Everyone has those places they constantly return to. The things they reference more often than others. Reading and understanding the Bible is no different. Everyone has their lens and stories through which they read and understand much of the rest of the Bible. For me, one of those stories which I constantly return to is the story of the woman at the well in John 4. This story can be unpacked day after day to gain deeper insight into God’s holiness and love, his perfection and tenderness. There is a section later in this story that I have often overlooked in the past as I would read this passage that I want to look at for the next few days.
In John 4:31-4, the woman has returned to the city to tell them about Jesus. Jesus is with his disciples and they once again begin telling Jesus what it is that he needs – as if God incarnate does not know. They sound like a mother talking to her young child. Jesus, you really need to eat. It is hot and you haven’t eaten in quite some time. Jesus you are saying you are thirsty and need a drink, you also need food. Come on Jesus, eat up. And Jesus responds saying, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
We know the disciples are usually confused by what Jesus says, but I imagine here they are scratching their heads and asking each other if he is crazy? Are we crazy? He did not eat, right? Surely, we would have seen him if he had gotten food and was eating. I imagine as they are saying this, they are muttering among themselves to try not to let Jesus hear. However, like when they are arguing among each other or debating what Jesus meant by teachings, he hears them and answers:
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.”John 4:34, NRSV
What could Jesus possibly be saying here? Earlier with the woman, Jesus says he has living water to offer, and later he tells people he is the bread of life. Now his food is to do the will of God? We must ask ourselves what Jesus is trying to tell us here, so what is food to us? Food is a necessity for any person to live, and it is something which we must intake every day. We can go a short time without eating, but we cannot sustain ourselves long-term without food.
In the same way, the will of God in our lives sustains and nourishes us.
Jesus is speaking to a much deeper issue here than just physically eating and drinking. Jesus often spoke and taught through the interwoven nature of our physical and spiritual being. When Jesus heals the paralytic, he tells him that his sins are forgiven, and he may walk. Jesus is offering him restoration of both physical and spiritual ailments. While obviously just obeying God cannot take the place of eating, being in a place of spiritual health also improves our physical health.
Obeying God and spreading his truth was natural to Jesus.
Obeying and sharing Christ should also be natural to us.
It should be as natural as eating and breathing for us as believers. Notice everywhere Jesus went he began teaching truth naturally. He did not stretch for opportunities to share the truth of the kingdom to those around him. Rather, he was so filled by it himself that he naturally made the connection of God’s truth and redemption to the brokenness of those surrounding him.