Back in the day, God’s people ate manna, a strange, sweet, nourishing substance that came down from heaven each day. They could never make it, control it, package it, re-sell it, or hoard it. It was just given to them every day, miraculously, as they needed it.
These days, our food is Christ, the bread of life, the true manna that comes down from heaven. (John 6:32-35) Jesus is our life. And we can live with and like him.
One day, Jesus was tired. He then sat for a rest by a well and had what people call a ‘divine appointment.’ (This actually happened quite constantly for him.) Along came a Samaritan woman, and ordinary conversation led into profound words of truth, and before we know it, this woman and her whole community is rocked by the news of the Messiah!
The disciples (who would later learn to have the same kind of encounters) arrived clueless on the scene, confused and trying to get Jesus to eat something. Jesus doesn’t even bother with their food. Probably totally energized and elated by the encounter the Father had given him, Jesus said..
“I have food that you have no idea about. My food is to do the work of the one who sent me.” (John 4:34)
He lived off stuff like this. And now that we have his life, we can too!
Our food is to do the work that He’s sent us to do.
- To believe what he says
- To follow his leading
- To tell people about Jesus and the Kingdom
- To heal the sick, drive out demons, and make disciples
And all of this comes from God, and is given to us in Christ.
Our “work” is just like gathering up and eating manna.
It’s nothing we created or cooked up. It’s sweet, envigorating, and healthy. It’s even other-worldly and undescribable to people who haven’t tried it.
You can’t buy this stuff in a store, or get it by following the steps of a production manual. You can only lift up our hands to heaven and depend upon him for this bread that we can’t work for with your own efforts.
For every bit of the Father’s work, for these encounters, for this food that Jesus talked about, we are living in constant dependance on him. We’re constantly being emptied, brought to zero, and asking him for the next steps forward.
Although I’ve gone out and seen him arrange divine appointments hundreds of times, I still often feel like I’ve got nothing as I step out of my house to see what he has to do. Even though I’ve seen it happen countless times, it still feels impossible.
Last week a couple of friends wanted to go out to talk to people in a certain neighborhood. I was a total stranger to that place, and was a little sketched out about how this would go with this mixed group in a more conservative area. As we were walking, I even worried about being embarrased if I took these two friends all the way out there, and we couldn’t find anyone to talk to. But we prayed and asked for him to give us something, and walked forward. As soon as we got there we looked around, and almost immediately I saw a group of 6 university students, and BAM I felt my heart jump out to this group. So we tried to go talk to them, just asking if they knew of a nice park or place to drink tea around there. “Or we could just drink tea together?” I suggested, and we were off! We immediately hit it off and started enjoying the friendliness and warmth of these awesome people.
We sat by the seaside as we drank tea, talked about school, and the girls graciously helped our newer friend learn some more of the language. There was a casual reference in conversation very quickly turned towards Christians and how immoral they were. Of course we were able to explain the difference between a follower of Jesus who’s forgiven and loves God, (like us!) and a sin-smeared westerner. And then there were a whole bunch of questions. “Don’t you guys have a whole bunch of different Bibles that have been changed around?” “We say that Jesus never died, but you guys say he was killed?” “What’s that all about?” They had actually visited an old church that day, and one girl in particular was all confused and curious before they met us. And with her and all her friends there, we dove into a clear explanation of Jesus and the gospel, and they heard the truth for the very first time.
As we said goodbye walked home the 3 of us were very downright giddy and we kept going on and on about how wonderful God’s work was, and how exciting, surprising, and fun that whole evening was. His manna, his work, does taste taste really good.
It’s always impossible It’s always a miracle but He’s always filling us with good food.
Even sweeter than the food itself is the relationship of thankfulness, wonder, and surprise that we’re constantly pulled in to as he draws us to himself with this heavenly feeding routine.
You can’t get the Food without relating to and trusting the Provider. People may be tempted to gather, to control, and to secure future manna production. But then it rots and loses it’s life giving sweetness.
God brings work and food as his people look to him with trust. The disciples had wrestled with the nets all night, looking for fish, finding nothing when Jesus told them to throw the nets out one more time. Then he promised that in the same way he would make them “fishers of men.”
So how do we live with bursting nets and lots of fish? Do we need to map out the oceans, and raise tons of money to buy an industrial boat with a giant trawl net?
We just need to listen to him and go out again. We grow in thankfulness, trust and love, and he provides the food miraculously.