A Hunger for Jesus

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People will do anything to try to find satisfaction in their life. It's at the root of most of the motivations and the activities of people even the drug addict, the criminal, even spurious activities are, in their own way, trying to find satisfaction, trying to fill a void that all of us seem to have. A void, I believe, God placed in our lives…an incompleteness that is only satisfied in Christ.

Many reject Him. Many search through life and rather than discovering that true Bread of Life, they instead, find their lives one temporal pleasure after another. Maybe even not always realizing they're struggling to fill a void, a piece of a puzzle, that only God can fill…a God-sized hole that is there for all of us if we will but find and reach out to a Savior who is reaching out to us.

When we look at the story in John 6, when we look at the change in attitude it seems of the crowds that were following Christ, it causes us to want to examine even our own heart and to see whether we have a hunger for Him. So I want to speak to you about hungering for Jesus today. Because you see it's not enough to be amazed by Him, nor is it enough to intellectually believe in Him. The Bible says the true living, the joy and satisfaction, comes when we hunger for the right things.

That's what Jesus explains to us today in the sixth chapter of John. He has fed 5,000 men plus women and children. He sent His disciples across the lake to Capernaum and He, instead, went another way. The amazing thing is that when the disciples arrive in Capernaum, Jesus is there. The crowd that follows over to Capernaum, this crows that had their bellies filled with the food, the bread and fish Jesus had miraculously provided from that young man's lunch, they are amazed that Christ is there because they know He didn't get in a boat.

Many of them did get in boats, and made the quick trip and yet Jesus is already there. Beginning in verse 22 of chapter 6, it says, "On the following day, when the people who were standing on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other boat there, except that one which His disciples had entered, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with His disciples, but His disciples had gone away alone—however, other boats came from Tiberias, near the place where they ate bread after the Lord had given thanks—when the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they also got into boats and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, 'Rabbi, when did You come here?'"

They were looking for Jesus, but I want to tip you off that they're motivation for finding Him has changed. Now initially when they were looking for Jesus back in chapter 6, verse 2 it says, "Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased." There was a time when He was gathering multitudes because they saw the miracles. They were curious about…could He be the Messiah, the long awaited One? But things have changed. They word is out. They've been fed miraculously without having to do anything to earn or get that bread.

That human instinct, that desire to be physically satisfied had now taken over their priorities as it does so often in our lives. And now that's what they wanted. So in verse 26, Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled." At first the crowd is coming to Jesus because of the miracles, but now Jesus says there is a different motivation. You see, He knows their heart.

Just the fact they have come to Jesus is not enough for the Father. It's not enough for God. Just showing up is not sufficient. Jesus looks at the heart. He looks at the motivation in life, and He knows their motivation was they had gotten a physical satisfaction. They had their physical hunger satisfied. Literally, Jesus was now their meal ticket. They saw if they followed Him they might not have to work again. If they followed Him they might not have to worry anymore about the day-to-day cares of this world.

So they, with a very basic human instinct now, with their flesh now in charge, they're searching after Christ. Jesus knows this. You know He's not satisfied to just leave them there with that physical hunger, with that physical need satisfied. Jesus didn't come to earth to feed all the hungry people. He came to give them a food, which lasts for eternity. That's what He wants them to notice. That's the teaching moment that Jesus has in our text this morning.

Notice as He picks up in verse 27, Jesus says, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." Notice in 28 they said to him, "'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'"

You know people, even today, think they can work hard enough to earn anything. You know that's sort of our motto…if you work hard enough, the sky is the limit. People think they can even work hard enough to earn God's favor.

The Jewish mindset in the day of Christ was that they worked to earn God's favor, that work was in and of itself a godly thing and that God would honor it. If they kept enough law and kept themselves pure enough, they earned their right into the kingdom of God. So when Jesus is saying, "Don't labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which gives eternal life," their natural human response is, "Well, how do we do these works?"

They say in 28, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" You see that's their mindset. That's the mindset of the world. The world wants to know…how good do I need to be? If my good outweighs my bad, is God going to find favor? Am I going to be, then, a good person? Everyone wants to be a good person, and we define that by the things we do and try to do and the works we try to do.

Jesus answers with a very profound statement in 29, when He says there is really only one work you can do and that is the work of belief. That is the work of faith. No other work is going to be satisfying to God. All our works, all our good deeds fall short of God's acceptance and God's glory, but what you can do is you can work the work of faith. In other words, you can place your faith in Me as the Messiah. By doing so, you will receive a bread that will feed you for eternity…one of eternal life.

Well in verse 30, the people said to Him in response to that, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?" If we're not going to do a work, if we're just going to believe…listen…seeing is believing. So we need to see something. What trick can You perform? What miracle can You perform so that we know You are who You are.

Isn't it amazing? They had begun following Jesus because of the signs He had done. They had been partakers of the miraculous feeding of a hillside full of people, and now they're not seeing that. They're asking the question…give us a visible sign. We want proof. But of course that's only a deflection. They've seen a miracle from God. They just didn't believe it was from God, so instead of believing what's in front of them, they deflect with an argument.

You speak to people today about the blessings of God on their life, how God has delivered them, how God is dealing kindly with them. What is obviously the hand of God in their life, and rather than acknowledge and admit it, people will deflect it with an argument. People will say, "Well, seeing is believing for me. I'm a skeptical kind of person. If God is real, then let me see Him do this. If God is real, then let this happen." Listen, we have 6,000 years of history of God working and yet when people don't want to believe, their hearts are blinded to the things of God.

You can look at nature. You can look at the human eye. You can look at all the tremendous, miraculous power of God at work, but if your heart is blinded, you don't see it, and you keep asking for another sign. Give me another miracle. Give me another sign.

You may be here this morning. You may be listening to me, and you may be saying, "If I could just see the lightning strike. If I could just see the handwriting on the wall. If I could just witness some supernatural thing, then maybe I would believe."

Yet I tell you, there are supernatural things all around you. You just don't see it. You don't see the health you have that someone of your stature does not have. You don't see the fact that you're able to eat food as a blessing from God rather than your own efforts. You don't see the country you get to live in with the freedom that is there. You don't see the family you have that is together when so many do not. You have so many miracles around you. You have so many blessings around you, and yet you become skeptical because your heart is blinded.

What a believer can see in your life as the hand of God, you cannot see because your heart is darkened to the thoughts of the world. You rely on your own schemes and plans, and though they keep you seeking, and never discovering, they keep you searching and never finding, still you're led by that human instinct. If I could just find satisfaction.

These people thought their satisfaction would be in free food. They thought the satisfaction would be in not having to work to earn a living. They didn't consider the One who was providing the miracle. It was right in front of them.

Jesus, in John 6:32 said to them…let me back up to verse 31, "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" The crowd continues in wanting a sign and says, "Let me give you an example, Jesus, so You'll know what we're talking about. How about bringing us manna from heaven." You see the rabbis had taught in that day, that when the Messiah came, He would bring manna from heaven. That was one of the things the Messiah would do.

They had just gotten bread on a hillside from a small sack, but now they want the sign of Moses. They want manna from heaven. Just like Moses gave us, they're saying. So in verse 32 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven."

I want you to focus on the fact that it wasn't Moses who gave you bread, it was God who provided the manna. It was God who has blessed your life. It's not you who is providing for your paycheck, it is God who is providing for you. It is not your resources that have gotten you to where you are. Whatever blessings, whatever profit, whatever benefit has been under the protection and provision of God.

We look to people. We look to our name. We look to our position. We look to our fame and fortune when it is God who is providing those things. It was not Moses. It was not because they were children of Abraham. It was because God had blessed them. He says, "That was the past, by the way. The present is this…that same Father who brought manna from heaven is giving you the true bread from heaven, the genuine bread that will give you sustenance for life." Verse 33, "For the bread of God is [a person] He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

Jesus says, "When I am talking about satisfying that inward desire of yours, when I'm talking about giving you spiritual fullness, I'm not talking about your stomach being filled, but I'm talking about your life being filled. So I'm not talking about manna that was enough for one day; I'm talking about a bread from heaven that's enough for eternity. I'm talking about Myself. I am the Manna from heaven. I am the Bread sent from heaven to satisfy and give life to the world."

It was God, not Moses, who gave the manna, and it is God who is giving them bread on that day and who is making that possible. Jesus clearly identifies what that bread is. It's Him. He is the true Living Bread that came down from heaven. He came not only for Israel, but He came for the whole world. He is the Living Bread for everyone. He came not just to sustain life, which physical bread does, but to give life, which only God can do.

Well they mulled that over. In verse 34 they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." The familiar response that they gave is very much like the woman of Samaria. Just like her, they weren't ready for salvation yet. You remember back in John 4, when Jesus said, "I can give you living water, and you'll never thirst again." She said, "Well, give me this living water so I don't have to keep coming to the well." She didn't see the spiritual implication of that yet, and these guys here, this crowd, wanted physical bread so they wouldn't have to toil to maintain life.

People today still want Jesus only for the benefits He's able to give. People pray when they're in trouble. They profess the name of God when they have a void that needs to be settled. They see God as an escape route, as some means to satisfy some longing in their life. They'll pray to God to get them a job. They'll pray to God to find them companionship. They'll pray to God to satisfy a human need, but they will not see God as the satisfaction of all of their need, of the spiritual need they have in life.

So He says in His response in verse 35, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe." He said, "I am that bread of life. To believe in Me means you don't have that hunger in your heart anymore. To believe in Me means that you don't have that unfulfilled thirst in your life anymore. To receive Me as your Savior is the true satisfaction," He is saying.

He expands on that in 37, and says, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." Jesus is saying the invitation is for everyone there. Whoever comes and believes…those two words He uses in this sermon over and over…to come and to believe. You see to come to Jesus is to believe in Jesus, and to believe in Jesus is to come to Jesus. Jesus is saying the way you have this bread is not by just showing up at mealtime, but it's by believing in Me, by receiving Me. There is a satisfaction to the hunger of your soul. You need to have your eyes open to see.

I want to tell you that the invitation to that banquet is available to all. All come to Me. Notice what He says again, "All the Father gives to Me come to Me." Do you know what that's saying? When you come to Jesus, it's not your idea because your idea is to satisfy the physical. I began talking about that at the beginning of the message this morning. We try to satisfy that empty hole in our life by physical things because that's all we think to do. Yet, God invades our life. God seeks us. He comes to us. He awakens us. He shows us the real satisfaction to that void in our life is found in Christ.

All the Father invites to come, all the Father awakens…He doesn't turn them away. He receives them. Notice what He says, "All the Father gives Me come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." You see Jesus isn't one who pulls the rug out from under us. He's not one who extends an invitation and then goes back on the invitation. When He invites you, when you receive Christ as your Savior, you are never cast out. You are never cast out.

Jesus says to the Jews on that day there outside Capernaum…He's saying to them, "If you will come to Me, you don't have to worry about working your way to heaven any more. You don't have to worry about earning your rightful place in the kingdom of God. If you will come to Me, I will receive you and you'll never be cast out of it. You will become a child of God. You will become a member of the kingdom. You will become part of the royal family and all the Father brings to me, I don't lose them. I don't cast them out." There is a freedom there. There is a gift there if you will but only receive it.


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