Summary: This sermon continues Jesus’ Bread of Life Discourse as he attempts to weed out the curious from the commited followers. In this section he attempts to move the Jews from the temporary unsatisfying and temporal physical and religious food that they lived
Does anyone recognize this food item? Of course, it is a Happy Meal. By a show of hands, how many of you parents have fed your children one of these things? How many of you kids have ever eaten one of these things? We know that a lot of kids eat these because apparently over 2.5 million of them are sold annually in the United States alone.
And you wonder why these meals are so popular with kids and parents. They are convenient, relatively quick, they have some great stuff in them like these soggy French fries, and these tasty Chicken McNuggets, a drink and of course a plastic toy. But the really good thing about this meal is that it keeps your child from grumbling in the car for at least twenty minutes or so while they consume them. Has anyone been guilty of giving a Happy Meal to their child to quiet him or her in a car for a few minutes? I certainly have.
The bad thing about these Happy Meals is that each one contains about 500 calories. In fact I recently read that there is a group of concerned parents in California who are trying to ban the production of Happy Meals because of their high fat, sugar, salt, and overall calorie content, but hey they do give you this nice little toy, so that makes it okay, right? Wrong, McDonald’s is using the toy to entice the child so the parent will buy the Happy Meal. So the people in this class action suit are claiming that children will become somewhat addicted to this type of meal and develop unhealthy eating habits and will never mature to the food with substance.
And as we open our Bibles today to John Chapter 6 we see that Jesus was dealing with people who also had not matured in their eating habits. They were in a happy meal mentality. They didn’t want to move beyond the temporal food to the real spiritual food. And Jesus is saying that he offers food with real substance; food that is not only good in this life but also in the life to come.
There is a lot of substance in this section of Chapter 6 so it is good to give an overview of where we have been before delving into today’s passage. You may recall earlier in Chapter 6 that Jesus had performed the miracle feeding of 5,000. He had crossed the Sea of Galilee and went to the other side of the lake for some alone time. Yet the people followed him across the Lake. Throughout the day as Jesus taught and ministered to the people the crowd continue to swell. And at some point late in the day Jesus looked up at the crowd and turned to his disciples and said: “Where will we get enough food for these people to eat?” And Philip basically replied: “I have no idea, but I do know that eight months wages would not buy enough food for these people to eat!” And then Andrew pipes up and says: “Well there is this boy with five barley loaves and two small fishes, but what can be done with this?” And we discover that Jesus was able to do something with it. He was able to take it and multiply it enough to feed the entire crowd. So much so, that there were twelve baskets of leftovers.
The people were so impressed that they wanted to make them king by force. And as the story made clear Jesus wanted nothing to do with this so he withdrew from the crowd, and went off to a mountain to pray while his disciples got on a boat and headed back to the other side of the lake. We know that late that night during the 4th watch Jesus appeared to the disciples walking on water.
Anyway, they get to the other side of the lake and the crowds continue to follow them. So Jesus has this huge crowd following him and Jesus decides that it is about time to begin to weed the crowd out between the curious and the committed. As we saw last week, there were a certain number of people who followed Jesus just because their stomachs were full. So when Jesus wasn’t going to give them any more fish and chips they said: “we’re out of here.” And there were others who were looking for a “sign”. People who liked the show Jesus was putting on but wanted something more impressive. Basically they were saying: “You put on a pretty good show Jesus. We liked the feeding of the 5k, however our prophet Moses brought down manna from heaven and fed close to a half a million. Can you top that that?”