John 4:31-34 (NIV): Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
Jesus had sent the disciples into the Samaritan town to buy some food, and they had done so. Now the food had been prepared and laid out, but Jesus’ mind was not focused on eating, or on any needs that His physical body might have.
Jesus knew where the woman had gone. He knew that, even at that moment, she was urging her family members, her friends, her neighbors, to “Come and see.” (verse 29) He could see in His heart the growing crowd that was headed His way, hungry not just for the truth that He could teach, but for the Truth that He was.
But His disciples couldn’t see any of that. All they could see was that Jesus wasn’t eating the food that they had laid out. They knew that He had to be as hungry as they were. He had eaten the same meager breakfast that they had, had walked the same long miles. So they urged Him to eat something.
But Jesus only smiled at them and said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”” This made the disciples wonder where He had gotten food out here by the well. Had someone brought it to Him? Did He have a secret stash in His travel bag? How could He have possibly gotten food while they were gone?
These disciples didn’t understand that Jesus wasn’t talking about physical food, but about the deep spiritual nourishment that comes directly from the hand of God. Even in that pagan place, Jesus had found the work that His Father had called Him to do, and he was doing it. He had planted a gospel seed in the good, prepared soil of the Samaritan woman’s heart, and it had almost instantly grown to full fruition. Even now, as he was talking with his disciples outside the town, the woman was spreading seeds into heart after heart inside the town. Soon the crowd would come, the harvest would be gathered, and Samaritan souls would come pouring into the kingdom of God.
This was food to Jesus’ soul; food so rich and satisfying that it completely overwhelmed any physical hunger He might have had. He was seeing life spring up among dead souls, and that fed Him at the deepest, most significant level imaginable.
Father, today it seems that, even in the church, the “needs” of the body, the desires of the flesh, so easily overwhelm the soul. We focus our lives on food, clothing, shelter, recreation, amusement, and security, leaving our souls unattended, or on starvation rations, until our physical and emotional needs are met. But Jesus’ focus was always on the spiritual. He showed us how to “Seek first (God’s) kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), and leave the meeting of our physical needs in Your hands. Of course when He did that, He knew that many of the things that we tend to chase after so hard in our lives today would be found to be far less important that we usually think they are. Even so-called necessities like food could easily be put on the back burner when Your presence and power were saturating His life. Father, help us to shift our focus away from our overwhelming pursuit of things that meet our physical and emotional needs. Help us instead, like Jesus, to seek first Your kingdom and your righteousness. Amen.