Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.
The day after Jesus had miraculously fed the 5,000, the crowd that had been there and ate were diligently searching for Him (vv. 22-24). Jesus had snuck away from the crowd when He realized that they intended to make Him king (v. 15) and now with His disciples also gone, they were wondering as to His whereabouts.
When they find Him, Jesus rebukes the crowd for seeking Him for the material benefit of the food that He had provided. The ultimate purpose of the miracle was to point to Who Jesus is. In fact, John refers to Jesus’ miracles as signs. They indicated or “signified” that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah that could give them eternal life. However, the crowd had missed the point and were more focused on the actual sign instead of the One to Whom it pointed. They were more concerned with the food which perishes instead of the food which endures to eternal life. This particular miracle was intended to direct the people to Jesus Himself, the bread of life who can eternally satisfy one’s spiritual hungering and thirsting (v. 35). The bread that they wanted from Jesus would leave them “physically” hungry again but the spiritual bread that He is would never leave them “spiritually” hungry. They missed the spiritual reality of the miracle because they were too caught up with the physical. They were seeking Him because of what He could give and not for Jesus Himself.
God often gives us “signs” in our everyday lives. Every gift that God gives us points to Him and directs us to worship Him. We often, just like the crowd that sought Jesus, get so caught up with the gifts themselves that we lose sight of the Giver that they point to. If we are not careful, we wind up worshiping the gifts and not the Giver. We should not seek God because of the gifts that He gives but instead for Who He is. Attempting to find joy in the gifts will not last and will result in us winding up empty, but rejoicing in God brings eternal joy and satisfaction. Take some time this month to consider the many gifts that God has given you (your family, house, car, job, etc.) and make sure that you are glorifying and praising God for them instead of worshiping them. Do you worship God because of Who He is or the gifts that He gives?
God gives us things, not so that we can make much of them or ourselves, but so that we can use them to make much of God
Soli Deo Gloria!