By Chuck Griffin
John 6:25-35 (NLT)
They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”
They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
“Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”
Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
You can live for the moment, or you can seek forever in the moment.
The crowds followed Jesus in part because he had demonstrated an ability to provide for their immediate needs. They hoped for ongoing provisions, along the lines of what the Israelites received in the desert for 40 years.
Now, let’s be clear—when people have immediate, pressing needs, it is hard for them to focus on much else. “How will I feed my children?” can be an overwhelming question.
That’s why James wrote, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (James 2:15-16)
For the simple sake of goodness, we are called as Christians to get people beyond worrying about their basic needs. Such relief also directly supports the mission of the church. Where basic needs are met, people can then more easily think about broader concepts, like a relationship with God and salvation.
A lot of this sounds like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The Bible basically came up with the idea first. Jesus’ Matthean concept of the judgment amounts to a call to lift people out of their day-to-day worries.
Once we’ve acknowledged the basic relief we should provide, we then must stay very conscious of that all-important next step, understanding who we are in relation to God. Having our daily bread, it’s important to move on to a contemplation of the Bread of Life, God’s gift to us.
Through Jesus Christ, we are offered a daily experience of God and his eternally life-altering plan, and once we’re on the way to grasping what this means, we need to invite others to explore and accept salvation, too.
It’s all so exciting, so mind-boggling, that we might even find ourselves forgetting to eat.
Lord, where we see earthly needs, may we respond quickly, and where we see openings to offer your eternal grace, may we move with utmost speed. Amen.