Have you ever been without food for long? I can’t say I have too often. I’ve fasted here and there for doctors appointments, but honestly, I’m usually nibbling on something every so often. Most of us are the same–except for those times when something has our attention, right? You know those moments when you’re so absorbed in a project, playing a game, or reading a book that you forget to eat? Or maybe something so urgent has come up, that you simply don’t have time to stop and eat? There are those occasions when, in a sense, another hunger leads you to forget bodily hunger for a while as you try to satisfy the deeper hunger you have.
This is what Calvin says is going on in the feeding of the 5,000 in John:
Here we see, in the first place, how eager was the desire of the people to hear Christ, since all of them, forgetting themselves, take no concern about spending the night in a desert place. So much the less excusable is our indifference, or rather our sloth, when we are so far from preferring the heavenly doctrine to the gnawings of hunger, that the slightest interruptions immediately lead us away from meditation on the heavenly life. Very rarely does it happen that Christ finds us free and disengaged from the entanglements of the world. So far is every one of us from being ready to follow him to a desert mountain, that scarcely one in ten can endure to receive him, when he presents himself at home in the midst of comforts. And though this disease prevails nearly throughout the whole world, yet it is certain that no man will be fit for the kingdom of God until, laying aside such delicacy, he learn to desire the food of the soul so earnestly that his belly shall not hinder him.
-Commentary on John 6:2
Calvin’s words cut deep here. These people were willing to sleep outside, weather the elements, go without food or drink, just to hear Jesus speak a few words. I can’t remember the last time I just sat, engulfed in the text, so drawn to Jesus that I could have tuned the world out, suffered discomfort without notice, as long as I could feast on the Word. Instead, I’m lucky if I make through my reading without a quick jump onto Twitter, or a break for a snack, or…you get the picture. I’m hungry all the time, but never hungry enough for the one thing that counts.
Thing is, and I don’t mean to assume here, but I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one out there with this. If Calvin’s complaining about this circa 15-whenever-he-wrote-this, I can’t imagine the situation’s improved. No, we live in a distracted age–even more, we live in an age where everything is offered up to satiate our needs. The problem is, most of it’s cotton-candy and we consume so much of it, our palates are ruined for the life-giving nourishment of the Gospel.
Take a moment and ask yourself “Am I hungry enough?” And then, if you’re like me, ask God to give you a hunger–the proper hunger that would lead you to a desert mountain to follow him, to know him, to hear from him. Or, at least one strong enough to ignore your cell-phone for 15 minutes and pray in the midst of all the distracting cotton-candy delicacies of modern life.
Soli Deo Gloria