The key to John 6 is verse 4, “Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.”
It seems odd, random and out of place, but Jesus proceeds to demonstrate that he was the Bread of Life, he was the Passover Lamb, his blood would be shed allowing God’s righteous judgment to pass over those that believe in Him. Yet, the people, even his own disciples, were locked into to a physical level of understanding and couldn’t see it. They, along with the masses who were weary of Roman abuse, longed for a political and military Messiah. That’s why they wanted to make him king “by force” (6:15). They remembered Moses’ military exploits against Egypt, and they read into their expectations of the Messiah that he too would be a military deliverer.
Evidence of their confusion is found in 6:52-59 where he talks about “eating his flesh and drinking his blood” – they’re like….um…ok then. Everyone in this story is locked into a physical thought process. That’s why Jesus asks them “Where are we to buy bread, so that people may eat?” (6:5). He wants to test them to see how they are thinking. Philip said, “it’s not enough.” Nicodemus (chapter 3) couldn’t figure out how to be spiritually born again, and the Samaritan woman (chapter 4) wanted to fill up her jar with this everlasting water Jesus talked about. Everyone is thinking on a physical level. Yet Jesus is teaching that God is Spirit and must be worshiped in spirit and truth (4:23).
Since they were locked on to a physical interpretation of Jesus and a political interpretation and expectation of deliverance, they were disappointed and sadly “many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him” (6:66). [As a side note, a disciple is not necessarily a Christian, but is simply one who follows or learns from someone. Even the Pharisees had “disciples” (Luke 5:33).]
We are embodied creatures. But being embodied brings the challenge of recognizing that this embodied form is not all there is to our existence. We are not physical beings with a spirit, we are spiritual beings who are temporarily embodied.
Our challenge is that we live in a physical world, but the physical world is not all that there is.
May we have eyes to see Jesus, the Bread of Life, today in our mundane, busy embodied experience. Doing so will transform an ordinary day into an amazing spiritual existence in which we enjoy walking with the Savior.