My wife watches two things on TV this time of year: the Hallmark Channel (the McDonalds of TV programming where every Christmas movie shares the same script but with different faces) and the Food Network (filled with such yuletide violence as cupcake wars, cookie wars, and Beat Bobby Flay). Both of these shows feed our appetites. I wasn’t craving a bedazzled, white chocolate encrusted fried Twinkie, but now I gotta have one.
I don’t know how many of us have ever truly known real hunger. I suspect very few of us. There is a tremendous difference between our cravings and appetites vs. real hunger, the kind of hunger brought about by extreme poverty and unavailability of food. In America, we often confuse our unsatisfied appetites with hunger. I grew up American poor. I never had what others had to eat, but I had food and never knew real hunger, just an unsatisfied appetite.
In John 6, Jesus had spent some time with a large crowd who were hungry for both the words of life he had to offer and for the bread and fish he miraculously provided. Trying to find rest, Jesus went to the other side of the lake, only to be followed by the people in boats. And that’s where we pick up the story in John 6:25-40.
It seems that the people were craving more fish and bread. They were looking for Jesus to give them what they wanted, and what they wanted was bread, not Jesus. “What will you do for us?” they asked. In other words, “Will you give us what we are craving? Satisfy us!” I wonder how often we approach Jesus the same way? I will believe if he gives me what I want. We want him to feed our appetite and give us what we are craving.
It is an exhausting impossibility to give all the people what they want. Their satisfaction will only be temporary, and they will expect more. Give the people a bedazzled, white chocolate encrusted fried Twinkie, and they will want another.
Our appetites are insatiable and unhealthy. I wonder, did Jesus come to give us what we want?
We want the stuff that satisfies our temporary cravings, but Jesus brings the ‘stuff’ that gives life to the world. He is the Bread of Life, and when we eat what he is offering, our spirit will never know hunger again.
We are created in the image of God with an intended dependency and intimacy with the Father. In Him we were always meant to ‘live and move and have our being’. But we have gone our own way, putting ourselves at the center of this image, and it has left us with a vacancy and hunger in the pit of our spirit that we spend our lives trying to fill with all sorts of cravings. We’re consuming junk. It tastes good, but it will never be enough. We live our lives as consumers.
But Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” What are we hungry for? Jesus…or all his benefits?
We have to know the difference between our unsatisfied appetites and the true hunger of our spirit that aches for Jesus and his truth. When we come to Jesus, we come hungry, knowing that our life depends on it. And when we eat, we are forever fulfilled.
Come to Jesus, but come hungry for the Bread of Life.