Posted: 3/9/18 at 7:50am. Column by Ed Jordan.
Are you a label reader? While grocery shopping, do you examine the labels to make sure the product hasn’t reached its expiration date? When you tidy up your cupboards or fridge, do you check the labels to look for that tiny writing that assures you your food is still usable?
In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus was having dialogues with his disciples, the crowds of people following him, and the religious leaders that felt threatened by him. Many of them had just experienced the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 men with a little boy’s lunch of five rolls and two fish. The text in John 6:11-12 indicates that the people all ate their fill, with 12 large baskets of leftovers. This was a miracle indeed.
After performing this miracle, Jesus told the people to seek food that never expires, which he came to offer. In John 6:27 (ESV) Jesus said: “Do not work 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.” Think about your own life, the things which you seek, and the things for which you work. How much of your effort, energy, and time goes toward things that wear out, things that decay, or things that eventually expire? While we all need food, clothes, and shelter, we also know these things can’t last.
What are the things that last forever? One’s soul and relationship with God through Jesus Christ. So with over 8,760 hours in a year, if someone invested two hours a week at church, they would only spend 1.18% of their lives investing in eternal things while spending more than 98% of their lives on things that pass away. While we need some of these things to live and provide for our families, our walk with Jesus should be a full-time relationship—not just a two-hour-a-week visit. Thus our whole lives should be lived with God, with God impacting all aspects of our lives.
It would be so nourishing to invest more of our lives in loving God and revealing his love to others in all of our interactions. I know many people who use their commute time to talk with God or to listen to audio Bibles, studies, or sermons. The wonderful thing about Christianity is that Christ comes to live within the believer through the Holy Spirit; so if we consciously focus upon God’s activity in our lives, our whole day can become an investment in eternity.
Jesus, later in John 6, speaks of our need to internalize Jesus into our lives so that he lives within us—nourishing our lives with bread or food from heaven. So Jesus uses eating physical food as a metaphor of our greater need to feed that aspect of our being which is eternal. In John 6:40 (ESV) Jesus said: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” In verses 47-48 (ESV) Jesus stated: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.”
Jesus concludes his bread metaphor in John 6:58 (ESV): “This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Physical bread feeds our body, and it is necessary to eat regularly; yet our physical body dies. When we partake of Jesus and invite him into our lives, he becomes the living bread of heaven, living within us, and giving us eternal life that continues beyond the grave.
Many of us are conscientious about not using food that has reached its expiration date, and rightly so. But remember that we have Jesus, the Bread of Life, who is eternal, and whose life has no expiration date. The spiritual food he offers will never expire and never grow stale or mold; and it is always available to us.
If you don’t have a living relationship with Jesus, I encourage you to look into the life Jesus gives to us, which has no expiration date.