What Did Christ Mean?
By Spiritual “Nourishment” & “Labor”
Jesus the Christ (Gk. Christos: the Anointed One, the Messiah), the Son of God (i.e., God manifested in the flesh), made a number of exceedingly significant statements during His ministry prior to being crucified on Calvary.
While still in Sychar, a city in Samaria, and after speaking to a woman at “Jacob’s well” (vss. 6, 7), His disciples who had returned from “the city to buy food” (v. 8), urged Him to eat (v. 31). To this advice, Christ engaged them in the following:
(32) But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
(33) Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
(34) Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
(35) Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
(36) And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
(37) For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’
(38) I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
This exchange between Jesus Christ and His disciples evidenced a similar trend/theme that pervaded His prior conversation with the woman at Jacob’s well. While she focused on signs of the “flesh” in worshipping God, Christ explained that true worship was of a “spiritual” nature that embodied “truth” – the Word of God. While man looks “outward” to earthly places and forms of worship, God looks “inward” to the true character and nature of the worshipper.
It was the same with the apostles. While they focused on the necessity of physical food, Christ needed them to understand a nourishment of another, a spiritual nature. Specifically, He needed them to know that the ultimate nourishment to the life of one associated with the living God was to do the will of God. This is to say that Christians, if they are to be properly sustained with spiritual progression, must conduct themselves in accordance with the plan of God for mankind.
The following are issues that Christ wanted His disciples to understand and consider regarding their spiritual nourishment.
1) Spiritual nourishment is doing the will of God.
As one studies God’s Word, the blueprint of God’s purpose for man, at least three aspects of His will are evident.
a) It involves interaction with mankind, the spiritual salvation and maturation of man. This may be seen in what is often called “The Great Commission,” Christ’s charge to His disciples following His resurrection in Matthew 28:19, 20.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. (Matthew 28:19, 20)
b) It involves personal separation from evil that is in the world, as is stated in Romans 12:2 and 1 Thessalonians 4:3a.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification . . . . (1 Thessalonians 4:3a)
(It should be noted that often this principle is misinterpreted to mean that Christians are to exclude themselves from any contact with the lost, which is not taught by the Word or by the example of Christ. Christians are indeed to practice a holy life [i.e., not involve themselves in sinful behavior] as they continue to reach out to and communicate the saving grace of Jesus Christ to those who have not believed in Him.)
c) It involves utilization of God’s power over – instead of – any power of self, as may be seen in Hebrews 13:20, 21 and Philippians 2:13.
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (21) make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20, 21)
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
(It should be noted that this conduct may only happen when one exercises “faith” in Christ for the proper application and result, which is expressed in Colossians 2:6: “As [by faith] you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so [in the same manner, i.e., by faith] walk in Him.”)
2) The proper interaction (i.e., the doing of “God’s will”) with mankind is a communal (shared) process. This appears to be clear in Christ’s remarks, “One sows and another reaps” (vs. 37).
Christians should understand that ultimate victory is a process that much of the time may only be seen by the One true Purveyor of Truth (the Holy Spirit [John 16:5-15]), the One who alone is able to work the will of God through every one within the “body of Christ,” all of whom have a place, as is seen in Romans 12:4, 5.
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, (5) so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. (Romans 12:4, 5; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
A Christian should never become discouraged if, after sharing the Good News of God’s Word, the recipient does not respond appropriately. Rather, the Christian should rejoice that God has allowed the exchange, knowing that eventually the planted seed will subsequently be nurtured and will produce the fruit God has intended.
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? (6) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. (7) So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. (8) Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (9) For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)
This then is the path of faith, which alone pleases God.