In the name of God: Father, Son, & Holy Spirit.
Today’s gospel reading from John continues the story of the “great picnic in the wilderness” which we heard about last week. (1) In this picnic, Jesus feeds to their complete satisfaction a great crowd of 5,000 from the seemingly meager offerings of a small boy’s five loaves of barley & two fish.
The vast, well-fed crowd yearns for more of Jesus, yearns for more from Jesus, so they make the significant effort to follow him across the Sea of Galilee in search of more.
I love this about the crowd: they have been well fed, but they don’t stop there. Now they pursue Jesus with their questions about the great event that just happened.
So Jesus and the crowd have a dialogue, a conversation.
The crowd begins the conversation with what seems like a silly question, “Teacher, when did you get here?” The question seems so small and inconsequential in comparison to the vast feeding which happened only the day before.
You may remember and note from today’s text that John uses the term “sign” for this great feeding. In this sign Jesus is revealed as the one who creates bounty from scarcity & meagerness.
What sense does it make to ask the one who has created & distributed such bounty “when did you get here?”
Jesus’ response is typical: he does not respond to the small question, but to the great need which he sees behind it,
a need which they neither seem to perceive nor can articulate themselves.
They know they have a yearning, but they don’t know the totality of what they yearn for. Which is why they ask Jesus the rather silly question, “When did you get here?”
Jesus’ priority is to lead the crowd deeper into the faith which the great feeding evoked in them, the faith that led them to pursue him across the waters.
Jesus tells the crowd, “Work for the food that does not perish. Work for the food that endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give you.”