We have an unfortunate tendency of focusing on feeling full, especially during the Christmas season. Think about the times in which Christmas traditions have to be carried out “just so” so that it “feels like Christmas.” Or the gifts that you have had to give or get, lest you or anyone else not feel sufficiently loved, blessed, or in the Christmas Spirit.
Yet the gifts Jesus gives focus on our fulfillment or completion in Him, not on a temporal feeling of fullness.
In John 6:26, Jesus calls some folks out on seeking the wrong sort of fulfillment. He has just preached and fed five thousand people. Now, on the other side of the lake, throngs of people are seeking Him out.
He knows their hearts, saying:
“Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
They have crossed the water and searched the land to find this extraordinary Jesus –but they are looking for the wrong sort of satisfaction. These people aren’t looking to Christ for the joy and hope He offers as Messiah and Lord. They are looking to have their fill, and feel fulfilled.
Jesus goes on in verse 27, saying:
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
It isn’t wrong to give gifts that spoil –Jesus did after all feed normal food to all those people who were then hoping for more to fill them up. But Christ emphasizes the eternal. He gives enduring gifts that nourish the journey to eternal life, gifts that enable us to walk on the path of salvation.
It’s no surprise that after Jesus spoke about eternal fulfillment to these crowds, they wanted to know what sort of works were required to get the gift. Jesus told them in verse 29,
“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
He went on to describe what it is to believe in Him. As He spoke exclusively of the gift coming through Him and Him alone, people grew offended.
When Christ offered no gift that felt full, that came immediately, or that met the expectations of the crowds, they left. Jesus said:
“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63).
He lost disciples that day.
For those folks, life through Christ wasn’t enough to celebrate or satisfy. His life and Spirit weren’t enough, in their opinion, to fill their hearts or desires. The gifts He gave didn’t seem sufficient alone to lead anyone into eternal life.
Are we ever in that crowd? In this season of celebrating God’s greatest gift to us, it is easy for our receiving hearts to scoff and demand more. We prioritize getting and giving what we want, how we want it.
It’s easy for our flesh to win out. The things of our flesh can give temporary meaning, fulfillment, and joy to our holiday spirits. But they aren’t enough –His gifts alone give complete satisfaction.
How does your giving and receiving reflect the sufficiency and satisfaction of Christ, and the joy of eternity?