[Oct 16]--Food and Harvesting

John 4:27-38

            Today we finish up our survey of Jesus’ encounter outside the Samaritan village, but today’s passage has nothing directly to do with her. Like yesterday’s reading it has two separate lessons for us.

            The first subject is food, specifically Jesus’. His disciples brought him food and urged him to eat, and he demurred, saying that he had other food that they didn’t know anything about. They were puzzled, and again (a common theme in this book), they misunderstood his spiritual meaning and thought he was talking about a physical reality. His explanation is very instructive, and it’s both very comforting and discomforting at the same time. He said his “food” was to do the will of his Father who'd sent him. His nourishment, that which sustained him and gave him strength, his very life itself, was to please and obey his Father.

            This is very comforting because this is a strong reminder of the positive righteousness of Jesus Christ. I’ve learned from R. C. Sproul, who got it from the Reformers, that we're saved both by the negative and positive righteousness of Christ. By negative he means that Jesus was entirely without sin, in thought, word, and deed. By positive he means that Jesus positively and purposefully obeyed the Father in everything. Why is this important? It’s not enough just to avoid sin. You could argue that babies haven’t consciously sinned, but they’re not righteous. Jesus not only chose not to sin, but chose to obey. This is so important to me because Jesus Christ is my righteousness, and I claim no other. Other people might claim a church attendance, their charitable giving, or lack of blatant sin in their life. My righteousness is Christ, and Christ alone. So knowing that he could honestly claim that his very food and drink was to please the Father is pretty comforting to me.

            It’s also discomforting. He’s not only my Savior, but my example as well. Could I honestly claim that pleasing God is as important to me as the food I eat? When I’m not totally pleasing, do I hunger after it like a starving child? I wish I could say yes, but that would just make me a liar.

            Let’s talk for a moment about harvesting, which is the other subject at hand. He urged them to look at the harvest fields, which are more than ready. We sometimes talk about waiting for God’s timing on something, but when it comes to sharing the Good News with people who need it, the right time is now.

            And one final note about harvesting. Please note that the “sower” (the person planting the seeds) and the “reaper” both work on the same people, and they rejoice together once the harvest comes in. Let me make this abundantly clear: There's no room for competition in God's Kingdom. Not in the sense of one ministry competing with another ministry, or one preacher versus another preacher. We can challenge each other and encourage each other to strive to please him better than we've been doing so far. But if Person A plants the seed and Person B comes along later and brings that person to a saving knowledge of Christ, Person A is supposed to rejoice with Person B. I wish this warning wasn’t needed among God’s people, especially ministers (who should know better), but it is.

Lord Jesus, I want what you have: An all-consuming desire to please and honor and obey the Father. I can only do that as your Spirit replicates your life within me. Yes, that’s what I’m asking for, what I’m pleading for.

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