“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
The LORD Jesus Christ said this to the multitudes the day after He had fed five thousand men using five loaves and two small fishes. From that meal was gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. After, Jesus went up into a mountain alone, and His disciples took ship to cross the sea of Galilee. Later, Jesus walked to His disciples on the sea. The next day, the people whom He had fed took ships and followed Him, looking for more.
They confronted Him on the other side of the sea. Jesus used the opportunity to point their thinking in a different direction. In John 6:26, 27 we read, “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” What Jesus meant was they were not following Him for the right reason. They were following Him because of the food He gave them, not because of His miracles. Jesus’ miracles proved that He is God. While food sustains this life, Jesus said that that food will perish.
The crowd saw what Jesus meant. In verse 28 we read, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” or, to put it another way, “What does God want of us?” In verse 29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” Then, in verse 30, we read, “They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?” Not even twenty-four hours before they had eaten what Jesus had provided. He fed them using only five loaves and two fishes. What more of a sign did they want? The significance of what He had done seems to have been lost on them. Or, like the “What have you done for me lately?” philosophy, they were not satisfied with the sign He had given. This was why Jesus was teaching them. He wanted to turn their thinking away from food and to Himself.
Then the conversation turned to manna. The people remembered that their fathers had eaten manna in the desert, just like they had eaten the bread that Jesus supplied in the desert. But Jesus reminded them that their fathers died, even though they had eaten the manna. Scripture tells us that a day came when the manna stopped. So, what Jesus said in verse 27, telling them to not labor for “meat which perisheth”, was true even of the manna. Jesus said that He was the bread of life, and that He was the bread from heaven. So, the next thing He said in verse 27, that there is “meat which endureth unto everlasting life.”, was a reference to Himself. He was telling them that they should be seeking Him.
So, Verse 47, above, repeats the concept He stated in verse 29. Everlasting life, and the source of it, is what He had been teaching to the crowd. It is what He was offering to those who would listen and believe Him. Reading the story through reveals that the people doubted, didn’t believe, what He was saying. Some knew His family, and wondered how He could say such things. Afterward even some of His disciples abandoned Him.
Through this Jesus’ point was that mankind’s focus needs to be turned from that which is temporary, to the eternal. Eternal life is available to all that believe in Jesus. Continuing focus on the temporal, while ignoring Jesus, brings eternal death, or separation from God. As Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Eternal life is freely given by believing in Jesus. How much more important is that than temporary food?
Hear ye the glad good news from Heav’n?
Life to a death-doomed race is giv’n!
Christ on the cross for you and me
Purchased a pardon full and free.
He that believeth, he that believeth,
He that believeth hath everlasting life;
He that believeth, he that believeth,
He that believeth hath everlasting life.
When we were lost, the Son of God
Made an atonement by His blood:
When we the glad good news believe,
Then the atonement we receive.
Why not believe the glad good news?
Why still the voice of God refuse?
Why not believe, when God hath said,
All, all our guilt on Him was laid.
Refrain (Philip P. Bliss)