Verse 35: It is intimated that those who truly come to Christ are hungry and thirsty. The hunger and thirst that they have is for that righteousness that Jesus speaks of in Mat. 5:6. Realizing they are sinners and completely void of the righteousness which God requires, (a perfect righteousness), they hunger and thirst for a right standing before God. When they hear the gospel they see that Jesus is their righteousness. He is their right standing before God. He lived His life as a representative, a substitute for them, keeping God's law perfectly on their behalf. The moment they believe, they receive the life long perfect record of the obedience of Christ, as a gift, credited to their account, as well as the atoning sacrifice He made for them on the cross for every time they broke His law.
Verse 36: Jesus had said "whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall not thirst." Weren't these people coming to Him? And didn't they believe that He was their Messiah? Earlier, after He had fed them with the loaves and the fish, they were going to make Him King "by force," because they saw this great miracle and said, "This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world,"Deuteronomy 18:15-18.
Deu 18:15 "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers--it is to him you shall listen--
Deu 18:18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
Both Peter and Steven mention this Prophet, a reference to the Messiah, in their sermons in Acts.
Act 3:22 Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.
Act 7:37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, 'God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.'
So if these people believed that Jesus was the Prophet, in fulfillment of Deut. 18:15-18, and if because of this they were going to make Him king by force, didn't they truly believe in Him? And weren't they truly coming to Him as well?
Verse 36 The answer this question according to verse 36 is no. These people, although coming to Jesus, were not coming to Him for Him, but for what He could do for them. Earlier in verse 26 Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves." These people were coming to Jesus, not because they saw this great miracle, confirming Him to be their Messiah, but because they saw Him as someone who could meet their physical needs.
Isn't this like many people in the Church today? The Church pews are filled Sunday after Sunday with people seeking Jesus the same way the people in this passage were seeking Him. They seek Jesus not because they want a relationship with Him, not because they desire Him, but because they desire what He can give them. They see Jesus as a bridge to get their wants met. People come to Him for a better life, or better health, or because they really need a job, or a better job, or a promotion, or they want wealth, or prosperity, or to just give them a better life in general. This is the natural way that men come to Jesus, but is this the saving way? Not according to this verse. This is why the work of salvation is all of God. The Holy Spirit must do a work in our hearts in order for us to come to Christ in true saving faith.
This does not mean that we are perfect when we come, or that we see Christ perfectly, or that our faith is huge. This means that we see ourselves as sinners. We know that the wrath of God is on us and we desire to have it lifted. We hunger and thirst for righteousness, but know that we have no righteousness of our own to save us. We cry out to Christ for mercy and we find a Savior ready and willing to save us and to grant us His perfect righteousness in order to give us a right standing before God. The reason that these people were not coming to Christ in a saving way, is because the were coming to Him to have their temporal, physical needs met, and not to have their eternal, spiritual needs met.
At the end of this chapter Peter gives the proper response. Verse 66 says that many of the Lords disciples left Him, no longer walking with Him because of the things that He taught, so Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you want to go away as well? Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. " Coming to Christ for eternal life, and not just to have our physical needs met is the saving way to come to Him.