The Bread Of Life
( Originally Published 1915 )
ON THE morning after the day when Jesus had fed the five thousand people with the five loaves, the crowd came together once more, hoping again to see Jesus; and some of them expecting to have the miracle or wonder-work repeated. On the evening before, they had seen the twelve disciples go out upon the lake in their boat, and had noticed that Jesus did not sail with them. They thought that Jesus must still be there, and looked all around for him, not knowing that in the night he had walked upon the sea to help his. disciples in the storm. Failing to find Jesus, they thought that he must have gone back to his home in Capernaum. They found some other boats upon the shore, and in these they crossed the lake to Capernaum.
They found Jesus at the church in Capernaum, and said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?"
"I tell you the truth," answered Jesus, "it is not on account of the signs of power which you saw that you are looking for me, but because you ate of the bread which I gave you, and had your fill. You should work, not for the food which does not last, but for that which endures to everlasting life; that bread the Son of Man will give you, for upon him the Father has set his seal of power."
Jesus wished them to understand that .the truth which he could give them was more to the soul than food was to the body, for it would give the life of God, which never passes away.
"In what way," they asked him, "can we do the work that God would have us do?"
"The work that God would have you do," answered Jesus, "is to believe in him whom God has sent to you as his message-bearer."
"Well, then," they said to Jesus, "show us the sign that will prove that you have come from God, then we will believe in you. What is the work that you are doing? Our fathers under Moses in the desert ate the manna that Moses gave them. You remember that it is written, `He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' "
You see, the people wanted Jesus to show his power again by repeating the miracle with the loaves, and giving them more bread in the same way.
"In truth I tell you," replied Jesus, "it was not Moses who gave your fathers the bread from heaven; it was my Father, the Lord God. And my Father does give you. now the real bread from heaven. For God's bread is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
"Master," they said, "give us that bread always!"
"I am the life-giving bread," answered Jesus. "He who comes to me shall never be hungry, and he who believes in me shall never be thirsty. But, as I told you, you have seen me, and yet you do not believe in me. All those whom the Father gives me will come to me; and no one who comes to me will I ever turn away. For I have come down from heaven not to carry out my own will, but the will of Him who sent me; and his will is this—that I should not lose even one of all those whom He has given me, but shall raise them up to life at the last great day. For it is the will of my Father that every one who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have ever-lasting life; and I myself will raise him up at the last day."
The Jews who heard Jesus began to find fault with him for saying, "I am the bread which came down from heaven."
"Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, `I came down from heaven?' "
They could not understand his words, and they were angry with him because he would not again work the miracle of giving them bread. Also they now found that Jesus was not willing to be a king such as they wanted, one that would sit on a throne and live in a palace; would raise an army to drive away the Romans and make the Jews a ruling people upon the earth. It was, as we have seen, the time of the Passover, and one reason for the great crowds around Jesus was that all were expecting him to lead the people to Jerusalem and take his place as the king of Israel. .But this year Jesus did not go, as he usually did, to the feast in Jerusalem, for he had other plans for himself and his disciples.
When the crowd following Jesus found that he would not be a king according to their desires, that he would not do wonders for them to look upon, and that his words were such as they could not understand, nearly all of them turned against Jesus. They went away, leaving the twelve disciples alone with him.
Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you, too, wish to leave me?"
Simon Peter answered for them all, "Lord, to whom shall we go if we leave you? You have the words that will give us everlasting life. And we believe and are certain that you are the Holy One of God."
These men did not understand all the words of Jesus, but they had learned to love him and to believe that he was the promised King. They were ready to stay with him until death.
"Did I not choose you to be the Twelve?" said Jesus, "and yet, even among you there is one who is doing the devil's work."
They did not know of whom he was speaking; but he meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot; the one of the twelve disciples who a year afterward was to give up his Master to death. At that time Judas himself did not know this. Jesus, who could read the hearts of men, saw in Judas the signs all unknown to himself that he would do this dreadful deed.