Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Food for More than Thought

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger; and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
John 6:35
I’ve always wondered at these words of Jesus. Not hunger? NEVER thirst? Really? Why does it seem like it’s so much harder to always find my soul satisfaction in Him than He makes it seem with these words? I think I’m coming to Him the best way I know how. I think I’m believing in Him the best way I know how. So why do I still find myself at times hungering for joy or thirsting for gladness? Well if Jesus is the God of the universe who is always true to His Word (were this not the case then there would be no reason to read any of the Bible or trust anything it says), then there is only one answer to this question: I hunger because I stop coming to Him. I thirst because I stop believing in Him.

So what does it mean to come to Jesus so that I don’t just think that I come to Him but really do come to Him? What does it mean to believe in Jesus so that I don’t just think that I believe in Him but really do believe in Him? Well, notice the way Jesus describes the effects of coming and believing. The effect of coming, according to Jesus, is that hunger is removed. So, in Jesus’ mind, coming is associated with the act of eating. Similarly, the effect of believing is that thirst is removed. So believing, for Jesus, is associated with the act of drinking. Therefore, there is something that I need to be eating and drinking in order to be truly coming to and believing in Jesus. If Jesus is the bread of life, then surely it is He Himself that we must eat of. But how does this work out in practice? I think the prophet Isaiah points us in the right direction:

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live;
Isaiah 55:1-3

The parallels between what Isaiah says and what Jesus says hundreds of years later are staggering! They both talk about the act of coming. They both address the concepts of hunger and thirst. They both identify bread as the food that satisfies. And they both underscore the importance of believing.

So how does Isaiah help us understand Jesus? It seems like we will understand what Jesus is telling us to eat and drink if we understand what Isaiah is telling us to eat and drink. In order to do this, notice what Isaiah associates eating with.

Listen dilligently … and eat … and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear… and come…

hear, that your soul may live (be sustained).

Do you see what God is saying through Isaiah? He three times commands the act of hearing in an active sense. This hearing is not passive. It requires actions. God commands hearing in the same way that He commands eating. And because hearing and eating are so tightly interconnected in this passage, it seems like God is saying that the hearing is the eating. But it is more than just hearing. I eat what is good, and delight in rich food when I hear the words that God speaks to me and believe them to be true so that they satisfy my soul.

When I hear the words of Jesus and believe them to be true, my hunger and thirst are filled not necessarily by what I long for in that moment, but by the exceedingly wonderful nature of Jesus’ promises and the hope that I have in Him. The effect is that even if I don’t have what I may want in this moment, I know that my Savior will give me that which will satisfy me eternally. And this, I believe, produces the joy and gladness to satisfy me now.

So I must feed on promises. I must feed on the promises of Jesus. I must feed on the promises of God, all of which Jesus has secured for me.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him (Jesus). That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
2 Corinthians 1:20

This is why our infinitely wise God has made us human beings with physical appetites. It’s so that we can know the indispensable necessity of continually sustaining ourselves with His promises. I am convinced that our physical appetites are designed by God primarily to show us that we must feed our souls in the same way that we feed our bodies. How often do I eat in a day to feed my body? How often do I eat the promises of God in a day to feed my soul?

And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Deuteronomy 8:3

God has designed physical hunger to allow us to have a glimpse at what happens in our souls when we neglect feeding on His Words. Oh, that we would eat! For if we do, Jesus promises that we will not hunger and thirst but will have our souls satisfied so that we may “rejoice and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14)” and not just some of our days. This is what the prophet Jeremiah discovered:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15:16

May we discover the same.

Gracious Father, forgive us. Forgive us for the ways that we feed on seemingly anything but Your Word. Forgive us for the ways we don’t look first to Your Word when we are lacking joy and gladness in our hearts. Forgive us for the ways that we commit idolatry by eating food more than we eat of Your Word. Oh, that You would open our eyes and make Your words from the Bible to be a joy and the delight of our hearts as You did for Jeremiah! Make us a people who trust not what the world says, not what our own hearts and minds say, but who joyfully trust what Your Word says! Make us a people whose hope is ever rooted in the unspeakable greatness of Your Son. Thank You that He is the only reason we have any reason to hope. For without Him in His perfect life and death and resurrection we would have no claim to any of Your promises and thus nothing to feed on. So may You give us new eyes to see His infinite beauty and worth as we behold Him with the eyes of faith through Your Word. Father, we want to trust Your promises not so that we get the gifts, but because we know that this magnifies You. The Giver ALWAYS gets the glory. So may we never allow anything or anyone else to be our giver. Thank You that You, the Giver, are infinitely better than Your gifts. May You be most glorified in us by making us to be most satisfied in You. In Jesus’ name we utter these things for His glory, Amen.


Justin said...

hmmmm yea
preach it

talischris said...

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:17

As we actively hear, our faith increases.

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
Luke 17:5

So next time we echo this prayer of the apostles, may we then accompany it with an active hearing/feeding on the Word.