John 6:24-27, 35
24 Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”...35 Then 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.
On one of my trips to Liberia, I asked Pastor Emmanuel about some of the difficulties the church in Liberia faces. He indicated that they often find people going to church expecting to be blessed by God; that if they do certain things, their lives will be easier, and that God will have favor on them. I jumped to conclusions and immediately said, “Oh yeah! We have that too. We call it the ‘prosperity gospel.’” As we continued, I realized that the ‘prosperity gospel’ in the U.S. and what he was talking about were not quite the same, and that I was guilty of some of the things he described.
While we may not identify ourselves with the ‘prosperity gospel’, we have our own version and still have false motives for seeking Jesus. We pray for healing, for financial independency, for ease of pain. When things get tough in life, we pray for relief from them. None of these prayer requests are necessarily bad, but when they are our priority, we miss the point of what the gospel is about at the core: eternal life. This is what Jesus was talking about in this passage. The people he is talking to had followed him after he fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish. They were amazed by what they saw, and naturally pursued Jesus (see verse 24). They wanted to be with Jesus, but not for the right reasons. In verse 25, Jesus calls them out when he says, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” In other words, he is saying to them, ‘I satisfied your earthly desires, and now that is the only reason you seek me. You have a false motive for seeking me.”
How often do we do exactly that—search for God to satisfy our earthly desires, the desires of our flesh, and stop there? The gospel is about so much more! He is here to give us food that endures to eternal life. He is the Bread of Life.
I recently read an article* about the number one prayer request from persecuted Christians. I figured it would be that the persecution would ease (admittedly, that would probably be mine). It wasn’t. “Persecuted believers ask us to pray with them that they will stand strong and witness with faithfulness.” This life is not their priority, but rather the eternal life. May we focus our lives on the Bread of eternal Life, not the ‘bread’ of this world.
- What do you ask God for in your prayers?
- Do you ask for more earthly things or eternal things in your prayers?
- What ways can you focus more on eternal things and not this life?
Father, thank you so much for giving us a way to experience eternity with you! We trust in You to provide what we need on earth. Help us to stand strong together and witness in faithfulness. Thank you for giving us the great gift of eternal life with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Consider removing an earthly distraction for one day. What draws your focus away from God or how He is working in your life ? Maybe it’s social media, your favorite tv show, or checking your phone before bed. Instead of doing that one thing, spend some extra time in personal devotions and prayer.