“The only work God wants from you,” Jesus had told those gathered around Him the day after He fed five thousand, ” is that you believe in the One He has sent.”
“Show us a sign,” they responded, “if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna as they journeyed through the wilderness. The scriptures say that Moses gave them bread from Heaven to eat.”“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “It was not Moses who gave you bread from Heaven. It was my Father who did. And now, He offers you the True Bread from Heaven. The True Bread of God is the One Who comes down from Heaven, and He gives life to the world.” (See John 6:30-32 NLT)
Moses was almost a god to the Jews of Jesus’ day. The “law of Moses” was the final authority in their religious lives. Moses was the great hero who had brought their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt, and, according to Moses’ prophesy, they were waiting for another Prophet like Moses, who would deliver them from their oppressors.
While speaking with a group of religious leaders (who were furious with Him for healing on the Sabbath and claiming God as His Father), Jesus had pointed out that they “put their trust” in Moses; but they missed the point that Moses spoke about Jesus, so they ended up believing truly in neither Moses nor Jesus.
The bread from heaven, the manna, that the Children of Israel ate in the desert, was a generous provision from God– a sign of His love and His power. But it had become to many a sign of Moses’ stature and authority. The Jews that day were saying to Jesus, “Moses gave our ancestors supernatural food in the desert, so we know He is for real and can believe in him. What can you do to prove that we can believe in You?” It’s hard to believe, I know, coming from a group of people that were gathered around Jesus only because He had used five loaves of bread and two small fish to feed a crowd of thousands– and then crossed the Sea of Galilee without a boat.
But it all comes down to the one basic question–“Do you believe in Jesus, or not?” Some of the people in Jesus’ day, like His disciples, were drawn irresistibly to Him personally; despite everything– danger, hardships, impossibly difficult teachings– they would not and could not leave Him. Others saw only the signs. Like the people of His hometown of Nazareth, they wondered at His gracious words; but when His teaching offended them, they immediately tried to destroy Him.