In the gospel of John, Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you…..”. In some of the older translations, this is worded, “You seek me because….”.
Food in the belly is a powerful motivator, and fear of no food in the belly is also.
Jesus was, here, it seems to me, trying to help this group purify their motivation. It is good to be near Jesus, no matter the motivation, but if we are taking our cues from our lower nature, how are we to access the higher things that the Lord wants to give to us?
Here He is saying, you are following me around because I took care of your hunger for natural food. If you read on, you can see that He illuminates a better way to go about this. He says, spend your energies for seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. He is showing them (and us) that we can become too naturally focused and get (even) our motivation to seek the Lord from carnal motivators. But if we do this, we are going to miss the GREAT opportunity that is present in this setting – eternal life.
Is it possible to seek Jesus to have your belly filled and miss the invitation for, and the access to, His intended purpose for the nearness? Clearly yes, as He is teaching us here.
How do we purify our motivations? By listening to His instructions – by setting our focus and spending our energies on the pursuit of the eternal.
But, food itself is good, even necessary!
Let's take a little different look at this. Imagine Jesus turned to you and said today, “You are following Me today because I provide for your needs, I keep the bills paid.” This is more like what He was saying to these folks. That seems to bring it a little closer to home. This would mean that selfishness is your motivation and the reason you are spending your energies, even the energy of keeping pace with Him, is for selfish gain.
This must have been (and is) a very challenging thing that Jesus is saying!
Are you following Jesus today because He is keeping the bills paid? Don't think it isn't possible. Jesus doesn't condemn this. Rather, He shows us a better way to go about it, a more solid foundation for our pursuits. Spend your energies on the pursuit of eternal life.
Keep in mind that eternal life is not only speaking to life that is unending in the future somewhere. Eternal life is as much about a quality of life as it is about a quantity of life. If you are in Christ, you have eternal life NOW. Seek, cultivate, be preoccupied with, and labor to enter into this. Don't let your focus be natural provision. Jesus truly is the bread of life.