He satisfies the desire of every living thing
The Bible uses the words “satisfy” or “satisfied” a dozen times, and each time, the concept refers to a human deficiency which needs to be met. Humanity is a mess of needs – spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. Everyone who has ever lived is in search of some way to fulfill those needs. Does the Bible give us a solution to this great search for satisfaction that pervades our lives? To find the answer to that question, grab your Bible and turn with me to John chapter 6. Let’s look first at the conclusion of Jesus’ argument, and then we’ll come back to the beginning of the story to gather some context and see how Jesus ended up where He did.
In verses 35 and 40 respectively, Jesus clearly detailed what’s at stake in the universal quest for satisfaction, when He said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst” and “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.” Here’s an analogy we can relate to; it’s about food. But what does being hungry and thirsty have to do with being saved? What does satisfaction have to do with being saved? To answer those questions, let’s back up now to gather some context to the situation into which Jesus is speaking.
In the opening verses of John chapter 6, Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves and two fish. Next, He walked on the sea of Galilee to meet the disciples in their boat in the middle of the night. That’s some crazy, supernatural awesomeness, and time and space fail me to say much more about it. Suffice it to say, however, that Jesus had caught a lot of people’s attention with these miracles.
So, we pick up the story in verse 21. Jesus had gotten into the boat with the disciples on the sea of Galilee, and then they all traveled together to the other side. The crowd sorta flipped out when they realized that this miracle-worker had gone away, so they ended up sailing to the other side of the sea as well, in search of Jesus.
“When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus 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 labor 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.”
In other words, Jesus was saying, the crowds didn’t really love or want Him. They were only looking for Him so that they could He could do more stuff for them. Notice that Jesus said explicitly that they weren’t seeking “signs.” What does a sign do? A sign is a pointer, right? A sign is not the main point of any story. We know that. The object of a sign is the point of the story. No one who sought Jesus that day on the shore of the sea saw Jesus’ miracle as a sign pointing to a greater reality. They only wanted Jesus to fill their stomachs. Really, it only takes a brief reading of verses 28-34 to see that the crowds actually thought Jesus’ main purpose in His ministry was to satisfy their hunger pangs. So Jesus was like, “OK, you guys want to talk about food? Let’s talk about food.” Enter verse 35 and following.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 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 other words, Jesus did come to feed these people. But He didn’t come merely give to them baskets upon baskets of bread and fish. That was just a pointer to a greater reality; namely, that He Himself would satisfy these people, if only they would stop obsessing over their hunger pangs and start pouring their lives into a relationship with Him that would perfectly fulfill every need of their parched and famished souls. The man who would “look on the Son” for joy like that, Jesus said, would live eternally in fullness of joy (Psalm 16.11).
Jesus goes on to make even more explicit this idea that He came to be more deeply satisfying to humanity than any earthly food. Here’s what He said in verses 55-56 (but please check out the wider context in verses 53-58): “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”
The point of the story is clear. Jesus came to fill the void in every heart. He came to be more precious to us than money, friends, popularity, relationships, reputation, or anything else. Everyone who eats of those earthly “foods” will be hungry again. Money gets spent, friends betray us, somebody becomes more popular than we are, romantic relationships lose their thrill, we sin terribly and destroy our name. But everyone who seeks joy in Jesus Christ alone will have the deepest longings of their soul satisfied in the deepest sense of the word; namely, to see the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).
How often do I come to the Word of God just to seek a remedy for my earthly cravings? I’m scared, and I want to be at peace. I’m selfish, so I want everyone to see me as super-spiritual in my reading of the Word. I’m depressed, so I want to feel warm-fuzzies and forget all about the pain in my heart. All of this is earthly bread. It’ll fade away. And when it does, I’ll just find myself hungry again. How often do I read the words of Jesus without seeing that they’re a pointer to help us know Him more deeply (John 5.39)?
Believer, if you find yourself in the same boat as me and the crowd tonight, take heart. Turn from your idolatry and run to Jesus. There you will never hunger or thirst again.
“This is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” ~ Jesus Christ, John 17.3