Jesus had just fed a multitude. Now the crowd was after him. He had just filled their stomachs, but his mission goes deeper than that. Today will talk about true nourishment and the “work” we must do to find it. Jesus says:
Jn 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
And here it is again in the Message translation:
John 6:27“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
Immediately I am reminded of two more passages of scripture. The first one is in Isaiah:
Isaiah 55: 1 “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free! 2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. 3 “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
And here’s another one in one of my favorite Psalms:
Psalm 127: 2 It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.
So what is this so-called Good Food?
The Good Food is Jesus. That’s it. It’s him. He came down and provided himself for us. It is either too simple or too complicated at times for me to understand that he called himself “bread to eat”. But that’s exactly what he is. When he said to the enemy “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” he was quoting ancient scripture… but that scripture still refers to him.
The easiest part of it that I can understand is that I am fed when I hear the words of Christ. Hebrews tells me that faith comes from hearing the words of Christ. So one aspect of eating and eating well is getting enough faith to make it through the day- and getting it from the Word. This life is a “life of faith”. So just like we need food to get our bodies through the day, we need to “eat faith” to get through the day.
Which words give me faith?
Words that tell me what Christ has done. That he gave himself as a ransom for me. That we exchanged places. That all the crap in my life right now – he took 2000 years ago. And all the wonders of grace and blessing, are poured into my lap today.
My faith gets bigger when I read about Christ’s life. How he healed every sick person who came to him. How he embraced every sort of sinner with unconditional grace. How he stills the storm, walks on water, multiplies the loaves and fish, calls forth the giant catch of fish, sends a fish with a coin in its mouth, miraculously secures a furnished room for him and his disciples to have an evening together. Things like that.
My faith gets bigger when I read the letters of Paul which contain the words of Christ. Words that tell me when I am weakest, his strength is made perfect. That I can rejoice in my weakness because Christ dwells in me! Greater is he that is in me than the giants I face in this world. Words that tell me that grace superabounds when sin abounds. When my situation falls short of the glory of God, his grace is there – exploding like never before. Words that tell me that God’s kingdom is about righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost – and it is here with me, and I have it – for free.
This Food is Free
This is the food that nourishes us. This is the food that “sticks with us”. I am writing to myself in a way- because the last 3 weeks have been so full of work and to a certain extent I feel that it has all been in vain. Have you ever felt that way? Jesus asks us: “Why are you wearing yourself out like that? The treasures in this world do not last. The food here spoils. My food does not. And it is FREE. I do not require you to work that way for my food!”.
The Psalmist says that our labor is “in vain” when we labor this way.
Isaiah says: “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free!”
I believe it is Jesus that fulfilled that. He gave himself up for us – for free. He was asked:
28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” 29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
Our only “work” is to believe. And that is ironic because believing is not work. This tells us that we can accomplish so much more by simply believing – than by toiling and laboring with sweat and tears. Why? Because when we believe in Jesus – we receive all that he paid to give us. That’s how we “eat” him. By taking his words, taking his promises, taking his Gospel of Grace, and living on it every day. Believing it, hanging on it, betting our entire lives on it – that it is true and that it will change everything we know, not just later on but now.
For example, healing. God wants us healed, but we don’t chase after it. We chase Jesus. When we get Jesus and “eat” Jesus, we are healed. Money is the same. When we have Christ, we have everything. Because on the cross, he who is everything gave up everything for us. Now we inherit everything that is Christ’s, but more importantly, we inherit Christ himself.
Jesus is not Perishable
The nourishment we receive from him lasts forever. The food we eat here perishes. It gives us strength only for a moment. The entertainment we find here amuses us only for a while. The distractions we chase after only give us momentary pleasure. Our treasures here are subject to the moths and corrosion of this side of reality. Yes – for as long as we have bodies we will have needs, and our God is not cheap. He intends to fill those needs abundantly. But he wants our hearts to seek for that which is not perishable.
Jesus is not perishable. The life we receive from him lasts forever. His promises last forever. When we trust in him, we will not be disappointed- ever. Circumstances here are all changeable, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. His cross is forever. His blood speaks a better word about us – forever. His Gospel is forever. When we believe in him, we do the only work he requires from us. And that “work” brings us rest.
He gives rest to those he loves. He loves you. He wants you to rest. His rest is forever. Rest in his promises. Rest securely in his finished work. If the work is completed, you don’t need to do it. You only need to receive and rest.
You have concerns, yes. But Jesus calls you to rest. If you have a hard time doing that, chew on his words. Chew on his promises. Then you’ll see what I mean. When we hear his words of comfort, when we understand who he is and what he has done for us, rest comes. When we believe, rest comes. He loves you. He died for you. He grants you rest today.
When I have had a lot to eat, I always get sleepy. I imagine that’s how it is in the Spirit as well. When you’ve received his words which bring spirit and life into you – real faith food – you know you can rest. You can stand on his word. You can sit on his promises. You can sleep under the shadow of his wings.
– stefansuarez (www.graceis.net)