Giving they say is one of the love languages and it is true that gifts are usually associated with the most significant moments in our lives. I wonder what gift you treasure the most. For me it must be my wedding ring because of the love and commitment associated with it. In an important sense the ring represents the gift of life together. Other gifts actually bring life such as the gift of a transplant. Similarly, for those dying from famine the gift of food and water is also the gift of life. To the extent that some gifts prevent life threatening disease they also are a gift of life, I am thinking of such gifts as toilet twinning or water pumps and mosquito nets. When we join in with schemes, frequently at Christmas time, run by Charities such as TEARFUND or OXFAM to buy a gift card that will buy a water sanitary kit or even school books for a child, we are in a sense giving life.
The people of Israel were in need of such a gift in the wilderness. They were refugees from Egypt with no settled place of their own, unwanted by surrounding nations. To go back was to go back to slavery, punishment and for many death. They had no food. The people then constructed a false reality where they reimagined their slavery as the good life. ‘There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted,’ Exodus 16.3 they said. ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day”.’ Exodus 16.4
The crowd asked Jesus for a sign, ‘that you will give that we may see it and believe you.’ John 6.30 The irony being that they had just witnessed the sign themselves and not recognized it. The crowd quoted Moses and the gift of manna. Jesus then corrected their thinking, ‘It is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread and gives life to the world.’ John 6.32,33
The crowd wanted a gift, they wanted food to sustain their life, but their thoughts were limited to a life that would end. The gift that Jesus wanted to give was eternal life and that is only received as a gift. He is that gift of life. The bread of life and the water of life are metaphors for eternal life. As he goes on in Chapter 6 to elaborate how he is the bread of life and the gift of eternal life he states again, ‘I tell you the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.’ John 6.47,48
To avoid any potential confusion, Jesus does not mean it is wrong to work for your living and provide for oneself, family and dependents, far from it. The bible is clear we have a responsibility to work and contribute. 2 Thessalonians 3.10-12 Here Jesus is urging the crowd to receive the greater gift of eternal life that is only received as a gift through faith. We are incapable of earning it.
Have we received the gift of eternal life through faith?
Do we take regular time to be thankful for the gift of eternal life?
How has the gift of eternal life, reoriented our priorities?
Jesus Christ / eternal life