By Eric J Brown
“Perceiving that they were about to come and take Him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)
Now this was the sort of Messiah the people wanted! It was great. Think of all that could happen if you have a king who could just hand out free food whenever you wanted. The luxury, the ease that we could have! And so, the crowd basically started planning to kidnap Jesus and cage Him on a throne as if He was the goose that laid the golden egg.
They missed the point. They didn’t understand what sort of king Jesus would be. He’s not a king of ease and leisure; He’s the King who takes up a cross to battle Satan and sin and death. And just as He had provided manna in the wilderness for 40 years so the children of Israel could endure their struggles, Jesus had provided the five thousand bread so that they could endure their struggles. But that wasn’t what the crowd wanted. No more struggles, Jesus! We want a prosperous king, far removed from the hard stuff of life! But Jesus will not be forced to play by the crowd’s whims. Instead He will go to the Cross and win salvation.
We, too, can be tempted to think like the crowd. We can put greater focus on getting more and more stuff and look less and less upon the Cross. While it is true that Jesus provides earthly blessings for us, He has a bigger goal than that. He provides us bread, but it’s not for a lifetime of ease. Rather, He gives daily bread so that, strengthened by Him, we may fulfill our vocations and tasks (which He gives as well). He provides for us in order that we may serve, even in the midst of our troubles.
But even that’s not the MAIN point; the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t stop at the Fourth Petition (“Give us this day our daily bread”). No, the wants of our flesh don’t distract Christ. Instead, He continues on and gives us the forgiveness He has won for us upon the Cross, He leads us away from temptation by His Word, and He delivers us from Satan and sin and every evil. And that is what we truly need. This is why He will go on in John 6 to talk about the Bread of Life. All thanks be to our Lord Christ Jesus, who gives us what is truly good for us, not merely what we think we need!
Rev. Eric J. Brown is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, IL
This article was originally published on the Higher Things website in March 2017.