I’ll never forget the first time I saw a loaf of bread growing mold. I was completely disgusted and remember saying something to the effect of: “Ew! It’s rotten bread!” Then I remember my dad explaining:
“Actually, if it’s molding that means it was good for you. Things that spoil quicker are better for you than things that sit on the shelf for years and years. If they don’t get rotten that means they have artificial preservatives.”
I couldn’t understand this at all. If I compared a strawberry-flavored gummy snack to an imperfectly-shaped, browning-on-one-edge, actual strawberry, as a kid I would have picked the gummy snack every time. Not just because it’s sweeter, but also because it looks prettier and lasts longer. I’ve never seen mold grow on a gummy snack. But of course we all know my dad was right: the less attractive real strawberry is better for you because it is natural and (hopefully) chemical-free.
I was thinking about this concept of perishable things versus imperishable things and Jesus’ promise of eternal life. I think our inclination toward beautiful, imperishable things (like gummy snacks) is an illustration of our eternal nature in a fallen world. We want things to last forever, but we’re forced to manufacture ways with chemical preservatives. Like the Twinkie, who along with the cockroach is said be the only thing that could survive a nuclear holocaust.
Jesus has a fascinating conversation with some of the folks from the group of 5,000 he miraculously fed in John 6. They’re basically looking for another bread handout, but Jesus says to them, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” They don’t get it and ask Jesus for a sign from heaven like Moses manna in the wilderness. So he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you to the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to this world.” They still don’t get it. They ask him for a piece of this magical, beautiful, nonperishable bread. So finally Jesus hits them with the kicker:
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Jesus is the imperishable bread. He is his own perpetual nutrient source – no artificial preservatives needed. Unlike a Twinkie or a gummy snack, Jesus is both imperishable and eternally nutritious. What we long for in a fallen world is found in Him and in Him alone.