The Berean Expositor
Volume 54 - Page 62 of 210
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"I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but
because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for
food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him God the
Father has placed His seal of approval" (6: 26, 27, N.I.V.).
They had been largely taken up with physical satisfaction, but these miraculous signs
were not just displays of power for satisfying physical needs. They were illustrations of
much deeper teaching. This used to be called the doctrine of the types, and numbers of
helpful books were written on the subject. They have all but vanished today. In the
discourse that follows, the Lord Jesus shows the importance of the spiritual values lying
behind the signs. He had already shown the contrast between natural and spiritual water
in His conversation with the woman at the well. Now He compares natural food which
was perishable with spiritual food which had eternal values, and this food He was ready
to give them if they would only believe Him. God the Father had "sealed" Him for this
very work, that is, He had been prepared and sent by the Father for the task.
"Then they asked Him, `What must we do to do the works God requires?'." (6: 28),
and the Lord's reply was right to the point:
"Jesus answered, `The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent'. So
they asked Him, `What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe
you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written; He
gave them bread from heaven to eat'." (6: 29-31).
Westcott states that the Lord's reply "contains the complete solution of the relation of
faith and works". In the same way Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians, mentions their
"work of faith" (I Thess. 1: 3). The Lord Jesus declares that belief in Him is the work of
God. The Greek verb has the force of "that you may keep on believing".
In spite of the gigantic miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, they ask for a further sign
and quote Psa. 78: 24 "He gave them bread from heaven to eat" and doubtless they
ascribed all this to Moses. Yet a greater than Moses had just fed them in a stupendous
Christ now corrects their attitude:
"Jesus said to them, `I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread
from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the
bread of God is He Who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world'." (6: 32,
The phrase "coming down" is used seven times in this discourse (6: 33, 38, 41, 42,
50, 51, 58). The real donor of the manna was God, not Moses. God met all the needs of
His people both in the wilderness and in the promised land. But there was an infinitely
greater gift of spiritual food which the Lord was now offering them. Even the manna was
perishable (Exod. 16: 20), but this food was of another kind. It had everlasting effects
and gave eternal life. It was indeed the "true bread" out of heaven, for it represented
Christ and His atoning work. John sets forth the Lord as "the true Light" (1: 9), "the true
Bread" (6: 32), and "the true Vine" (15: 1). The word "true" here is not meaning true as