet this week.
All glory and honor be to God. Amen.