John 6 – The Best Bread
So this past week in 12:13 we continued our study of the gospel of John. In particular, we took an extended look at Christ in John 6.
An important key to understanding the gospel of John is to understand the unique role that miracles play. John calls them signs (e.g. 6:2, 14, 26). The purpose of a sign is not to captivate our attention, but to redirect it. If you are lost in the woods and haven’t seen a trail marker in some time, the sight of one on a tree can be quite a relief. But the marker isn’t there so you can stare at the tree but to point your way forward on the trail. A sign exists to redirect your attention, not capture it. It points to something beyond itself.
In the same way, the miracles of Jesus – especially in John – point beyond themselves to a deeper reality. This is what’s happening in John 6. Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves and two fish (6:1-14). The people, hungry for another meal, search Jesus out. “Jesus answered them and said, ‘truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life…’” (6:26-27). The miraculous distribution of food was a sign: it pointed beyond itself to the true bread – Jesus himself. A few verses later, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst” (6:35).
So we asked two important questions:
1. What is eternal life?
Eternal life is more than unending existence. It’s not less than that, but it’s certainly more. Jesus said, “this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life is knowing God! It extends beyond death, and it overcomes death (John 11:25-26)
2. How do we get eternal life?
Jesus told the people, “don’t work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life” (6:27). The people then asked, “what shall we do so that we may work the works of God?” In other words, how do we get what you’re talking about? What do we do? “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he sent.’”
Believe in Christ… get the best bread – the bread that endures to eternal life!