“Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. John 6:25–27
What do you work for in life? That which ultimately perishes? Or that which is eternal? This is an important question to sincerely answer. Too often we spend most of our lives putting most of our time and energy into those things that have little value for eternity.
The day before the above quoted conversation, Jesus had multiplied the loaves and fishes and fed five thousand households. The people were so impressed that the next day, when they were hungry again, they came looking for Jesus and found Him on the other side of the lake. Jesus, of course, immediately understands the situation. He realizes that the crowd of people who found Him were more interested in another meal than they were in the spiritual food that is eternal. So Jesus gently uses the opportunity to give them this short lesson about what is most important. The “food that endures for eternal life” is ultimately faith in Jesus.
Imagine if you were one of those people who witnessed, first hand, the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. What sort of an impact would that have had on you? Would it have drawn you into a deep faith in Jesus, the Son of God? Or would you have been more impressed with the free and miraculous food? What’s interesting is that Jesus feeds the five thousand when they are not expecting it and not desiring it. But when they do come expecting it and desiring it the next day, He refuses. Jesus refuses another miracle because He wants the people to look deeper to the eternal reality.
In our own lives, living primarily for the deeper and eternal reality is often hard to do. It’s easy to keep our eyes on the superficial and less important aspects of life. How do I make more money? Or buy a new car? Or have a fancier meal? How can I better entertain myself? What new piece of clothing should I buy? And the list goes on. Of course none of these things are evil, but they are all passing and will not have an effect upon our eternal soul. And, in fact, if we give too much attention to the superficial and least important aspects of life, they will have the effect of distracting us from that which is most important.
Reflect, today, upon this challenge from Jesus. Do not work for that which perishes; work for that which is eternal. Look at your priorities in life. Where is your focus? What concerns you the most every day? Hopefully your greatest concern is to grow deeper in faith in the Son of God. Hopefully it is to live the charity that is eternal. If you honestly look at your life and the goals you have and see yourself overly concerned with the things of this world, then allow these words of our Lord to speak to you directly so that you are storing up riches for eternal life.
My most glorious Lord, You are the Food that is eternal. You are the Food for everlasting life. Give me the wisdom I need, dear Lord, to turn my eyes from the passing and least important things of this world and to turn, instead, to that which is eternal. May I keep my eyes upon You and be nourished by my faith in You. Jesus, I trust in You.