John 4:32 (ESV) But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
We live in a consumer society. We put a price tag on everything. You know the saying, “if they could put a price tag on air they would” The other day I was in the airport and I saw someone selling air. What effect has our consumerism had on the church? Has the church become more about consuming than about “going into all the world with the everlasting Gospel?” Christ called us to be disciples of the gospel, not consumers of the gospel. However, many professed Christians think that is what it means to be a follower of Christ. Many find themselves living their Christian experience vicariously through someone else. But if the church is to experience the revival that will finish the work, and usher in the Second Coming, it will need the hidden food of Christ. We will have to take a bite of the food the world knows nothing about. It is the only thing that will take us from being consumer Christians, to dedicated soul-winners.
Jesus’ conversation with the disciples after His encounter with the Samaritan women is a telling story. Jesus has just given living water to someone spiritually parched. He gives her a taste of what she’s been missing. One drink and she’s hooked. The contagion of the gospel spreads quickly through the entire town. This woman has tasted the water of life and can do nothing but share it with others. As a result of that one encounter Jesus has impacted an entire town. He could of gone around Samaria, in fact the average Jew did, but He wasn’t your average Jew. He wasn’t your average person. He was the incarnation of the invisible God, Emmanuel: God with us. The Samaritan woman has tasted the hidden food of Christ, and a whole town is converted as a result.
What is the hidden food? Jesus went to Samaria because He came with a mission. Luke 4:18 (ESV) the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed. Simply, Jesus came to do the will of the Father. In Matthew 26:42 (ESV) the Son says: My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done. It is with this context that we can better understand the significance of the disciples’ interaction with Jesus as they come upon the scene of His ministering to the Samaritan women. “Rabbi, eat,” they urged. “I have food to eat that you know nothing about,” Jesus replied (see John 4:31–32). He then proceeds to tell them what the hidden food is in John 4:34–38 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
I am often amazed at the number of people in the church that feel they need to be fed a particular way in order for them to be satisfied by God, as though God existed to satisfy us. We want a preacher who motivates us, a teacher who feeds us, and musical program that entertains us. We’re like the disciples chomping on our fish sandwich. We’re oblivious to the hidden food. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with having your favorite preacher, or enjoying a teacher who can unlock scripture, or going to Campmeeting where your favorite speaker has the keynote. We need to learn the Scriptures, we need to worship together, but at some point spiritual growth stops if you don’t learn to eat the hidden food. John Burke said in his book Mud and the Masterpiece, “God has been doing extraordinary things through ordinary people for 2000 years because his Spirit is always with us and gives us power along the way. Jesus expects to do the same through you. The only question is whether you believe him and will trust him to do in his power what you could never do alone. That won’t feel comfortable or easy. It will stretch your faith, but you will experience the adrenaline rush and intimacy with God that only comes by co-laboring with the Lord of the harvest. You don’t need to change jobs, go to seminary, or move overseas to the “mission” field. You just need to look up and see what Jesus sees,” (1). When we just “consume” good preaching. When we just “consume” good teaching. We’re just eating another sandwich when we could be eating some of Jesus’ food. It is “food the world knows nothing about” because it is a food of sacrificing our wants to the needs of others
It can be easy to forget we have access to food the rest of the world doesn’t know about. It isn’t another How To seminar on discipleship by your favorite speaker. It is not another Christian channel on your satellite. The hidden food is co-operating with the Holy Spirit and going on mission with Jesus to bring Gospel renewal to a dying world. Jesus knew about that food. Many patriarchs, and the prophets, knew about the food. The disciples eventually tasted the hidden food, and wow did they make up for lost time. The early Adventists knew about the hidden food. The woman at the well knew so little about the truth of God compared to you and me, and yet she was instrumental in converting an entire town. The hidden food makes all the difference in the world. It is the food of doing the will of God. It is about sacrificing our wants for the needs of others.
Do you want a food the rest of the world knows nothing about? Go on mission with Jesus. You don’t need another seminar on witnessing. Just witness! You don’t need another seminar on how to give Bible studies. Just give Bible studies. Put yourself out there. Be an Abraham. Step out into the void not knowing where you’ll end up, but knowing who has you. It is in our moments of greatest vulnerability that we become the greatest beacons of God’s power and grace. That is the hidden food. It is the ingredient that will turn this world right-side up.
1. John Burke. “Mud and the Masterpiece.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/jud_H.l