People look their whole lives for the thing that will fulfill them. It could be a high-paying career in a Fortune 500 company. It may be prestige and celebrity. Meeting that special someone that makes your whole world stop. Happiness, pleasure, love, family, all great things, all temporary things unfortunately.
If it could all be met in one thing, wouldn’t you want it? What if it was also temporary, would it be worth it then? What if you could have something enduring and eternal?
To set the stage, Jesus just fed over 5,000 people, and the word got out. Soon more arrived in the area after he and the disciples left looking for a free meal. Who doesn’t like free food? However, when they found Jesus, he called them on it.
“Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” John 6:26 NIV
They were thinking of the present, and while important, that’s not all there is. Jesus told them there was more.
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” John 6:27 NIV
What Does That Even Mean?
They asked the same question. What kind of food? What kind of work? What’s the catch?
It was pretty much hand-to-mouth, so it wasn’t the easiest life. The poor begged and gathered food from the uncut edges of the fields to sustain life (Leviticus 19:10; 23:22).
They had to work for it. So what kind of work was Jesus talking about that lasts for eternity? The prevailing thoughts these days is if you do your best, then you can walk through the Pearly Gates or you get a second chance and reincarnate. Both depend on your efforts.
Jesus said the work of God is only one thing.
It’s simple, and surprisingly hard. I like how the Amplified Bible puts verse 29. Want to know what you have to do to have eternal life?
“Jesus replied, This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].”
It’s true that you’re saved by grace through faith alone. In non-Christianese, it means you’re saved because of the love of Jesus if you trust him to. However, that’s the work involved, you have to take that step and trust him.
If It’s So Easy, Then Why Aren’t People Doing It?
Great question. For now, read the fourth chapter of Mark. I will admit, it’s something that bothers me, too. I may do a series of posts on it from Mark 4, looking at the four types of soils-the receptiveness of people. It’s not hopeless, though; there’s been a way made for you.
When we do this work, we get the Bread of Life, which is a metaphor for Jesus. In John 4, when he was speaking with the woman at the well, he told her about living water. He sure loved his food metaphors, didn’t he? Why?
Consider this, people look for a physical need to be met. The Jews wanted food so they would live. You need food or water so you won’t die. Eternal life requires something more than Wonder Bread and Evian.
Have you taken Communion, also known as The Lord’s Supper? Jesus told them he is the Bread of Life. In Luke 22:19, he broke the Passover bread and said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Because of him, eternal life is available. It’s a symbol that shows the sufficiency of Jesus to meet those needs we desperately long for.
Why Is It So Hard To Believe That?
It was an issue then as it is now. Jesus said, “But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.” (John 6:36.) It’s a number of factors: nothing is free so I have to do something, don’t see the evidence, don’t believe the evidence. It could also be more of a heart issue rather than a head issue.
You want to do things your way. Or, you’re angry at God or someone who says they follow him. Maybe you consider all religion as bad without considering their fundamental cores.
God still calls to people, though, regardless. It’s what Jesus meant in John 6:37; 6:40. There are four ways God calls to you:
- Through the Holy Spirit. “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” John 16: 8-11 NIV
- Nature (natural theology): “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 NIV
- The Moral Law: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Romans 3:19-20 NIV
- The Conscience: “(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)” Romans 2:14-15 NIV
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” Romans 7:21-23 NIV
We rebel at the thought, but as we step closer, the hostility fades. The seed starts to take root because the ground is ready. When it sprouts, then you’ll be secure.
We fear losing security. Our jobs, homes, families, and lives; loss of any of these is absolutely devastating. John 6:37 though is a beautiful promise once you have a relationship with Jesus: “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”
You could be the perfect spouse, and still your loved one wants a divorce. A top-earning salesman that is still laid off during budget cuts. World’s greatest parent, and your kids hate you.
Jesus says you could be the worst husband, steal from work, and neglect your kids; he still wants you, and despite all your failings, he won’t reject you once you come to him. He also won’t let you stay that person.
Those personal failings and issues we fight, he’s there, knocking off the rough edges and polishing you up. The Creator of the universe says, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” He keeps his promises, too.
Creator. Sustainer. Alpha and Omega. Savior. Lord. Friend. Brother. In him there is life eternal. Lonely? In him you have a friend that is also family, he’s your brother. Lost? He is the Lord that will lead the way. A nobody? Because of him you’re adopted into the family of God. You’re a child of God, heir with Christ, who is the beginning and the end. Every need of importance is met in Jesus, just come to him and he’ll never turn you away.