John 4:34

‘“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me
and to accomplish His work.”’
(John 4:34)

This statement from Jesus gives us a real glimpse into His heart, revealing His burning passion and purpose. We’re not simply to observe and wonder, but catch the flame – the heart of our Father God, in Jesus, ignited in us!

Jesus was travelling north from Judea to Galilee, so ‘needed to pass through Samaria’(John 4:4). There He encountered a ‘woman of Samaria’(John 4:7) who’d come out from a local town to draw water. His disciples had gone into the town ‘to buy food’(John 4:8). Taking the opportunity, Jesus introduced this Samaritan woman to His spiritual ‘“well of water springing up to eternal life”’(John 4:14) – at least introducing the concept. She quickly realised, from the unfolding conversation, and Jesus’ miraculous insights into her life, that He was probably not only ‘“a prophet”’(John 4:19) but ‘“the Christ”’(John 4:29) meaning ‘“Messiah”’(John 4:25). She hurried back into the town, telling the people there about her amazing encounter (a.k.a. spreading the good news).

Meanwhile, the disciples had returned with some food, urging Jesus to ‘“eat”’(John 4:31). Then He made this series of key remarks: ‘“I have food to eat that you don’t know about… My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work… look at the fields… they are white for harvest… eternal… rejoice”’(John 4:32-36). No doubt His gaze was directed towards the crowd of Samaritans ‘coming to Him’(John 4:30), out from the town. Later, ‘Many… believed… They said… “… this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world”(John 4:41-42).

We should feel the fervour of Jesus’ heart-felt statement here: ‘“My food is…”’, which reveals His driving appetite and passion – literally in His case later! There’s a zeal that can trump physical appetites, such that we temporarily forget things like eating! The apostle Paul understood this being ‘fervent in spirit’(Romans 12:11), and encouraged it too, explaining it’s like the drive of an athlete ‘who strives in the games’(1 Corinthians 9:25). Paul’s hunger was to finish his ‘“race with joy… the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to fully testify to the Good News of the grace of God”’(Acts 20:24). This trumped ‘hunger and thirst’(2 Corinthians 11:27) and many other ‘things’(Philippians 3:8) for Paul, who persevered with dogged determination until he could say ‘I have finished the course’(2 Timothy 4:7). In this he followed our Lord’s example, who ‘intently set His face’(Luke 9:51) like ‘flint’(Isaiah 50:7) until mission accomplished/‘done/finished’(Psalm 22:31 / John 19:30).

We should note the focus of their passion as well – God’s will, not distracting personal appetites for ‘“other things”’(Mark 4:19). In Jesus’ case, as ‘“the Son”’(John 5:19-23), it was ‘to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work’, i.e. the work/will of ‘“the Father”(John 5:19-23, cf. 17). For Paul it was Their will for his life, the ‘ministry’ he’d received. Nevertheless, God’s will had actually become their will, and appetite, even ‘“delight”’(Psalm 40:8, cf. Hebrews 10:7) – for them this wasn’t a reluctant obedience, rather a heavenly feast.

We should note the nature of God’s appetising work here too – it’s about reaping a harvest in eternity. As Jesus said on another occasion, ‘“The harvest is… plentiful… Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that He may send out labourers into His harvest.  Go…”’(Luke 10:2-3). That’s us: ‘“Go and make disciples of all nations…”’(Matthew 28:19), including in ‘“Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth”(Acts 1:8). Jesus’ appetite here, for a harvest amongst even the ‘Samaritans’(John 4:9), foreshadowed this global perspective, and reveals His heart for reaching across cultural barriers too, like to this Samaritan ‘woman’(John 4:27). In fact God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all seem to regard outreach to such marginalised and belittled folk as especially ‘“well-pleasing”’(Luke 10:21). Our roles in this mission, as part of Christ’s ‘body’(Romans 12:5ff.), will be many and varied, but ‘whatever’(Colossians 3:23, cf. 1 Peter 2:12, Matthew 5:16) part we play, we must be perfused from this heart of our Lord, with His hunger to sow, gather and ‘“save”(Luke 19:10, Matthew 18:11ff.).

Like Him, we’ll face opposition when we do, from ‘the wiles of the devil’(Ephesians 6:11). Such plots might exploit our natural appetites, at points of vulnerability, like when ‘hungry’(Matthew 4:2). Interestingly, Jesus’ defence was to stoke up in Himself a related healthy spiritual appetite, i.e. for ‘the word of God’(Ephesians 6:17), savouring it like spiritually reviving bread and ‘honey’(Psalm 119:103): ‘“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth’”’(Matthew 4:4). Our manna: God’s word and His will.

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