The bread of life is our foretaste of perfect satisfaction.
To help the audience understand how desire works.
Today we have our third week in the bread of life series. We have been using the induvial ingredients of bread to helps us see why bread is so important to Jesus and why it’s so important for life in his name. The first week we learned about water and last week we learned about wheat. This week we talk about salt.
I remember it was a hot August day I learned as young man just how crucial salt is for our survival. During my first football practices the coach told us how water was not enough on these hot days when sweat was pouring out of us. We would lose something crucial if we just tried to stay hydrated with just water. No, this sermon isn’t about Gatorade but about what makes Gatorade worth drinking: Salt.
The human need and desire for salt can be traced from ancient times all the way to today. It has been used as a currency in some cultures. Even now in our companion diocese of Nzara priests are paid in soap and salt. Jean Martin, don’t get any ideas. Salt has value for many reasons but one of them is because we need it to survive.
This need has been coded into our DNA. Our desire for salt is buried deep within in us so that even when we can’t articulate our desire, we instinctually search it out. And this is where our very real need for salt can betray. Companies know that our desires are a great means of exploitation. After sweets, salty snacks are the next best seller. Junk foods are loaded with salt. Worst of all, some beverages will intentionally have sodium in them so that the drinker grows ever thirstier for the drink they think is quenching their desire.
Desire and salt. There are cravings in life which we can articulate and there are some that manifest themselves beyond our ability to explain. The world has grown up around our desires, our desire to be satisfied. The only problem is we don’t stay satisfied. Even the most wholesome and satisfying things, perhaps a warm, hearty slice of bread, are fleeting. Our hunger will return, our desire again will need to be satisfied. There will never be enough.
Many of us go through life in constant pursuit of our unarticulated desires. We think “if only I can get this, I will be happy.” “Once I get through this season of life, I will be happy.” “Once I get this one last piece of the puzzle, I will have life figured out and I will be satisfied.” Or we simply follow a path that we are promised will lead us to satisfaction.
But seldom do we make it there. Another object of our desire pops u and what was enough yesterday is not enough today. We come by this honestly, though. Our whole economy programs us to think that if we just get this one product, all of our dreams will come true and good times will be here to stay. That is until they need to sell us the next thing.
But the bread of life is different, we are told. You see, the people of Jesus’ day also knew this chase for satisfaction. They were hungry for bread, yes. We hear how they were chasing Jesus around for bread earlier in this chapter. But they also desired a fulfilment of God’s promises, specifically the promised Messiah. For hundreds and hundreds of years they wanted and waited for the promised deliverer of Israel. Many claimed to be the satisfaction to their desire, only to be killed or corrupted.
But Jesus promises to be different. He will satisfy forever. And here those promised are met.
Here, at this table, we are given the very bread of life. Here we are given the perfect satisfaction of our desires. Here we are given Jesus Christ. He does not want us for our money, he does not want to give us just enough so that we always want more. He wants to be the end of our desires. He wants us to know perfect satisfaction in the only place and person we can. Our desires shape our priorities and our priorities shape our lives.
In the week ahead, perhaps when you are salting your potatoes or snaking on peanuts, I hope you will take stock of your desires. What is it that you are chasing right now that believe will finally satisfy you? Is there an event, a relationship, or a goal that you think will be the end of all your desires? Are you orienting your life around this pursuit? What have you learned today that might help you reorient your life?
Can you imagine your life without hunger, without aimless desire? Can you picture yourself no longer seeking the bread that always leaves you wanting more but, instead, giving away the bread of life to those who hunger like you once did?
This is the meal Jesus calls us too when we are ready to lay aside our other desire.
Are you hungry yet?