The next day, when the people who remained after the feeding of the five thousand saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 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. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, `He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."
I don’t know whether the phrase is current or if it is just a term dredged up from the recesses of my memory. What the crowd experienced was cupboard love. It is that which made our grandmothers say, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
The crowds had eaten their fill the day before and came chasing Jesus and his disciples in the hope of getting more. They wanted more of that good bread. But Jesus wanted to give them more than just good bread. More than just stomach satisfaction. Food for the stomach is good for today but then tomorrow you have to come back for more. What Jesus wanted to give was the bread of life. Jesus wanted the crowds to have food for the Spirit that feeds forever.
How long can you fast? A day? Ten days? With juice or water a month or longer? What sustains you through the fast? A thought, an ideal, a passion or a principle?
Jesus talks to the crowd. He talks to us through space and time. Stop chasing after what is enough for now that leaves you hungry later. Seek out what will sustain you even when the physical cupboard is bare. Nurture and nourish your body. But do not forget to feed your soul and your spirit. Spiritual hunger may be hard to recognize; it devours the person in need then reaches out to ravage everyone in its path. Feed your spirit and your soul.