I’m not so sure the people were not out looking for miracles when they sought Jesus in the gospel today, even though he doubts their motives. It says they knew he was gone and they knew he had not taken the boat. But none of them actually saw him walking on water. They had experienced the loaves and the fishes, so I think they knew there were miracles around. Jesus seems to indicate they were just hungry again. And I suppose that’s possible too. Once you find a good reasonably priced all-you-can-eat buffet, you’re likely to go back again.
He accuses them of seeking physical food. I’m not so sure they weren’t really seeking spiritual food – but spiritual food is what they got. And Jesus makes a clear distinction here between physical and spiritual food. He says that they were looking for him not because of the miracles but because they had eaten the bread and now they wanted more. That’s the problem with physical bread. You eat today, and then you need to eat again tomorrow. And here are these crowds of people looking at Jesus for more bread. He tells them not to “work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.”
And it turns out they are hungry, not just for physical bread but for spiritual bread as well. They are receptive to his admonition and ask what they can do to accomplish God’s works. Luckily, they are doing it. Jesus says that believing in Jesus is the best thing they can do. He is after all the bread of life. In this reading we have an echo from the Old Testament, and one that is repeated elsewhere as well: Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook