It’s easy to think that our food obsessions are a modern issue, brought about by the diet revolution and push to be skinny. I like to place the blame squarely in the hands of prominent diet gurus: Atkins, South Beach, the Zone, and Slimfast. However, we’ve been obsessing about food for the whole of human history. This particular fascination is as old as the desire for the “forbidden fruit” in the garden.
During my morning devotions this morning, while reading through the book of John, I got to John chapter 6. Jesus generously fed a group of 5000 people enough bread and fish to break any modern diet plan (Think of all those carbs! I wonder if it was whole grain? At least the fish had omega 3’s!). This all-you-can-eat buffet left no one wanting more. However, by the next day, they were clamoring for another feeding.
Don’t get me wrong. In a rural and agrarian society such as this one, a lot of these people might have been poverty stricken and could have used a little more meat on their bones. They were probably food obsessed in a way that our culture doesn’t understand very often, obsessed from actual hunger. Also, they’ve been following Jesus around for who knows how long, back and forth across the lake, row, row, row, sweating in that intense middle eastern heat. It’s not like they carry along Power Bars and stop at the 7-11 whenever Jesus needs to tank-up his disciple packed Suburban.
At some point, Jesus turns to the people and lets them know that he sees their motives. He recognizes that all they want is food from him: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give you” (26-27). At some point, these people stop following Christ because he’s the Messiah and follow him simply because he’s giving them the carbs they want. They want bread. They want to fill their bellies, and Jesus has proved that he can fill them up.
They don’t like Jesus’ reply and try to manipulate him into giving in. They demand that he gives them a miracle, just like Moses did with manna in the wilderness (30-31). First of all, that’s a really dumb idea. If any of you have tried to manipulate God into doing your will, you’ve probably realized that it doesn’t work very well. Second, Jesus, being the master Rhetorician that he is, turns their words on them and zings them back. He corrects them by letting them know that Moses didn’t send the manna, God did (duh). Next, God has already sent his bread, the bread of life, Jesus himself.
My question for you today is, are you too wrapped up in counting carbs to count on the true bread of life? Is your focus on filling your stomach instead of filling your soul? Don’t become like the 5,000 who ate the miracle feast but demanded more perishable food. Look to the miracle, and seek its source. Only there will you find your fill.