Text: John 6:22-71
Event(s): The bread from heaven, Jesus is rejected by His own, Many disciples turn away
John 6:22-71 This lengthy section provides us with the most in-depth NT explanation of the significance of Communion and how it is vastly more than a mere ordinance commemorating Jesus’ death.*
John 6:22-26 I love that John shares this detail because by it we can clearly understand that the same ones who just witnessed the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 are the same ones to whom Jesus is about to speak and teach further. It’s shocking that they later ask Him for a sign having seen having seen Him do what they had just personally partaken in.
John 6:26 “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs” The feeding of the 5,000 wasn’t intended to be just the satisfaction of a physical need – it was a sign that pointed to a greater reality. But the people were more concerned with satisfying their hungry stomachs than the hunger of their souls. Prioritizing natural needs over spiritual ones can cause us to miss what God is doing right in our midst.
John 6:27 “labor for the food which endures to everlasting life” Spiritual nourishment puts everything else in proper perspective. In fact, I have found I need much less of everything else when my soul is satisfied spiritually. “Bread” satisfies and quiets the cravings of our soul and gives life.
John 6:27 “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus had just said He would “give them” the food that endures to everlasting life; but they were still focused on the natural. What could they “do” to obtain it?
John 6:44 “no one can come to Me unless the Father draws him” This is a great truth to consider when praying for a loved one to come to Christ. We cannot manipulate the situation, but we can trust that the work of the Holy Spirit is to draw people to Christ and that He is ever drawing them. It doesn’t mean we stop praying. Certainly, we are calling things on earth as they are in heaven when we pray for others. But the painful part is that we sometimes witness people’s free will in action when they reject Christ. The depths of human depravity expose the stubbornness of the human will. Yet we can trust that God’s grace is vast and that His goodness and mercy is pursuing them heavily all the days of their lives.
Today’s Takeaway: I wonder if there have been times in our lives where God has miraculously met a need – yet we limited our understanding of it only to the natural. I wonder if sometimes, we focus only on our natural needs while ignoring our spiritual condition. We all have a tendency to slip into this pattern, but communion is a great reminder to keep an eternal perspective in all things and that He is our source. When we slip into that condition, where we’re only focused on our natural needs, it’s a good indicator that our spiritual man is starving for nourishment because a satisfied spirit rests and trusts in God.
Additional (optional) reading: I’ve mentioned before that my favorite translation to study from is the NKJV. However, for this text, I highly recommend reading a paraphrased translation alongside if you typically read from one of the more traditional versions. NLT or even MSG is great to help put this in more modern, understandable language and really get the point of what Jesus was saying here. (Of the four Gospels, John is the only one who captures this discussion. There are no parallel references for this text.)
*Taken from notes in The New Spirit Filled Life Bible, Executive Editor, Dr. Jack Hayford