“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which en-dureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” (John 6:27 KJV)

These words were uttered by Christ to the crowd that was frantically searching for Him. Christ had left secretly the night before across the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. When it was day, the crowd realised that Christ had crossed to the other side of Galilee. So desperate were they that they also crossed the Sea of Galilee in their boats in order to seek Christ.

What caused the people to be so earnest in their search for Christ? Jesus, who is fully God, knew the answer – “. . . Verily, verily I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did of the loaves, and were filled.” (John 6:26)

Jesus had fed the people twice earlier – the first time to a crowd of five thousand (Matt. 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:3-14), and the second to a crowd of four thousand (Matt. 15:30-38; Mark 15:30-38). The multitude who followed Christ was hungry as they had nothing to eat. Christ had compassion on the people. On both occasions, there were only a few loaves of bread and fish that were available. Nevertheless, when Jesus broke the bread, not only were there sufficient to feed the people, there were still baskets full of left-over bread and fish. Nothing is too hard for the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, the people soon became enamoured to Jesus not because of His teaching, but for the free food they received each time they thronged Him. They were only interested in satisfying the hunger and cravings of their stomachs. They did not consider the lessons behind the miracles of Christ. Neither were they concerned about who Christ was nor His teachings. All that mattered was the providence of physical food!

The people of the world today are no different. They work hard each day so that their stomachs may be filled. They crave for leaders who can put food on their tables, and a shelter over their heads. They demand a prosperous economy that can bring wealth to the nation, and jobs to the populace. If these demands are not met, the leader will soon be unwanted and voted out of government.

This mind set is also promoted by false teachers who propagate the health and wealth gospel. “Believe in Christ and He will make you healthy and wealthy!” they proclaim. However, Jesus never wanted disciples who fol-low him for physical bread. Those who imbibe in the health and wealth gospel are no different from the disciples who followed Jesus simply be-cause they thought He would provide free food. Jesus does not want such disciples.

Alas, many in churches today are no different from the Jews in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Instead of pursuing after Christ and His Word, they devote their efforts to accumulating possessions and worldly accolades. They are in the church for business contacts or to socialise. They push their children to great educational pursuits hoping that they will achieve greater earning power and a higher standing in society. However, they fail to realise that the meat of the world can only sustain them temporarily. One day, we will all die. The meat of the world can never satisfy man’s need for His sins to be forgiven and cleansed, nor can it provide man with the righteousness that can reconcile him to God.

Where then can man find meat that does not perish, which can lead to everlasting life? Jesus tells us that only He can give such meat, for He is the Bread of Life that comes from heaven. To find eternal life, one must par-take of the Bread of Life. “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fa-thers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” (John 6:53-58) This is of course not a literal partaking of Christ’s blood and flesh, but one that is spiritual. This is the meat which a man should seek! First he must be born again in Christ Jesus, and then this will lead him to an entire life dedicated to following Christ and His Word.

Herein lies the litmus test. Many in the multitude wanted a Christ that will give them free bread, and not One who will save them from their sins.

They found his teaching hard to take, and they left him that day. “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” (John 6:66 KJV) These are false disciples whose religion is in their bellies. No bread, no support! Their loyalty is contingent on the satisfaction of their stomachs.

The response of true disciples stands in contrast with the false. The Scriptures record Peter’s answer to Christ – “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou has the words of eternal life.” Peter persevered in his walk with Christ for He understood that eternal life can only be found in Christ Jesus. He values the Words of Christ above all that is in the world. He exemplifies what it means for one who labours for the meat that endures to everlasting life .

How about you, dear readers? Which meat are you labouring for? If your life is one that is dedicated to the pursuit of perishable meat, then perhaps you have never partaken of the Bread of Life! On the other hand, a true disciple will be one who is dedicated to the study and obedience of Christ’s Word, for He knows that Christ is his life. May all of you be among those who are labouring for the Bread of Life!

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew