“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
John 6:27
Getting a job and becoming financially independent was not optional in the Cox household. I generally tell people that I began working outside of the home at age 13. I worked outside the home, helping my sister teach swimming lessons. Yet, I got paid, so that counted as being gainfully employed in my dad’s eyes even though it was just a summer job. In listening recently to a young friend complain about a job and how he plans to quit before finding another, I reflected on my career, whose fortunes began by following the ups and downs of the Texas oil-based economy, yet I always managed to put food on my table regardless of how satisfying a particular job was or was not. And putting food on the table and providing nourishment was my family’s standard measure of success especially being raised by two people who were children during the Great Depression.
In the Scripture reading above, Jesus has just performed one of His miraculous feedings. By John’s count, Jesus fed “about five thousand” (6:10) in this particular setting and seating. And the people seemed to get fixated on bread, following him around to the other side of the Galilean Sea. With most of the population in antiquity living without any real assurance of their next meal … or their next week’s meal for that matter … the focus on bread is understandable. Yet, Jesus attempts to draw the people’s attention to spiritual food, “food that endures.” I don’t think Jesus wanted people to quit working per se, but to point them to the different kind of life-sustaining “bread” that He was offering them.
Some Biblical commentators suggest this quote above was Jesus’ foreshadowing of the actions He took during The Last Supper with the disciples: the giving of bread and wine, the body and blood in recognition and memory of the offering of His body and blood on the cross. And that is probably true, but it is also speaking of the spiritual nourishment we receive that following Jesus, believing in Jesus, and knowing Jesus brings us to be disciples of Jesus.
While you work to put food on your table, food that satisfies your hunger for a few hours or a half day, where do you receive the nourishment that endures? How does your spiritual life in Christ nourish you?
The Rev. Sharron L. Cox
Associate for Outreach, Pastoral Care and Women's Ministries
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