“This is indeed the Prophet who was to come into the world,” and they were about to come and seize him in order to make him king by force (vv.14-15).
He should not have left them, he was supposed to sit close by them, to stand near by them, and to live with them, among them, and honestly in them. they need to keep him close at hand. He should be their king. However, like an actor who after giving a splendid performance disappears dramatically from the stage, Jesus disappeared again. They are looking for him. They have seen the miracle that he performed before them. They all have been satisfied, but, still hungry for the bread. They need him. They were searching for him eagerly and desperately. He should be their king, their shepherd, who makes them lie down in green pastures and leads them beside still waters. Then, they shall not want (Ps. 23). Who else except him would become king? They all know. He is the promised prophet, he is the king who will fill them with the bread. They know he is the one. At last, the one has come to free them from want, from their hunger. They have lived a sad and hard life for a long time. They all are poor, some sick, and they have been waiting for the one who delivers them from this life.
He is there. Finally, they find him on the other side of the sea. “Teacher, when did you get here? We have been looking for you, walking around the fields, going to the mountains, and crossing the sea. When did you come here? Why did you leave us? Your play has not been finished yet. Why? I can’t understand you at all. When did you come here? How long have you been here?”
A flood of questions. But, no answer.
Jesus does not answer their questions. He came here walking on the water. He has done another miracle already. If they hear about his walking on the water, they will be so happy because it is worth-while for them to make efforts to look for him all day. But, he does not say anything about that.
Instead, he questions them, “Why were you looking for me so eagerly?” and, “What made you search for me so desperately?” “I am telling you the truth: You are looking for me because you ate the bread and had all you wanted, not because you understood my miracles. You have come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs, and for free.”
They saw and experienced the miraculous signs, but they failed to see what the sign truly signified. They did not understand, Jesus’ miracles are more than that, being satisfied their bellies. The bread feeding five thousand people, the miraculous sign, pointed to the Son of God, Jesus himself. Through the sign, Jesus pointed to who he is, and what the gospel is. But they did not see what the sign truly means; instead, did see only the bread before them to eat. Jesus pointed to the moon, but they kept seeing his finger.
Giving the question, Jesus redirects their main concern and needs beyond perishable food and physical needs. With the question, Jesus awakens them to who they are meant to be, and what they are supposed to do. And awakens them to a new understanding of the bread of God, the bread of heaven.
They ask him, “Then, what must we do in order to do the works that God requires?” “What works, Lord? You mean, Torah, the Moses’ Law? Is it what are you saying? Then, we promise to keep the law faithfully.” But, Jesus says, “No. The work of God is to believe in the one who God has sent to you. That is the work you have to do. That is the work of God.” “What God requires is faith, and the faith is the fruit of God’s activity,” Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. . . . And . . . no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father (vv. 44, 65).” Therefore, the work of God is nothing else than faith.
But, they don’t understand what Jesus is saying to them. And say to Jesus, “Then, it’s a deal. As you know, our ancestor lived in the wilderness for forty years, but they ate Manna, the bread from heaven. Moses gave our ancestor bread from heaven to eat. If you show us more gigantic miracle, then we well believe you and your words. What miracle are you going to give us? Prove it your words. What miracle will you perform so that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Prove it, who you are, what you can do, and what God wants us to do? . . . .” “You mean, a new manna, or different bread from heaven?” They still want a visible and edible miracle. Their eyes still are upon Moses.
But, Jesus corrects them for their misunderstanding, and says, “It is not Moses who gave them bread from heaven, but God. And also, as you know, the manna in the wilderness was perishable food and the people who ate it perished with time. It is not the true bread from heaven, but a type of the true bread from heaven. . . . And likewise, the bread which you ate in the field is a sign of the true bread down from heaven, which God is now giving to you. And It is I; I am the bread of God, the bread of heaven.”
When they believe in the one who God sent, they can see God in the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness. When they do the work of God, that is, to believe in Jesus, the bread they have eaten at the field becomes a bread of life from heaven.
However, to believe in Jesus is to take a journey. And, the journey of faith is not simple, not easy. In the wilderness, the Israelites all complained to Moses, saying, “We wish that the Lord had killed us in Egypt. There we could at least sit down and eat meat and as much other food as we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert to starve us all to death” (Exo. 16:2-3). Then, God gave them manna. However, soon after that, they complained to Moses, and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? To kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exo. 17:2-3). When Moses went up the mountain to meet with God, but he had not come down from the mountain, they complained, said, “We do not know what has happened to Moses, who led us out of Egypt; so make us some gods to lead us,” and made an idol (32:1-4). Even before coming to the land of Canaan which God had promised to give them, they complained against Moses, and said, “It would have been better to die in Egypt or even here in the wilderness. Why is the Lord taking us into the land? We will be killed in battle, and our wives and children will be captured. Wouldn’t it be better to go back to Egypt? Let’s choose a leader and go back to Egypt” (Num. 14:1-4).
Faith is a life-changing, transformative work, to give us a new life, to open us a new heaven and earth, and to lead us to eternal life. On the way, however, we can get lost, and be tempted to go back to our former way of life, and our old self (Eph. 4:22). To believe in Jesus is to walk the way of faith with him who is saying, “Do not be afraid. It is I.”
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life. Do not live for the life that perishes with time, but for the eternal life.”
We are more than that, a being working for perishable food like that, more than that, a being living for the life that perishes with time. We are not just a being bound up to perishable food. When we believe in Jesus Christ, who himself is the bread of God, the bread we eat today at the Eucharistic table becomes mystically the body of Christ giving life to us and to the world, and it becomes the bread of heaven for us all to taste eternal life on earth. And, through the faith in Jesus, our every activity and works and our whole life come to have the fullness of the meaning in God the Creator. To believe in Jesus is to serve the Lord, and as his community, to live a life together worthy of the calling to help one another to grow in maturity in Christ, and to love one another in the life of the community (Eph. 4:1-14).
Then, Apostle Paul says us today, “We shall no longer be children, carried by the waves and blown about by every shifting wind of the teaching of deceitful people, who lead others into error by the tricks they invent. Instead, by speaking the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head. Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love” (Eph. 4:14-16).