It's only one day after Thanksgiving and we still want more. Corporations are excited about moving out of the red and into the black in the pursuit of making profits. Consumers love the rush of a bargain and getting more. Isn't it odd that our bellies are still stuffed from the day before and there is still the desire for filling our lives with more?
The Bible's Gospel of John paints a picture of the reason why Jesus came to earth. In John 6 we see that Jesus had done a miraculous work of providing the ultimate "thanksgiving meal" as he fed over 5,000 people with a few loaves and some fish. People were impressed and there was a buzz around town that the Messiah could be in their midst. The Jewish people of the day recalled how Moses had provided bread for their ancestors as they wandered the dessert for 40 years. Excitement for more miracles and the possibility of being freed from Roman rule fueled the crowds desire to follow this Jesus and make him their king. Jesus, knowing this, sent his disciples across the lake in a boat and he slipped off to a mountain to pray. In the darkness the disciples experienced a treacherous storm. Jesus met them and brought them quickly to the other side.
The crowd looked for Jesus and when they found him they wanted more. Jesus offered them something more valuable than anything in the world - something that is eternal. But the crowd wanted Jesus to fill them up with more food because they were trapped in a materialistic mindset. In verse 35, "Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." Jesus used the phrase "I am" to declare that He is God and to reveal Himself to the people. This is the same term that Moses heard from the burning bush. Jesus uses "bread" to illustrate Himself as the giver and sustainer of spiritual life. Just as "bread," especially in that culture, sustains physical life, Jesus was sent from heaven as the "bread" that gives and sustains spiritual life. Rather than embracing Jesus' correction of their understanding of Him, they begin to grumble. They even become offended at Jesus telling them that he was all they needed. They wanted Jesus on their terms and for what he could given them materially.
Our culture is not much different. We have an appetite for more and we often pursue things that never really fill us up. Christianity is not about using Jesus to fulfill all my carnal desires. It is not about getting God to give me more stuff and make life more pleasant. That may be a by-product of a relationship with the Lord, but it is not the objective. We do not need more loaves and fishes, we need the great "I am". We need the "Bread" from heaven. We need Jesus. It is all about receiving Him and the love relationship that follows. If I turn to the world, I will come up empty. If I turn to more things or material gain I will not be satisfied in my soul. Where can I go but to the Lord?
Frank Alioto is the pastor of The River Covenant Church. Frank also serves as a chaplain with C.E.S.