“My food . . . ”
It was quite tasty. A large whole lamb fixed in a traditional Albanian way—stuffed with rice. Really good rice. It even had some almonds and bits of liver mixed in.
The college students all looked my way with some degree of uncertainty. Maybe it was because the whole lamb was present (minus the wool and hide). Fish with the head attached is one thing, but this definitely was stretching the comfort zone, and here in Durres, Albania, we had already been stretched quite a bit.
Perhaps I was a bit too glib, “Hey guys, it’s really the same as your mom’s stuffed turkey on Thanksgiving!” The students weren’t buying it. Like I said, it was quite tasty.
“My food is to do . . . ”
He had just told her in no uncertain terms exactly who he was.
Her response? “Wait right here, don’t go away, just stay right here! I’ll be right back, but don’t leave! Please don’t leave . . . ”
Having connected the Scriptures concerning the Christ with her own experience, she showed amazing insight into the significance of what had happened. In fact, she seemed to have a good deal more insight than the disciples at that time. Off she went to town, no doubt saying under her breath, “Oh, my, this is big! This is really, really big!”
The disciples looked this way and that—and I love how John records it in chapter 4. He tells us what the disciples were thinking. But then he tells us they did not want to say anything to Jesus. The disciples must have thought something like: Well, Lord, what in the world are you doing now? What is she doing here? We’re on our way somewhere else! We only stopped here because we had to. And why are you talking to her anyway? And why is she so happy?
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me . . . ”
They did not know what else to do, so as people tend to do at such times, they offered him food. The offer of food to Jesus seems benign enough, but it meets with a striking response.
Jesus, perhaps looking off in the distance, surprises them again by saying, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about” (v. 32).
Food? Who gave him food?
Don’t you get it? “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work!” My understanding of this is: “Don’t you understand what I am about? It’s not Doritos and bagels! I am about souls. You see intruders. I see seekers. You see interruptions. I see opportunities. You see Wal-Mart checkers, and waitresses, and people in the marketplace, and I see harvest.
“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’?” Minutes before, Jesus was sowing the seed and now, suddenly, here comes the harvest. “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Right now! Not some day! NOW!
The reason this Scripture is so significant to me and has moved me to make life-changing decisions is that I often find myself down in Sychar. Like the disciples, all I’m able to see are shops and traffic and a lot of foreigners and a place to get a Coke.
Do I see? The questions come to me: Why has it taken so long? How did I end up here again? Why have I not been serious enough about the things that matter to the One whom I follow?
I submit to you that it all centers around one thing: my appetite.
“‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work’” (John 4:34).
It is the same process with us as it was with our Master. If we have the same hunger he had, we will see what he saw. The fields, the teeming thousands and millions of people who need a shepherd! People who need a Savior! This is redemption and how it is accomplished. The message comes via the messenger. He has indeed finished his work; now he patiently waits on us to follow him. If we see what he saw, then the prospect of a finished task increases greatly.
What is my food?
Chris DeWelt is professor of missions at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri, and serves as elder-shepherd at College Heights Christian Church.