"Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of the One who sent Me and to complete His work.'" (John 4:34, NET)
Jesus had just finished ministering to the Samaritan woman when the disciples showed up to urge Him to eat. Hunger is a basic human experience, and Jesus (being human) had surely felt the pangs of an empty stomach. Physically speaking, it’s only natural that He would have been famished at that moment. But Jesus isn’t interested in talking about lunch.
At that same moment, a revival was unfolding before His eyes. One woman’s testimony was about to transform the spiritual landscape of an entire village, and Jesus was captivated. He was caught up in the miracle, oblivious to the fact that it had been hours since His last meal. His disciples, fixated on the food issue, continue to pester their Master to eat. Jesus tells them:
"I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
So the disciples began to say to one another,
"No one brought Him anything to eat, did they?"
Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of the
One who sent Me and to complete His work."
Nourishment is defined as "the food necessary for growth, health, and good condition." Just like regular balanced meals nourish our physical bodies, Jesus recognized that spiritual growth, health, and well-being come from doing the will of the Father.
When I think of spiritual formation, I can focus on the contemplative side: prayer, Bible reading, worship, scripture meditation, etc. And these are important disciplines that are part of my spiritual diet. But Jesus’ example here highlights another critical nutrient that is essential to spiritual nourishment: doing the will of the Father, which included rigorous ministry activity.
Serving others nourished Jesus’ soul. Why does it so often deplete mine?
In the book Boys in the Boat, author Daniel James Brown describes a phenomenon that happens when all eight rowers of a scull are in perfect sync. Though they are pulling on the oars with all their might, they have the sensation that they are effortlessly moving through the water. This phenomenon is known to rowers as “swing.”
I wonder if this might describe what was going on with Jesus. Jesus was in perfect sync with the Father, they were always “rowing” in the same direction at the same pace. Even though He was busy completing the work of His Father, He did not feel depleted by the work. He felt nourished by it. A supernatural sort of “swing.”
But what about me? Can I have the same experience? Is it possible for me to feed on ministry rather than feeling like ministry feeds on me? Might that be what it means to “run and not grow weary”? The key is to be in sync with the Father, which happens as I follow the example of the Son and listen to the call of the coxswain, who is the Holy Spirit. When I do His work in His way, I am nourished.
Warmly in Christ,
"But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagles’ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired." (Isaiah 40:31, NET)
Who’s setting the pace for your ministry? Are you in sync with the Lord?
What helps you to get (or stay) in step with the Spirit?