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.
I find some of the passages of Scripture rather humorous. This is one of them.
Jesus has just accomplished the miraculous feeding of the 5,000. Now the people keep following Him, not because the miracle has brought them to faith, but because they like the idea of hanging around with someone who is able to give them a free lunch. The following dialogue is pretty funny because it is clearly seen that the people are trying to manipulate Jesus into giving them another free lunch, while our Lord is trying to get them to look beyond their bellies to the spiritual hunger that He longs to quell.
This isn't so far removed from our own experience. Don't we like Jesus, at least in part, because He's handy for getting us out of jams? How many times have we made bargains with God that essentially boiled down to that we would really serve Him if He gets us out of our present pickle? We know better, but we still often behave as if we can manipulate the Lord. It can't be done.
One of the things I continually am growing to appreciate about our God is that He doesn't always give us what we want, but rather He gives us what is truly best for us. Jesus didn't mind feeding the crowds because He had compassion on them. But the miracle was intended to point to more. Jesus concludes this passage by saying, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst,” (v. 35). If Jesus provides a meal it meets the need of the moment, but if we come to faith in Him, it meets every need for all time. This is what He means when he says that we will never hunger or thirst again.
We are born with an innate hunger to know God. This can only be satisfied by welcoming Him into our lives. Unfortunately, we try to fill that void with many other things. Some of us even have the nerve to ask God to help us in this pursuit of something other than Himself. He refuses, of course, because He knows what we truly need and He is waiting for us to ask for that.
What are you substituting for God? Are you trying to use Him for what He can do for you rather than surrender to Him to be at His disposal? The thing you are truly hungering for is the bread that endures for eternal life. Jesus is that bread Himself. Today, come to Him without any attempts at leverage, but rather just to feed on Him and be completely satisfied.