28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Trust the one he has sent.”
30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to trust you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever trusts me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t trusted me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and trust him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
We want to perform God’s works too. Growing up Pentecostal, I have seen people take this sort of approach time and again. That trick you did with the bread – show us how to do that too. Should we imitate your style of dress? The inflection of your speech? The way you blow dry and slick your hair down at the same time? Should we lay hands on people? Or thump them with our Study Bibles? Should we blow on them? What works? What’s the secret? We like how you perform. We want to perform too. And, oh yeah, we liked the free food. If free food (or easy money) is part of the deal, so much the better.
Jesus makes it perfectly clear. There’s isn’t any work to perform other than trusting him – the only one who ever does any actual miraculous work anyway. And focusing on the bread (interesting how that’s an old slang for money) misses the point. Jesus offers permanent sustenance, ever renewing, sustaining life, which is nothing other than his very own body. His crucified body. Those eager to perform something can take up their crosses and reenact the self-sacrifice that is the source of all life. The eternal spring of living water flows out of spear wound in his side. It takes a lot of trust to live on this bread and drink this water. But even that trust is a gift. And that path of trust leads to all sorts of amazing, miraculous things, none performed by us, but all enjoyed by us as gifts from the Father, who still loves to rain down the bread of life on his children.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.