Feeding the hungry, giving sight to the blind, healing the sick is wonderful. But it is not enough. It is not nearly enough. Jesus did care for and meet many physical needs. He did not ignore them. He did not regard them as unimportant. However, our Father in heaven did not send Jesus just to meet physical needs, but our real need, our spiritual need, our need to know and love our Father in heaven. That is our real need.
All who come to Jesus, do so out of some need. We want Jesus to meet our needs. And, he freely gives. But, he doesn't just throw us who are drowning a life preserver and move on. He wants us desperately to come in the boat. He wants us to trust him with our entire lives.
Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus is the living water. Jesus is the good shepherd. Jesus is the gate. Jesus is the way. Jesus is the truth. Jesus is the life. Jesus is Lord. Lord, not just of our pantries, not just of our down times when we are lonely, but of our entire lives.
Am I like this crowd? "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill." Do I just come to Jesus to have my temporary needs met? Do I just come to Jesus so that I can have a meal? Do I just come to Jesus so I can feel better about my current circumstances? Do I just come to Jesus for a gain in reputation? Do I just come to Jesus in order to be a part of a nice club filled with nice people who sing nice songs and do nice things?
Our Father in heaven sent Jesus so that we could have more than just a meal. He wants us to consume Him. He wants us to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength. If we want to truly repent, to truly change, to be truly different from the patterns of a world filled with death and despair and folly, we must be all in. We must follow Jesus as Lord all the way. We must trust Him with our entire lives.
Like the crowd, sometimes we just don't understand what Jesus is saying or what Jesus is doing or why he is leading us in a particular direction in our lives. “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But, if we could understand everything that our Lord is saying and doing straight away, would we really need Him as Lord? Would we be living in a world that is such a mess? Would we be aching to be the kind of people we fantasize about but never really live like?
In order to have life, we must have an interactive relationship (know) the author of life. We must know our Father in heaven. We must know the real, true, living God. This is why our Father sent the Son, to know our Father in heaven. "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." We do not know the real, true, living God except through Jesus. When we come to know Jesus, we come to know our Father in heaven.
But, if we come to Jesus just for our eyes to work or our stomachs to be filled, we will not regard Him as Lord. We will be fooled into thinking that if I can just have a meal, my life will be complete. If I can just be able to see, my life will be complete. If I can just meet a good, kind spouse, my life will be complete, etc...
After Jesus begged the crowd to acknowledge their real need and the real solution, they turned back and no longer went about where he was. Even when we don't understand Jesus, even when it is hard to accept His Lordship, we must have the attitude of Peter and the twelve disciples: "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."