A Bad Trade

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They didn’t get it.

The Lord had just fed more than five thousand people with a handful of fish and a few hunks of bread. The crowd had already seen Him heal the sick. What do you want of someone who looks after these most basic of human needs? You make Him your king (John 6:15), or at least you try to. How could anyone resist the best social services and health care plan in town?

After that attempt failed, the crowd realized that Jesus had not escaped them with His disciples and yet only one boat was missing (John 6:24). Where had He gone and how had He gotten there? No problem—they simply guessed that He would go to Capernaum so they followed him there.

Jesus knew what they were looking for so He went immediately to the point: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (John 6:26, 27).

What follows is a long discussion about bread.

One of the things that caught my eye were the Lord’s words: “...you are looking for me, not because you saw the miraculous signs...” The Lord knew that at the heart of the matter most of these people didn’t care HOW Jesus provided what they wanted; they only cared that He gave them what they wanted. Not even the miraculous made an impression. Gaining the hereafter didn’t hold a candle to getting what they wanted in the here-and-now.

It was after this discussion on the bread of eternal life, that many of those who had been following Jesus decided to move on (John 6:66). They weren’t getting what they really wanted even though Jesus was offering them what they really needed (John 6:51).

An honest look at our own lives might reveal a similar attitude. We are often more concerned with the temporal, the temporary, rather than the permanent. We care more about physical gains in our lives than we do about spiritual ones. Our churches invest in what won’t last at the expense of the only thing He will bless—His Word and the impact that what He says is designed to have on people’s lives (John 6:63). We trade the human for the divine—physical bread for spiritual bread—our agendas for His.

The step off the path of blessing is an easy one to take. After all, the thing we talk most about is ourselves!

Many of the people who followed Jesus didn’t get it. They couldn’t see beyond their own agendas, their own satisfaction, the temporary. We often don’t get it either. The end result is a bad trade-off—the human for the divine, the bread that fills the stomach as opposed to the bread that fills the soul.

And we will never be satisfied.


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