Summary: Don't loath the Bread
“Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’ ” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.”
John the Apostle goes from the discourse of Jesus to the Jerusalem Jews in chapter 5 directly to the account of His feeding of the 5000 in Galilee with the words ‘After these things’ (or ‘After this’, depending upon the translation you’re reading).
But in saying ‘After these things’, and this is applicable in each case in which he uses the term, the writer is not stating specifically that what he is about to say comes right away after what he has just said. It is just a transition statement that generally refers to a passing of time. This happened, then later this happened. Or, here’s a story, and now that I’m done telling you that here the accounting of another event.
A harmonizing of the Gospels at this point indicates that quite some time has passed between Jesus’ confrontation in the Temple over the man He healed by the pool of Bethesda, and this event near the Sea of Galilee in the north. One commentator supposed it was about 6 months, but it may have been even longer than that.
It is at the end of chapter 6 where Jesus loses His large following and His popularity with the people. Well, He didn’t lose them; He never really had them, and He knew that all along. In fact that is what we’ll be talking about today.
JESUS TESTS BELIEF
Before we talk about the sad disaster of false religion and selfish expectations however, let’s pause and consider the early verses of the chapter and this challenge Jesus puts to Philip.
Ok, just a couple of items to take note of in passing: John says a great multitude was following Jesus. We’ll talk a little bit about the numbers in a few minutes, but we won’t pause long there. I just want you to get this mental picture of multitudes flocking out to see Jesus, as you read the words, ‘because they were seeing the signs which He was performing on those who were sick’.
So Jesus had a large following, but it was because of His miracles. People known for their healing ministries have always been successful at drawing very large crowds. In the late 1960s into the early 70’s a woman named Kathryn Kuhlman, who pastored a Presbyterian church in Pennsylvania, was reported to have had healings taking place during her worship services. So she was asked to go out to the west coast so that people there could also benefit from this healing ministry.
Now, in Kathryn’s particular case, she claimed openly that she didn’t know why healings took place in her services.
She said she died a thousand deaths before going out onto the stage to begin preaching, because she knew that people weren’t there to hear her, or even to hear the Gospel, but to see healings and maybe be the recipient of one. And since she knew that if any healings would take place it would have to be God doing it, she was afraid of the reaction of the people if nothing happened.
Now I leave it to you to either believe or disbelieve that healings took place in her worship services. My point today is that she knew and openly stated that the thousands who flocked to her services held in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles were there for miracles, not for spiritual life or growth, which, boiled down to the bone, means they weren’t there for Jesus either.
Any church that wants to have a large congregation can have one for the asking. All the leadership has to do is offer creature comforts, a show, and a door prize or two, and they’ll fill any building beyond the municipal code limitations. It’s not hard to get paying customers when you feed the flesh and bolster the ego. We’ll see later what it is that drives them away again, just in case anyone wants to know how to empty a church.
Next, I want you to notice that John says, “…the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Jesus therefore, lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a great multitude was coming to Him…” Ok stop right there.