John 6:5-6 When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.
Sometimes God asks seemingly impossible things of us to stretch our faith -- and He already has a solution ready for us to stretch our faith into.
John 6:26-27 Jesus answered, “You’ve come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for free. Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
The balance is so hard sometimes because I see the temporal needs so clearly, while I see the eternal much more dimly.
John 6:52-58 At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: “How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?” But Jesus didn’t give an inch. “Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always.”
I find it interesting that Jesus didn't quickly say, “I only meant eat my flesh and drink my blood metaphorically, not literally.” Non-anabaptist Christians (Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Reformed, Catholics, Orthodox, etc.) all believe in some form or another of the true presence of the Body of Christ in the bread and wine. I'm partial to that belief, but at the same time, I'm not sure if this passage is referring to that, because it is so far removed from the Last Supper. On the other hand, I'm hard-pressed to think of how Jesus meant it otherwise, since people were turning away from the idea of eating his actual flesh and drinking his actual blood, yet he didn't say anthing to disabuse them of that notion.
Indeed, even many among his disciples heard this and said, “This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow.” (verse 60) and even after this a lot of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. (verse 66)