In this section of scripture we see food for thought and food for life. The bible is full of food for thought and there are many stories, parables, analogies and teachings where food is used as a metaphor for spiritual learning. Here Jesus speaks in more direct terms about food, and in particular the food for life. He gives us insight to understand what our food priorities ought to be if we are to find life eternal.
We begin seeing the disciples leave the area where Jesus had just fed the five thousand miraculously using only a few loaves and fishes. When the people could not find the Lord after he withdrew to the mountain and the disciples had left, they too left and returned to the other side of the sea.
During the night as the disciples fought against a strong wind and rough seas, Jesus came to them walking on the water. They cried out in alarm, but Jesus told them, “It is I, do not be afraid.” (verse 20) he then stepped into the boat and the boat was immediately across the sea and at the land to which they were headed.
The next day the people found Jesus there and asked how it was that he had got there so quickly as they knew he did not enter the boat with the disciples. Again the people recognized a miracle had occurred, and as we can see in this short section there were a number of miraculous events.
But then we see the discussion commence between Jesus and the people where he teaches them a powerful message about what they needed to seek using food as the example.
Food for the Body
Jesus tells the people, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” (verse 26) What he is saying is that the people were following him not because they saw the signs, wonders and the works of God, but because they had a full stomach. They were there not for the teaching but for the free food.
Now isn't that typical of so many people in the world today? Look at all of the people who win the lottery and they immediately have people all over them. Look at those who achieve some degree of fame and they are immediately chased by people. Why? Because man seeks an easy way of life and if they can get it from or through others they will take. It's the WIIFM rule in action, “What's In It For Me.”
We should also understand that food in those days was not as easily procured as it is today. You could not just run down to the local shop or a fast food outlet to grab something to eat. Food for the body required work, and sometimes hard work to sow, grow, harvest and prepare food. Is it any wonder the people followed Jesus for the food as they didn't have to do anything for it!
Food for the Spirit
But then Jesus tells them to stop and reconsider. He said, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (verse 27)
Yes food is necessary for the body to live, but it is more important that we work hard to feed the spirit as that is how we will find eternal life. People today are seeking comfort in this world. They work hard for money and seek wealth and all of the things that money can buy including good food.
But Jesus is saying here to get your priorities right and focus instead on the food that leads to eternal life. This food is the food for the spirit of man and this food is the teachings that come from Jesus Christ. It is the knowledge of the new covenant and the understanding of how it works in our life to bring us to salvation and to lead us to maturity in Christ Jesus.
You can seek and obtain all of the things of this life such as big houses, fancy cars, designer clothes, expensive jewelry and the best foods available. But of what value are they if they cost you your life? Many who seek these things lose their life even in this world. By that I mean they destroy friendships, families and relationships because of the driving desire of an individual to seek wealth, fame or fortune. And this is not even considering the effect on their eternal life which will be lost also.
No, seek the way of God first and entrance into his kingdom and he will provide all of your needs as well. That is His promise to his people in Matthew 6:31-34. Furthermore the Psalmist wrote, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing.” (Psalms 37:25-26)
So there is no need to fear what may come. Seek the Lord and the bread that leads to life and know and be assured that He will provide your needs when you follow in His ways.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/. Taken by Michael Fitzpatrick www.cloudesign.com)