Ah, bread, cake, biscuits! I walk into the supermarket and every time go and look over to the chocolate mud cakes, then think … hmm, no, not cake; now what was I here for?. Food can be an amazing distraction, it can stop a conversation, an empty belly can take you away from your work, and a full and gurgling one can force you to the toilet. It is one of those things we have to live with that commands our attention everyday, like ads on the TV or the internet, but heaps more useful. Our belly distracts us from so many things.
Our bodily desires distract us from God, the one who provides, giving life. And we see this clearly in John 6. The crowd was fed miraculously by Jesus, then He left because they wanted to make Him king by force. Jesus filled their bellies, and listening to their bellies not Jesus, they wanted to force Him to stay as their ruler to fill their bellies everyday.
But Jesus walked on the water over the sea, and when the crowd realised Jesus had crossed the sea, they jumped into some boats and followed; but not now to make Him king, apparently they’d forgotten about that, rather to ask, ‘when did you get here?’ A strange question all things considered, yet Jesus answers, ‘Amen amen, truly truly, you’re just here to fill your bellies again.’ They didn’t care about His teaching, the signs He performed, they were again distracted from Jesus by their bellies.
Those selfish bellies ask, ‘what must I do to do the works God requires and get bread?’
Jesus replies, ‘God’s work, is to believe, to trust, in me.’
And now do they trust, do they listen to His Word? No. Again, the belly distracts the people from God’s Word, from the Good News. Yes, it is true that humans work to eat, yet here Jesus is revealing that God is the one who saves, who provides for you, who sustains you, who even enables you to trust Him, who gives you faith.
But they reply, ‘Moses gave manna for 40yrs in the desert, what you gonna do?’
Jesus said, ‘Amen amen, truly truly, it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven, bread that comes down and gives life to the world.’
Sounds like good bread, thinks their bellies saying, ‘always give us this bread.’
And how often aren’t we the same? Give me food to fill my belly, wine to forget my sorrows, give me fitness without effort, love without pain, blessings without suffering or death to sin; fulfill all my desires, serve me, and always give me this bread.
But Jesus says to you and me, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever humbly comes to me will never hunger, and whoever trusts my Word and my Work, will never thirst.’
His Word is true, it stands strong forever; yet you are distracted by so many things in this world. We know food is important, but it is never more important than Jesus, that is why we say grace at meals, why we give thanks; pray morning and night, ask for help, for mercy, for forgiveness. So as you seek Jesus in your life, as you remember the gifts He has give you and share them, and as you are distracted, what might you do?
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now and into everlasting life. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.