In writing his Gospel, John does something very helpful. He doesn’t like to call the miracles that Jesus performed miracles. He likes to call them signs. What does a sign do? It points to something else, the reality you really seek or the place you really want to be. For example, when you take a vacation, you don’t stop at the road sign with your family and say, “We’re here! Get the kids and unpack, honey.” No, you follow the sign and drive on until you have reached your actual destination. The sign along the road only points to the reality.
This is what was wrong with these people and their reaction to Christ. They had experienced the miracle, but they didn’t see the sign. The physical blessing of bread was meant to point to a much deeper spiritual reality.
We too can see the miracles and miss the sign. We can rejoice over jobs given, friendships restored, homes supplied, and bills paid and fail to hunger for the spiritual blessings that physical provisions represent. We can be like the people who pursued Jesus only to keep their stomachs full. They didn’t really want him as their King. They wanted him to be their Great Waiter, dedicated to keeping them physically satisfied.
The blessings God gives you in your family, job, home, church, friends, and community are meant to do something for you. They are meant to point you to the deeper and fuller blessing of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life. He is life! Abundant life is not your spouse, children, house, car, possessions, job, friends, or church. Abundant life is Jesus Christ! The amazing reality is that he is ours and we are his! This is the bread worth living for. Not the bread of physical blessing, but the spiritual bread, Christ, that his gift of earthly bread represents. Some of us are only excited about Christ because we think he will deliver more physical bread. We fall into spiritual depression when he removes the physical bread so that we would hunger again for the Bread that really satisfies. Can you see beyond the physical bread to see Christ and the glories of his grace? Or do you consume the physical bread without any desire for the spiritual blessings that he gives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
May God help us to be people who see the sign behind the miracle, who look at earthly blessing and say, “These blessings point me to the deeper, fuller reality of Christ in my life. What I hunger for and what I want my life to be about is fellowship with, love for, and obedience to my Lord Jesus Christ.”
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The following is a selected excerpt from Paul David Tripp’s excellent book War of Words. The passage he is referring to is John 6:25-36 , right after the feeding of the 5000 when Jesus admonishes the crowd that they are following him not because of the miracles they just witnessed, but because they ate the bread and were filled. I have condensed this a bit and have bolded a few phrases for emphasis.