35: Forever Food (John 4:31-38)
35. Forever Food: Provision in Purpose
“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.’” (John 4:31-32)
The disciples had gone into the town looking for food for Jesus. They had left Him by the well because He was tired. Maybe they had a discussion about what food to buy Him. Whether they had or not, they certainly returned with food to eat. However, Jesus is no longer sitting tired and hungry at the side of the well. He is fully engaged in another round of ministry.
The disciples are concerned about Him. They “urge” Him to eat. But Jesus is not living under the demands of His flesh and blood needs, He is being refreshed by something much more lasting than mere food. He is doing His Father’s will.
“ 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 4:33)
Jesus is not saying that as long as you are doing the Father’s will and finishing it, you do not need to eat. But He is trying to teach His disciples a vital lesson. It was the lesson that the people of Israel failed to learn and wandered in the desert for 40 years as a result. God graciously provided for their physical needs, food and water, but they continued to be bound by the concerns and demands of their physical needs.
The lesson they were supposed to learn was that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. This does not merely mean that we all need to listen and obey the words of God if we are going to have the right direction in life. This means what it literally says. Man was never supposed to just live on physical food because we are not primarily physical beings. We are spiritual beings, made in the image of God and with the breath of God in us.
If we believe and receive Jesus, we are made spiritually alive again and we need now to learn to live like spiritual beings, like the children of God. Our spirit needs refreshment every bit as much as our physical body and it is much more important. We need to feed our spirits. And the spirit is fed by doing and finishing the will of God. In other words, by hearing and fully obeying the Word of God.
The life of God does not just flow aimlessly in many different directions. The life of God flows through the will of God. The river of God flows in the direction of His purposes. If we are out of His purposes for our lives we are out of the river of His spiritual provision for us (and maybe the physical provision too).
Jesus told us, during the sermon on the mount, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness “all these things” necessary for our physical wellbeing get added to us (Matthew 6:33).
Jesus is always in the river of God’s purposes and provision and He is trying to train the disciples to live there too.
Jesus could have been resting at the well, He was physically tired and hungry. But His Father wasn’t finished and so, tired as He was, Jesus didn’t stop either, trusting that the Lord would replenish and refresh Him. He understood what He wanted His disciples to understand, so that their lives and ministry wouldn’t be bound and restricted by their physical limitations.
IF GOD IS STILL WORKING THEN THE RIVER IS STILL FLOWING.
Jesus goes on to explain what He saw His Father doing, which kept Him going too. He saw His Father in the harvest field. With the physical eye, all you could see was a woman at the well. But Jesus saw His Father in the harvest field and so He went to work with Him.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” (John 4:35)
Jesus knew that not only was there purpose for the worker in the harvest field, there was also provision. There was fruit to be had from the work, but also wages to be received.
“Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together” (John 4:36).
When the harvest is reaped, the harvester receives both a “wage” and the “fruit” of their labour. This is where Jesus is going to get His spiritual food and refreshment from, from the proceeds of reaping. The Life of God is in the will of God, the provision is in the purpose.
Jesus finishes His lesson to the disciples by explaining to them that the work of God is a team effort.
“For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (John 4: 37-38)
Is He saying that He was reaping what His Father had sown? Maybe. It certainly means that the work of God is a team effort and we were never meant to do it all ourselves. We don’t get refreshed in our spirits by going beyond the boundaries of His call on our lives. That can wear us out as much as not doing the will of God. We just have to do our part.
It seems the disciples got this lesson. They demonstrated that on one of their subsequent visits to the region. In Acts 8, Philip the evangelist goes preaching and demonstrating the gospel in Samaria. Many Samaritans believe and so the apostles in Jerusalem send Peter and John down to help solidify the work.
One sows, the other reaps. But both reap the rewards. Fruit and wages. Food that godless men “know not of.”
Are we in the river of God’s life giving purposes? Are we living by every word that proceeds from His mouth? Are we looking for what the Father is doing, to get involved with Him?
Even as Christians, our spiritual lives will begin to look seriously malnourished if we don’t.Posted on: June 10, 2018Peter Todd