Both we and the crowd of two thousand years ago hunger for life and truth, and Jesus satisfies these. So the crowd asks the next logical question which is also the second point of the sermon, ``How do we seek God?'' (John 6:28b). Jesus replies, ``Not works, but only faith in me is required'' (John 6:29b). But, what is faith? Again, William Barclay writes,
Faith means being in such a relationship with God that we are friends with God, that we are not terrified of God any more, that God is not our enemy and our prosecutor but our Father and our friend, that we give God the trust and obedience and the submission which naturally arise from this new relationship.... The whole essence of Christianity is that we would never have known that God is like this had not Jesus come and lived and died to tell us so. It is only because Jesus came to tell us that God is our Father, that God loves us, that God cares, and that God wants nothing more than to forgive....[Bar56, pages 218-219]Jesus came to explain God.
There's the story of the farmer living through a cold, snowy Midwestern winter, looking out the window and seeing a flock of birds on his farm. They huddled together, shivering from the snowy cold. With his heart touched, he knows his heated barn has plenty of room for these birds. So he puts on his coat, opens the barn doors, and waits for the birds to enter the barn. He waits and waits, but they do not see the open barn doors. They continue to shiver outside. Next, he grabs some bird seed and makes a trail to the barn, but the birds fail to see the small seeds, lost among the snow. Next, he comes behind the birds and tries to shoo them into the barn, but they fly in the opposite direction to regather into their shivering mass. The farmer thinks to himself, ``If only I could be a bird, I could show them the warm barn.''
Just as those shivering birds want warmth, we want life and truth. The farmer may have failed to communicate with the birds, but God sent Jesus.
And we seek Jesus, who calls himself ``the bread of life'' (John 6:35, NRSV). Why does he use the word ``bread?'' Bread is essential to living; it is the minimum for human subsistence (Is 3:1). In the agricultural society of Jesus's time, bread formed a major portion of the diet. When feeding the five thousand, the crowd ate only two things: fish and bread. During this time, people spent a significant portion of their days preparing and baking bread. Not to have bread meant the most extreme poverty or distress [But62, ``Bread,'' pages 461b-464a]. Thus, Jesus's use of the word ``bread'' reminds us he is essential to life.