Give Us a Sign & Some Jesus on the Side

by Kathy Whited
We Hunger for Life
John 6:24-35 (NRSV)
24 So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which[a] comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Somewhere along the line, I learned or perceived that it is bad to ask for a sign from God, as if we might be testing God, bargaining with God, or lacking faith in God. In this passage, Jesus explains that the work of God is belief in him (Jesus) whom he (God) has sent. So the crowd asks for a sign–really? It appears that the crowd might be suffering from short-term memory loss. Did they not just witness a sign when Jesus turned five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed 5,000 people? And was it not miraculous to them how Jesus stayed behind to pray, but then arrived ahead of everyone? Did they not ask, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Perhaps these signs just weren’t miraculous enough for them in comparison to Moses feeding a nation for 40 years. The crowd was saying, “Show us what else you can do, so that we can believe.”
Yet, let’s be careful not to be too judgmental, because we tend to do the same today. Give me a sign, Jesus. If you give me this, then I’ll do that: “Dear God, I really need this job. If I get this job, then I’ll give generously.” Show us something extraordinary, so we can believe,”Please, God, help us to have a baby. We’ve spent months or years trying, and all our friends are having babies. I promise I’ll start going to church. “Sometimes we don’t even ask for something remarkable, but just something small to get us through the daily grind, “God, let me get through this traffic light, and I’ll know you’re with me today.” The thing is, amazing things happen all around us all the time, but we take them for granted. Or maybe we are just too busy going on with our lives that we miss them. We’re so caught up in chasing the fleeting things of this world, such as money, beauty, fashion, cars, homes, praise and approval. Either way, we’re as short-sighted as the crowd in the passage. In Day by Day We Magnify Thee, Martin Luther wrote:
“God’s wonderful works which happen daily are lightly esteemed,
not because they are of no import
but because they happen so constantly and without interruption.
Man is used to the miracle that God rules the world and upholds all creation,
and because things daily run their appointed course, it seems insignificant,
and no man thinks it worth his while to meditate upon it
and to regard it as God’s wonderful work,
and yet it is a greater wonder
than that Christ fed five thousand men with five loaves
and made wine from water.”
He goes on to explain that his grandparents used to say that there are many more people on earth eating than there is grain harvested from fields each year. If you do the math, there are more loaves eaten in a year than what is gathered, so where does the food come from? From God. It is the wonderful work of God. Just as Jesus explains that the manna did not come from Moses, it came from God.
Jesus uses bread as a metaphor. In older times, bread was central to the diet, and “breaking bread together” meant to share in a meal. Bread was the main course, providing the primary source of nourishment and sustenance. Today, many of us avoid bread or eat it as a side dish. Do not miss the importance of this message. Jesus is not a side dish. He is not a roll with your salad at Panera or a side of fries at McDonald’s. Jesus is the spiritual main course–the ultimate gift from God–coming down from heaven, eternally and abundantly filling our souls. The Bread of Life – salvation and eternal life.

Dear Father, thank You for sending Your Son to be our Bread of Life. We are completely dependent on Christ to fill our souls. Thank you for your grace. Please use us to share your gift with others as we live out our mission of loving Jesus by serving others. Amen.
Lenten Resources for Families
From Priscilla Stapleton and Sarah Richter
Ritual/Tradition: Begin your time together in your family worship or devotion space. Light your candle and have a family member open with prayer. One way to think about your prayer time is to use the word PRAY as a guide. (P-is for Praise, praising God; R-is for repent, asking forgiveness; A-is for another, pray for another person; Y-yourself, pray for yourself).
Share: After praying, share your highs and lows for the week. Allow each family member to share his or her thoughts, feelings or observations from the week. Be mindful that sharing in a loving, safe and non-judgmental manner is important, so your child will feel comfortable opening up about thoughts and feelings.
This is also a good time to read the entries in your family’s 40 Day Lenten Journal. Hopefully, everyone had a chance to write down something that can be shared during this time together.
John 6:28-35 (Bread of Life)
The foundation of the Christian life is faith. How would you define faith? The dictionary defines faith as the complete trust or confidence in someone or something. It also defines faith as a strong belief in God, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. The Bible tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
In our scripture reading this week, we learn that the crowds of people who had been following Jesus were still not certain that he was who he said he was, so they asked him to give them a “miraculous sign” so that they might see it and believe him. These people needed proof before they would be willing to trust in Jesus. They wanted a sign that proved that Jesus was sent from God.

In John 6:29, Jesus responds quite simply that the only thing that God wants from his followers is “to believe in the one he has sent.” All we need to do is just believe in Jesus; he is the bread of life, and he gives life to the world. Jesus goes on to say that anyone who comes to him will never go hungry and will never be thirsty. Jesus loved to teach in a way that would make people think beyond the obvious. He isn’t saying that you will never be physically hunger or thirsty. He is the word of God, and once we allow the word to enter into our being, we are changed. Our hearts, minds and spirits are now in a relationship with Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Bread is an essential part of our daily diet (unless you are on a no-carb diet), and Jesus is the foundation of our spiritual diet. Those who come to Jesus will never be hungry or thirsty. It is through his death and resurrection that we live. Believing that Jesus is the bread of life is what we are called to do. He gives us everlasting life.

Activity: Loaf of Blessing Basket
What you will need:
brown construction paper
pens or markers
small basket
Trace small oval or rectangular shapes onto the brown construction paper to look like a loaf of bread. On each loaf, write the following:
Pray the Lord’s Prayer
Ask for forgiveness
Share your faith with someone at school, or work
Listen to Christian music
Show love to one another
Honor your father and mother
Say something nice to a family member
Bake something for a neighbor
These are just some ideas. Perhaps your family can add some additional actions to a loaf. Put the loaves in the basket and place them on your kitchen table. Each night after dinner, have a family member pick a loaf and perform the action written. It will be a wonderful reminder of Jesus being the bread of life.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

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