Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.” – John 6:35-36
There is an important link between actions and results.
If I take action to eat better and exercise more, the expected result should be better health, energy, and stamina. Likewise, if I don’t action to change a lazy lifestyle, I shouldn’t expect to feel better or have more energy. In fact, I should expect to have less of the benefits.
People who take action and go back to college or graduate school to earn a degree do so hoping to see that result in better job opportunities or a new career. Or the result could simply be the sense of achievement they gain.
Every action (or inaction) results in something.
This is especially true in the spiritual realm.
One characteristic of God that often gets overlooked is his bias towards action. During the seven days of creation, he worked for six and rested for one. Here’s a short list of actions that are connected to God:
- He gives
- He redeems
- He sacrifices
- He restores
- He mends
- He commands
- He renews
- He leads
- He heals
- He forgives
All of these actions of God have direct and specific results attached to them.
- He gives … and I receive the benefits.
- He redeems … and I have a new owner.
- He forgives … and my sins are remembered no more.
Belief isn’t just a mental concept that takes up space in our gray matter. True belief is action — it’s believing. It’s mental movement that goes against our natural way of thinking and doing. If I believe God is gracious toward me, that belief will activate both gratitude to God and graciousness towards others. And by taking the action of treating others with more graciousness results in less conflict and more harmony.
Actions lead to results.
In John 6, Jesus is teaching his audience about the connection between actions and results.
Their lack of belief wasn’t caused by a lack of observation or information. Jesus tells them, “you have seen me and still you do not believe.”
They had seen him feed over 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. They had seen the disciples pick up the leftovers.
Don’t miss this: it’s possible to see Jesus in action and still not believe in him.
This is a good time to draw a few distinctions. Jesus is not saying that they don’t believe in him in the sense that they don’t believe he existed. That’s obvious.
Based on the evidence, I believe George Washington was an actual person and the first president of the United States.
On the other hand, I don’t believe in George Washington the way I believe in Jesus.
I place my trust in Jesus to do things I cannot do.
I believe George Washington existed. I have no trust that he can forgive my sins, restore my purpose, or secure my eternity.
When Jesus says, “You have seen me and still you do not believe” — that’s what he is talking about. They have seen him and yet they are unwilling to place their trust in him. They’re not ready to accept him as the Son of God, and with that comes all that the Son of God does.
So … back to actions and results.
In verse 35, Jesus mentions two actions and two results:
- Whoever comes to me (action) will never go hungry (result).
- Whoever believes in me (action) will never be thirsty (result).
Hungry people could be standing within arm’s length of Jesus and remain hungry. It was true on that day back in John 6. Coming to Jesus is more than a physical action. (Thank God, or all of us would remain forever hungry!).
Coming to Jesus requires humility. We must humble ourselves and acknowledge that we cannot feed ourselves the spiritual food we need to survive.
Coming to Jesus also requires surrender. I am no longer in charge of the shopping list. My food choice is prescribed for me. Even where I go shopping is not arbitrary.
But for the proud person or the person unwilling to give up control, the result is perpetual hunger.
To never go hungry requires action.
The same is true for thirst.
People who believe Jesus was a good teacher and nothing more will remain thirsty. People who believe he was born of a virgin but refuse to trust him for guidance will also remain thirsty.
Christians who believe the orthodox tenets of Christianity but never learn to walk in faith (trust), will never have their thirst satisfied.
To never thirst requires action.
Unfortunately, many people in our culture simply want things to drop in their lap. It’s true in every area from finances to health to spirituality.
According to Jesus, there are no shortcuts to avoid taking action and still get the desired results.