Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter
Acts 7:51—8:1 + John 6:30-35
April 20, 2021
“… my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.”
When the crowd asks Jesus, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?”, they’re asking a loaded question. To appreciate both the crowd’s question, and Jesus’ reply, we have to back up to the end of yesterday’s passage.
The crowd had asked Jesus, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus’ reply might have seemed to some in the crowd a non sequitur: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one He sent.”
This statement of Our Lord brings the whole of John Chapter Six into focus. The focus is not the satisfaction of physical hunger. Nor is the focus the performance of works. The focus is “the one He sent”: the one whom God the Father sent to become Flesh and dwell among us. The focus is the divine Person of Jesus.
Jesus calls the crowd to turn themselves away from their prior concerns. Instead, He draws them to belief in Himself. They must believe, and they must believe in Him. “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one He sent.”
In response to Jesus’ call to believe in Him in a profoundly personal way, the crowds respond, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?” It’s likely that Jesus shook His head in disgust at this reply. He had called them to personal belief in Him, and they ask for signs. They want Jesus to prove Himself by performing signs. But Jesus wants them to believe in Him Himself, not in any signs that He might work, no matter how powerful.
This distinction between belief in the divine Person of Jesus on the one hand, and the performance of signs on the other, continues to play out throughout the rest of John 6, and throughout the rest of John’s Gospel account. So for ourselves today, in our own examinations of conscience, we might ask the Lord to help us be honest about how often and in how many ways we prefer signs from God to personal belief in Him.