A striking quality in Jesus’ earthly ministry was His ongoing availability to His heavenly Father’s purposes. Take, for example, His trip home to Galilee after He and His disciples had spent time in Judea teaching, healing, and baptizing. Having to take what most Jews in that day would have considered both an inconvenient and unpleasant short cut through Samaritan territory, Jesus’ love for His Father compelled Him to talk with a socially outcast woman, sharing with her the good news of God’s love.
Having missed most of conversation between the woman and their Lord, the disciples urged Him to eat some food. When He in effect replied to them, “No thanks. I’ve already eaten”, they were puzzled and asked a question that Jesus was just waiting to answer. “Could someone have brought Him food?” they asked (in John 4:33).
And Jesus’ answer? “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34). What was the food that He was talking about? It was nothing more, but nothing less, than obedience to God.
It’s a funny thing how we can long for and even expect God to nourish us, waiting for Him to fill our lives with good things, and yet withhold from Him our lives. We’ll shortchange God in our devotion, our time, and our resources as we live our lives the way WE think is best. Not such a smart thing to do when you consider that in shortchanging Him we are shortchanging ourselves.
We should definitely NOT go down the road of rationalizing obedience to God because it somehow benefits us. God is infinitely worthy of our obedience simply because He is God. To think that one should or even could give God the cold shoulder by not seeking to do His will is actually an unthinkable offense.
But one should not ignore the fact that obedience to our Creator and Redeemer is nourishment for our very souls and affects us in countless ways as we are continually led to the right places at the right times for us to receive His protections and provisions. Not only that, but as we allow Him to cultivate obedient attitudes within our hearts, He grants us thoughts that are effective, hearts that are enlightened, wisdom that transcends worldly philosophy, and pours down upon us His awesome glory. Our obedience is the tool shed in which He crafts within our character patterns of divine thinking and pours through us streams of mercy with which we can engage our spiritually parched world.
If you have read the Bible’s incredible account of how Jesus met that sinful woman and showed her the grace of God, a thought may have crossed your mind. Was the whole encounter in that Samaritan village a “coincidence” or was it somehow a great “divine appointment” which had been arranged by God the Father for Jesus, God the Son?
Well, the answer is simple. It was on God’s agenda all along. Jesus, not having a personal secretary through which the woman could schedule the appointment or a daily planner app to make sure that He wouldn’t forget about His meeting, was led by God’s Spirit to that place for that moment to talk with that woman. And that woman then became the open door through which that same grace of God could impact the entire Samaritan village in which she had long been an outcast.
If Jesus had been bent on meeting His own physical needs, He may well have missed the opportunity to advance the Kingdom of God. If Jesus had been out of step with the Father, He may have never noticed the lonely and broken woman who had to come to the well when all others were done with it. But He was in step with the Father.
“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” (John 4:34-36 ESV).
Remember that Jesus’ life and His earthly ministry set for us an example that is not only relevant for today but is essential if we are to see the power of God impact our homes, our churches, our schools, and our communities. After receiving Jesus as your Lord and Savior, walk with Him in obedience (from baptism to serving Him in a local, Bible-believing church). Obey Him in every avenue of your life, and trust that, as you surrender your will and life to Him, He will lead you right.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at email@example.com).