We encounter Jesus in John’s Gospel back on the Capernaum side of the Sea of Galilee (John 6.24-35). People are pursuing him from the day before when the miracle of the Feeding of the Thousands took place. Jesus had sent the Twelve away in the boat and he himself when back up the mountain to the place where he had taught the people while the crowd dispersed. He did it to avoid being taken and made king by force. After all, did he not tell Pilate at his trail, “My kingdom is not of this world”? (John 18.36)
The people who came from the miracle of the ordinary bread, looking for Jesus, were not interested in anything more than this life and what they could obtain in this life. It is why Jesus challenges them to earn bread that will last – manna. We need to answer for ourselves and for our life within this community, a simple question: “What do we want? To be full or to be satisfied?” There many churches across this country who want to be full but are constantly unsatisfied when they are not. They want the right clergy with the right plan and the right programs to make the building full so that the budget will be met and there will be no fear of failure and therefore of closure.
The challenge of the Gospel is clear – we need to be ready to thrive not just survive. Jesus points out that God is the source of our life and our community by identifying himself as “I am” – the ultimate name for God among the Jewish community. The challenge of living off of today’s bread instead of the manna of the past is simple: can you live on moldy bread? God is here in this moment to offer abundant, overflowing life. He offers it to you freely. Remember though, because it is free, it is not cheap. Cheap grace makes for weak people. This is why we are invited to come and know Jesus and to remain with him that we might have this life that flows all over the place.
This means that when you see Jesus, you find eternity. We are not just to seek self gratification for the moment but to be satisfied with nothing less that a life that is with Jesus. We come to the rail for more than just to receive at communion. We come to be satisfied so that we can in turn serve others. The people of Jesus’ day wanted him to give them manna – a sign that the new age was about to come. He challenged them to see what God had already given – and to accept him as the bread in their lives. Will you?