The last thing in the text about the followers of Jesus before He heads out to the apostles is in vs. 14-15 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. That statement needs to stay in our minds as we proceed forward. So in verses 22-24 the crowd of followers has awakened. They realize that the disciples have taken a boat across the sea and Jesus is nowhere to be found. More boats show up so they go to find the disciples, more than likely thinking, “Surely, they will know where Jesus went.”
I love how in verse 25 they find Jesus and being unaware of how He got there they ask Him, “When did you get here?” Jesus skips the small talk and gets to the heart of the matter. In verse 26 Jesus answers “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.”
Jesus who knows the heart of man is asking them, “Why are you looking for me?” So the question today is, why are you following Jesus? Jesus next tells them, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
What we need to make sure we are seeing here is that back up in verses 14 and 15 it tells us their purpose for following Jesus. When they refer to the prophet has come they are referring to Deuteronomy 18. This Old Testament verse is where Moses tells the Israelites that someday a prophet like him will come and they are to listen to him. They just saw the miracle of Jesus feeding five thousand with 5 fish and 2 loaves. They are thinking back to Moses and the bread (manna from heaven). They did not have to work for food it was given to them by Moses. (It actually was given to them by God but as we will see in a minute they see it as being given to them by Moses.) Jesus also was able to give them food without them doing anything.
They are following Jesus for what He can give them. They ask what must they do to do the works of God and Jesus tells them to believe in Him. In turn they ask, what sign can you give us? Is that not amazing? They have just seen the miracle of the feeding of five thousand and now they say prove to us you can perform miracles. Then they give a hint as the type of miracle they need to see.
They tell Him that their forefathers ate manna in the desert so what can He do in comparison to that. This same problem exists today for the church. Many follow Jesus just as this crowd did. They will go through the trouble of following Jesus as long as they think they can get something. When things get hard or it is not convenient to follow Jesus they turn away just as we see these men are going to do (John 6:60).
Even when Jesus tells them that the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life, they respond by saying, “Give us this bread.” I’m going to stop there today to keep this post from becoming overly long and I will continue with the Bread of Life statement next time.