In John 6, Jesus fed a multitude of people with a little boy’s lunch near Bethsaida. The next day the crowd followed Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The people asked Jesus how He got to Capernaumbecause they knew He didn’t come by boat. We know that He walked half way across the sea on the water. Jesus didn’t answer their question, but rebuked them for following him because of the bread He gave to them in Bethsaida. He went on to talk to them about how He was the Bread of Life and that they needed to feed on Him to experience true life. The people could not understand this spiritual principle because of their carnal nature.
Before providing the miracle of the multiplying bread to the people, Jesus had taught them for hours. Bread has been used to symbolize the Word of God and Jesus was the Word made flesh. As He taught them, He was giving them spiritual bread designed to change their hearts and give them eternal life. Jesus was upset because the people were more interested in the things that appealed to their physical needs and things that satisfied their fleshly
desires than the transformational power of the words that He taught.
I see the church trending in this direction today. Church attenders are often more interested in what appeals to their physical and emotional needs than what is being preached in the pulpit. The doctrinal beliefs of the church take a back seat to what brand of coffee it serves. Pastors have bought into the “attractional” method to fill the seats in the church. I think we should do all we can to attract people as long as it is not the central focus of the people and the ministry. However, there is no greater marketing campaign to draw a crowd than a miracle produced by the presence and the words of Jesus, but that requires sacrifice. As Jesus began to talk to the crowd about sacrifice and feeding on Him, they found His words too difficult and walked away.
Jesus turned to the twelve disciples and said, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This is the heart of a true disciple. They had left everything to follow Jesus. They had nothing to go back to. Jesus followers don’t “try” Christ while keeping their past options open. The disciples did not follow Jesus for the options He provided, but for who He was. He was the Messiah, the Christ, the Bread of Life.
In verse 58 He told them, “He who feeds on me will live forever.” The crowd could not comprehend this spiritual truth with their sinful minds. Help us to pursue the presence of Christ for who He is, not what He gives us. Help us to feed on the living words of Christ, and the presence of the Word made flesh. This is the way to eternal life, it is a narrow way and not always the way of the crowd.