We Americans have a tendency to ask others, "What can you do for me?" We want the earthly loaves and fishes. We ask what Jesus can do for us. We forget that we are called to be servants.
Isn't that what often happens with us in our own walk with God? When we invite God in, aren't we thinking, "What can you do for me?" We love God the way we love our chickens. We love them as long as they give us eggs.
We are concerned with what God gives us. We love God for our own advantage.
We use God when we have a crisis in our lives.
We pray like we're dialing 911: "God, get the traffic out of my way so that I can get to my meeting on time! God, help me close this big deal so I can take my family on that vacation I promised. : God, help me get a good deal when I trade in my clunker."
For these and other emergencies, pray 911 and the magic God will swoop down and move that traffic out of the way, close that big deal, and give you a good deal on your clunker.
John teaches people the difference between earthly bread and heavenly bread.
He tells us how silly we are and essentially says, "Ask not what God can do for you, but what you can do for God, Christ and humanity."
Jesus came to provide salvation of creation. Jesus told that crowd - and tells us - to love God and have faith in the gift of Jesus Christ.
But, not to expect that loving God and having faith will get anything worldly. In other words, we do not earn green stamps for being loving and faithful. What we do get through our love and faith is a relationship with the Holy, which makes us complete beings, daughters and sons of God.
So, what is love for?
It is simply for the sake of love. It isn't for anything earthly. We don't love others to get grace. We don't have faith in exchange for earthly bread. These aren't stepping stones to get what we want. Loving others for the sake of reward is the way of prostitutes
As the proud father of an almost 4-year-old daughter, we provide her with all the physical needs that she could have. We feed her, clothe her, give her a warm bed, and I have become fairly proficient in changing diapers.
But, more and more I discover that her needs go so much deeper than those physical needs.
She wants to be loved and held. She wants to play. She has a desire for knowledge. She hungers after new experiences.
In short, she desires a quality of life, not mere existence. That is what Jesus Christ ultimately provides for us - quality of life - a way to get beyond ourselves and mere existence, and experience life and an intensity of life beyond the worldly.
Jesus fed the crowd with a few loaves and fishes.
Later, they track him down. It is obvious to Jesus that they are motivated by their stomachs, not their hearts. So, Jesus offers them the recipe they need for "enduring" food. It is simple, put your faith in Jesus and be his love, and receive an unending supply of the "bread of heaven."
Yes, we need the bread - physical bread.
Physical need is important. But, Jesus tells us there is a higher need, that of spiritual nourishment, which comes from God's love and is rooted in faith.