Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Who was Jesus: Political King or Bread of Life?

John 6 records the feeding of the multitude. You know the story—Jesus hikes a mountain to escape the crowds who were following him everywhere. John says they were following him solely because of his miracles. In other words, they liked the Jesus who could provide them with material things. And they wanted more.

It just so happens that when they arrived on the mountain the crowd was hungry and without food. So Jesus fed at least 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread and some undersized fish—quite a miracle indeed.

This is the only miracle reported in all four gospels. So there must be something important that John wants to convey, especially considering that most of John’s material is unique to his gospel.

Indeed, a lot can be said about this miracle. But I want to focus on the reaction of the crowd (John 6:14-15). The miracle was designed to impact them the most.

Was Jesus a Political King?

The people saw the miracle and quickly professed Jesus to be their long awaited Messiah. They were ready to take him by force and make him king. But their view of Christ was distorted. They were thinking of an earthly, materialistic king. They saw in Jesus one who could provide:
  •  food for their hunger
  •  healing for their sicknesses
  •  deliverance from their trials
  •  plenty for their wants
  •  victory over their enemies.
Surely he can do all of those things. But Jesus did not come to give us all that our hearts desire from this material world. Remember, when Jesus meets our physical and material needs, he does so temporarily—our material possessions cannot save us.

But Jesus can and that was the true nature of his mission.

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. And he was trying to show that to the multitude through this miracle. The bread was a sign that Jesus is the true source of provision.

In the discourse that followed the crowd’s attempt to crown Jesus their political king, Jesus tells them this very fact. He said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” In short, Jesus said he came to give his life so that all who believe in him will have eternal life.

The main point of the miracle, then, was to show the multitude that he has the power to meet the basic needs of man.

But here’s the catch: man’s most basic need is not to eat bread and be filled—that bread (material possessions) will only satisfy you for a short time.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the true satisfying bread of life—that all-nourishing, all-satisfying bread—for all who believe in the true person and works of Christ.

'Who was Jesus' is a regular feature of
The Sojourner Chronicles that investigates the biblical Jesus.

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