Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal. [John 6:27 ESV]
Man can live in this physical world and even exist for all eternity without having a spiritually alive relationship with God. But man cannot really live without God. For people created in the image of God living is more than day-to-day existence. Having His image allows us to go beyond the mundane, which we still endure, to vitality and growth with benefits given now which grow in scope and substance for eternity. He created us to fulfill a timeless purpose beginning at birth in the physical world and culminating in eternity. In Him is life. Away from Him is existence without life.
Physical life is impossible without God for “he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” [Matthew 5:45 ESV]. He has set the universe to follow principles He established which work regardless of a person’s love or hatred for God. He distinguishs between those who are His and those who are not, giving eternal life to the former and withholding eternal live from the latter.
Yet, our physical existences is permeated, bent and corrupted by sin. Even our flesh rebels against God. Those who are His have His Spirit, a guarantee of eternal life. But, this having, this belonging to Him, this being filled with the Spirit exacerbates the consequences of sin in the thinking of the hearts of those declared righteous, revealing the absolute need for God, both temporarily and eternally.
We need Him for more than just for physical life. We need the spiritual nourishment He offers so we might have a strong, binding relationship with He who created and sustains us. Sin continually reveals our fundamental need for God. We were created to have a personal relationship Him and hunger and thirst for that relationship when it is broken and we are separated from Him. The drive for a spiritual relationship is so intense those who hate God will try to fill themselves with any spiritual thing opening themselves to the demonic, condemning themselves to eternal existence without the absolute Source of spiritual life. We cannot feed ourselves. We must be fed by God. Empty spiritual calories might give the illusion of fulfillment but only accelerate starvation.
Jesus is emphatic when He states He is the only source of life. We need physical food, water, air to continue living physically. But, the God of the universe established these physical laws and, at His will, can suspend them for a moment in our time. In Daniel, the three thrown in the fire did not gasp for air but stood with a fourth. “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods” [Daniel 3:25 ESV]. We can only speculate who the fourth person was, maybe a theophany, Christ before His incarnation and birth, or an angel of God. We do not need to speculate God sustained them, suspending the physical laws of the universe for a moment. So intense and hot was the fire it killed the soldiers commanded to throw them in it, but not them.
For the woman at the well, doing the mundane but necessary task of drawing water, Jesus offered true water.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” [John 4:13-14 ESV].
That which we need in this world is only a dim reflection of what God says is necessary for true life. Eternal, spiritual nourishment is a right relationship with God. Jesus’ characterizes those who are His in this world as needing and seeking righteousness with the intensity of hunger and thirst.
Even the physical food we eat sustains us for only a short time. Again and again, we must eat or we die. God gave Israel, wandering through the desert on their way to the promised land, manna. When they rebelled against Him and were punished with 40 years of wandering in the desert He continued to sustain them with manna. When they grumbled and complained, rebelled by worshiping false gods, did not trust Him who brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and miracle after miracle, He continued supplying their needs miraculously, every day, with manna. Until they entered the promised land He gave them manna. Once in the promised land He continued to give them food, promised them food, as long as they followed Him with their whole hearts.
Jesus tells us the same. We must want Him with our whole hearts, hungering and thirsting for the righteousness which is only His.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” [John 6:44-51 ESV]
For those separated from Him righteousness is a gift given us by God. Enoch sought God with his whole heart, contrary to all who lived at that time. Solomon asked for, and was given, wisdom, knowing only God could lead Israel through him. But, he became unwise, foolish, enticed by the temptations of the world and falling. Ezra, returning from exile, taught the people, and even forced them to learn and practice the righteousness of God. Luke wanted to know the truth of what he was hearing, talked to people, eyewitnesses, studied and examined their testimony, compiled and wrote the truth of what he learned. Each sought God and was given that which only God can and will give.
God calls the whole person not just a part of them. It is the whole person who seeks God and the whole person who finds Him. We cannot divide ourselves into various sections, separating our lives into differing parts, one area remaining untouched by another. Who we are is reflected in every area and everything we do and say. All of the evidence of our whole person is judged by God, evidence of our hunger and thirst for righteousness rendered worthy of praise or of condemnation. God will show Himself and His pleasure to those willing to see, and fill with righteousness those willing to be filled supplying eternal satisfaction.
Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is only the midpoint of the description of who the Christian is according to God. It is the evidence of our lives which show the intent of our desires. It is the evidence of our lives which show the satisfaction, the filling of God’s righteousness in those who are His.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. [Matthew 5:6 ESV]