The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval” (John 6:22-27, NLT).
When the multitude that experienced the miracle of the loaves and fish realized that Jesus has slipped away they began a frantic search for him. Evidently they were captivated enough with the miracle they were willing to expend a little energy to chase him down. When they located him on the other side of the lake, they asked, “When did you get here?” That doesn’t give the sense of what they are really conveying, but Jesus’ answer more than covers it. Jesus discerned that the reason the people followed him across the lake was because Jesus had fed them. They had not reflected on the spiritual significance of the miracle they had experienced. Material bread perishes and ultimately does not satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart.
One would think that we Americans would have already learned that lesson about stuff. But we continue, as a rule, to seek fulfillment and gratification from material things. We are too quick to respond to the siren call of advertisers. Even though we lost (and in many cases lost big) during the economic downturn back in 2009, we continue to define ourselves by what we have and seek to enrich our lives through possessions that fail time and time again to deliver what they promise.
If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, take some time to reflect on why you follow. Is it because you’re captivated by his life and mission? Or is it because you’re hoping that he may possibly flip you a fish sandwich?
I’m on the road home from Chicago tomorrow, but Thursday look for me to post some thoughts on the second question posed to Jesus from those who chased him across land and sea.