I am a food person. I have probably never really been 'hungry' not in the real sense of the word. Even when I have done extended fasts, there was always food nearby. I am comfortably middle class and always have been.
The discipline of fasting is easier to me then the harder work of eating in moderation. I do not know if it is my "wiring" or habits picked up from the American environment of abundance. I do not, based on my observance of the bodies I encounter each day, think I am alone in this.
Jesus says, "Do no labor for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you..." I take such words seriously. First of all, it is easy to forget that His experience was different from ours. Very different. He did not live in a time or place of abundant food. Many of the people with whom He came in contact were third world poor and no doubt often malnourished. There was little need for weight loss clinics or liposuction because there were not cokes and potato chips to snack on. [ours is a different struggle] I am certain that Jesus' audiences had been hungry, truly hungry, and to hear Him speak about 'food that perishes' went to the core of their life. Face it, the really poor struggle each day to get food to eat. No storehouse. No refrigerator.
This is not a call to guilt. When third world people come to this country and succeed, their children adopt our practices. Like I said, ours is a different struggle.
Yet if Jesus could look the hungry in the eyes and say, "do not pursue this food, but pursue a different kind of food" then Jesus is offering something real. What is it?
Himself. Identifying with the Manna (from the Israelites' desert experience), Jesus says that He is food. Food for 'the ages" or eternity. Food which will last forever.
Such food matters, especially in this time when death continues to take its victims in spite of our advances and improvements. If in other times and places people died too young for lack of food, today too much food kills people too young. But, truth be told, even the right amount of the best foods can only delay death. It is inevitable.
So what are you hungry for: soul-hungry, heart and core of your identity hungry? Are you willing to face your hunger, to dig deeper than the pangs in your belly to face the eternal hunger?
In two weeks we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus thought He was the answer to what you need. Are you willing to ponder Him and seek Him? Or are you thinking pizza, or a salad, or whatever you consume this day is enough to make sense of your life?