"Jesus answered them and said, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.'" John 6:26-27 (Read John 6:1-27)
After Jesus fed the multitudes with five barley loaves and two small fish, the people sought Him. Not finding Him where He had fed them, they crossed over the Sea of Galilee and came to Capernaum, where they found Him and questioned Him as to how He had come there since He did not leave in the boat with His disciples.
Jesus cut right to the heart of the issue when He pointed out to the people, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
As Jesus told them, they sought Him out and came to Him, not because they recognized from His miracles and now believed He was the Messiah, God's Son who had come into this world to redeem them from sin and death, but because they ate of the loaves and were filled.
Jesus told them not to labor for temporal food that perishes but for spiritual food that nourishes the soul and endures unto everlasting life. Rather than seeking Jesus because He miraculously fed the crowds, Jesus told them they should be coming to Him for spiritual food -- for the forgiveness of their sins and for the blessings of eternal life, which He came to provide them by offering up Himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of the world.
Jesus' words still ring true today. Why do people call on pastors and churches? Why do you come to the church of Jesus? Is it to hear the Word of God and learn of the salvation Jesus won for all by His innocent sufferings and death? Is it to repent of selfish and sinful ways and look to the crucified and risen Christ for pardon, forgiveness, and life eternal?
Ask any pastor, and they will tell you why their church phone lines ring and why people seek them out. Is it that people might learn the truth of God's Word and hear of Jesus and what He accomplished for us when He died on the cross and rose again? Is it for spiritual food to nourish their starving souls? No, it is almost always for temporal food or money to pay bills or for free clothing.
Should churches aid those with such temporal needs? Certainly, in the measure God enables them to do so. Our Lord Jesus healed the sick and fed the multitudes even though He desired that people come to Him for their spiritual needs.
But churches should also speak the words of Jesus to those who come seeking only earthly food and temporal goods. They should urge those who come to seek the food that will nourish their starving souls and give them eternal life. Churches should speak the warning words of Jesus: "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for providing me with food, clothing, and all my earthly needs. But, above all, thank You for providing for me in my greatest need by Your death on the cross for my sins and Your glorious resurrection. Move me to look to You in faith for pardon, forgiveness, and everlasting life in Your eternal kingdom. Amen.
[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted by email at [email protected]. More of Moll's devotional writings are freely available at https://mercifulsaviorlutheran.net. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]