Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matthew 5:8 ESV]
Part of the eternal characteristic of God is His desire and willingness to give. His gifts are neither random or arbitrary but designed to fit the need and personality of the recipient. He does not give everything we want or expect but what we need and which helps us know Him both intellectually and intimately. Here is a conundrum our expectations and assumptions place upon the perfectly fitting gift of God. We want our way, our stuff, our desires, not His. But our way is death and His gift is life.
Speaking to the people He has just fed and who are seeking Him for more physical food to fill their bellies Jesus tells them to pursue food which has eternal benefit not that which give temporary filling. “Do not work 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]. He wants to give them everything they need to live for eternity and they only want that which will meet their immediate, sensual needs. They want that which perishes, which does nothing for their eternal selves because their focus is upon their belly not their soul.
Jesus tells them what to do.
Honestly, it is hard for the corrupted self to focus on eternity when the stomach growls and the head swims for lack of food. This does not give us permission to make food, or anything we perceive as a right or need, into an idol or something which must be had. God knows we need food. He provides food. Perhaps not the food we want but what we need. Perhaps not in the amount we want. But there comes a time when He calls into eternity when we will no longer need food. Or anything of this world. Ultimately, we need Him more than anything this world offers.
Again, Jesus is challenging the way we think. Think more about eternity and what has eternal value than anything, including the most basic need of food. We have to think of the practical things of our life. But, thinking more of eternity is not practical. In fact, those who think more about God and Jesus and their place before Him in eternity open themselves to the ridicule and derision of the world. This is not a comfortable place. Like being hungry is not comfortable. Like being a Christian in most of the world is not comfortable.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” [John 6:32-33 ESV]
They were talking with and listening to the gift of God to them. No, they were not listening. They did not want to listen. Which means they did not hear what He was saying. They could not hear because they were unwilling not unable. God gave them His image so they could hear and understand. They chose to not hear, to grumble and complain and walk away from Him. God gave Himself and told them to work for eternal food, which is His Son.