walk in the word
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” —John 4:31-34
Jesus enjoyed meals. Throughout the Gospels, He made many significant statements and worked many miracles in the context of a shared table. Whether it was the feeding of the five thousand or the Last Supper, we can see Jesus liked sitting down to a satisfying meal of food and fellowship.
But eating wasn’t the central motivating factor in His life. Sometimes He went without food for extended periods (like His fast in the wilderness; see Matthew 4). In the passage today, Jesus chose not to eat while the disciples took time for a meal in town. They left Him by the watering hole and returned later. Meanwhile, Jesus had an extended, life-transforming conversation with the woman at the well.
Apparently, the disciples brought back something back for Him and were encouraging Jesus to eat. “But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’” His answer caught them by surprise. “So the disciples said to one another ‘Has anyone brought him something to eat?’” They could not conceive He had not gratified His hunger for food. They thought, Man, when we’re hungry we eat! How can He not be hungry?
When He told them He was eating a different kind of food, they must have wondered, Did He do a miracle? Did He find some food? Has He been holding out on us?
Knowing their thoughts, Jesus told them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” His priorities put obeying His Father far above satisfying mere physical hunger. Jesus hungered most for His Father’s pleasure. Here, as elsewhere, His view of His role was, “Not my will, but My Father’s will be done.” He had a task to finish for God and skipping a few meals wasn’t going to be a problem. Some things are more important than food.
By far, the most satisfying times in life are when we sense we have done as the Lord wanted us to do and served as He wanted us to serve. Those moments remind us that any attempt to satisfy self apart from doing the will of God is inevitably not only a frustrating and empty pursuit, but also creates a very discouraging result.
God is not interested in being our casual interest or an occasional appetite. If we know Him at all, He provokes a hunger in us for Himself that should be apparent in our lives. So where does hunger for God’s will and His work fit in your list of priorities—above or below food? It’s easy to let the tempting, tangible, physical appetites distract us from what really satisfies. Hunger for God is the best kind of hunger.
When did you last skip a meal simply because you were involved in serving God’s purposes? In what ways was that “loss” significant?
What are some ways in which you express your hunger for God?
Lord, I know You have pictured eternal life as a place of feasting, not fasting, but I also realize food can become an unhealthy priority in my life. I can eat poorly and too much. Forgive me when I let those physical needs dictate unhealthy and disobedient actions. Lead me to a better and healthier view of food so my physical appetite can always be set aside in pursuit of what You desire from me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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