Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
How Jesus Loved People
Jesus just finished a conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. A conversation filled with grace, and love, and truth. His conversation was so gracious and persuasive, that Samaritan woman wound up getting the townspeople together with Jesus for two days. (If you want to gain insight into why Jesus’ conversation was so successful, see previous How to Love Like Jesus post: Grace and Truth)
A two day meeting with the whole town — this was a golden opportunity for Christ to share the words of eternal life with people. What we’re witnessing here is how Jesus’ focus on saving souls took priority above his appetite for food for his flesh.
How to Love Like Jesus – Focus
A number of years ago, my great grandfather Jess went for a walk in the Oregon wilderness. He was in his early nineties at the time. Now it wasn’t like he had to go far to find the wilderness. The log cabin where we were gathered that day is right there, near the Siskiyou National Forest. So he simply left the cabin to go for a walk. No big deal, right?
Well, great-grandfather Jess became lost.
It was quite a scene. My family and I searched all over that mountain. We searched for him well past dark, but without success. It was nerve racking to think about this ninety-something year old patriarch, alone in the forest over night. The next day Search and Rescue came out in force. They had airplanes flying over, ATV’s driving all over the mountain, a bunch of volunteer hikers. It was a huge deal.
Sometime after noon, they found great-grandfather Jess. After he was re-hydrated and had gained his strength back, he explained what happened. What happened was, he happened upon a buck who was in the rut and courting a doe. He became so engrossed in watching this courtship, that he followed them all the way to the top of a ridge line, without giving a single thought to how long he’d been gone, or food, or water — or his whereabouts. The guy was in his nineties! How does that happen?
Well it happens when we focus.
When Jesus said, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” I believe, he was talking about this phenomena of focus and flow. He had such inspiration from the Holy Spirit, He was in such a flow, he didn’t give a thought to food or anything else. Presented with this opportunity to engage with the Samaritan townspeople, His only focus was on doing the will of Him who sent Jesus, and to finish His work.
It’s similar to what happens when you’re absorbed in your writing project, or your photo editing project, or your music project — fruit producing activities. Or, even, perhaps, when you’re engrossed in non-fruit producing activities, like playing Eve Online, or Minecraft, or reading the book The Hunger Games. You’re so focused, so absorbed, so engrossed — you forget to eat, physical food. Your food is your work (I use the term loosely when referring to video games and reading).
Your food, is your focus.
Your food is your flow.
So then, to love like Jesus, what must we do?
You know, Jesus once asked, ““Why do you call me Lord, and then not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) This is a scripture seldom quoted, yet there it is, truth, staring me in the face. Oh God have mercy on me! I hope I never fall into this category. And I hope you never do either.
To love like Jesus, we must do what Jesus tells us. We must focus on what He focused on, which was of course, loving God, saving souls, and loving people. So we find ourselves in this awkward position, you and I, where we have to ask, “What am I known for?” Because Jesus said his disciples would be known for their love. (John 13:35) And, “What am I doing to reconcile people to God? What am I doing to point people to Christ?”
“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus said. And the will and the work of him who sent Jesus, was for Jesus to express the love of God to people, which results in saved souls. Jesus loved in a way that reconciled people to God.
That’s what He did for two days with the Samaritans.
That’s what He did His whole ministry.
That’s what He did on the cross.
That’s how He loved people.
And that’s how He wants you and I to love people too.
For more on the topic of evangelism, I highly recommend the blog post A Heart for Evangelism by Klaus Brune.