John 6:34-40 (NIV): “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
The Jews were still blind to what Jesus was trying to tell them, but light was starting to seep in around the edges. They understood that Jesus was talking about God providing bread from heaven, and they wanted Jesus to provide that bread for them forever so that they wouldn’t have to work for food ever again.
But Jesus was trying to help them realize that their deep hunger, the hunger that had them chasing Him across a huge lake, was not for bread, but for the Bread of Life: Himself. And merely satisfying their physical hunger would still leave them hungry at heart.
Just as He had with the Samaritan woman, Jesus was providing an answer deeper than they realized. He Himself was the answer to every need, every craving that they had. If they would come to Him and believe, their spiritual hunger would be completely satisfied, and their spiritual thirst slaked forever. But if they rejected Him and went off searching for mere physical things, that hunger and thirst would remain.
These people had seen Jesus. They had eaten food that He had provided. They had heard His voice teaching them. But they were still missing a key element that they needed in order to be saved: they had to believe in Him – that He really was the Messiah sent from God. That He really was the bread of life sent from heaven. That in Himself He actually had all that was necessary to bring people to eternal life.
As Jesus pointed out, it is God’s will that everyone who sees the Son for who He truly is AND believes in Him for salvation will have eternal life, and will rise on the last day. Many in churches today see Jesus. They know about Him and what He has done. But they have never truly believed in Him – never trusted themselves wholly to Him. They might believe in Him for heaven, but they do not believe in Him for today. They might trust Him with their future, but they keep their present firmly in their own grasp. Such belief in Jesus is not the belief that saves.
Just as the Israelites had to believe God’s word and go out each day to receive the manna that He provided, not storing any away for the future (except on the Sabbath), so those who truly believe in Jesus must believe in Him for the present, not just for the future. They must go out each new day with Him, and must expect and experience His presence and the fulfillment of His promises each new day. This is the belief that works eternal life in each one.
Father, help me to have that kind of belief in Jesus, to experience the fullness of all that He came to do and to be each and every day. Help me to trust Him with more than just my future. Help me to trust Him with my every-day present as well, so that I can continually receive the life-giving bread of His presence both now and forever. Amen.