The Food That Will Not Perish – John 6:16-29

John 6:16 Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea (the Sea of Galilee), 17 and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. 19 Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened. (Jesus walking on the water – another supernatural sign.) 20 But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. (It is not clear if they were near their destination when they received Jesus into the boat or if this is another miracle – instantly transported to shore.)

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. (A little mystery as to where Jesus was) 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. (Given their experience from yesterday, it makes perfect sense that the crowd would be looking for Jesus and more miracles.)

25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” (When the crowd finds Jesus, they quiz Him about his path to Capernaum.  But rather than answer their question, Jesus begins another long discourse concerning His identity.)

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.” (You are looking for Me because your tummies were filled, but the miracle you witnessed is merely a shadow of something greater.) 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.” (The something greater is to eat the food that leads to eternal life.  We will learn later that this food is Christ Himself, but at this point Jesus only identifies Himself as the agent God has appointed to deliver this life-giving food.)

28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” (What work must we do to receive this food that will not perish?) 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (The only “work” that a man or woman can do that is acceptable to God is to believe in Jesus Christ; believe in His claim to divinity, believe He has been sent by the Father, believe He is the path to eternal life.  The only “work” that is required is to believe.)

We have now landed on the theme of John’s gospel message:  Belief in Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, leads to eternal life.  In fact, this is his summary message at the conclusion of the book.  “These things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:31).

Coming back to what is next in chapter 6, Jesus continues His analogy about food and bread.  We will explore what He has to say next time.  But let me leave you with this pointed question from the passage, “Do you believe in Jesus whom the Father has sent?”  This the only work required to receive the food of eternal life.