“Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4 (NIV)
One of the things I like about Jesus is His great insight into the human soul. Long before the advent of modern psychology, Jesus already pointed to the longing, yearnings and deepest needs of the human soul. For example, in the account of His temptation in the Gospel of Mathew, Jesus stated, in response to the tempter, that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. In other words, a human person not only needs “bread” to nourish his body but also “bread” to nourish his soul…interesting. Without these two kinds of “bread”, we will go hungry, either physically or spiritually. We both need the bread from below and the bread from above to truly and completely meet our needs. It is no wonder that man naturally longs and yearns for the “transcendent”. The existential cry of the soul testifies to need for something beyond this world, something this world cannot offer. This natural cry also testifies to the pervading absence of something we fundamentally need to experience; real and deep satisfaction. This existential cry was popularized and utterly expressed in the 60’s through the popular song by the Rolling Stones titled “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”.
On another occasion, Jesus again referred to this existential cry though the metaphor of thirst and water. He stated to a woman, (Jn. 4:13-14): “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Again, like the metaphor of hunger and bread, not only do we need physical water, but also spiritual water in order to quench the totality of the human thirst. On many other occasions, Jesus touched on these fundamental existential needs but we cannot cover more in this short article.
Here is the kicker, not only Jesus had great insights into the human soul and its existential needs, He also claimed that He alone can truly address these needs and provide the true satisfaction we all thirst and hunger for, and meet our deepest desires for meaning, purpose and significance. Jesus claimed to be this bread and water from above that can truly satisfy.
In the gospel of John, chapter 7, Jesus sums up and epitomizes his redemptive existential provisions for whoever would come to Him: “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this, He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.