16When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid." 21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.
22The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
25When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 26Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal."
Guys go to church looking for a potential wife, business people go to church to develop their networks, parents send their kids to VBS for free babysitting, homeless people stop by the church for a free meal. Anything wrong with these motives? Yes and No.
No, because if someone does not know who Jesus is, it's hard to expect that person to have "pure" motives in seeking Jesus or attending His house. However, if the person gets to know Jesus and still comes to His house looking for a spouse, a job, free daycare, or food, then something is amiss. This person is missing the main thing: a relationship with the eternal God.
Something like this is going on in the passage above. Some of the folks got a nice meal of bread and fish on one side of the sea. They now see Jesus on the other side. They are happy to see him. So they ask, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Innocent enough, or it seems.
Jesus is sharp. He knows they are happy to see him, not because they understood the meaning behind the multiplication of fish and bread; they are happy because another free meal is potentially in the offing. They are salivating for another miracle of food -- maybe this time a nice falafel pita sandwich or grilled lamb chops, with humus and stuff grape leaves on the side. Jesus calls them out. Jesus admonishes them, without shaming them nor shutting the door on their face. There's something greater than food that's being offered, Jesus is saying, in so many words. This "food that endures" is eternal life through the Son of Man. Partake of Jesus and you will never go hungry again. Whether or not these folks got it, it's hard to say. Maybe their stomachs were stronger than their spirits. Perhaps the most they received from Jesus was a good meal perfectly seasoned. If so, that's tragic.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we seek you, we adore you, we partake of you, because eternal life -- life in God -- begins and ends with you. Help us to come to you with love foremost. We thank you that you also take care our needs. But may our greatest need be your love, which you freely give through your Spirit. In your name, amen.