John 6 is a fascinating chapter, but what catches the attention is how so many people turned away when they did not get the answers and actions they requested from Jesus. Verses 1-15 describe the miracle of feeding the 5,000. It excited the crowd and they were annoyed when they found Jesus had left. The disciples also were on their own, on the lake where they experienced a storm. Jesus walked to them on the water “and they were frightened” (verse 19). He said, “It is I” and “they were glad to take him into the boat and immediately the boat was at the land” (verse 21).
Is there a comparison to be made with his return to earth, a time when we are frightened by the chaos and “storms” in our lives in a troubled world? Notice “it was now dark” (verse 17) as the disciples rowed desperately. Will it be immediately evident to anxious believers that the return of Jesus is actually happening? Let us listen for his voice.
The crowds catch up and Jesus says to them, “You are seeking me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (verse 26). They ask, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (verse 28). They are more interested in doing miracles themselves and to receive more miraculous loaves and fishes than listen to his words and “the food that endures to eternal life” (verse 27).
They turn away from his comment, “This is the work of God that you believe in him whom God has sent” (verse 29). Real belief leads to actions, demonstrating acceptance of that belief! They are not prepared to think through what he means – and the same happens today. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life … whoever believes in me shall never thirst …you have seen me and yet you do not believe” (verse 36). Later “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (verse 66). We will shortly read how Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth …” (8:31). Let us abide with the words of Jesus and God in our hearts directing our actions.