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Never Satisfied

August 01, 2021
By Rev. David French

It has been a long time without any rest for Jesus and His disciples. Jesus spent the previous day ministering to people in the wilderness. Then the disciples spent all night trying to get across the sea against a strong wind and weren’t able to cross until Jesus walked to them on the sea. As they arrived at the other side of the sea, people came from all over the countryside to bring the sick and injured to Jesus for healing. There was no stopping … no letting up.

The crowd that Jesus fed supper to on the far side of the sea showed up for breakfast, but quickly realized that Jesus was no longer there. When they finally find him on the other side of the sea, they say, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” (John 6:25) They were no doubt trying to figure out how Jesus got across the water and back to Capernaum so quickly. It seems like a fairly innocent question. And yet, Jesus who looks in the heart 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 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.” (John 6:26–27) Jesus understood that they were only interested in a free meal. They didn’t understand that Jesus was there to give eternal life.

The question and answer session they have with Jesus reminds us that they really don’t understand. Eventually the crowd asked a question that clearly demonstrated their unbelief. “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” (John 6:30–31) Jesus has been healing the sick, curing the lame, causing the deaf to hear and the blind to see. He has been casting out demons and raising people from the dead. This very crowd had eaten bread and fish multiplied from His hand and they asked for a sign? The stubborn, unbelieving heart is never satisfied. It always asks for more.

Not much has changed down through the centuries. There are many so called preachers who are, in reality, nothing but scam artists who have become very wealthy because the sinful nature is never satisfied with the simplicity of God’s perfect gifts. Adam and Eve were not satisfied in Eden. The Israelites in today’s Old Testament reading were not satisfied even though God fed them every day. The crowds in today’s Gospel wanted just one more sign. The Bible is full of people who were not satisfied by God’s promise to them. Our sinful human nature has not changed and many scam artists make their fortune from those who are not satisfied with the gifts God gives in His promises.

What about you? God has promised to care for you and provide all you need. He has promised eternal salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. He has opened up rivers of forgiveness in word, water, bread and wine. Is God’s forgiveness not enough for you? Think about it. Each and every one of us deserves to suffer in eternal hell. Nevertheless, God sent His Son to take up your humanity and take that eternal hell into Himself as He hung on a cross. He has clothed you with His righteousness. You have eternal life through the suffering, and death of the Son of God

Yet, what do faithful pastors hear? “Can’t you do something to make your message a little more meaningful?” or “Can’t you make your sermons a little peppier?” or … well, you get the idea. You see, sinners, even Christian sinners, want what they want more than what God wants to give. My friends, Satan is more than happy to provide a wide variety of “preachers” who will tell you exactly what you want hear. He’s thrilled to do this for you because when he gives you what you want, it keeps you from seeing what you need. Satan will, with your own desires, ever so slowly draw you away from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord and poison your soul with lies. Clearly, many are willing to open their wallets and give to those who teach lies because those lies make us feel good about ourselves. It’s exactly as the Holy Spirit revealed through St. Paul, “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3–4)

And what was Jesus response to the crowds who resisted His message? He continued teaching them. “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6:33) That is, just as God sent manna to give earthly life to the Israelites, so now He sends His Son to give eternal life to all people with His sinless life and sacrificial death on a cross. You see, Jesus is the bread of God because He gives life to the world.

The crowds, still thinking of their stomachs, respond, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6:34) Luther preached about these people and said, “This announcement that the Gospel would fill their bellies, that it would provide plentifully for this life and afford a good living, pleases them. They say, as it were: ‘This would be the man for us. Who wouldn’t like him?” But they pay no attention to Christ’s words and so hear nothing about where He wants to lead them. But they’re happy because He will fill their bellies and give them all the earthly goods and money they desire. But that is missing the point. The Gospel of Christ does not fill the belly or the Bank account; it has a different purpose and like God, that does not change.

But then Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) So, Jesus made it clear that He was speaking of a different kind of bread and a different kind of life. When it comes to the things of this world Jesus says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) When it comes to the things of eternity, He said, “whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

These are words that we on this side of heaven can never really understand, but, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can believe them. Through the gift of faith given by the Holy Spirit in the waters of your baptism, we can believe them and our Lord Jesus who said them. By that gift of faith, we can believe that Jesus’s body is real food and His blood real drink that will nourish the new Adam (or new life) within us and keep us safe with Christ for all eternity. For just as Jesus rose from the dead, as your catechism teaches, so also will the Holy Spirit raise me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.

In His name, Amen.

Tags: John 6:22-35