Context and Theme
Among the discourses of Jesus in the ‘Book of Signs’ (Jn 1-12), chapter 6 has the longest one. On the day after the feeding of the crowd, some who ate the bread go in search of Him. Jesus speaks to them about the Bread of life that He will give them in the Eucharist. He tells them that He is the living bread that has come down from heaven. All those who eat that bread with faith in Him, will live eternally.
- Jesus tells the people: “Truly I say unto you, you seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves” (6:26). Jesus is exhorting them to shift their gaze from bread to the sign. All realities in your life can be seen as bread as well as sign. When you see bread as something that removes hunger you are only concentrating on the physical reality. Instead, you can look at every reality in your life as sign through which God communicates to you. Everything happens according to God’s design for you. He has a purpose for all that happens in your life. When you can look at them as ‘signs’ then you are on the path God traces for you.
- Jesus asks not to struggle for bread alone but work for the bread which gives eternal life (6:27). What do you mostly struggle for? Is it just for the daily bread? If yes, that bread cannot take you beyond death, to eternal life. The significance of ordinary bread stops with your death. A day will come you won’t need it anymore. So strive to work for bread that leads you to eternal life. It implies your struggle to make your dear ones happy, your compassion for the needy, your closeness to the poor and abandoned, these struggles will gain you bread that lasts to eternity.
- The question put to Jesus is this: “What sign will you do in order that we believe in you?” (6:30). These people await for signs to believe in Jesus. The real believer is one who totally believes and trusts even in the absence of any signs. On the contrary, he even believes when faced with contrary signs, even when God seems absent. So in all the risks of life, hold fast to Jesus in faith.