The sign and the loaves

The sign and the loaves

The Bread of Life.

(The Gospel History, Section 64)

And when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled.

The sign and the loaves

(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV, Book I, Poem X)

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves, and were filled.”

Hot-foot, they find the Master: eager, cry,
And petulant as to favourite of the hour,—
“Master, when cam’st Thou hither? How hast come
With never boat to bring Thee? We have sought
There, where Thou fed’st us yesterday, in vain.”

And Christ made answer, not to spoken word
But straight to the thought that worked, though scarce perceived,
Their act of seeking Him: full well He knew
That they’d been seeking; now, He tells them why—
(Ah me, how hidden things of the heart, unmeet,
Show up ’neath searching of Thy luminous Word!)
“Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the signs,
But because ye ate of the loaves.”

O Lord, why not?

Be there two sorts of men that seek Thy face—
They who see signs and they who seek their meat
From God as the wild asses? Which be we?
To Him who hath comforted us and satisfied,
We needs must cry to-day that we be fed;
Nor stop to ask,—What means it, then, this peace
Bearing us as a river;—all this love,
Food for heart hunger; this beauty spread abroad,
Bread for those famished who’d have all things fair;
This fulness spread for mouths and minds of men?
We take and feed, nor cry we on our God
Till some smart lack send us whining to His feet!
We see no signs, not we, we only eat
And whimper when a hunger falls on us!
Nay, children are we,—must needs cry on Him,—
“Our Father, give us day by day our bread!”
That crowd, nor we, have done so much amiss.

And, for they came to Him but to get loaves,
The just Lord holds them fit for better things,
Things ampler, fairer, than youth’s fondest dream;
Content with that poor husk, the sign He gave,
Nor wanting more than more and better loaves,
Food of desire,—Christ feeds them otherwise
Than heart of man had imaged till that day!
Sage of the East, Philosopher of the West,
Keeps esoteric teaching for the few,
Disciples, chosen, who have followed him
Through teachings labyrinthine. Not so, Christ:
This multitude of ignorant, who came
For what He might give of tangible and gross—
He spread for them a table of the Lord
Their heart had not conceived of, nor eye seen!
But this supernal diet, could they eat?
Was that in them could deal with meat divine?
Yea, for Christ fed them free: nay, for some went,
Aye, many left Him, sick of heavenly food:—
His word once more divided men in twain,
These who saw signs and those who sought the loaves—
Those left Him, these remained.

St. John vi. 25, 26.