“Seek your life’s nourishment in your life’s work,” once wrote the 19th-century author and preacher, Phillips Brooks.
Jesus is the consummate and perfect example of finding substance and sustenance in his mission and ministry on earth.
In response to the disciple’s concern that Jesus was hungry for lack of food, he replied, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
The context and content of Jesus’ statement contain several layers we need to peel back.
On Jesus’ and the disciples’ journey from Judea to Galilee, the Bible says he “needed to go through Samaria.” Most orthodox Jews would have taken one of two other routes because of their deep-seated prejudice and hatred toward the Samaritans. But, not Jesus.
As they came near the city of Samaria, the disciples went into town to buy food. While waiting, Jesus met a woman who came to draw water from a well, and he asked her for a drink.
She was surprised that a Jew would even talk to her. She had at least two strikes against her–being a woman and a Samaritan. Jesus, however, never allowed societal norms, cultural animosity, or racial bigotry to interfere with the “Father’s business.”
Jesus’ interaction with this woman is a wonderful illustration of personal evangelistic outreach. He showed a sincere interest in the woman. He asked questions. He used something they had in common to develop a connection. (She had access to water and he was thirsty.) He used the literal water to make a spiritual point about the water of life.
As the conversation deepened and she admitted her immoral lifestyle, that didn’t deter Jesus from continuing the conversation and gently leading to realize that He was the promised Messiah.
Excited, and eager to tell others, the woman left her water pots and hurried into town to share her faith and bring the townspeople back to meet Jesus. What an unlikely prospect, not only to accept Jesus but to be a messenger of salvation for an entire city.
When the disciples returned with food, they were confused. What was Jesus doing? Why was he talking to her? Has someone already brought Him food?
They didn’t understand Jesus found strength and sustenance in the spiritual food that He ate and offered others. Then He shared this important insight.
Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
This statement confounded them and challenges us today. Farmers know that you prepare the soil, plant the seed, and wait for the harvest months later. But Jesus offered a new insight. Spiritually, the process might be expedited.
The harvest was now. Jesus had planted a seed in the soul of this woman and it was already producing fruit. The Samaritans were coming to hear Christ.
The Bible admonishes us, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”(Gal. 6:10).
“Eyes that look are common, eyes that see are rare,” wrote J. Oswald Sanders in Spiritual Leadership. Open your eyes. What opportunities do you see? Today? Now?
Who do you see…
…A discouraged brother or sister you can embolden?
…A friend from your past who you need to call?
…A family member who requires some attention?
…A new friend or neighbor you can invite to church?
…A young person you can praise?
…A new convert you can encourage?
…A weak Christian you can strengthen?
…A sorrowful neighbor you can comfort?
…A wayward soul you can restore?
…A devoted Shepherd you can thank?
…A dedicated preacher you can commend?
…A hard-working deacon you can recognize?
…An elderly saint you can cheer?
…A seeker with whom you can share your faith?
Open your eyes. Look for opportunities. Plant seeds. See the harvest. And feel the spiritual nourishment you receive.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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