22 The next day the crowd that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone. 23 There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum seeking Jesus. 25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
I had to read verses 22-25 quite a few times to understand its significance. This is the day after Jesus and the disciples fed the 5,000, Jesus went away on His own, and His disciples took the boat across the big lake. The people returned to that spot to spend more time with Jesus but saw that He wasn’t there. Looking across the lake they saw the boat that the disciples took, but still wondered where Jesus had gone. They sought out Jesus by heading in the direction of the disciples, knowing that they follow Him continually and that they would probably know where He was.
I must pause in my thoughts to highlight what I just said: knowing that the disciples follow Him continually. Christians, we must pay special attention to this. Since we claim to follow God, it is the rest of the world who will be looking to us for answers, not just via questions, but via how we act. So then, if we act incongruent to what God has called us to, then our representation of Him in our lives is false and we therefore give a false impression, consequently turning others away from God instead of inspiring them to follow us and seek Him out.
Once the others arrived to the other side where the disciples were, they found Jesus (pun not intended). Jesus points out that they ask the wrong question. One might say that He is avoiding the question, but I think we must realize that the question they ask is inconsequential. In reading the bible, I imagine that Jesus was one of those people who was very careful in how He spoke and what He spoke. He was the type of man who whenever he spoke, everyone listened because He always spoke a quality message. Let’s look at what He said.
His distinction between seeing and experiencing is tantamount. I’d like to think this is the difference between seeing something portrayed on TV and actually being there when it happens, like a tornado or volcanic eruption. You certainly cannot understand the weight of the situation without being there. He articulates here that they do not seek Him out because of what they saw, but rather because they experienced His power and glory through the miracle of the bread. I wonder how many people wandered off when the disciples told them all to sit down in groups. They did not get to experience the miracle and therefore probably did not return the next day to experience more.
Jesus once again explains the “food” that is offered through Him from God, as I mentioned in Daily Bread, Teamwork, and Persuasion. It is not the miracle itself that fulfills us, but rather consuming that which is Christ. This is what makes receiving communion that much more meaningful. If we continually seek out and consume Christ, we will be fulfilled.
What are you eating today?