Laboring for Food that Lasts

March 18, 2019

“Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.’ Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:26-29

What do you spend most of your time on? Many enjoyable things are legitimate pursuits. But the things that will most satisfy us—and grow the kingdom of God—are those things that will last for eternity.

Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee, and a great multitude, enamored by His signs, followed Him. When Jesus saw the crowd, He put in motion a plan to show His disciples that nothing is impossible for God. Using only five barley loaves and two fish, Jesus miraculously fed more than five thousand men, plus women and children. He made so much food that the disciples collected twelve baskets of fragments afterward. Amazing!

Mind-blowing Miracle

When the people saw this sign, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14). The miracle blew their minds, to put it in modern vernacular. They knew that Jesus had to be the Messiah. They began to strategize how they would promote Him to the throne. Jesus, knowing their intentions, slipped away alone.

As evening approached, the disciples got into the boat and headed back to Capernaum. It was dark, and the sea was rough. Suddenly, as they rowed against the storm, they saw Jesus walking on the water toward them. They were afraid, to say the least. But Jesus called out to them, “It is I; do not be afraid” (John 6:20).

Jesus Is the Sovereign All-powerful One

In this incident in the middle of the chapter, Jesus was teaching His disciples. The miracle He had done had not yet sunk in for them—“they had not understood about the loaves because their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52). Jesus wanted these men to know that He was the Lord, the sovereign, all-powerful One, and that they must depend fully on Him. Later, when He would send them out, they would need to know this.

When Jesus arrived on the other side of the sea, the crowd, who had gotten there before Him, cried, “Lord, we’ve been looking for You! We want to be Your disciples.” But Jesus saw through it. “You want to satisfy your physical need, not your spiritual need,” He told them. “Don’t labor for food that perishes” (see John 6:25-27).

Seek First God’s Kingdom

So often people spend their lives focused on things that will eventually perish. We do need to provide for ourselves and our families—the Bible tells us to do this. But God’s Word also tells us that these things shouldn’t consume our lives. We must “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), knowing that God will take care of our needs.

The people asked the Lord, “How do we labor for the kingdom, then?”

Jesus answered, “Believe in the One God has sent.”

The people didn’t like that. They wanted more bread. They didn’t realize that Jesus was trying to give them true bread—Himself. The woman at the well hadn’t grasped it at first either. “Give me this water,” she’d said, “so I won’t have to draw anymore” (see John 4:15).

Bread of Life

Jesus spoke again: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). This is the first of the seven “I am” statements of Christ found in the gospel of John. When God revealed Himself to Moses, He told Moses that His name is I AM that I AM (see Exodus 3:13–14)—that He is totally self-sufficient. Jesus took that name and seven times added something to it that corresponds to a human need. This first time He said, “I am the bread of life.”

With so many pleasures around us, we can forget that we are creatures made in God’s image and primarily spiritual beings. We eat, drink, and fulfill our bodily appetites. But Jesus reminds us, “I am the bread. I am the One who brings fulfillment.”

Eternal Satisfaction

Jesus’ words did not enhance His popularity. His statements brought Him into direct conflict with the religious leaders in particular. But Jesus was unconcerned with ratings. He came to offer the Bread of Life so that men and women might find eternal satisfaction in Him.

Are you trying to satisfy your soul with food that perishes? Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the only possibility for finding satisfaction. Don’t resist Him. Don’t oppose Him. Let go of temporary things and ask God to increase Your love for the things of His kingdom.