Thought for Sunday 1st August 2021

This week's talk is written by Steve Langton.

Eyes of faith

Our Gospel reading this week (John 6: 24-35) takes place the day after the feeding of the five thousand. 

24 When the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they got into those boats and went to Capernaum, looking for him.

25 When the people found Jesus on the other side of the lake, they said to him, “Teacher, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “I am telling you the truth: you are looking for me because you ate the bread and had all you wanted, not because you understood my miracles. 27 Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him.”

28 So they asked him, “What can we do in order to do what God wants us to do?”

29 Jesus answered, “What God wants you to do is to believe in the one he sent.”

30 They replied, “What miracle will you perform so that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, just as the scripture says, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 “I am telling you the truth,” Jesus said. “What Moses gave you was not[a] the bread from heaven; it is my Father who gives you the real bread from heaven. 33 For the bread that God gives is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they asked him, “give us this bread always.”

35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty.

In his commentary on this passage Tom Wright compares the situation to a history student studying the works of an artist who was very influential in the relevant period of history.  The student rushed from gallery to gallery carefully noting down the information from the explanatory boards beside each picture and finding any relevant material from the gallery shops.  But at no time did the student take the time to look properly at the paintings themselves and learn what they had to say to her.

The crowd who followed Jesus were the same, they had read in the scriptures about the messiah who was to come and they had eaten the food that Jesus had so miraculously provided.  But they had failed to realise that these were just signs, and what they really needed to look at was the man standing in front of them because he could supply them with the bread of life that would truly sustain them.

Similarly, all of us need to look again at the world around us, seeing beyond the obvious and looking for deeper meaning.  This is particularly important if, like me, you are a logical analytical person – analytical skills are a great gift, but we sometimes need to turn those skills off and just see our Lord and saviour at work in the world around us.  So our challenge for the coming week is to look at the world afresh, to look at it with the eyes of faith, and see what God is saying to us.