In John 4, Jesus has met a Samaritan woman at a well and told her of the living water that he provides. It’s also a passage where we see this woman respond to Jesus by telling others about him. She’s the first evangelist to Christ in north Israel.
The woman asked the people “can this be the Christ?” She certainly doesn’t know everything about Jesus. But she’s gone to her people and told them about this man. She draws intrigue from her people.
John 4:30 says: They went out of the town and were coming to him.
A heavenly nourishment
The Samaritan woman has left, and the story takes us back to Jesus and his disciples.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”
Jesus refers to food that he has and the disciples do not understand his reference.
Throughout John’s Gospel, there are many other instances where Jesus metaphorically talks of something from the natural world in a spiritual way and the audience misses the point.
When Jesus was at the temple and he said that they could destroy the temple and he would raise it up in three days. He was referring to his death and resurrection and his body as the true temple of God. The people just thought he was talking about a building.
When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about being born again. Jesus was referring to Spiritual rebirth but Nicodemus thought Jesus was talking about physical birth.
When Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman and talked of living water he provided and she initially thought he was simply referring to water.
And here again, Jesus refers to food and the disciples are like “did someone bring him a sandwich? Do they deliver pizza over here at the well?”
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
Jesus is making a reference to the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 8.
The Israelites have been in the desert for 40 years and it has been the Lord who has sustained the people.
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know,
that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Jesus finds his sustenance in his earthly ministry in fulfilling the will of God.
That is his food. That is his nourishment. Man does not live on bread alone but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Jesus lived in accordance with the divine plan to fulfill the divine mission in the world.
What are we living for?
The mission of God is everything.
Living on purpose
I say all the time that the purpose of life is not happiness, it’s knowing and serving God. And we serve him through being part of God’s mission in the world.
But my point of that is not that we are called to drudgery and begrudging submission.
Rather, the point is that true life is found from the Lord and from serving him.
Jesus said “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
And that should be the food for which we all long.
Borrowing an idea from Charles Spuregon, we so often like to think that if we could do exactly what we wanted, if we could orchestrate our lives exactly as we wished, then we would be happy.
What this verse is saying is the opposite.
Happiness is not about what we want, what we desire, having our way. Happiness, meaning, purpose is found in going away from ourselves and what we want and following the Lord and his will.
We are sustained by living for God and his will to accomplish his work. There is no greater sustenance than that. There is no greater nourishment than that.
Illustration – hoarding food
Jesus says: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
So often, our focus is on our physical needs. And not just the bare minimum of our needs. We have fridges and pantries. Most of us in this country have days worth of food.
I think of coronavirus. When the crisis began, there was widespread reporting of people going to grocery stores. Some were hoarding and buying massive quantities. Locally, stores were running out of food. There’s still a shortage of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I’m not judging that. I’d be hypocritical. I want to the store too.
But I think it’s illustrative of the inherent concern we have for our physical needs. It’s a typical human behavior in a crisis to want to stock up on food.
Food is important.
But I ask: “how different would the world be if the people of God took our Spiritual needs with the same seriousness and urgency as we treated our physical needs?”
An urgency to go to God. An urgency to live out our faith. An urgency to rejoice in the goodness of God. To pray to God. To overcome sin. To study God’s Word.
Man does not live by bread alone.
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