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. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. John 4:32-36
Jesus says I’ve got food that you don’t know, my food is to do God’s work the one who sent me, He gave me work, I am serving him and it’s food. What he’s saying is obedience to God, serving God is not exhausting, it’s sustaining, it’s food, it’s not output, it’s input. No matter how much your heart may tell you, if I obey God it’s going to be exhausting. And no matter how much your culture says well if you obey God you know you’re going to give up your freedom you’re going to be squelching yourself.
That’s not what Jesus Christ says, Jesus says since you were made for God and you’re made to serve God, when you start to serve God it’s food, it’s sustenance, it’s empowering, it’s strengthening, it’s not exhausting. Or put it like this, if God really made you for himself then the experience of going from serving yourself to serving God would be something like the experience of a fish flopping around on a hot pavement and then being thrown back into cool water. When the fish gets back into water finally it’s in its element, finally you know it was dying out there, but in there now there’s life, there’s vigor. Jesus says to obey God is food.
But how to obey God? Here’s the most interesting thing, the thing that God sent him to do is this spiritual sowing and reaping. He says even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. So don’t say four months till harvest. I tell you now you’re ripe for harvest now.
What he is saying is sowing seed and reaping is obviously a metaphor of eternal life. Jesus is saying to sow seed spiritually is to point people to eternal life through Jesus.He says the sower and reaper may be glad together, but in real agriculture the sower and the reaper never work together, they do not rejoice together. The sower goes out and plants a seed and the seed doesn’t come up for months, and the reaper comes along later. And there isn’t any seed we know of in the natural world that’s so powerful that the reaper can come right along after and take it up.
But Jesus says the gospel is that powerful, so what is he calling all of his disciples to do the spiritual sowing pointing people to Jesus for eternal life. And he’s actually saying that this is food, it’s not ice cream, it’s not dessert, it’s not something that’s optional, it’s not something that’d be nice to do occasionally, this is your meat and your drink, and he’s actually also saying that this is the work that he was sent to do, this is God’s work, and so that’s a pretty powerful call and he actually also says don’t say it’s not time for a harvest, it’s always time for a harvest now that I’m here, don’t say it’s not the right cultural moment, don’t say it’s not it’s not the time in society, now is the day of salvation, so that’s the call to spiritual sowing and reaping.
Credit: Why a Public Faith – Timothy Keller [Sermon]