Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (John 6:26-27)
My kids would rather have dinner at Chuck E. Cheese’s than Fogo de Chao or Manny’s Steakhouse. I mean… for real? I’m disappointed in myself. I thought I had been a pretty good father. How could they possibly prefer pizza of questionable quality peddled by a large rodent over the most beautiful and tender steaks known to man? It just defies all good sense.
Unless… well… you’re a kid. Then it makes perfect sense because most kids haven’t developed a taste for great steak yet. They have no idea what they’re missing. You can’t fault a kid for picking a lackluster pizza over steak so tender you can cut it with a butter knife. But you could (and should) fault an adult for making the same choice. An adult should know better, right? If you choose Chuck E. Cheese’s over Fogo, you’re either a kid, a vegetarian or a moron. Those are the only possibilities.
After Jesus fed five thousand people with no more than five small loaves of bread and a couple of fish, the people came looking for him—this man who had performed a miracle unlike anything they had ever seen. And do you know why they were looking for him? Wait for it…
They wanted more food.
In John 6 the people find Jesus and he speaks to them very directly. He says, “You are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed 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” (vv. 26-27).
They came to Jesus looking for more bread and fish, rather than for “food”—spiritual sustenance—that endures to eternal life. And Jesus says to them: You’re looking for me because you want some more Chuck E. Cheese pizza, while I’m trying to offer you Manny’s steaks. Your desires are warped. You’re seeking the wrong thing.
It seems to me that we do this quite a bit when we seek God in Christ. Think about your prayer life. What do we spend most of our time in prayer (however much time we spend in prayer) asking for? If you’re like most people, the majority of your prayers are focused on the health of your family, things at work, concerns about finances, stuff at school, the lottery, maybe friends and relational issues. Is it wrong to pray for these things? Of course not (well, maybe the lottery). God invites us to pray for anything we truly believe he may want for us (John 14:13-14).
But is it wrong to pray for these things to the exclusion of things that will really matter long after we die? Absolutely. It wasn’t wrong for the disciples to seek Jesus for food. But it was wrong for them to prioritize asking him for something as ordinary as food over asking him for spiritual sustenance.
Think about this: What do you regularly pray for right now that will truly matter in 5 billion years? The health of your family? It won’t matter. Things at work? They won’t matter. Finances, school, the lottery? None of it will matter in five billion years. What will matter? Humility. Living with hearts full of love. Hearts that overflow in generosity. Minds that are pure and holy. Patience and kindness. Self-control and gentleness. Satisfaction and contentment in Christ. A God-centered view of everything in our lives. These are the things that will truly matter in 5 billion years. So these are the things we should prioritize now when we seek Christ in prayer.
May we not settle for bread when he offers us food that endures to eternal life.