Most of us are familiar with the most famous of all of the miracles of Jesus, the feeding of the 5000. It is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. Unfortunately, most of us are not as familiar with the follow up conversation Jesus had with those who experienced the miracle firsthand. You can read it for yourself in John 6.
After the miracle, Jesus went to the other side of the lake, only to find that the people had followed him. Instead of rejoicing that the people were seeking Him out, Jesus was a little bit put off.
“I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. (John 6.26-27)
In other words, they were hungry and “had their fill,” but of the wrong type of food. Instead, they should have been hungering for food that does not spoil.
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6.35)
Blessed are the hungry and the thirsty. And then, Jesus delivers the kicker punch line.
I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (John 6.53-56)
After this statement,
Many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6.66)
Why did the followers of Jesus stop following Him when Jesus pointed them to the source of real satisfaction, to the source of real life? Because the teachings were too hard (see John 6.60).
I submit to you that it is at this point that Christians today stop following Jesus, too. When Jesus gets in our face and tells us that the only source of genuine satisfaction is to “remain in Him,” we just can’t handle it because we are convinced that our hunger and thirst can be better met in a better job, nicer accommodations, more exciting vacations, or among more pleasant people. The answer to the question of the emptiness in our souls simply cannot be as easy as remaining in Christ. And so we look elsewhere.
After the crowds left Him, Jesus asked the twelve is they wanted to leave, too. Peter answered for the group.
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6.68)
That simple confession takes most of us years to discover, that the only source of satisfaction for the longing and emptiness in our souls is in Christ Himself.