Nothing impressed Christ except faith. That is what he invites and encourages and he says that it is our work. People receive him differently. The people want to be impressed by signs and they worked for transient and perishable rewards. They harked back to the past and taunted Christ to be as good as Moses. They ask for bread and miracles. Jesus invites the question – what is it that lasts – what is it that is worth living for – what gives life? Moses had led his people through the desert for a generation. He had led them out of slavery in Egypt; through the Red Sea and into the desert. He had listened to their complaints; fed them with manna; gave them water from the rock to drink and a Law to live by.
Jesus, the new Moses, leads us in turn from slavery to sin, suffering and death; through the waters of Baptism; through the desert journey of life. He feeds us from the table of his word and from the altar we receive the Bread of Eternal Life. His Spirit is given us to drink and we are given a new Law; a New Covenant not written in stone this time, but written into our hearts. We reach not the Jordan and the land flowing with milk and honey but rather we cross the river of death and enter into the freedom of heaven; into the eternal life promised, where all things are made new, transfigured. The freedom we attain is no longer freedom from slavery to the promises of the world but the perfect freedom of being free from sin, suffering and even death itself.
Even the bread/manna miraculously given by Moses only sustained the people for a time. What Jesus is offering is much more. Eternal life is the new manna offered by Jesus. It is the work of the father to send Jesus – the work of Jesus to wrestle with suffering and death and to overcome death (it is accomplished) and it is our work to believe. This is the bottom-line of our faith – the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and everlasting life. Eternal, everlasting life with Christ and the faithful is our goal. This is the promise of the Son of God, the word of him who is the Word made flesh, the promise of Christ given to us especially in the waters of Baptism, in the scripture stories, in the bread of life. Our job is to believe him.