“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Why do we work hard in life? Surely for security and satisfaction. The pension pot is boosted, our ability to buy experiences that bring us happiness is increased, food goes on the table, we can sleep soundly at night.
Early October has traditionally been the time to gather in the harvest in rural communities, a tremendous collective effort to provide security for the community that would invariably be followed by a tremendous collective party to provide! And this pattern is one we live out week-by-week: work, eat, sleep, repeat. All to get more security, more satisfaction from life. But to steal the tagline from a TV advert, perhaps we need to broaden our horizons.
In John’s Gospel, chapter 6, Jesus has just fed a crowd of hungry people. Given the effort that goes into producing our food, you can imagine how exciting it must have been to 1st century farmers to see this man bypass the normal labour and dish out bread for free.
But when some of those who had been fed start hanging around Jesus, he offers some food for thought. He suggests that their perfectly natural interest in filling their stomachs should not be their priority in life. “Do not work hard for the food that goes off” he tells them. Instead, “work for the food that will last for eternity”.
Understandably his audience want to know what this food is. Jesus’s answer is shocking: “I am the bread of life”. In other words, Jesus claims to be the food that will sustain us for eternity, and food that will leave us permanently satisfied – never hungry or thirsty.
With that offer on the table, Jesus’s challenge rings out to us today: where is your deepest satisfaction found? Is your security limited to life insurance when eternal life insurance is available? In other words, are your horizons too small? Is work, eat, sleep, repeat all there is to your life? If you’re living for the post-harvest party, how long does that feeling of satisfaction last? If your best energies go into building up your pension pot, how secure do you feel in the face of one of life’s genuine inevitabilities?
If you feel that longing for deeper meaning, deeper satisfaction, and a security beyond your bank balance, why not use this season traditionally dedicated to celebrating the results of our harvest to explore the results of God’s work in Jesus Christ? Pop into church, pick up a Bible, attend a service. In Jesus, the horizons of life are wider than we might imagine and offer more than we might dare to hope for.