God created us to have needs. As human beings, we all have a number of basic needs: food, water, air, shelter, sleep, and companionship among them. Our ultimate need, however, is God. In his great wisdom, God designed us so that each one of our basic needs as people points to our need for him.
For example, we need sleep, and sleep reminds us that we are not God. For several hours every day, we are completely helpless and vulnerable, and therefore the world cannot depend upon us. Everything depends upon the one who never sleeps. Our need for air reminds us that we are fragile beings, dependent upon something outside of ourselves to keep us alive. Every breath points to the truth that God, the Holy Spirit who is breath in and of himself, provides us with the breath of life that truly sustains us. Our need for companionship reminds us that it isn’t good for us to be alone. We were created to have relationships with others, and ultimately with the one who is relationship himself. Our need for shelter reminds us of our needs for protection and security, and that no shelter in this life is strong enough to protect us against every disaster and enemy. So we are pointed to the truth that God is our refuge and shelter, that we find ultimate protection and security in him.
We also need food and water constantly to survive. Have you ever thought about why God created food the way he did? He could have made it so we didn’t need food. He could have made food a perfunctory experience that we just had to endure, like popping a vitamin every day to simply stay alive. God made food to be enjoyed, however, to look good and smell good and taste good. He made food to be the center of fellowship with others and with him.
In the Old Testament, God gave his people Israel three sacred meals to celebrate every year: Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. As a church he has given us the Lord’s Supper to celebrate regularly, pointing to our fellowship with him and with each other. At the end of the age, we are told that Christ will gather all of his followers to experience the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, a great feast where we will celebrate God our Father and our salvation in Christ.
God also made sure that the satisfaction and the fullness we have from food is only temporary. We continually need to eat again and again and again. No matter how much we eat, we can never be ultimately satisfied. We always hunger again, and the reason for that is because nothing in this life was designed to ultimately satisfy us besides God himself. Our basic needs are important, but they pale in importance to our ultimate need — to know God in and through Christ. Our God is so compassionate toward us, so good and gracious and loving toward us, that he longs not only that we would have life, but that we would be satisfied. Because of this, he works to satisfy us, ultimately, with himself.
Jesus doesn’t just give us the food that satisfies. He is the food that satisfies because he is the Bread of Life. As he says in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John tells us that the crowd misunderstood Jesus’ point, and they just wanted bread from him because they were hungry. Yet Jesus tells them that if they eat from him, they will never go hungry again. When we come to Jesus we will be filled with God; we will be satisfied. Jesus is the bread of life who meets our deepest need, beyond our greatest imagining, forever.