John could have included many other works and teachings of Jesus in his gospel, but he wrote the ones he did as a basis for saving faith in Christ. Among a relative few, considering a three year long period, John 6 is included and it takes up a lot of space -- 71 verses. It must be saying something vital and important, so what does it say that contributed to the purpose of John? By the time you get to the end, you see that John 6 differentiates between the true believer and the false, and in so doing it helps define saving faith in Christ. As a corollary, it reveals the method of the Lord Jesus and repudiates a wrong one.
We know from parallel gospels that Jesus fed 5,000 men and then women and children, so we could estimate 25,000 from the one little lunch of crackers and fish. Verse 26 says they were all "filled," which means they were full, ate so much that they couldn't eat any more. Jesus sent the disciples back to the other side of the sea and didn't go with them, because the crowd would follow, went into the mountain and then followed later by walking on water. The next day the burgeoning crowd found and followed Jesus.
Jesus could have easily attracted the crowd with more bread, but He didn't. There is nothing wrong with bread, but Jesus wouldn't use it to gain and keep a crowd, even for "further ministry." We're not talking about a rock band or cowboy Sunday. These were people who needed to eat and Jesus could give bread. He didn't. Why did Jesus run away from this crowd of people, rather than "take advantage" of their interest in Him? They were following Him for a wrong reason. Jesus says this in verses 26-27.
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
That was Jesus in answer in essence to why He was evading them. They were following Him for the wrong reason, and it was bread. Bread.
Do you understand that churches today have as their strategy to get people to church for the wrong reason? They use big days, open houses, food, music, buildings, programs, fun, among other reasons. A common excuse I hear is, the Bible doesn't say it's wrong. Jesus didn't just not give them what they wanted, but He was avoiding them. Today's churches often run to them with the wrong reasons: "Please take advantage of this wrong reason!"
Bread isn't wrong, so that obliterates that common reason. I also hear people say, "These people are hungry, which is why we give them a hamburger." It didn't matter that these people in Capernaum were hungry. Jesus wasn't giving them anything.
Instead of offering the meat that perishes, churches should give alone the meat that endures unto everlasting life. That meat, that bread, is Jesus.
To be continued