Toddlers who receive gifts are often more interested in the wrapping paper and packaging than in what those things contain. We can do the same with God’s gifts. We become focused on the things we want from God and we lose sight of God Himself.
This was the problem with the crowd that followed Jesus across the lake after the miraculous feeding. They had tried to take Jesus and make Him their king, but Jesus did not trust their motives. “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” (v. 26).
Jesus went on to remind them: “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” (v. 27). When the crowd asked what kind of “work” God required, Jesus told them it was to “believe in the one he has sent” (v. 29).
The crowd saw Jesus only as a great prophet or perhaps as a miracle-working rabbi (v. 25). More critically, they failed to understand their own need. The superficial nature of their devotion to Jesus was soon evident in their surly demand that Jesus give them more bread.
Food is essential to life, but there is more to life than food. Instead of food for physical life, Jesus offered eternal life (v. 40). The crowd understood that Jesus was claiming to be more than a rabbi or a prophet. His words could only mean that He had a status that was even higher than that of Moses (vv. 41–42). Jesus offered to do things only God could do.
You should rely on God to provide you with daily bread. He knows what you need. But Jesus offers much more. Jesus is as necessary to your spiritual life as food is to your physical life. As important as the physical needs may be, your spiritual needs are even more important. Do not make the mistake of being concerned with only one.