A rejected gift – Wednesday, 3rd Week of Easter – Acts 8:1b-8/John 6:35-40
The Gospel has narrated how Jesus heads to Capernaum, his de facto headquarters in Galilee and is quickly followed by the Jews. At first Jesus confronts them. “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (John 6:26), I do not think Jesus was scolding the crowd for seeking bread because they were hungry. I think Jesus was disappointed that the crowd did not expect more, not more bread but something more. Sadly, because they found a source for food, they were not looking for Jesus, they are looking the man who could keep feeding them. One would have also thought that the multiplication of the fish and loaves would be a sign enough for them to realize that Jesus is the Messiah.
Like us too, who have experienced the Lord, the crowds have many questions as they have doubts. When did you come here? (Vs 25). What must we do to perform the works of God? (vs28) What sign will you give us? What work are you preforming? (vs30).
Jesus refuses to answer the question which they have asked, but instead redirects the conversation to more important issues. Because they have focused on the wrong “bread,” Jesus redirects them toward the bread which “endures.” Then they ask Jesus to perform a sign, like Moses did when God provided the Israelites with a miraculous food in the desert. It seems strange for the Jews to ask for a sign considering that Jesus has just performed a sign like the one they demand. Jesus was offering them what they needed; they were focused on what they wanted.
Jesus does not give up on these disbelieving crowds who want their kind of answers. Jesus answers with a different kind of information. He seizes the opportunity once again to teach. Jesus uses the bread that filled their stomachs to become the primary extended metaphor in order to stretch their understanding.
Think about it, we have a God who never tires of us, never tires of the questions we have and of how often we question him. We have a God who bears our iniquity and carries our sorrow. The question is, how long will we try his patience?
To all these questions, Jesus responds to us as he did the crowd: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom God has sent” (John 6:29). To believe is to trust that God is doing something new; that human-created conditions and circumstances cannot undermine or negate. To believe is to submit everything, even our highest-stake issues, to God’s saving work in Jesus. To believe is not so much what we do as being open to what God is doing. Yet we know from today’s Gospel that Jesus is aware that the Jews do not believe in him.
Today, Jesus declares, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Jesus is clear; it is he who sustains life, he does not sustain bread in our lives and because he sustains life, he will declare in verse 39, “and I will raise them up on the last day.”
Jesus is the gift of the Father a gift that he wants everyone to truly embrace. It is not God who drives us away, it is we who reject the gift of God, Jesus.